Going through a spiritual journey can have different effects for different people. Some can get serious and get down to business. But there are others who can get down to business by looking at things satirically. JP Sear is the latter. He is the ultra spiritual life coach who built his empire in Facebook and YouTube by saying yes to his personality and the comedy that comes from his authentic creativity. He advises entrepreneurs to lean more on their authentic side, because this is a gift they already have and can use to win clients. Learn how JP has stayed true to his creative spirit using his steps to spiritual superiority and how it helped him stay true to his mission of helping people.
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Steps To Spirituality And Authenticity with JP Sears
I am with JP Sears who’s a life coach and internet comedian. He’s known for his satirical parodying of veganism, gluten-free fads, new age beliefs and other modern hippie topics with his video series Ultra Spiritual. He’s the author of the satirical book, How to Be Ultra Spiritual: 12 1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority. He has more than 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and nearly two million on Facebook. It’s so nice to have you, JP.
Thank you for having me, Dr. Diane. I feel like my life is already enhanced talking with you.
I love your satire and I love your sense of humor. I looked up some of your background. I wanted to know a little more about you. I understand you’re from Ohio. My husband is from Cleveland. Is there anything good in Ohio?
Ohio is a wonderful place. I was born and raised there, and lived in Northwest Ohio until I was 23. I would say Ohio is great. There’s nothing dramatically amazing about it or dramatically crappy about it. I know a lot of people from Ohio who don’t live there anymore. I think oftentimes when someone steps up to the point in their life and starts to live in a way where they are dedicated to chasing their dreams or letting their dreams live through them, a lot of times, they’re called to leave Ohio. Certainly not everybody but otherwise people plant themselves in Ohio and look like a cornstalk.
Did you start your spiritual journey there? Where do you live now?
My house is in Charleston, South Carolina, that much I can tell you. I’m traveling constantly for doing what I consider to be a lot of blessings to do with work. I lived in Southern California for ten years. I did start my journey in Ohio. When I was eighteen, I dropped out of college because I was just done with it. I did learn my unique biochemistry, psychological chemistry. It wasn’t for me. I dropped out and started immersing myself in studying personal trainings or exercise. That got me into nutrition, then that got me into the realm of the human heart and soul. Along the way, I started working with mentors, one of them Paul Chek in California and the other just an amazing angel inside of a human body, a guy named John McMillan who’s based in Columbus, Ohio. I definitely immersed myself into the beginnings of my personal evolution. It was also very synonymous with what my professional evolution is. That all started in Ohio.
Your journey is very interesting. I loved your timeline in your book. I saw you reached nirvana in 2006. You said you became a lot more famous after you started having more fun in your videos where you promoted your business now. I write a lot of courses that deal with marketing, branding and that type of thing and I teach a lot of courses about that. You went from 1,500 followers to a huge amount of growth over a couple of years once you started to put your personality into it more.
I consider myself to be 90% follow my heart, 10% strategy. I don’t necessarily like to tell everybody that’s how you should be. I think strategies are great. I’m maybe a little too ADD to be strategy-oriented. In the name of following my heart, I did start to let more of my personality come into my videos. I had been resisting it for a long time. The story in my head is like, “This would be bad for business.” Just painting a little picture of that at this point, I had been doing emotional healing client coaching for thirteen years. I’m in my early 30’s and I’m working with people in very vulnerable, meaningful issues of their heart and their life and teaching classes and workshops around the world in that regard. My story-wise, I’m supposed to be serious even though in my personal life I’ve always had a natural sense of humor. It was about a year and a half before I started the comedy videos. Then I started making the YouTube videos just the sincere life advice, health and healing, coaching type videos as a way to attract more clients in my business.
Over the course of a year and a half, I built up my YouTube channel to be 2,000 subscribers, which I am very proud of, nothing to be ashamed of there. My Facebook following was 1,500 people. Over the course of that year and a half, that’s what I had built it up to be. Then I couldn’t help myself. The idea of these comedy videos, deliver messages through the language of comedy, it kept coming to me. I still thought it would be a bad idea but I’m like, “I’m going to do this bad idea because I can’t not do it.” The creative impulse just kept coming to me. I bit the bullet and made my first comedy video. Right away, it was really well-received and went instantly viral. Two weeks after that, I had the genius idea like, “Maybe I can make another.” As far as building my audience, once I started to say yes to my personality, my audience growth just became exponential. I would dare say even once I said yes to the comedy, there have still been other rites of passages along the way where I say yes to my creativity in bigger ways. It’s just really weird how the world around me in terms of how many people watch my stuff that grows exponentially the more I say yes to my heart.
If you look at the numbers, the first year and a half on YouTube, 2,000 subscribers, and I was probably three or four years on Facebook at that point with 1,500 followers. Now on YouTube it’s over 500,000 and on Facebook, it’s over 2 million. There are a lot of factors that one could analyze there. I think really cutting through the BS, what’s worked for me is saying yes to my heart; risking, following my heart in essentially really betting on myself. I’m a big fan of believing that any entrepreneur, their greatest gift is their authenticity. It’s easier said than done to get in touch with your authentic self and once you’re in touch with it, then you’ve got to have the courage to express it and be it. Not be who you think you’re supposed to be, not be what you think you’re supposed to be to be the most strategic person. If we put our authentic self first in expressing it and being true to that first, I dare say it will always work for us. In my opinion, that’s the best investment.
You obviously have used your personality to create quite an empire and it’s interesting to see where you’re going to go with this. Are you wanting to be in movies? You are an emcee. You do things for corporations. I ran to you at a corporate event and that’s how we met. Where do you see this going? I could see you being huge in Hollywood. Is that your goal?
I don’t have a vision for what I want things to grow into for me. I don’t feel like I care how things grow and how they look. What I care most about is staying true to the creative spirit and staying true to my deeper purpose of ultimately helping people live more meaningful lives. How that expresses itself, who cares? As long as I’m being true to those values of mine. It seems like the more I’m true to them, the more things just grow in ways that honestly are better than I can imagine. If you ask me, “JP, what would you like to have happen in five years?” what you’ll get is a limiting belief because how things have been for me is they turn out better than I could have imagined. They’re always different than what I would have wanted, but also better. The film producer, Nick Mutton, he does amazing work and he and I have signed an agreement to do a film together, essentially a documentary. It will be a mockumentary, so a comedy film. That’s a new thing for me, another area of where things are going next. I’ll be doing a 30-city comedy tour in 2018. I’ve completed essentially a test tour around the East Coast which was super freaking enjoyable to me. They went over well. The live performances honestly are something that excite me and light me up more than even videos. Their videos are super creatively satisfying. Those are a couple of the “What’s next” footsteps but the third, fourth, fifth footsteps from now, I don’t know.
It takes a lot of bravery to put some of that stuff out there like your prancercising video where you’re prancercising in your little leopard outfit. Do you feel like there’s anything you put out there where you go, “I can’t undo that and it’s already out there?” Are you happy with everything that you’ve done?
I don’t have any regrets but do I scare myself along the way in doing videos? Not with all of them but some of them, yes, like prancercising through the woods in my fiancée’s tight leopard spandex. That’s pushing the edge. There are some topics that I’ll approach that are scary to me, like I did a gun control video. I think the way I look at my work is it’s self-therapy for me. I think happiness never comes from living inside of our comfort zones. We have to be willing to go outside of our comfort zones to find happiness because we have to grow in order to be happy. We won’t leave our comfort zones, which means we won’t grow unless we’re willing to be scared. We’re never going to be able to be ourselves unless we’re willing to grow because I don’t think who we really are is found inside the coffin of our comfort zone. With that said, I think it’s very therapeutic for a person to scare themselves, essentially push their edge of comfort on a regular basis. If we’re not willing to be scared, we’re not willing to be happy and fulfilled inside because we won’t be growing. We won’t be expanding our comfort zone. I get scared, I push my edge, yet I don’t have regrets. I might be uncomfortable in the moment but ultimately, that’s something that’s helping me push my edge and grow and step deeper into me, and be more willing to be dedicated to the truth as I know it in any given moment, whether it’s a creative truth or just a value that I stand for.
If you push it too far, it’s funny because it’s comedic work. In the business world, if we put our personality out there, we’re pushing HR. How can we be not so politically correct that we’re boring and yet still be funny or be our true selves? It’s tough in the business world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said it wonderfully. He said, “For success, break all the rules but don’t break the laws.” I get that in the business world, if you’re in a corporation, there’s HR, so there are boundaries. You don’t want to essentially break the laws or the regulations of the industry or the business. To me, it’s like if you’re a football player, there are parameters like, “Here is the playing field and here are the rules to play by.” Now, push the edge within the rules. That’s why you see a person achieve greatness on the football field. They’re not bringing in new rules. They’re not even breaking the laws of football. They’re just really working with what they’ve got. We can all do that. The first step to great creativity is being creative with how we can be creative. It’s a limiting belief like, “I’m a banker. There’s no creativity.” It’s like, “Maybe. What if you show up a little bit more authentic than you used to? What if you show up a little bit more authentic than other people? What if you’re fulfilling your roles as you’re required to, yet you are allowing yourself to be you to a greater degree while you do it?” I won’t pretend I have the key in any industry but to your point, in a way, I have it easy in some respects because comedy, if a person does it right, you can get away with saying a lot more than you otherwise could.
With your videos, I love the millennials, I love the passive-aggressive, I love the ones that I could incorporate into my classes that are funny. Do you ever get anybody that gets mad at you for anything? You’re making fun of yourself at the same time, so people can’t really get mad at you, which is great.
I only like to do videos about things that are important to me, things that are in my life, but that doesn’t mean everybody knows it. A couple of years ago, I did a video on how to become gluten intolerant and we got a lot of backlash about that and so many comments. “You are just a jerk. Don’t you know this is a real condition?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ve been gluten intolerant for sixteen years.” I’m not broadcasting that because that would be playing it safe, dilute the comedy, dull the sharp edge of the satire. I’m okay with people getting offended if need be. There’s always backlash in every video. Usually, it’s a very low percentage of people. Sometimes in a video I’ll address the backlash by the end of the video. I made a whole video to essentially address the backlash. I did a video called How To Get Offended just addressing the phenomenon of backlash, addressing what is social rejection of people when they disagree with us, we make them wrong for having a different opinion, a different view and we do a self-induced victimization where we hurt ourselves and pretend someone else did it to us. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed. I do my best to have fun with it, with good intent.
You have very unique things that you do. I’ve watched a lot of your videos and I noticed you had some commercials recently. In some of the marketing courses I teach, we look at different commercials. Your commercials are five minutes long. The Poo-Pourri one is a long commercial. I watched the whole thing. That is pretty impressive that you can make something like that. Whose idea was it make it so long? Was that yours?
No, that’s predominantly Poo-Pourri’s decision. Poo-Pourri is a great company. They’re just ridiculously fun. They have a phenomenal production, strategy, and creative team. I was a collaborative writer. I was definitely a part of something much bigger than myself. They’ve had massive success with converting videos into sales. This wasn’t their first rodeo and five minutes is probably pushing that for about as long as you want the commercial. Their philosophy and I would agree with it is if something’s engaging, then length doesn’t matter, to an extent. It could be a 37-minute long engaging commercial and we’re probably crossing the line there. Brevity is a compensation for lack of value. If something isn’t entertaining and not engaging, it’s essentially valueless. It’s not giving value to the viewer. It’s trying to take from the viewer. If something delivers enough value, in this case in the form of entertainment and engagement, then through the commercial, we’re giving something to the viewer. It’s an equal exchange. We get their attention and if the product interests them and if it’s right for them, then they can make the purchase, which is a much better way of doing that. It’s like giving to people, “Here’s some entertainment,” rather than just tricking people into letting us take their attention.
I imagine you get a lot of attention now. For the whole redhead community, you’re probably bringing everybody some great, positive attention because for a while, you were getting bashed a little bit. I thought it was unfair for the redheads.
When I was a kid, I by no means had it as bad as you could imagine for a redhead but at times I was made fun of. At other times, I’d be referred to as “Red” which wasn’t like ill-intent, yet I would take it as like, “That means I’m different.” When I was younger, I looked at my red hair as a curse because it makes me different. Now I look at it as a blessing because it makes me different. Oftentimes, what was a curse for us in our childhood becomes a blessing for us in adulthood. All it takes is some healing and a shift of perspective. For lack of a better term, my red hair is good for my brand. Add on top of the uniqueness of red hair, I have long red hair which is even more unique. I stumbled my way into accidentally having hair that’s good for my brand.
Are there famous people that inspired you? Did you love like the Woody Allen comedy or did you love Carl Lerner? Who was the one that inspired you to have your sense of humor?
It’s a collage of forces, all primarily from my personal life. My dad has always had a great sense of humor. A couple of my uncles have a great sense of humor. Because that was a seed germinating in me from a young age, it totally formed friendships at school and now in adulthood with people who have pretty good senses of humor. My close personal friends would be sources of inspiration for me. A good friend of mine still to this day, his name is Drew and we’ve been friends since we were twelve. He and I, we’re both 36 years old, we’ll get on the phone and just act like kids with each other. He’s got a wife and two kids and sometimes I have to shake my head and say, “He is not acting like a grown up.” Then I’m like, “I’m not either.” It’s exercising and enjoying that sense of humor. A secondary tier sense of humor inspiration is Bill Hicks. He was definitely a funny guy, but what inspired me most about his comedy is he had something meaningful to say and he said it. He was very unapologetic with it. He would do so in obviously a comedic way. That’s something that’s very important to me, delivering deeper meaningful messages for people to consider with the language of comedy. He’s a great inspiration.
To be honest, I’ve never seen any of George Carlin’s comedy, which I probably should. I do enjoy watching some standup comedy on Netflix from time to time, but I am careful to not get immersed and lost in that world because there’s a part of me that doesn’t trust myself to start imitating people and start to do things their way rather than be more dedicated to embodying the discovery of what is my way. In a best case scenario, I’m getting inspired by another comedian. Worst case scenario, I’m tricking myself into imitating and doing things their way. Their way is perfect for them and it’s terrible for anybody else other than them.
Your way is definitely unique and that’s why you’re so popular. I’m writing a book about curiosity. I want to get your input on that. Are you a curious person? What’s your insight on curiosity? How do you develop it?
I consider myself a curious student of life. Curiosity is a force of nature that comes through our heart that compels us to journey into our self, discover who we really are and live it. Curiosity is very much a heart-based consciousness. The other end of the spectrum is certainty. Certainty is a phenomenon from our head and it comes from fear-based consciousness. Certainty has zero correlation to truth and high correlation to our need to make ourselves feel safer and less afraid by conjuring up a psychologically-constricted experience of certainty. If someone’s scared, like someone jumps up from the corner and screams at you, you instinctively go into a fetal position. That’s the physical position of being scared. It gives us a sense of control. We have psychological postures when we’re scared. We psychologically go into the fetal position. We constrict down just like our body constricts in the fetal position. That constricting down gives us a psychological sense of control. That’s called certainty. It comes because we’re afraid and to the degree we’re certain is the degree we’re walling ourselves off from growth. Growth mentally, going from beliefs we’re certain of, to beliefs that would serve us better. I’m a big fan of saying, “Have your beliefs but don’t believe in your beliefs.” Our need to be certain, it’s something that we were rewarded for oftentimes when we were kids. Getting the right answers on the test or rewarded for expressing a delusional sense of certainty but if we wrote on the test when we were younger to the question of like “I’m curious, what if the question was asked this way?” There are maybe some considerations we could be curious about. It’s like, “That’s an F, you fail.”
I would dare say the quality of one’s life is directly proportional to their willingness to be curious. I mentioned fear and our willingness to be scared dictates our level of happiness. Curiosity requires us to have a tolerance for feeling afraid. Otherwise, we’re just afraid to be afraid so we don’t approach anything that scares us, which means the thing that scares people most in my opinion is mystery, anything unknown. If we’re unwilling to feel fear because we’re afraid to feel fear, which means we’re living in a state of fear so much that it encompasses us so much, it’s numb because we’re living in so much fear. If we’re willing to be afraid, be the curious explorer walking into the dark woods of our life or a new adventure, a new project, new partnership and knowing like, “It’s okay for me to be scared. That allows me to be curious, which allows me to grow,” they experience something other than what I’ve already experienced a hundred times in my life. That directly impacts our quality of life in a really big way.
It’s interesting you made me think of a Star Trek quote where it said, “It’s our fear of death that keeps us alive.” We’ve got some kind of fear that to try and protect us that we twist it somehow.
Your book, I love it. What motivated you to write a book about curiosity?
I was one of those why kids, everything why. It’s funny because I didn’t even like going to school that much. I liked learning but I didn’t like to be in school. I would graduate really quickly; get out fast so I could get out of it because I couldn’t sit still in class. I was always curious. I wanted to learned more. I never thought I would ever get a PhD, which is amazing I did because it was not my thing to do the formal education. I see so many people that want you to spoon feed them information. They don’t want to figure it out on their own. I think, “Why don’t they want it? This is the joy.” Being put on top of the mountain instead of climbing the mountain, what fun is that?
“Here’s a trophy,” rather than earning a trophy. There’s a huge difference.
I want to talk about your book because I loved it and I loved the name, especially the 12 1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority. Every word in that is good. I find the back interesting. You’ve got endorsements from the Holy Mother of God, the universe, Buddha, Krishna and Tony Robbins. Do you put Tony Robbins in the same realm as the rest?
No, he’s above the rest. I had fun with those endorsements and wanting to stay with the true comedic nature of the book, I just thought and the publisher agreed it will be funnier if I write the endorsements, with the exception of Tony Robbins. His name is so big and I’ve been so blessed to have his support. It would be a terrible idea not to put his endorsement directly on the back cover.
I love this book. This is a great coffee table book. I know you said you don’t care if I talk about the book but I’m talking about the book anyway because I love this book and I got it for free. I particularly liked your timelines. The scratching out effect is really nice when you’ve reached nirvana in different aspects. This is partly one of my favorite parts of the book. The footnotes might be my favorite just because I never read footnotes, but I have to read every footnote in your book because they’re funny. The other one I want to point out, I loved the journey to figure out if you are ultra spiritual. It’s very not complicated. How long did it take you to write it?
About two and a half months. I wasn’t crunched against the deadline. I had a few months left on the deadline. No gun to my head but I really enjoyed the creative journey. It was a journey of curiosity, especially because I would call the book very much a creative book. It’s delivering deeper perspectives for consideration, yet it’s comedy so it’s largely a language of creativity. Every morning, I take at least an hour and a half and dedicate that to writing. I’m just immersing in this abyss of curiosity. I’ve got the rough outlines of the chapter, so largely when I’d sit down, I’d be like, “I don’t know what’s going to be written but I’m curious to find out.” When we’re stepping into our creative zone, I don’t know where we go but it’s a great place. It feels very connected and exhilarating and fulfilling to me. I also appreciate your being amused by some of how I played with the book with footnotes and Venn diagram, endorsements from the Buddha. We’re all on a given playing field but how can we maximize shining on the playing field while staying in the playing field, whether it’s your business or a corporation? In this case, it was a book. It’s like, “I’m going to use every square inch of this playing field called the book.” Writing footnotes in a way that’s incredibly untraditional, that’s a secondary dimension of comedic commentary to my main dimension of comedic commentary in the book. I enjoyed that aspect of being the child on stage who’s dancing to my own song, not the choreographed performance.
Normally, I wouldn’t pick a book on spirituality. I’m not that person that buys those kinds of books. I don’t know if I would have read this if it wasn’t given to me. Even though I love your stuff, I didn’t realize it was out there. I want people to know that because this is such a funny book. All of your work is really funny to me. I don’t do yoga, I don’t eat vegetables, I’m your ultimate nightmare, probably. When I watch your stuff, it just cracks me up. In your turkey video, it was so hard to watch you eat that. Did you like that?
No, I did not like it. That mouthful you saw me eat on screen went right into my kitchen sink. I had fun with that. I’m sitting there thinking, “The vegan community, they always make these vegetable-based meat substitutes, which is highly suspect. If you despise meat, why do you want to make something that looks like meat, tastes like meat, has a texture of meat?” It’s a little bit like saying, “I want the thrill and satisfaction of murder without having to murder people.” I thought like, “If you want the meat experience with none of the meat, then you’ve got to hunt the meat.” On that Holiday Turkey video, I wanted to show people how to hunt that raw vegan holiday turkey too.
The only thing I did like is that you said, “Vegetables liked to be killed.” I’ve got to learn to like more vegetables. You’re very spiritual. You’re not into yoga and you have to have a brain duty. If you hear music, does that make you want to explode?
No, I love yoga. I don’t consider myself a yogi. I don’t self-identify with anything. Some people will say, “I’m a yogi.” I do yoga but I’m not a yogi. When I feel like I get benefit from something, I like to have one foot in that world but one foot out of it. I don’t want to lose myself and just self-identify with it. I did that with my spirituality in my twenties and it’s just like, “It sucks.” It’s boring and I don’t think it helps me. It starts to hurt me the more I self-identify with the tools I use to help myself. It’s like a carpenter who starts to think he or she is a hammer. I like to do things that make me feel good and that help my growth, my mind, body and spirit like exercise, eating green food. I wish I did more yoga but I do some yoga, occasionally meditate.
I absolutely loved the book and I love all your videos. Do you have a list of things that you’re coming up with like when you can’t sleep at night and you go, “I’ve got to make a video about that or I’ve got to write a book about that?” Do you sleep or do you think about this stuff?
I do my best to sleep. I do have an ongoing list going of like, “Here are some videos I’d like to do.” I get to them one by one. Occasionally, there’s a video idea that is just like, “I’m going to do that now.” I released a video on Bitcoin. That was one where it’s like, “I want to do that now.” I’ll be doing a few comedy shows in San Francisco. When that deal was signed this idea came, “I want to make a video on San Francisco.” It’s such a unique city with plenty of material. Plus, that will help promote the comedy shows. It’s exciting when there’s a hot idea that comes and sometimes a little bit disruptive because I get some kind of mental disorder where I almost stop caring about other things in my life, even things that are more a priority like, “This is a pressing deadline,” but my inner child is like, “I want to play in the sandbox of making this video right now.”
You do a lot of your videos with your fiancée in some of them. She’s gorgeous and she’s good at keeping a straight face. Do you have to cut a lot because she can’t look at you?
Some videos, yes, but she’s amazing.
I’m so excited for you and your success. Thank you so much for being on the show. Can you please give your websites and how they can follow you?
Social media is an easy place to connect with me. All my handles are @AwakenWithJP, so you can connect with me there. If you care to jump on my website and see some of those offerings, that is AwakenWithJP.com.
Do you tell people what JP stands for and is there a reason there is no space between the J and the P?
It stands for Jonathan Patrick. It’s weird. Somehow like the periods that used to go between the J and the P, those got out of style and it’s like, “Let’s be a little minimalistic. Why the punctuation?” We’re trying to be efficient.
You are unique and that’s what everybody loves about you. Thank you so much for being on the show. This was fun.
You’re incredibly welcome, Diane. Thank you for having me.
About JP Spears:
JP Sears is a life coach and internet comedian. He is known for his satirical parodying of veganism, gluten-free fads, new age beliefs, and other “modern hippy” topics with his video series Ultra Spiritual. He is the author of the satirical book How to Be Ultra Spiritual: 12-1/2 Steps to Spiritual Superiority. He has more than ½ million subscribers on Youtube and nearly 2 million on Facebook.