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How To Do Well & Do Good: Interviewing a Misfit Entrepreneur and Media Mogul

Bio: Waylon Lewis is a master story-teller and entrepreneur. He is a second generation American Buddhist or “Dharma Brat,” is the founder of elephant journal and “elevision,” an online video talk show that’s raked in 200,000 views in its first year.

The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you have no insulation from reality. Tweet This Quote

A passionate environmentalist, 365-day bike commuter, mediocre climber and lazy yogi, Waylon’s working to become the Jon Stewart of the next greeneration: Elephant Journal for videos, blog, articles & interviews.Waylon has hosted Michael Pollan, Dr. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Bill McKibben & 350 other guests. A second generation American Buddhist or “Dharma Brat,” Waylon is a 365-day bike commuter working to take over the world in service of our greater good.

It takes leaders to show that we don’t have to decide between doing well and doing good. Tweet This Quote

About the author

Unreasonable Media

Unreasonable Media

As a company, Unreasonable Media is dedicated to leveraging the power of stories to shift paradigms and solve problems. That's why we have made almost all the videos you see on this site. Long story short, we are not your average production company. Visit our site to see for yourself.

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63 Comments

  • This was a moving interview of a man who was not afraid to take a major risk for the greater good. I think what he is doing is incredible and much more environmentally friendly and innovative for the future.

  • "The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you have no insulation from reality. You are always two mistakes away from going out of business." – Waylon Lewis So true my friend… and I love that you see this as a great thing!

  • I found this video very inspiring and refreshing. I find it interesting the way he wants to change the world for the better and help others. He stayed determined but also true to himself which is really good to see.

  • It's funny how when you're going through school, obedience is encouraged. Many a time you were punished merely for not following the rules when in reality you were not doing anything morally wrong. This encouraged obedience transcends into adulthood when people enter the job market. While disobedience for its own sake is utterly useless, one could say that many amazing business start with a constructively disobedient person.

  • It seems there should have been a video on this page. There is no video on this page on Firefox 25 (and the latest Chromium) under Ubuntu 13.10. I tried debugging, but the site generates a lot of console errors (many missing files) so I gave up quickly. It would be great to see this video. Perhaps providing an html5 implementation would help. Thanks for your consideration.

  • Hey Arram. The way I frame it is that "Values > Rules". And when your values and the set rules clash, then your values system (i.e. what is "right") should always trump the rules

  • Thanks brother. Great to see our little convo again after 1.5 years. It was so fun and fulfilling serving as a mentor, that summer. These videos show you to be a generous host, giving me plenty of space to ramble (we entrepreneurs are passionate, but listening is half the battle).

    It's fascinating to see where I thought we'd be, and where we're at. We're doing well: we're now at 4.5 million readers, and still haven't completed that "ecosystem" idea, and our talk show series is still building steam. But we're halfway through on most fronts. And our team is now at 9, with dozens of (paid) writers and hundreds of community writers.

    Meanwhile, Unreasonable has morphed and expanded and continued to inspire me, month in and month out. Keep up the great good work, god knows this world needs it!

    I've shared these vids, with your gorgeous new site, up across our network starting tonight–

  • @Scott, feel free to email me or Daniel, my email is publisher @elephantjournal.com, and we'll email you the vimeo links. Or, I tried Safari (I didn't see comments in Firefox), so that might work for you.

  • As Eleanor Roosevelt observed, it's much more fun to help others than to obsess about oneself. I've tried both, and can attest to her wisdom 😉

    It's not only more fun, it's more unreasonable (from a conventional pov) not to make a choice between doing well and doing good—but to see our life as service, in a fun and personally rewarding way.

  • Daniel Epstein amen. Well put. Love that. I'll be attending your talk at Shaheen's class at CU in a few weeks and would love to hear more on this, if so inspired. You provide a framework for what many of us have experienced and learned the hard way.

    Arram, to take it one step further, or perhaps to step back, there's a Buddhist quote about success: "maintain a sense of humor, and a healthy distrust of the rules laid down around you, and there shall be success." Rules are for fools. They're only guidelines—our only real rules are compassion, common sense, and devotion to a greater good. And, again, there's nothing inherently conflicting about service and success, doing well and doing good. ~ Way

  • Thanks for not selling out, but staying in and showing us that we can do well and good! The elephant journal provides such a wonderful space for dynamic, playful and enlightening articles. Keep on being the nail that sticks out!

  • Selling, or selling out, makes sense for most companies. But let's be Unreasonable!

    I'm reading Little Giants right now—recommended reading for any business that doesn't want to sell, but simply wants to be the best at what it does, and have fun along the way.

  • Yes–I just holed up in my house–as I mentioned I gave up my staff, office, car, my house went into foreclosure…I didn't have money for food let alone a social life. I was working on a half-broken laptop screen, and nearly went blind…it was a long couple of years!

    The low point came one day when I was on a little hike with Red, my dog, and he stepped on something, and blood started shooting out of his foot…I carried him back to civilization and didn't even have the money to take him to a hospital. A friend took us in and lent me money, but it was then that I realized it was one thing not to have money to live on and eat with, but it was another not to be able to take care of my own. Anyways…

  • Waylon Lewis I remember the first time I read elephant journal…and I feel whenever anyone remembers a first time they encounter something, that's a big deal. Do you know what I mean? The "wow" moment. Thanks for creating something that is truth seeking. We love the elephant.

  • Waylon Lewis, it is awesome to look back on this video and see how far, and in what direction, things have moved. It's a real privilege my man to know you as a friend, a mentor, and a partner in crime (note: we should probably just catchup in person and take this bromance offline).

  • I've been getting in touch lately with my inner rebellious nature. As I grow older, I've tried to temper it, but it's just a huge part of who I am. After watching this interview, though, I was reminded of the ways in which this aspect of my personality has come to shape the way that I go through life and the people I choose to go through it with. In short, this was a beautifully stated reminder that we can stand up for what we believe in, that we don't have to sell out along the way and that there are others fighting to stay on this same path as well. In my never-humble opinion, more people need to watch this interview and take stock in what it is exactly they're trying to do with their lives and with the gifts and work they have to offer the world.

  • I love how you just said, "Values > rules." absolutely. What was the one thing that got you through those days when you were locked in your apartment, working on a half-lit computer screen? On the other side, it must be obvious that of course EJ would live on and thrive, but how did you get yourself through moments of doubt?

  • Best impromptu mission statement ever: "Trying to change the world for the better and ourselves along the way."

  • The right thing is easy to over look and it is overlooked everyday by so many people. I commend you for 'choosing the better of the imperfect' because you are right, there is always decision to make. There is always the option for greater good, or the option for self interest. The tragedy of the commons is the idea behind the following scenario. Say there are ten herders, each with ten sheep, that together all use the grazing field's full capacity of use. If one herder decides to get one more sheep they experience a 10% self income boost, and the grazing field is then 1% over capacity. That may seem like a fine trade off, but if all ten herders get an extra sheep than the grazing field is then 10% over capacity and will not be able to sustain the herders for a long period of time. The moral of the story being, choices of economic self interest made above choices for the greater good leads to a skewed equilibrium and a non-sustainable world. Thank you for being an advocate for making the right decisions!

  • I just got asked a similar question in a job interview, "what was one of the greatest mistakes that you have made?" I wish I had a story of such a mistake followed by an honorable response. I would be interested to know more about your decision making process. Did you make this huge decision that influenced the foreseeable future by weighing the pros and cons? Or was it made on more of a gut feeling?

  • Great Interview. I enjoy the humbleness that Waylon brings to the conversation. The concept of being two mistakes from failure appears to be a common thread in the world of entrepreneurship. I can see how making mistakes in the media world would greatly reduce your traction in the market.

  • An entrepreneurial cowboy huh? I love it! Thank you for your honesty and rawness to share that you like to do things your own way. It sounds like you grew up with adversity in your life but you used that to your advantage. I am a Boulder-born and raised girl. Thank you for representing our beautiful city well!

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  • Yes and making that mistake is what makes them better workers and try harder to succeed the next time. Nothing great comes from easy success. That greatness has to come from year of hard work and once you reach your goal, continue to put more years of hard work in.

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