File this one under WTF. Jason Garner, the former cutthroat CEO of Concerts for Live Nation is now a spiritual guru with 13,000 followers (and by followers, I mean Facebook followers but still, that’s legit).
Jason has stayed busy since he was fired from Live Nation in 2010. He hired a therapist, spent hundreds of hours studying with Daoist Masters and traveled deep into China for a retreat with Shaolin Monks (no mention of the Wu-Tang Clan). He’s set to release a book later this year, called “…And I Breathed,” chronicling both his exit from Live Nation as well as the loss of his mother, his divorce and his spiritual journey to Zen-like mastery.
Garner is now a full-fledged New Age guru dude, big on green smoothies, yoga, meditation and big hugs. That’s how he ends all of his emails — “big hugs.”
This is quite a transformation for a guy who once epitomized the ruthless promoter persona. Ask any of the dozens of employees that used to work for him and they’ll all paint the same picture — screamer, party animal, aloof. There are tons of stories, but I don’t want to be the type to pull someone down, especially someone who is reinventing himself in a positive way. I’ll just say this — the Jason Garner I remember was a difficult person to deal with.
But now he seems quite nice.
STRESSED OUT, EXHAUSTED & SCARED
There’s two passages in the introductory chapter of “…And I Breathed” that help explain Garner’s journey. The first deals with his last few months at Live Nation before his exit.
“I should have been happy, ecstatic, right? And I was, kind of, but I didn’t feel loved. I was trembling inside. I had always been afraid of failure, but the more money I made, the more I had to lose. The closer I got to the top the more the fear turned to terror. I had moments of happiness of course, hanging with rock stars and being the boss, but inside I was slowly falling apart ― stressed out, exhausted, scared.”
And there’s also this passage.
“I believe you can have happiness and money. You can have fun and be spiritual. You can care about the world and still care for yourself. You can say fuck and shit and scratch your balls and still be enlightened. And you can change the world from your desk at work as easily as a guru can from an ashram.”
IS THIS THE FUTURE THAT AWAITS ALL OF US?
Where do we go from here? Many of us feel blessed to work in the live entertainment industry. What would you do if you lost your job? Most of us would look for a new job — but when you’re at the top of the game, like Jason was at Live Nation, it’s going to be practically impossible to find another position with the same cachet and clout. Twice in his career, Jason was named to Fortune’s Top Paid Executives under 40 list. But despite the accolades and the big payday, he said feelings of doubt would still linger. He never felt good enough. He never felt truly successful.
“When I woke up that day with no job and no fancy title to mask the feelings, I was forced to stare head on at my life and realize that I had no idea who I was. I knew what I had done, but I didn’t know me,” he wrote. “So I went on a quest to answer the question: “What do I have to do to FEEL successful?”
I wonder if he feels successful now. He certainly looks like he’s happy. And healthy. How many of us can say that? We’re stuck killing ourselves at our job while he gets to travel around the world, consulting for “athletes, business executives and entertainers” (that’s what he told Forbes) and wash life down on a diet of green smoothies.
So even though he lost the dream job, he still gets to be on top. He’s now enjoying a second career as an author. What’s not to envy? He gets to do whatever he likes, while the rest of us continue to work weekends and schlep away on event nights. I have to hand it to him. He went from a lifestyle that was totally about optics, totally about the title and shifted into an identity that’s built around substance. It’s no longer about who he is. It’s what he is.
His book is due this September, and I am very much looking forward to reading this saga. Can’t hardly wait.
Bigs hugs bro. Big hugs.