This episode’s guest on #MWL is Stephen Jones. He and I discuss creative confidence through fitness, as well as forming and testing sustainable routines and habits.

Self-discipline and self-love are huge factors in boosting your mental and physical well-being. Stephen's got some great experience and advice on how you can do the same!

Where to watch live:

Guest Socials - Stephen Jones
Get The Full Episode Transcription


happy Friday

hope there's actually not a ton of

people on watching live today I hope you

all enjoying this beautiful day and hope

a bunch of you have got some time off

right now but I'm here so if you're here

I'm here and we're gonna wrap up this

week strong I got a really really dear

friend of mine who his work is like it's

it's impossible to detach the work that

he does from my life so let me tell you

what I mean so I love cigars and like

this guy like brands so the the cigars

that I that I like to smoke and the the

first iteration of the Nashville soccer

club brand you know this guy blessed us

with this guy's a dear friend of mine

and he probably was just as pissed off

as I was about Spurs shit in the bed

this week without further ado my man



Stephen Jones what's up Stephen what's

going on man thank you so much for

having me and congratulations on the

book man I can't wait till tomorrow in

the mail that's a it's a big

accomplishment man I'm super stoked for

you that's killer



thanks brother thanks man I appreciate

you know all your support you've been

there at the entire way as I've been

talking about doing it thinking about

doing it crying because I wasn't doing

it right so you know man I appreciate

you man so dude let's let's just spend a

little bit time framing up your your

backstory and then I want to start from

the day we had cigars on on the porch

cuz I feel like you know for me I know

you were already ruminating about this

but for me that was when I noticed a

huge change in you but let's just talk

about your entire back story because

it's fascinating 



yeah richly born in

Kentucky about two hours

from Nashville so still fairly close to

home ended up kind of falling into a

graphic design the graphic arts class

when I was in high school I got kicked

out of a Catholic school for being a

little shit and I ended up at the school

they had an arts program like tech based

and you know I'd always drawn and stuff

his kid but seemed like a viable option

I think you know especially as artists

like you know back in my day it was

parents were saying well you could be an

architect that's that was the only thing

that they thought an artist could be or

a creative person could be and get paid

and it's like man we're putting these

bad paths in people's heads but graphic

arts was kind of the thing I latched on

to and you know I I knew that was the

route I wanted to go I was kind of

looking at schools when I graduated high

school and just wasn't sure what to do

and then 9/11 happened and you know I

come from a history of you know a lot of

service to our country from my uncle's

my great uncle's my grandfather so we've

got a history of that and I felt

compelled to serve so you know your boy

is it's following that same route man

I'm so proud of the man he's becoming

it's pretty amazing it's amazing but you

know after that you know I pretty much

learned design on the fly in the Navy so

I had this platform to try and learn all

these new things without the

scrutinizing eye of the public you know

in terms of you know people on social

meet you know it was it was low-level at

that point it wasn't as as broad as it

is now and so easy to put your work out

there so you kind of gave me this

cushion I like fail and and learn along

the way and it was super helpful and

then when I got out I ended up coming to

Nashville to study design at Watkins so

so I spent you know a few years there

and got my degree and you know I

I spent some time working the agency

life and and I kind of fell into the

cigar work and that really kind of

propelled me forward and it's kind of

set set me on a path to work in

packaging for for products and you know

cigars and wine and spirits craft beer

that kind of stuff I think you you know

if you if you work hard treat yourselves

all right and I think a healthy balance is

important so yeah that's kind of driven

my creative life and I'm just uh you

know I had I had a real bad serious case

of burnout and anxiety and depression

and felt like I couldn't get myself out

of the hole and I think a big part of

that was because I was following a path

that I thought was set out for me but my

path was was actually different than

that and and the things that really you

know the things I was drawn to that I

got fulfillment from it's a path you I

need to make it's not a path that I

follow you know yeah I think once I

realize that it's like oh okay that's

probably why I felt so shitty because I

knew there were other things I wanted to

do and it took me a little while to

figure that out but you know when we had

our conversation on on your porch it was

more about I think I need to change my


I think martial arts would be a good

first step I didn't know it was gonna

come after that but it did feel like

martial arts because I guess you would

you've been training Hapkido and I know



probably three four years of that yeah I

don't know I got my black belt yet but I

was like on my way 



you know so I mean

that's that there's a discipline to that

that you know you can't you carry that

over to other parts of your life and

when you start you don't realize that

you know right so all right I think it's

just a matter of taking that first step

and you know it was it was cool to have

have you to bounce that off of having

that experience already you know

nobody's gonna make that decision for

you you have to make it for yourself so

you you just you know you you gave good

feedback about what it done for you and

I I'm glad I'd I jumped into it because

starting that that muy Thai practice for

me is what it was a catalyst for

everything else it's not the it's not

the only thing that's you know it's kind

of it's the catalyst but it's the it's

the very first step to like my own

awakening my own self-discovery yes my

own acceptance of myself my own

instilling habits and practices that are

healthy for my body my mind my

creativity yeah so I think sometimes

people associate the muy Thai with the

thing it's like it's most definitely a

crucial part but everything that came

after that you know it's it's a it's a

part and a bigger

yeah evolution of my story yeah what I




so I wanna I want to go back to the

to the to the discussion about you being

on a path that you thought you had to be

on but that wasn't actually your path

you know what what was going on around

you that was putting whatever that path

was in your head 

Like what was what was

 influencing you to make you feel like

 you needed to do things a certain way?



Yeah I think you know, the design

 creative industries as a whole, you know

 it's a lot of trend based stuff. I think

 there is a lack of mentorship in our

 creative fields, but in the design

 industry itself, it's driven so much by

 “are you fitting with this thing that's

 popular right?” So I think

 there's that. I think there's also you

 know, when designers talk to each other,

 and when you see other creatives online,

 you don't see what it takes to get

 somewhere. You just see you see a lot of

 people and you put them

 on a pedestal and you say, “hey this is

 this is the thing I need to achieve.” And

 say just because somebody else has found

 success in design does not mean that

 that's the path for you. You may, you know

 the thing that's you know great about

 ourselves as individuals is that our

 experiences that we've had in our life,

 our skills, all these things make up like

 the thing that can really craft your

 uniqueness and your offering. I kept

 trying to like figure out, “okay how do I

 fit within this shape?” It's like no man,

 you just have to like bow out and like

 break the shape at the guts of it and

 just be okay with yourself. And I think

 the biggest part of that... or the biggest

 thing that helped me realize that was

 when I learned to love myself. Because I

 felt like once I loved myself, there were

 no more barriers. And when you find a

 purpose, there's, you know, you know as an

 entrepreneur and anybody that's worked

 in a job that is demanding, if if you

 don't have some sort of purpose behind

 it how are you gonna get through those

 tough parts right? That is the

 hardest thing to think about when when

 shit hits the fan and it goes south, and

 you are at your wits in and you're

 trying to figure out if you're gonna be

 able to keep going... if it's not driven by

 purpose, how the hell are you gonna find

 the guile to like dig through that, you

 know what I mean? So all that

 stuff really helped helped me realize

 that instead of trying to fit inside

 this mold of what designers think

 designers should be, what they think work

 should look like, what what the pinnacle

 looks like... we make that for ourselves.

 And that offering is the thing that

 makes us stand out. So once I realized

 that, it was... oh man. Now I feel the weight

 because I feel like the handcuffs are

 off, and now I'm like, “okay, it's

 it's going down for real now.” And I feel

 like I have an opportunity to really, you

 know, help mentor some people, help help

 some other folks establish some good

 practices if they can carry it into tons

 of different parts of their life. And I

 feel like that

 that freedom, it's irreplaceable man.



so I

wanna I want to talk about the

intersection of of loving yourself and

understanding you have to create your

own lane and martial arts and I was not

planning on talking about this but you

know just the way that you sort of

brought that up we train we train in in

different different arts but martial

arts I don't say martial arts and

martial arts but martial arts and

martial arts right like yeah martial

arts and martial arts right so

absolutely so one of the one of the most

important things that I learned as I was

progressing in Hapkido and then had had

to then relearn again as I started you

know BJJ was you know you you see your

master do things a certain way and then

you try to do it but like you can't

necessarily do it that way and it's not

because he or she is a master and you're

not it's because you're not them you

know what I mean and you start realizing

over time you have to learn these moves

in the way that works for your body you

don't even for your strengths you know

and and then you have to like start

learning how to lean into that like

start start celebrating your strengths

and like forgetting about like the

differences that that you have from from

other people in order to be really

really great so like I'm just wondering

like for you if that was something that

was part of a you know part of helping

to bring you to to yourself 



yeah I think

I think that just comes with the that's

a self-love element as well it's like

you know self-discovery for me is it's a

part it's a step to getting to self-love

I think self-discipline is a step to

getting self-love I think service to

others is the other step for me to get

to self-love when I think about you know

thinking about yes I don't do everything

like everyone else I have my own

limitations you know physical

limitations I have mental limitations

too in terms of you know

experiences in the past and and things

that shape the way I view the world and

interact with people and those things

are the unique elements that that make

you special and what you what you offer

but you know the other thing too is that

sometimes it's a repetition that we have

to build before we can we can get to

that place as well it may be a dexterity

thing as to why you can't you know why

you can't perform a move the same way so

there's there's different reasons for

that and I think there's you know but I

definitely look at you know I'm not

gonna be able to kick somebody right in

the head every time if they're if

there's six foot something I yeah I've

you know you have to accept that and you

you sharpen the skills that you're good

at right now right so I think there was

I've done some recent research on Bruce

Lee and and listened to some different

things but you know he he talks about

this concept of you know he had a he had

a foot that was shorter than the other

so it affected his stance and one of his

students was talking about oh I'm old

and I can't do this and he's like well

it doesn't mean that you you know you

can't succeed it just means that you

have to do it a different way so I think

I think it just comes down to accepting

yourself as you are and that's that's

that is most definitely to me a step

towards self-love self-love to me it's

like it's the handcuffs off once you

love yourself the freedom is there and I

think there are some steps that you have

to take to get to that point and

accepting yourself as you are you know

changing the things you can change but

accepting yourself as you are and

learned you love yourself anyway and

embrace embrace the uniqueness of your

strengths and your weaknesses 



yes sir so

what's been super impressive about

watching you over really the last the

last two years is just how you you made

the decision and you engaged

you clearly have a knack for discipline

because you you know as soon as you

started stepping into martial arts you

started rapidly changing your life you

don't mean like you started running and

you were like eating better and and then

like you were like oh my god I'm like

thinking better and you lost all this

weight and you were just naturally

happier and in getting you know choosing

where you were gonna spend your time

differently and and you've had a really

rapid transformation and I guess over

the last six months at least as I've

been watching the content you've been

creating and putting out online you know

you've been connecting the dots between

this self-love manifested the action of

self-love manifested in how you actually

treat your body right yes and your your

ability to channel creativity right you

know talk about talk about that talk

about that that that magical connection

between the physical and in sort of the

creative being 



yeah I think you know

your recommendation early on and and

this this journey in terms of dr. Kelly

McGonigle's book and the joy of movement

like totally did it for me man from a

science standpoint from a acknowledging

you know the differences between group

exercise and choreographed movement with

others versus movement on your own so

there's Szalai things I feel like I'll

learn from that but I'm still pursuing

I'm seeking continually trying to

educate myself on this stuff because



tell me but tell me I don't need to know

the information I need to know your

experience yeah tell me tell me your

experience like yeah how has it actually

manifested for you you've done the work

and you're feeling the benefits of it

you know and it's clear I can see it in

I can see it in what you're creating mmm

so like talk about that 



yeah men

I think as artists -as creative people-

 there's a certain level of vulnerability

 we have to be comfortable with

 to put ourselves out there. I think it's

 getting harder and harder for people to

 do that because social media and the web

 is kind of a nasty place sometimes…



Cancel culture, and all these things. Yeah...



So it's keeping

 people from, you know, putting themselves

 out there a little bit.

 So there's there's confidence issues

 across the board. You know apprehension

 in just releasing a drawing that's

 maybe not not a hundred percent complete,

 right. So the confidence that I've built

 up in in my own self-discipline -that I

 you know I fostered through martial arts-

 it let me realize that my creative

 process and the work and the output that

 I put into the world, it's it's gonna be

 continually improved upon and that I'm

 never gonna reach a pinnacle in either.

 Because the thing the thing that kind of

 screwed me the first go-around of

 running my own business was that I

 thought I had reached the pinnacle

 because society told me that running

 your own design studio is the the

 definition of success for a creative

 person. I was like, “oh where the hell

 do I go after that?” So I you know I

 didn't... I think that that made me crash.

 So now that I look at things -and I

 and I'm comfortable with just working on

 improvement and looking at longer term

 goals- that confidence from martial arts

 and and that mindset... I took and I

 brought into my creative work, and it

 gave me confidence to make things

 knowing that it's not going to be

 perfect. It's not gonna live up to my

 standards because I always want to get

 better, but that progress was super

 important. And that you know a daily -or

 at least a very scheduled, intentional

 practice in both- they're gonna inform

 each other. So the connection for me was

 built on confidence and and routine, and

 that gave me the

 nerve to approach something that I was a

 little scared of and allowed me to be

 more more vulnerable with myself and

 with the people that I'm working with.

 And only good things have come from that.

 I have not... I'm not I'm not recalling any

 negative side-effects from

 self-discipline building confidence

 through physical movement and applying

 that confidence and mindset to my

 creative work. That's that's the thing

 that really, really did it for me.



yeah and and do you feel like you know

there is because because I because I I

certainly do I I feel this way from an

entrepreneur perspective although I do

feel like with the Instagram culture of

everything being like visibly beautiful

and all that kind of stuff that like

this is changing a little bit maybe and

not so great of a way but I do think

that there was this culture around

entrepreneurship that was like all

around hustle and like working 16 hours

a day you know which would never leave

time for you to sleep well eat well

exercise well right you know all of

those kinds of things and then it was

also like Network go to parties sort of

all that stuff like I said I do feel

like that's changed a little bit here

recently but when I was getting might

when I was earning my stripes as an

entrepreneur that that was not the deal

no one no one gave a damn how much you

could benchpress or if you meditated you

know what I mean they just want to know

did you hustle 18 hours today yeah who's

going harder than who right right you

know and you know I definitely felt like

again back to that like when you're when

you're first entering something and you

you don't yet have that experience you

don't have that wisdom and you didn't

have that mentorship you don't know ones

like telling you yeah that's not

actually the thing you know but Society

is sending all these really off signals

to you 


Do you feel like in the creative

 world, like there is a... as an outsider,

 I'll tell you I do feel like this. That

 there is a real misalignment between

 “take care of yourself” and “be an

 incredible creative.” Like it does not

 feel like those two worlds are being

 encouraged to come together.




 at all. And I've worked in the agency

 setting. I've worked in small studio

 setting before. It's it's “let's take

 young people, use them up, toss them out.”

 That's the way I felt, and that's sad. And

 some people are gonna like the fact that I

 said it, I don't really give a shit.

 There's no priority on the balance and

 health of people. And what I've realized

 is that if you do take that time, and pay

 attention, and take care of yourself, and

 and prioritize that... the output is

 ridiculous. Like the confidence, the the

 quality of work the, just like overall

 demeanor -like just being around people-

 you know? So I think about it like if you

 invest a little bit in making sure your

 team has time to take care of themselves

-or at least prioritizes, emphasizes that

 that's important- and set some boundaries

 that will contribute to that. Because the

 thing that is the hardest about agency

 life is that there's not a lot of

 boundaries in terms of work times. When

 they expect you to respond, working

 nights, working weekend super late. It's

 like you guys need to work smarter not

 longer, you know. And smarter starts with

 healthy, happy people who are ready to

 like get in there and make some work.

 It's like you can't you can't drag out

 good work by just working people to

 death you know. It doesn't... the outcome is

 not, it's not good for anybody. So I think

 you know culturally as an industry, we

 need to change big time. It did give me

 hope; I work at a job now that is not run

 by someone who was brought up in the

 creative industry, someone who who

 pivoted into that role. And that's when I

 knew that things could be different. And

 that's when I knew that you can,

 you know, provide a good environment and

 support for people to live their lives

 in a healthy way. And it comes back

 around. It's so fruitful. And it gave me

 hope that you know, maybe we can change

  1. But it definitely needs some work.

 Needs a lot of work. 



so to that end

you have recently created a podcast

under your your your personal creative


inspirational brand ships co-working it

out yeah yeah I know we all are we all

are but I love the name I love the name

capacity I have a section in my in my

book where I reference this term effort

capacity and you know capacity is

obviously one of those key things you

need to keep an eye on so I love I love

the word it's a great name for a podcast

great job but just quickly talk a little

bit about about capacity the podcast

yeah so you know through my fitness

journey I'm seeing all these changes

happen in a positive way and you know

I'm thinking how can i how can I help

some folks and are there any other

people like me and when I realized that

my uniqueness in mind and by offering

was the the fitness and the creative

part those were the two things that made

me specialist and man there's got to be

some other people like that around and

you know it honestly started with this

Muay Thai fighter who's number one

ranked in America that I just

interviewed on the podcast he he would

just go for graphic ghazan so he has a

graphic design degree he manages his own

brands go check the interview out on

capacity it's on Spotify and all the

other main podcast platforms but you

know he once I realized he had he had

people around him that were doing

similar things so there's a there's a

guy that does comic illustrations and

practices Muay Thai there's you know I

made friends with this Portuguese runner

nappy Nieto she's uh she's a marathoner

and she paints and we're good friends

like I started seeking people out

because I wanted to surround myself with

like my

people so that we could you know not

only support each other but challenge

each other and share stuff with each

other and like you know it's I felt

really lucky to be able to find some of

those other people and I think once I

had that lens and was looking at

creativity and fitness I realized there

were a lot of great stories that needed

to be you know I needed to find a way to

share them with the world because

selfishly for me it was a great

opportunity to learn from these people

who are you know operating at a high

level and in a couple different skill

sets so that was important and that kind

of drove capacity as well my friend

Simone Wilder who's a fantastic

illustrator designer she lost over a

hundred and twenty pounds man and in the

last year it's like totally transformed

her life and we talked about you know

kind of her her her resilience she did a

365 day project so for any creative

person to do something consecutively

like that it really shows resilience and

I feel like those are the stories that

people can latch onto because most of

the time it just takes a small step and

I think people see the end result and

they're a little little nervous about

you know trying to live up to something

like that but ultimately each person

started somehow and most of the time it

it's a small step and I think you know

getting some of these stories about how

people get going and what drives them

you know from a mindset perspective how

they're structuring their life those are

things that you can train a person to do

so it's not it's not a talent or skill

based think so there there's a

step-by-step system and method that I'm

I'm trying to formalize a little more

because I I see the power in it and I I

get man I got a message yesterday just

like totally made me so yeah I just I

lost it because somebody that's a dear

friend of mine took

the first step to like trying to get

control of her her life and you know her

her fitness and and try to feel good

about making creative work again and

that was the thing that made me realize

capacity was important to support this

you know I'm I'm doing the mentorship

stuff and you know kind of this creative

career consultant works and I'm

formalizing as well but capaci is a

great way to have a longer discussion

about how these sayings have affected my

life how they've affected other athlete

and artist lives and how they're using

that like be their their most badass

version of themselves and it just it

gets me stoked man it's really it really

made me feel like I'm pursuing the right

thing and that's the first time I've

felt like that in my life dude that's

amazing so I'm super proud of you dude

you know just watching you continue to

be courageous and try new things and you

know risk failure which happens rarely

as I think you're continuing to find

like you just keep putting yourself out

there and people keep resonating with it

and you know I think that this this this

intersection of creativity and and

physical well-being is is massive it's a

huge huge opportunity and that community

has to be built you know and and I think

that's that's the thing a lot of people

don't think about when they think about

the value that comes from doing a

podcast it is that you end up creating

community you know what I mean like we

talk a lot but it's been a while since

we've had like a good 30-minute

conversation like you know and for me to

like really hear like what's going on

with you right and so you know I just

know you're getting so much value out of

it I've listened to two episode so far I

think it's great it's a it's a it

reinforces things that I believe and

reminds me of things that I need to that

I need to like maybe get back on the

horse with so it's awesome yeah right

exactly that is right it's just like

reminding you of like what you need to

know man so anyway dude like I told you

half-hour would go fast and

here we are at the end but before we do

checkout anything just sort of final

things it could be like I'm gonna

promote you but like just in terms of

any any final messages you you have for

everybody watching and listening no I

think the first step is always the

hardest one and I think if you if you

set some attainable goals it will get

you in motion for progress and once you

get on that horse it just keeps it keeps

fueling what you do so stick it out like

take that first step and and don't set

the bar so high that you can't achieve

it said it said it where it's work and

set it where it's chiva Bowl and then

start building on things after that and

I feel like it's a it's a good way to

start implementing some healthier

practices little affects every aspect of

your life good people the incredible

Stephen Jones you're gonna want to

follow this guy I know it so here's how

you can do it ships co studio basically

everywhere online Facebook Instagram


he's on LinkedIn and ships Co

go follow go support this guy he is

really putting it out there putting his

heart out there sharing his story being

vulnerable it's it's inspiring and it's

also a way for you to like connect in

with your own vulnerabilities and and

find that spark you might need today to

go take that walk do those jumping jacks

you know whatever that thing is you like

to do that movement that's gonna then

have these incredible downstream

benefits for the rest of your life this

is a guy who just just by tuning in will

help you get there so thank you Steve of

being here this is the final day of book

launch week for me create and

orchestrate we have had an unbelievable

week we hit number one on Amazon in six

categories most importantly

entrepreneurship so I just want to thank

everybody out there for being incredibly

supportive this was just such a humbling

humbling week for me to see all the

support and the love and I hope that if

you've bought it that you are enjoying

it and finding it valuable and if you

haven't it is still 99 cents through

Monday so through the entire holiday

weekend here in the US it would be 99

cents so go grab a copy

Podcast Marcus Woody's audio universe

everywhere that you get podcasts go

subscribe if you haven't already you can

find me online everywhere at Marcus

Whitney and Marcus Whitney comm is where

you can subscribe for the newsletter and

all that other good stuff

that is it I'm so happy to wrap this

week up I've not slept well so I'm gonna

be taking this weekend off for real for

real but love y'all let's build a new

normal have a great weekend peace Marcus

Whitney's audio universe

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