Creativity, Expression, & Movement: Finding Purpose Through Dance | with Nicole Winhoffer

While working with teens struggling with addiction, John Kim discovered a common thread shared by the people he worked with: no one had a dad. As he put it, “We live in a fatherless nation.” From there, he developed a passion for creating dialogue with other men and started a blog called The Angry Therapist, where his blunt and authentic insights quickly built him a cult following. He practiced transparency and shared his personal story, which was extremely counter-cultural in the therapist space. He made a name for himself by seeing his clients out in the real world—at coffee shops, on hikes, or at the gym—places where life happens. He quickly built a coaching team of his own and launched a sister company called JRNI to change the way people change their lives.

Born in North Korea, John’s family saw the U.S. as the dream. They came to the country and settled in Georgia with $500 and two children. Some of John’s earliest memories of being in America are of feeling like an outsider, feeling unwelcome. They didn’t stay there long. They quickly made the decision to move to California, where he’s been ever since.

John’s  parents worked very hard and kept themselves busy. Meanwhile, John spent his childhood playing and seeking adventure, getting raised by culture. He wasn’t very academically successful, so he found ways to stand out through skateboarding. He became a screenwriter, and while he loved the writing, he couldn’t stand the environment. Friends of his became millionaires overnight but he felt like a struggling artist. Eventually divorced, unhappy with what he was doing, he thought the only way out was to write one successful screenplay. His therapist asked him, “If you can’t make movies, what would you do?” John knew then that, if he couldn’t move the masses, he wanted to move people one at a time.

When he first started doing work as a therapist, he tried to go the traditional route, with a dress shirt tucked in and an office—but he didn’t feel like himself. It wasn’t until he got home blogging and building community on social media that he felt like he was being true to himself. He started making videos, experimenting with technology, and meeting people at local coffee shops, and something about that resonated with him. This was the first time he really listened to his authentic voice.

From there, he pivoted to becoming one of the pioneers of the online life coaching movement. He felt constricted as a therapist. By calling himself a coach, he was given the freedom to work in a more honest, unconventional way. He could meet people where they were. The people he worked with found it refreshing. His blog planted the soil so that when he started working with people they knew who he was and what he was about.

Through all of this, the most important thing John can say is: Trust your story. Most people are ashamed of what has happened in their story, but they are uniquely ours and they are the most powerful thing in our lives. Embrace it, share it, trust it.

What Brett asks:

  • [02:24] How did your early childhood shape you?
  • [07:12] How did pop culture help you find yourself?
  • [17:01] How did your striving for attention start to unfold in your life?
  • [20:08] What happened at the end of your marriage?
  • [30:57] Did you ever get addicted to success in the same way you were seeking it out as a kid?
  • [34:32] What is the difference between coaching and therapy from your perspective?
  • [46:12] What’s fueling you right now?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • Listen to your authentic voice. John’s voice was telling him all along that he was chasing the wrong ideals, but he kept after them assuming that he would be happy on the other side of it. It wasn’t until he found what he was meant to do that he began to listen.