Simeon Schnapper is a psychedelic philanthropist, futurist, and managing partner of JLS Fund, formed to aid investment in the booming intersection of science, technology, and neurology investigating the use of plant-based and psychedelic medicines to heal illness and enhance wellness. 

Simeon initially found his way into a burgeoning career in the world of the performing arts, becoming a staple of the Chicago theater and improv scene, and even releasing a feature film, Dot, as a star-writer-producer-director in 2002. He taught thousands of students in his time spent as a faculty member of the Second City Conservatory.

That list of achievements would be more than enough for most people, but Simeon was slowly drawn away from the arts in favor of work in the world of tech and business. He founded Youtopia, a highly successful engagement platform, as well as the world’s first Visionary Art Gallery and Medical Marijuana Dispensary, and co-founded The Family Office Funding Challenge. He even spent time as President of The Hinman Foundation, a nonprofit focused on providing grants to community-based organizations.

Today, he works for the JLS fund, where their focus is on the development of drugs, as well as the technology and tools that can accelerate and enhance the delivery and use of their therapies. 

We start off by discussing Simeon’s upbringing after being born to Peace Corp parents which set his early life up as a constant discovery and exploration across different countries and cultures. With that diverse foundation, a personal ethos of exploration and helping those in need became deeply ingrained in his belief system. 

He had experiences with the world of magic and mysticism from an early age, that stood to shape his view of the limitations of our scientific understanding and what may be out there for those with an open mind.

We also discuss the world of psychedelics and plant-based medicines, as well as how the associated social landscape has changed. It’s still a volatile subject, politically; Simeon weighs in on the stigma and stability of the industry, as well as where anyone interested in the benefits of psychedelics can start their own journey to enlightenment.

What Brett asks:

  • [00:57] Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me about your childhood.
  • [06:15] What were you like as a child? 
  • [08:20] Were you an entrepreneurial kid?
  • [11:30] What was it about business that drew you away from your creative pursuits?
  • [20:40] Was growing up with Peace Corp parents exciting?
  • [23:00] Where did the freedom of your childhood lead you?
  • [30:00] How do you feel about the notion that your entire life experience has fed into what you do now?
  • [37:20] How does it feel to be doing good in an area that’s so heavily stigmatized?
  • [45:10] Do you worry that things in the area of psychedelics are changing so fast that it could all be shut down?
  • [53:30] Where do you recommend people start with psychedelics?
  • [58:20] Any final thoughts?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • One of the common themes of Gravity is learning to appreciate our parents so much more in adulthood. Simeon’s parents used a knowing hands-off approach to raising him. It meant that he never felt the need to act out or rebel against the system. And yet, it also instilled him with the confidence and outside-the-box mentality that has served him so well in adulthood.
  • Psychedelics are not something to be taken lightly or flippantly, but we should be increasingly aware of their potential to aid people – especially those of us who suffer on a regular basis. Speak to a medical specialist before making any decisions.
  • Perhaps more importantly, we all need to remember that psychedelics are offering many people with a legitimate form of medicine. We should all strive to destigmatize the notion of treating medical problems with their use, even if we don’t intend to do so ourselves.