Jeremy Gardner, Millennial Serial Investor & Founder, on His Personal Wellness, Living with Radical Transparency, and Ikigai

Name: Jeremy Gardner
Title: CEO MadeMan, Managing Partner at Ausum Ventures
Based in: Miami Beach and San Francisco
Age: 27

Jeremy Gardner became a self-made multi-millionare before the age of 25 by investing in cryptoassets and co-founding Augur, a blockchain-based prediction market platform. Before Augur, he founded the Blockchain Education Network, a global educational nonprofit, and afterwards founded Distributed magazine, SAAVHA, an enterprise security startup, and most recently MadeMan, a men’s skincare startup. He continues to advise and invest in startups in the blockchain industry as the co-founder of Ausum Ventures, a hybrid venture-hedge fund comprised of startups and crypto-assets for social good.

As a fellow millennial, I asked Jeremy, who’s been a friendly acquaintance of mine over the years, to participate in this interview series for ATEM as we gather diverse minds to speak out and explore individual representations of good living, wellness, and mental health. We discuss what wellness means to him, and how the things of his past and his present, his passions, and the qualities in himself have shaped and informed the way he lives now.

1. In your words, who are you?

Jeremy:  I’m a serial founder and investor. I love startups. I love getting them off the ground and giving them life. 

2. Give us a day in your life.

Jeremy: I flew from Cabo in the early hours of the morning, where I was on a birthday retreat with several of my closest friends, all of whom are extraordinary entrepreneurs and business people. I took a meeting in LA regarding the financing for my new skincare venture, before taking a flight to Miami, where I am now. So I spent most of my day on airplanes, which isn’t abnormal, and is typically quite productive, as I get time to crank out emails and do boring work undistracted.

3.   You advocate by certain ideologies to live by from Eastern influences. What factors have prompted you to explore wellness in ways that were not prescribed to you as a person that is born in the US?

Jeremy: My philosophical and ideological influences come from every corner of the globe. My father is an East Asian historian, focused primarily on Confucianism, which led my parents and I to live in Japan for six months when I nine. That was an incredibly formative experience. But over the past half decade, as a result of being an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in the blockchain space, I have traveled to over sixty countries and every habitable continent. That inevitably opened my eyes to perspectives I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

4. You are vocal about your personal and professional life. Do you hold any life philosophies as it applies to the realm of merging the personal and professional space? Mixing business with pleasure? 

Jeremy: We live in an age of surveillance capitalism. Like it or not, big tech companies, even more so than the company, know everything about us. Our data is perpetually mined and exploited. I have committed myself to combatting this Orwellian reality through blockchain technology and broader tech investing. However, as an individual, I find it totally absurd to believe that I can behave one way in my private life, and put on an entirely different façade professionally. It’s untenable and creates massive cognitive dissonance. With social media, online communications, and (smartphone) cameras in everyone’s hands, the ability to maintain the sense of decorum that was expected of previous generations is near-nonexistant. The frightening trajectory of technology and its lack of safeguards means that the wall young people try to create between these two components of their lives will inevitably be broken down. Thus, I live my life with radical transparency and shamelessness.

5. Have you always felt safe talking about your mental and emotional wellbeing from childhood? If not, what are or were some barriers to entry with disclosing this to your community?

Jeremy: I always have been a talker. I’ve rarely been one to not express how I feel or what I’m thinking. Over the years I’ve learned to manage that tendency and show more nuance in how I articulate myself. That being said, I see my openness as a mechanism to have frank conversations that others may not be willing to have, and to touch on issues some may be uncomfortable with.

6. Describe your wellness regimen if you have one. What are some actions you take to keep yourself well? (please be as specific as possible in what you do!)

Jeremy: I believe mental health comes first and foremost. Ensuring that I am maintaining my sanity while running all of my different ventures is essential. Mindful breathing is the most important tool employ on a constant basis. Breathing in and out and just slowing my brain does wonders. Given the number of different organizations and individuals I’m responsible for, the best skill I have developed is delegation: discerning the critical tasks I must accomplish and then identifying the right person to fulfill every other responsibility. Lastly, despite all my sleepless nights, I’d say I average about eight hours of sleep a night. When I miss a night or two (which happens more than I’d like), I’ll try to catch up when I get a chance. This is totally unscientific but it works for me.

7. Do you use any apps or refer to any websites/blogs/thoughtblogs that you feel have directly impacted your wellbeing? If so, can you list them?

Jeremy: I tend to take up and adopt little nuggets of insight and advice I get from friends, strangers, and the interwebs, but totally at random. 

8. What are some to-dos or tools personal to you that you do or utilize to be well? (can be an echo of 6, and 7; if so, please feel free to move on)

Jeremy: I have a professional coach (which is Silicon Valley’s rebranding of “therapist”) who helps me manage my expectations for myself and responsibilities. Whether it’s a coach or shrink, it’s vital to have someone that keeps you accountable, without an emotional connection.

9. Work and happiness – do you think they come hand in hand?

Jeremy: My personal recipe for happiness is like a yin and yang: I have to feel like I’m having a broad, positive impact on the world, while also having fun. It’s this constant balancing act. Thus, I’m not sure I could ever retire, because so much of my happiness derives from the work that I do. I don’t think this is true for everyone, I know some people that truly find satisfaction in doing nothing, or just traveling. But if I had to boil it down, it’s about discovering one’s ikigai, which is the Japanese term for “reason for being.” It’s a fascinating Venn diagram that I encourage people to check out.

Find your Ikigai.
 BODETREE, ADAPTED FROM FRANCESC MIRALLES

10. When you envision your life of wellness, what does that look like to you if you were to draw yourself and your life out, whether it be from the framing of a regimen or lifestyle?

Jeremy: I don’t believe in regimen at this point in my life. It’s all fairly haphazard. I ensure that I stay grounded and healthy enough, but primarily focus on making an outsized impact where I am now in my career, and indulging the incredible opportunities that have arisen before me. As long as I am not behaving in a way that is deeply detrimental to my long term health (physical or mental), I am saving regimens and habits until my thirties.

11. What are some companies that are developing smart products with positive impact that you admire? 

Jeremy: Socially impactful startups are a big part of what I invest in so I have a lot:

I am an investor in Gyroscope, a really cool health app. Trustory is creating healthy debates on the Internet. Finless Foods is growing fish so we don’t have to pillage our oceans. Finova Financial enables socially responsible consumer loans for cars. Paybook creates transparent accounting for political campaigns, religious organizations, and beyond. Vantage Point is a VR-based sexual harassment training application. Good Money is creating ethical consumer banking. Proof-of-Impact is a startup focused on developing accountable impact measurements and the first ever impact marketplace.

Interview by Susan Im

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