Hi, I'm Michael.
I'm a multi-passionate person, so I’ve had a winding career path:
- Working on some of the top-rated video games of all time at Square Enix and Naughty Dog;
- Doing postgraduate research on a prestigious full scholarship at the #1 university in Japan (which I ended up leaving early, but that's another story);
- Leading user experience design and digital product management for some of the top brands in the world;
- Management consulting, Agile coaching, and executive coaching leaders at Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and startups.
Super successful, right?
On paper, sure. But I realized I wasn’t happy. I felt empty inside. Numb. Not connected to anything bigger than myself (I was a strong atheist; I wasn't deeply passionate about a cause; and, there wasn't any community I felt real belonging in).
So, after years of settling for my life feeling "meh, ok"—and telling myself that my job was probably fine, maybe my standards for happiness were too high—I finally decided to prioritize what I really needed.
I took dramatic action, pushing myself way outside my comfort zone. Everything from sky diving, to plant medicine journeys, to ecstatic dance in a forest yurt, to getting ultra-vulnerable in front of big crowds of people.
Along the way, I quit my fancy, high-paying career, and I signed up for all sorts of training to prepare me to support people with their deepest challenges.
Eventually, I transformed my experience of life—I felt dramatically more connection and fulfillment; more impact and ease in getting important things done; and more aliveness than I knew was possible.
I’d love to help you do the same.
My personal mission is to help with two big problems:
#1: The modern world is stacked against you. It's hard to know where to focus time & energy.
Life today is more complicated than our 100,000-year-old brains can handle.
We evolved to live in groups of 150 people—not billions.
Plus, modern life is a constant battle against all the forces of capitalism, advertising, and shaming that make each of us feel like we're not enough.
So, one of my personal missions is to help people like you navigate life.
To focus on what's actually important and nourishing for you—not what marketing and the 24/7 news cycle tell you to worry about.
I'm lucky to have been born with an ENTP mind that loves to synthesize information. So I think of myself as a personal growth pathfinder.
Since I quit my corporate job, I've arranged my life to prioritize free time & mental bandwidth.
This way, I can spend my time exploring, experimenting, and figuring out what's most valuable for me to recommend to others.
(Also, I'm yet another heterosexual white guy writing about how to live a great life. So, I like to approach this work with both humility and curiosity.)
I don't have all the answers. But I can at least highlight the most common threads of truth I've uncovered across a variety of reputable sources.
#2: Because of all that, you feel depressed, anxious, and/or nihilistic.
If you’re like I was for most of my life, you’re a highly-intelligent logical thinker who spends a lot of time in your head.
That head is full of ideas. You have so much potential inside. You know you're capable of big things, and you know the world needs help right now.
But so often you feel stuck.
It's hard to finish what you start. Hard to pick just one thing that feels like your true calling. Hard to keep your energy and motivation up.
"Ugh, why does this keep happening?"
or "Meh, maybe none of this actually matters."
or "Damn it, this idea felt so alive just a little while ago, and now it already feels dead to me."
Like I said, that was me for most of my 20's.
And after a lot of hard work, I managed to dramatically change my life (most days at least!).
Now, I help people like you boost your motivation, design your life purpose, and feel more alive.
Beyond the professional, who am I?
Analytical challenger + Compassionate counselor: I spent most of my life stuck in my head—I'd always been highly-analytical and skeptical of anything woo-woo. But, along my journey, I've become a lot more open-minded, feelings-oriented, and spiritual (not religious; see below for what this word means to me).
I'm now at home in two very different worlds, and I'm aiming to bridge them:
Thinking. The fast-paced corporate world of technology, business, cognitive analysis, organizational leadership, competition, individual focus, lifehacking, investing, and world travel
Feeling. The slow, embodied world of mindful seekers, dance, counter-culture, intentional festivals, meditation, psychedelics & plant medicine, Buddhism, deep vulnerability, and local community
- I live in Portland, Oregon in an intentional-community house that my partner and I created with five other people (plus my cat, Mr. Truffles, who's our mindfulness teacher)
- I'm an ENTP (the "Visionary, Debater, Inventor") in the Jung-Myers 16 types, which means I have constant new ideas but hate red tape and rigid structures. I'm a 5w4/6 (balanced wings) on the Enneagram.
- My most important values are:
- Connection (intimacy, community, authenticity)
- Freedom (autonomy, health, safety)
- Growth (openness, self-improvement, practicing equanimity)
- Awakening (Buddhism, curiosity & wonder, present-moment awareness)
- Truth (learning, accuracy, clarity)
- I'm passionate about mindfulness and Buddhism (particularly Sōtō Zen). I meditate for 1-2 hours a day
- Here are some of the ways I spend my time:
- Facilitating groups to venture outside their comfort zones, and attending & hosting "authentic relating" experiences where we practice being transparent and vulnerable
- Writing, particularly as a way to synthesize my thoughts and better understand people and reality
- Trying to impress my awesome cat, Mr. Truffles, with toys instead of the boxes they came in
- Following the world of AI, VR, and other technologies with the potential to substantially alter society
- Pretending that I'm a coffee snob even though I can't actually name any of the tasting notes
- Reading sci-fi and fantasy (my favorite book is The Way of Kings, and my favorite movie is Spirited Away)
Running away from the void
I’ve lived in Montreal, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Washington DC, and now Portland.
Why so many moves? I told myself I was searching for fulfillment and happiness. I tried to find it at each place, then I got bored, felt stuck, and moved.
I kept running because I felt a void inside me that I didn't understand. I knew something big was missing but I wasn't sure what. And there was a physical tightness in my gut that chased me wherever I went.
I finally realized that wasn't sustainable.
Putting my comfort on the line
I’d always been a very analytical, logical person who had shied away from serious emotional & spiritual growth. I was raised Catholic but turned strong atheist as a teenager. And—as much as I hated myself for it—I had looked down on overly-emotional "feelers."
My life was filled with the traditional markers of success—a full scholarship to do postgraduate research at the #1 university in Asia, working on some of the top-rated video games of all time, getting paid a lot of money as a management consultant for famous Fortune 500 companies, etc.
Despite all that, I wasn't happy. I often felt depressed & empty.
Five years ago, I decided to take a hard look at my life and do something about it.
I'd always rejected the idea of "putting down roots" somewhere since I thought that would be admitting defeat. I thought it would mean abandoning personal development to just settle down and be like everyone else.
But I decided to actually test that theory and stay put in Portland to see if I could find a lifestyle and friends that finally resonated with me.
Transforming my life
I settled down in Portland and I tried everything from weird meetups, to a highly-progressive church, to partner dancing, to mindfulness retreats, to practicing authentic relating & vulnerable sharing in a yurt in the forest.
Most of all, I found communities that I really resonated with, and I finally found my people. I felt like I belonged, and that was incredible after so long feeling lonely.
I started going to community retreats every month, and I went from being the guy standing awkwardly on the side watching other people dance to being the first one out on the dance floor.
I realized how many stories I'd been telling myself that simply weren't true—like that dancing was for other people (physically-oriented people, I told myself, not mentally-oriented people like me).
And after a lot of hard work, I finally learned to feel a type of aliveness I hadn't known was possible.
That big transformation was five years ago.
But I quickly realized that kind of change is like an onion—I had peeled back the first layer, and since then there have been many others.
I've continued my journey in a variety of ways: exploring psychedelics (with great care & intentionality), diving deeper into meditation & Buddhism, getting more in touch with my body & nervous system (via acupuncture, rolfing, tai chi, qi gong, hakomi, etc.), and so many other parallel tracks.
I went from meditating for 10 minutes a day to 90 minutes.
And after a decade in the corporate world, I left all that money & security behind.
I got more training, started my full-time private practice in coaching & counseling, and began thinking of myself not just as "someone who writes," but as a writer.
Now, I'm not only doing my dream career, but I'm living my dream lifestyle (freedom & flexibility), and I feel clearer than ever about the "meaning of life"—the most fundamental purpose of being alive.
Speaking of finding my people and feeling more alive…
Not to brag, but I happen to have been part of a new Guinness World Record: the most people dressed in dinosaur costumes (beating the previous record of 252, we had 380).
Silly? Yes, and that's the point. Back before my big transformation, I wasn't comfortable with play. I would have thought that events like that were for other people.
Not anymore (most days at least!).
The elusive "life purpose"
Here's an example of an important lesson I learned the hard way.
Personal development authors love to talk about life purpose. They'll casually mention theirs as if they'd always known it.
Worst of all are the self-help books that talk about "finding" your purpose, as if it'll simply come to you one day on a backpacking trip across Southeast Asia or at a Vipassana meditation retreat.
For years, I'd been trying to "find" my life purpose. I traveled. I read all the books. But nothing ever felt quite right.
Here's the truth.
It's a lot harder than all that. But once you really figure it out, it does change everything.
After years of treading water, I worked with a coach who challenged me to explore a completely different side of life—the world of feelings, embodiment, and ecstatic experiences.
It will be different for each person. But those things turned out to be exactly what I needed to be pushed toward. And after a lot of hard work, I finally realized that my purpose wouldn't ever find me.
I had to create it.
My current life purpose statement:
"I am the pathfinder who investigates uncommon paths toward deep personal growth and Awakening*. I model and teach the most effective paths I've found in order to guide others toward greater aliveness, self-awareness, and alignment with their unique life purposes."
*Awakening = a Zen Buddhist term that means seeing more of the truth of reality and selfhood
It's a bit of a mouthful, but it's very specifically written to capture all the nuances that are important to me.
And I want to be transparent about something: That's what it looks like after 10 iterations (and that's 10 for this latest version alone—there were many other versions over the years that never felt quite right).
See what I mean? Reading through it, you might assume I came up with it in a single afternoon.
Nope. That purpose statement represents months of work.
And because of that, there's real power behind it. It feels more alive to me, and that makes me want to take it seriously.
But, truthfully, it would have taken me far longer to get there if I'd continued my effort alone.
I'd meditated on it, I'd read all the big lifehacking books, and I'd gone through the most commonly recommended life planning exercises.
But the real shift came when I worked with a coach. Someone who got to know me and my specific needs, not the general reader that the book authors are speaking to.
Someone who really heard me and challenged me to go after what I truly needed.