SASM 017 – Growing the Seeds of Health, Relationships, and Abundance with James Clear

Smart and Simple Matters

James Clear is all about helping people be healthy.

And after digging into and listening to him speak, I have no doubt that his movement is on solid ground. Not only that, but he’s successful in helping people achieve and maintain their own version of optimal health.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. The communities exploding around fitness and health – online and offline – have a number of stellar people rocking their niche within this massive movement.

But as you’ll find, his concept of health is very different from the traditional mindset. After listening to James talk, you might be convinced that not getting your butt in gear (my words, not his) is a sure way to limit your happiness, health, curiosity, and ability to connect with others.

Now, some of you may already know James or have seen his words and photos online. His creations have been featured on US News & World Report, Travel & Leisure, Yahoo, Lifehacker, and the Flickr homepage.

But he offers us a slice of his philosophy and resources you won’t find anywhere else. Just from our chat, here are some words I’m reflecting on:

When you push yourself physically, it reveals what you’re made of mentally … and you solidify your sense of self-worth because you understand exactly what you can do. – James Clear


The people you surround yourself with is not a business decision. It’s a life decision. – James Clear

To see James’ abundance mindset even better, he is the first guest on Smart and Simple Matters that offered to package up the resources we spoke about (meaning I didn’t have to). Ummm … awesome! Thanks for doing that, James! Everyone can find those resources you’ve packaged up just for the SASM community at

One more thing before we get into what you’ll learn from our chat. Check out what this impressive fella has to say about the beauty of spreadsheets:

That spreadsheet’s always there for me to look at and say, ‘You know what? You’re still making progress every week. So there’s no reason to stop now … The numbers don’t lie.’

Are you stoked yet? I know I am!

What You’ll Learn

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • When to watch out for “getting so healthy that you’re unhealthy.”
  • How to be your family’s first entrepreneur…and rock it right out of the gate.
  • Where you could find the seeds of curiosity, exploration, and experimentation.
  • What James would have happily turned down a million dollars to continue doing.
  • Why James practices intermittent fasting … and how.
  • The link between spreadsheets and doing 100 push-ups in a row (seriously).
  • The abundance mindset and not being afraid to give.
  • What James was born and bred to be.
  • Why  relationships are the ultimate form of capital (even more than money and time).

Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode Include:


  • [02:59] The seeds of awesomeness (a.k.a. stories from James’ youth)
  • [05:54] The mission and cause that’s bigger than any one person
  • [15:41] Why James practices intermittent fasting and how
  • [18:43] Measuring your progress in physical training and overall health
  • [22:32] What an “abundance mindset” looks like to James
  • [30:28] Being a practitioner of happiness and gratitude

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The transcript will not be available until I find a new transcriptionist (if you know someone good, let me know).

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6 Responses to SASM 017 – Growing the Seeds of Health, Relationships, and Abundance with James Clear

  1. Ethan says:

    What a fantastic interview! My first exposure to James Clear was his Identity Based Habits article, which I really enjoyed. This podcast really cemented it for me- James is one of my new favorite bloggers. I really dig his cross disciplinary style and think he’s got a good heart too.

    The description of being in a really happy place at a younger age and then spending years chasing that happy feeling was really beautifully put. I can really identify with that as well- I decided to give up on my dreams of being a professional musician after college, and then spent years in the corporate world trying to find something that made me feel as wonderful as playing my violin, or singing with my guitar. Now that I’ve started my own business, I have time for music and I love my work. Keep these podcasts coming Joel!

  2. Denise says:

    I like what he said about focusing on giving and helping others first. Because it’s true – people can get their resources other places – it doesn’t have to be from you/me. But, that help we can give people, when we reach out on a personal level is often times the real reason people come to you specifically.

    I also resonated with surrounding yourself with people with the energy you want – but, with the understanding, of course, that people shouldn’t be dismissed or ridden off if they’re having a bad day or going through a hard time. Real life isn’t always positive and energetic and showing compassion requires us to be there for the bad times too.

    Excellent interview! Lots of good stuff in there :)

    • Sometimes I think I know someone new to me by the energy they radiate the first couple of times we interact. But you’re so right on that we shouldn’t evaluate whether someone is positive or helpful by the attitude and energy we see from them over a short period of time. Even eternal optimists and “sunny” personalities (me for example) have down days or times when they just don’t feel like being helpful.

      Part of your comment also reminded me of a great quote I took from Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture: “This is beautiful advice that I got once from Jon Snoddy, my hero at Disney Imagineering: ‘If you wait long enough people will surprise and impress you.’ As he saw things: When you’re frustrated with people, when they’ve made you angry, it just may be because you haven’t given them enough time. Jon warned me that sometimes this took great patience, even years.”

      I’m glad you like our chat, Denise. And I’m glad you comment here so frequently. It adds a lot of value to Value of Simple.

    • James Clear says:

      Denise — I’m so excited to hear that you enjoyed the interview. Keep up the great work on your end and I’ll do my best to continue sharing good ideas on mine! :)

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