Dr. Adi Jaffe: „The last arrest was a full SWAT team arrest by the Beverly Hills police department“

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von Nicole Paulus
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Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Can you tell our audience in your own words who you are and what it is you do?  

Adi:
My name is Dr. Adi Jaffe, I have a PhD in Psychology from UCLA here in Los Angeles, and I specialize in helping people who struggle with mental health, addiction and relationship issues. I have been doing that for the last 13-14 years, working in treatment centers, working online, starting my own rehab and a whole slew of other efforts.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Can you give us a summary of your hero’s journey – how did you get to this point?

Adi:
I will start out by saying that the full version of this story is available in a lot of other podcasts, stories and online TedX talk but I got to be interested in this journey, which I probably wouldn’t have called a Hero’s Journey, because I struggled myself with heavy, heavy, drug and alcohol problems from the age of 17 to the age of 25-26. That struggle got me into a lot of trouble, trouble at school, with my family and things like that initially but then with the law. I got arrested a handful of times, about four times. The last arrest was a full SWAT team arrest by the Beverly Hills police department in my apartment which was actually about 10 miles away from Beverly Hills so they were nice enough to come see me over there on a Saturday morning. It was that arrest where I was looking at 13-18 years in prison which got me to turn around. I had to go to rehab, failed out of one rehab, really understood how badly I was struggling and how much of an issue that was going to cause if I didn’t get my act together so I ended up going to a second rehab. I realized I had to do whatever was necessary to get to the next point in my life and so I was able to spend the next 8 months or so showing up every day just as the best version of myself as I could. I still screwed up a bunch of times but not badly enough to get kicked out of that rehab. And so I finished about 8 months there, and then I had to face the court. Because of the effort I had put into rehab, he was willing to give me a year in prison instead of the 3-5 years that the District Attorney was asking for. Which was a gift, indeed. He gave me a year but he also said he was adding another 7 years on the side if I screwed up which was a big weight and probably helped me stay on the straight and narrow. I did a year in jail. When I got out I had to figure out how to change my life. Everyone I knew was either still dealing, in prison or dead. I had to work really really hard. I tried to get a job for 9 months, but had to turn back to school. I hated school but I went back to school because I couldn’t get a job at the mall, as a pizza delivery guy, as a Bar back. I couldn’t get a job as anything so I went back to school and obviously that turned out well and the rest of the story goes from there.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What was one of the biggest failures you had when first starting out on your career path?

Adi:
As mentioned, getting to my career path had a lot of failures. I had to struggle with a lot of those ups and downs just to even get back to school and really I would say, now I don’t look at them as failures but at the time there were many many hurdles I had to jump over many walls I had to climb. I barely got out of my undergraduate career. I barely graduated college. And I swore I would never go back, but life has a funny way of making you do things you never thought you would do.
And so that was one of the biggest failures where I was barely making it out of college.
Other failures were getting arrested. Once I got back to school, because I hadn’t worked that hard at undergrad, there was some make up work I had to do. I don’t look at it as a failure now but at the time it felt really demoralizing because I had a lot of work to catch up on my undergrad days when I finally got back in to graduate school. I had to go from this place, where I was a drug dealer, I had a lot of money, living this really crazy life to sitting in this class making up Statistics classes. There was a lot of humility and internal dialogue I had to have with myself, “You know what, this is just what I have to do right now to get where I’m going.”
Maybe one of the biggest failures that existed before that was initially I had finished my undergrad at UCLA and I was trying to get back in to UCLA but they said to me “you don’t have the credentials, or the GPA, or the work background to let you in so don’t even bother.” And again that was something I had to jump over, and go, “ok, just because they rejected me doesn’t mean I’m not good enough. In the end, jokes on them, I still ended up going to graduate school at UCLA and graduating with a PhD…it just took a little bit longer.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there a piece of advice a family member or mentor gave you early on that you didn’t follow and what was the result?

Adi:
Earlier on in my life I don’t feel like there was a lot of mentorship if I am really honest. My dad was always really great at what he did and it got pointed out how great he was at what he did, but there wasn’t a lot of hand holding about what does that mean in terms of how I should show up in my life and so that’s probably part of the reason why I was missing some of the skills, some of the basic ways of looking at my life that were required in order to get me where I needed to go but, yea, there was not a ton of mentorship. It was like „your dad is amazing, you should try to be like him. you have the skills and talent, you can do it.” Obviously they were right but there weren’t a lot of tools and help on how to get there.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What was one of the most recent failures you had (either personal or professional) and what did you learn as a result?

Adi:
I have personal and professional “failures”, as you call them, often but I call them mishaps, stumbles, road bumps, pivots. I don’t look at them as failures anymore. Success is paved with what people call failures, so I just look at them as learning opportunities. There are millions of them, relationships issues with my wife, we’ve been married for 12 years, known each other for 18 years, and every once in a while there is another big conflict that rears its ugly head that becomes a massive personal issue that I need to deal with for a long time. I’ve been running this new company, IGNTD, for about 4-5 years. We are nowhere near where I wanted to be. As I go and try to reach into some pretty massive projects that I want to work on at one level, they maybe pan out but maybe not as big as I wanted them to be, and that can feel like a failure. And even the company I started before this, 4-5 years ago, was a rehab center that we ended up closing down after 5 years leaving me in debt. I would say there are a ton of what people call “failures”, I’ve had to adjust and call them “learning opportunities”. They will keep showing up. I can bemoan them. I can feel badly that they happened, I can be sad, and sometimes I am sad, but I have to get up and say “what’s the lesson, what do I get to learn and how do I move forward?

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
How do you stay motivated in the face of rejection?

Adi:
This is a really really good question. And probably one of the things I finally, finally, figured out after many many years. The short answer is that I have to be very clear about the purpose behind what it is I am doing. Why is this important to me? Why does it matter? What impact do I get to have on my own life, on the life of my family, and on the life of the people that I serve. I feel pretty lucky that the work I do creates positive impact in the world and so that keeps me going. I have to resort to leaning on that for motivation oftentimes. I don’t see many of the things as I go through as rejection, per say, I really try to rely on my own personal accountability.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What is one piece of advice (or quote) that carries you through the hard times?

Adi:
Lots and lots of quotes, and I can share some of them. I have to really remember that I am responsible. I am accountable. I can do anything I want and create and manifest anything I want, it will come with failures, it will come with rejections, it will come with speed bumps, those are almost tests. It’s the people who don’t have enough resolve, who aren’t willing to make it through those, that quit before the success happens. I have to remember that all the time.
There are a lot of quotes that I rely on from other people who have been incredibly successful. This Winston Churchill quote, To fail to plan, is a plan to fail. There are lot of mentors who I have listened to over the years who have told me what my capabilities and capacities are and I sometimes have to rely on their views because I’m stuck in self-deprecating mode, and I’m looking at all the things that aren’t working out and I just need to remember the capacity and the ability is there. I just need to move forward and do my best and learn from my experiences.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What are some of the biggest barriers you have faced on your journey – internal and external ones?

Adi:
I used to deal with a lot of negative self talk, a lot of depression, and limiting beliefs. I thought unless you were perfect, you weren’t good enough. I never felt perfect so I always felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was really concerned with the way that other people saw me and what they thought of me which meant that I often wasn’t really paying attention to what I needed. I was trying to play the role other people wanted of me. And as I mentioned in terms of negative self talk, I always felt like I wasn’t measuring up. That was a huge part of my life. During my whole drug and alcohol abuse problems, it really took me proving to myself that I can show up differently, before I was actually able to show up differently in the world. And so perfect transparency here, I still struggle with these things to some extent. It’s not like they completely disappeared. But I have massive amount of resources and tools now, and regular daily habits, that I engage in to make sure that I keep those things at bay and do the best job that I can.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What are some of the biggest external barriers? (socioeconomic status, gender, orientation, race, lack of social connections, lack of generational wealth)  

Adi:
My biggest external barrier was moving from Israel to the States when my english was ok but it wasn’t great. And for a person who really cares about what other people feel about them, I got stuck in this place feeling unwanted, like I was on the outskirts of society. This was the first year of high school and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb and that was really hard for me to handle and made me rebel quite a bit against the expectations of my parents.
Lack of social connections was another one. I essentially had nobody. I had my family but nobody I knew anywhere so I had to start from scratch.
When it comes to wealth, I definitely don’t come from a wealthy family but we were definitely upper middle class most of my life. When we first moved though we were not. We were actually pretty broke, lived 2-3 years on the poverty line and took us a while to get out of that. But even as the family did better in terms of money, I dove head first into drugs and alcohol and was not incredibly functional. I really can’t put that excuse on them. I was not showing up the way that I needed to and I have to own that.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there anything about your journey that you would do differently, knowing what you know now?  

Adi:
This is a really hard question to answer because I actually really love my life now. I would probably have relied on the support of my family, earlier. I would probably have asked for help, earlier. I would probably have been honest about my failures and where I am struggling, earlier. And i don’t if I could have changed this back then but I probably would have stopped caring so much about what other people think about me and would have started focusing on what I needed to do for myself way, way earlier. This might come as a shock to a lot of people listening now but much less people care about what you do and how you show up than you think. The people who truly love and care about you will show up when you realize how you need to behave, what you need to do, who you need to be in your every day life. It’s the people who are stuck in their own self-hatred or self-aggrandizement, and needing their ego to be fed, who are the ones who have the hardest time as we decide to shift and change who we want to be in the world. But the people who really love you will stay there and support you. For me, I got stuck trying to look good instead of being good and feeling good. Once I shifted that, a lot of things in my life changed including just the way I feel every day showing up. I should have done that earlier.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there any specific life or business advice you’d give an entrepreneur who doesn’t fit the typical white, Cis-male prototype?

Adi:
You got to figure out who you are. There is a lie in society that we should all strive to be normal. Our parents tell us that a lot. Hey don’t paint outside the line, Don’t stick out too much. Don’t say things that are out of sort. Don’t make people uncomfortable. Don’t be weird. You know what I realized over the years being an “adult” ? If I look at the people who we really look up to, the people who society puts on a pedestal and says are incredible human beings? None of them are normal. They actually all push the boundaries and show us what is possible oftentimes in areas of life we didn’t realize was any possibility, we didn’t even know there was a field to play in. And yes that has to do with sexual orientation, gender, race, knowledge, exploration, and creativity. I do believe that there are prejudices and benefits for people who fit this stereotypical norm broadly, and I would argue that the people who are able to go out there and really celebrate who they are as humans are the gems that the entire rest of society is in awe of and cannot get enough of. That’s the thing I would say, figure out who you are first and then once you figure that out, look around and see who is attracted to that, who is the market for that for some of the skills that make you different. If you are very different from what “normal” is, then probably the people who are attracted to that and want to buy from, talk to, learn from that sort of person, they are even hungrier because there aren’t that many people who are willing to come out and be that shining example, be that role model, be that one who produces the service or product that they’re looking for. If you’re different there could actually be a massive blue ocean is the concept that nobody has touched because nobody feels comfortable being as creative and as different as you are. By the way, I struggle with this in the addiction space, where I am. Everyone assumes that if you want help for addiction that you have to quit and my whole pitch to everybody is “no you don’t, you just have to show up.” And so that is something I’ve been fighting for years with people, they assume that I don’t know what I am talking about, or assuming that I have ulterior motives, or that I don’t fit in. My job over the years has been to prove that with my results and my work ethic that I am here and here to stay.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What piece of advice would you give your younger self about starting a business?

Adi:
Learn from role models, listen to other people, read books and learn how about to be better in the areas you aren’t great or hire people who are great at those things. I think I always try to do too much, probably to this day, on my own, without learning necessarily, without understanding other people’s models and so I try to create them myself. What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to do everything on my own, I can get other people to do their share of the work as well. And it’s totally ok to not now how to do everything and go to learn. So that’s what I would have taught myself. There has to be expertise in every area of your business, get someone else to do it and if you can’t get someone else, learn and study, don’t assume you know everything you are supposed to do.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s next for you? ex. Personal goals, professional goals

Adi:
The goal for IGNTD is to serve over 1 million people. I have about 1000 multiplier to get where I need to get. There is a lot of really exciting work that we are doing in jails, prisons and all these other systems that need that kind of help that we provide. Talking about failures, there are many opportunities to learn what I am screwing up and not getting right. What’s really next for me is diving head first in to these other areas of my life, that I can learn from, that I can apply to the business, and that I can make sure allow IGNTD to get to the place where it needs to get which will allow my personal goals to align.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Got any hidden talents? Please share!

Adi:
I’m a musician. I have DJ’d. I play guitar. I mess around on the keyboard but I DJ quite a bit, produce dance music and things of that nature. I am also a really bag juggler but I can juggle up to 3 balls. During COVID I got really into fitness. Weirdly, at the age of 45/46, I am more fit than I’ve ever been in my life because COVID stuck me at home and I had to find something to do.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your guilty pleasure?

Adi:
Chocolate. That is the one addiction I still have. If there is chocolate in front of me, I’m probably eating it. So if ever meet in person, do me a favor and if you’re bringing chocolate, don’t be attached to it, because I will probably find a way to eat it from you.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your favorite way to waste time?

Adi:
Making music, DJing, producing music and exercising are probably my favorite ways to waste time. It doesn’t even feel like a waste.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your go-to song when you need a boost of confidence or pick me up?

Adi:
I don’t have a single song, I have a whole playlist. I literally created a whole playlist to hype myself up when I need and I rely on that music a lot. There is no go-to song, I literally have like 80 of them.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there anything else you’d like the audience to know about you or your brand?

Adi:
I created IGNTD, and the name hopefully suggests, to help people find their purpose, help people find what it is they are excited about. Because most of the people I talk to really really struggle and I want to try and find ways to help people struggle less and purpose is one of those. So if you don’t know what your purpose is right now, go find it. And if you are struggling with addiction or mental health issues, or know someone who is, send them our way. It’s pretty magical what can happen for people when you take out the old recipe books and create an entirely different new innovative method of dealing with the deep deep issues that make us like they used to make me feel less than, feel damaged, feel like we can’t really be happy. That is what IGNTD is about. if that can help anyone you know, please find us. We also have the IGNTD podcast, and we have a ton of workshops and content online. So if we can help you, we would love to.

Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Thank you Adi and good luck for the future!

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