This is one of many spotlights about Badin graduates and their successes in life.
James Clear ‘04 is a New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur. He has a B.S. in Biomechanics from Denison University, and an MBA from Ohio State University. James started his business in 2010. He is married and lives in the Columbus, OH area.
In 2018, he released his bestselling book, ‘Atomic Habits,’ which is about building good habits and breaking bad ones. It has been named a New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal bestseller and Audible bestseller. It has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
In addition to his book, James writes a popular email newsletter each week. Over 500,000 people subscribe. You can follow his work and sign up for the newsletter at jamesclear.com.
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Alumni Spotlight on: JAMES CLEAR '04
What led you to your career/business or mission? My career has been a gradual evolution. I never set out to be an author. I started writing at jamesclear.com because I wanted to have my own business, and starting a website was cheap. (I think it cost me about $100 for the first year.)
Along the way, I wrote about a wide range of topics and eventually discovered that I was most interested in self-improvement themes like how to build better habits, how to make better decisions, how to improve performance, and so on. After a few years, I signed the book deal to write Atomic Habits.
The book took another 3 years to complete, but once it released in October 2018, I had a large audience of readers to share it with. Everything that has happened for me over the last year or two (hitting the bestseller lists, selling a million copies, etc) is mostly the release of a lot of potential energy that was built up from writing consistently and building an audience for years.
Today, after years of experimentation and refinement, my mission is much more clear: to share self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research. The core question I'm always circling is, “How can we live better?” Hopefully, my writing is able to able to contribute a little bit to the answer.
What is your favorite quote? I have too many to pick a favorite. Here are a three that I like...
"Every time you wake up and ask yourself, “What good things am I going to do today?” remember that, when the sun goes down at sunset, it will take a part of your life with it." -—Indian proverb
“He who jumps into the void owes no explanation to those who stand and watch.” —-French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard
"Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works... We’re all biased to our own personal history.” -—Morgan Housel
Where have you traveled in the world? I always enjoyed being outdoors and exploring the world. Growing up, this usually took the form of family trips to Kentucky state parks or simply walking around the woods on my grandparent's farm outside Hamilton.
I didn't own a passport until I was 22, but I fell in love with international travel pretty quickly once I got started. I've been extremely fortunate in that my business often provides me with a reason to travel to interesting places (and my boss always approves vacation time). I've been to about 40 countries over the last decade.
It's impossible to pick a favorite, but some of my most cherished trips were to Japan, Australia, and Morocco. I've also visited some places that I never expected to go like Russia (twice) and the Middle East. That said, I'm always happy to return home to the United States. It truly is a wonderful place to call home. (Plus, I have a slowly developing love affair with New York City.)
What is one thing that you learned while at Badin that you still use and value today? Be kind. The longer I live, the more I notice how valuable kindness can be. When someone does a good job, tell them. You’ll barely remember you did it, but the other person may never forget that you did. When someone tells you their problems, listen. It barely costs a thing, but counts for so much. Kindness has unlimited upside.