Challenge Yourself

We live in strange times. There has been a constant barrage of anger, frustration, and devastating losses on a scale we've never witnessed before. Sometimes it feels like we stepped into another world that's on the cusp of the apocalypse. What do you do when the world is literally falling apart around you? It's something we're all struggling with right now. I think back in this moment to how I used to check my social media when I woke up in the mornings just to see what's trending, catch up with people and now... I get anxiety every time I log into anything in fear of the negativity that seems to be constant. I always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and offer motivation to anyone I can. I feel like that's my true purpose in life. But, honestly, I'm just as drained as a lot of you are. But still... we all have to move on and I think now more than ever we have to live our lives to its fullest. 

My challenge to you is to take at least 30 minutes to yourself and write down these questions and answer them as brutally honest as you can:

  1. What makes you truly happy?
  2. What are the Top 5 Things you accomplished in your life?
  3. What are the Top 5 Things you want to do before you die?
  4. Who means the most to you in this world?

And after you answer each questions:

  1. Do what makes you happy. 
  2. Never forget how far you've come and what you've accomplished in life. Remember how tough it was to do. Try to remember every detail. Then remind yourself you can do anything you put your mind to. Keep this as a constant reminder.
  3. Keep 2. in mind and go forth. Chasing after what you want the most in life. Move quickly as if there is no tomorrow because honestly it's not guaranteed.
  4. Contact that person that means the most to you in this world. Do it immediately. Tell them how much they mean to you. How much they affected your life. It doesn't matter if it's someone you lost touch with our someone you're having a war of words with... let love and honesty take over here. If you can, go see that person. When you see them, give them the biggest hug you've ever given anyone in your life. 

I hope you can take on this challenge and take full control of your universe. In any case I'll be doing the same and rooting for your success.

Wardrobe:  N 2-B Barricade CTN jacket is from Alpha Industries


Alpha Industries

Photography by Madi Mae

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Don't Hold Back

In a time where the world literally feels like it's ending, it's more important now than ever to remember to surround yourselves with the people you love. Challenge yourself today to find time to thank every person who inspired you, showed you love, or looked out for your best interest even if at the time you didn't think so. Live today as if it's your last and don't hold back. You never know what tomorrow holds. 

 Hoodie, jacket, and jeans are from Kollar ClothingShoes are Frank Wright

What You Get: Stylish streetwear that's blowing up right now. Check out their catalog here.


Kollar Clothing

Photography by Madi Mae

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No journey is easy

"Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one's journey is easy. It's how they handle it that makes people unique." 💯

Season change. People change. Time flies. Etc. Etc. I've had one of the toughest years of my entire life so far in 2017. Most people wouldn't know this because I've chosen to focus more on being outwardly positive and keep things moving forward. That doesn't mean there haven't been challenges that have tested by own beliefs and self-worth. I've had so many enlightening conversations, especially lately that always keep things in perspective for me. I woke up this morning, feeling like I should share some words with you if you have ever faced tough times:

  1. You are Special - At times you may feel scared, sad, unworthy, envious, downright angry about the obstacles life has presented you. But never forget how great of a person you are and you are in full control of your own destiny. Know that you are special. 
  2. It's okay to be wrong - It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to accept fault. You shouldn't feel embarrassed to admit a mistake. Life is full of mistakes. You're going to make plenty more. It's how you respond that shows your true strength. 
  3. Know your character - You don't have to pretend to be something you're not. This life is your own. If you want to be kind and generous, then show it in action. If you don't. Same. Just be true to yourself. We often make this mistake of trying to be someone we're not because we want to match the opinions or perspectives of others. We shouldn't though. The truth is no one will ever put as much thought into what you're up to with your life than you will. 
  4. Show compassion (especially to the people who don't deserve it) - I'm not going to lie. This is the hardest thing for me. I can be a very vengeful person and if you challenge my well being or the people I care about... there will be hell to pay. But, I've learned that the best thing you can do is let go and show compassion for people even if they don't deserve it. We're all hurting in some way at different stages in our lives. Nothing makes that abundantly clear than to come in contact with someone who goes out of their way to hurt you. That's why compassion is the right response. It may not seem like it at the time but showing kindness is both liberating and a true test of character.

That's about it for now. Just wanted to share. If you have tips of your own, leave some in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you. 

My shoes are from the UK shoe brand, Frank Wright. Which if you visit their site...

What You Get: Badass Mens Shoes. Check out their catalog here.


Frank Wright

Photography by Madi Mae

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I've been thinking of ways to introduce more insight into what I do behind the scenes so I thought sharing my latest commercial with you is a fantastic start. One of my main goals with crafting this blog was to offer a bit of inspiration with my creative content and offer tips/advice for you. I wanted it to be more personal than professional. This is great and the responses I've been getting have been wonderful. But, I've been getting a lot more questions asking me to share more examples of what I do day-to-day and more examples of brands I work with behind the scenes. So, this post is to show you what that looks like. Also, if you're interested in learning more about professional work and brands I've worked with, just visit my agency's site here:

This particular campaign is called "#enjoytheadventure", showcasing the brand-spanking new wireless car charger, OMNIA for a longtime client of ours, Bezalel. J+J is responsible for the visuals, marketing, and branding for the company. We always approach the tone/style of Bezalel with a "fashion meets tech", highlighting the lifestyle approach. We like striking a nice balance of highlighting users and product. We believe showcasing the experience vs a million close ups of product shots is much more appealing to people.

In this particular concept, my partner and I wanted to showcase a romantic adventure set in Joshua Tree. When we're not filming big budget projects, we typically use skeleton crews when the project allows. This makes it easier for us to be more flexible and save costs. Usually I direct our video projects and occasions like this I'm also the Photographer. I try not to pull double duties but in some campaigns it's important to maintain a consistent tone and style. I always think it's smart to hire a Photographer for video shoots. This strategy usually saves time, money, and actually helps keep the energy up for everyone. In a world where creative content is a necessity you can never go wrong with getting more quality content.

You can see the full video with a few select photos from our campaign below.

What You Get: 20% off any product when you use my special discount code: CJ20.

Get it here.

🌴 #enjoytheadventure Credits:

How To Make Your Career Dreams Come True


Ever since I can remember I dreamt of growing up and inspiring people. I dreamt of moving to Los Angeles to be in the film industry my entire life. In my dream, I lived near the beach. I had a beautiful and sophisticated partner by my side. Cute kids. A motorcycle. A huge mansion. Two mustangs. Two dogs and one cat. A white tiger named "Gizmo". In my dream I would be traveling around the world, exploring cultures, filming various Spielberg type-films. When I wasn't winning Oscars for every other film I made, I was donating money to various charities. I envisioned this my entire life and everything I did since I can remember I tried to turn that dream into a reality. My story is still being written but, as of right now I do not own two mustangs, Gizmo does not exist, and I’m not even in the film business anymore.

BUT, I do live in Los Angeles. I do live near the beach. I did have a loving partner by my side. I do have a cute kid. I had a cat named "Jinxy" and currently on the hunt for some little pups. I do travel around the world, exploring different cultures. I do have a successful career. Except the dream is different than what I envisioned. But, that's life isn't it? Things never turn out the way you plan but that doesn't mean you still can't reach your goals and find happiness. When people ask me how I was able to become successful I usually say "luck", "hard work", etc. Cliche stuff. Not necessarily because I was playing coy but because I spend so much time making things happen I rarely stop to think about how I even arrived at this point. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not yet but I'll write more about that in another post, lol.

At first, I followed the J.J. Abrams Mystery Box philosophy. Never give away how the trick works, just let everyone be amazed and wonder. But, the truth is we live in a different culture now and that can come across as arrogant or selfish. Even more importantly, my dream was always to inspire people. So, if someone asks me how I found success and gets inspired by that… mission accomplished. Again, still living my dream. So, how did I do it?

Let me show you.

1. Inspire Yourself With Your Vision: Create a vision board of your ideal life. An easy way to do this is to create a Pinterest board. Some people practice being as detailed as possible. I tried that out and found it difficult when things didn't go according to how I envisioned it. A much healthier approach is actually being a bit more general. Next, to write out your vision. Grab a sheet a paper and get writing. Make it real with your words. Turn it into goals. Your goals, should be detailed with actionable steps with timetables. Don’t just say “Be a rockstar” instead write “I want to be a rockstar within the first year. I should talk to my buddy’s friend in the music industry and ask if he can listen to a demo next week."

januel johnson-liam brown-ambar januel-cj johnson


2. Adapt: Like I said before, Nothing ever goes according to plan. Your dream will not come to fruition the way you envisioned it. There is no way around this. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the truth so understand that in the beginning. Which is why I think you should be general with your vision. Actionable steps, yes. Vision, no. You don’t want to be disappointed when things play out differently.  You have to adapt. The world changes and as technology keeps evolving it's changes faster. Don't get left behind. You have rebound to missteps and learn from your mistakes. You even have to adapt to things going when they go right. This sounds strange but my business partner and I experienced too much success too soon when we started our agency and were not prepared how to handle it. You’ll always have to adapt. Another example, I started out as a filmmaker, but photography is what most people know me for. I hated marketing and now I’m considered a marketing guru. I once thought self-help s*it was cheesy, now I'm writing a self-help blog post. I adapted because I saw opportunities forming and I didn’t dismiss them as they came.

cj johnson-willie sparks-ambar januel-januel johnson-vanity fair


3. Stay In the Know: Most common question during my consultations and meetings, “how do you know all of this?” Easy, I "stay int he know". I pay attention to what's going on with everything. I don’t dismiss or belittle anything. No, I do not listen to Selena Gomez but I know who’s she’s dating. No, I don’t know the names of everyone in Donald Trump’s cabinet but I do know the policies they’re trying to accomplish. You should always read the popular trades within all industries. I use Twitter as a great tool for staying in the know. I typically discover breaking news slightly faster than most people. It ended up being a great timesaver too because information came to me from one source vs seeking it out from various sources. Regardless of how you do it, stay in the know and DO NOT fall into the trap of being dismissive. Being dismissive is always going to set you back. Example. As soon as I mentioned Twitter and in your head you thought... Did he just say Twitter? I don’t get Twitter. Waste of time. Don't do that. Instead keep an open mind and look for ways to stay in the know. 

cj johnson-januel johnson-news


4. Do Not Fu*8ing Wait - I love this step. This step defines if you’re really going to be successful or not. Are you the person who is waiting for the perfect moment? Timing needs to be right? Not now but tomorrow. Well… fu8k. that. Don’t wait. Not even for a second. This scares everyone. They freeze when they hear me say this. Let me explain why you shouldn’t wait… the perfect moment does not exist and whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish to be successful is not some “no one has ever thought of this before” concept. What makes your dream so special is YOU. Which means YOU have to put yourself out there. If you have nothing to show? Put yourself out there and get feedback about your ideas. It’s done but not ready? Tease it to the public. Tease it to your friends and family. Drive them nuts with talking about it so much. You feel like you’re rushing things? You are. That’s the point. You’re putting yourself out there. Putting yourself out there is going to be scary anyway. Might as well get it over with. Januel+Johnson was a joke between me and the person I was madly in love with. It went like this, “If we did start a company, what should we call ourselves?” “How about Januel and Johnson? I like it!” then when we actually took the steps to thinking of something we just said “fu8k it”. It was just a placeholder that became our brand.

cj johnson-bashpros-los angeles-tech


5. Go Hard and Have Fun - Yes, stay up late. Yes, skip social functions. Yes, you will miss out on things. But, remember this is YOUR dream. So have fun. Enjoy it. If it’s too much work and your dreading it then what the hell are you doing it for? Remember you are making your dream REAL. Again, YOUR DREAM. REAL. Don’t hesitate.

cj johnson-photography-calgary


Taking these steps really helped me and I hope they help you too. If you have some steps of your own you'd like to share, leave a comment below. If you're interested in learning more ways about how you can reach your dreams and goals, contact me for a consultation here or shoot me a message on social media.

How To Conquer Your Fears

skydiving-cj johnson-washington dc-adventure

One of the most common questions I get asked by people that aspire to achieve the level of success I have is how I powered through personal fears to do it. How I didn't let fear paralyze me. Hold me back. Truth is, it DID hold me back. It holds everyone back doesn't it? When I first drafted this post, I was in a different headspace. My mind riddled with fear and intense emotions from a personal matter that still challenges the very essence of my character. But, I've had a lot of time to reflect since then. I didn't want to write this blog post until I was 100% sure I knew what I wanted to say. I don't want to ever bullshit any of you.

So, let's talk about fear for a moment. Fear can be all consuming. Crippling. When people make excuses about not following their dreams it's because of fear. When people flake, lie, go the easy route... it's... fear. So, how do you overcome it to get what you REALLY want in life? I can list books or video tutorials to provide you with food for thought and perhaps on a future post I will. But today, I'd rather just tell you my story and let you come up with your own way to challenge and ultimately overcome your fears.

On the surface, I'm simply afraid of heights. However, yes... I enjoy roller coasters, I am a thrill seeker but the thought of being too close to the edge of anything. I recoil. I hated escalators in malls. I hated getting too close to anything that made me essentially feel... out of control. Not knowing what could happen next. 

Then about a month ago I got smacked with some real life changing shit. One of those crossroad moments that either break you or define you. FEAR. Real fear devoured my every thought from the subconscious to my present mind. It was so powerful that one day I woke up, paralyzed with fear. I was fearful of failing again, fearful of not being able to control my destiny, fear of not winning someone back, fear of loss, fear of disappointment.

I remember facing myself in the mirror as a I do every morning. It was clear to me that I NEEDED to face a fear that day. Head on. My mind zipped through the various fears that held me back. A fear of snakes (goddamn Indiana Jones and Conan). My fear of heights -- ah yes. That one. I'll tackle my fear of heights.

So, what did I do? I did what any respectful aging millennial would do. I google searched the nearest skydiving place, called them asking if they take walk ons (they did). I hoped in a car. Drove 35 minutes to the D.C. Skydiving Center and then I signed up to skydive. As fate would happen I was the last one who could sign up for the day and I signed my life away within 10 minutes. Not even a full 5 minutes later, the skydiver who was my guy for our tandem drop greeted me and asked if I watched the instructional video. I replied "no". He said "Fuck it." He'd tell me what to expect on the plane ride! Within seconds we boarded a tiny, rickety plane that was well past its glory days. As we ascended, I looked out the plane window, then looked at my fellow divers, understanding that I would be one of the first people to jump. As we kept climbing, the door flew open and then... I realized... holy shit. This is fucking real.

There were only three people ahead of me so I assumed I had a few minutes to gather myself. But hey, you know what they say about people who assume (something about asses)? All three people jumped out of the plane together, acrobatic flips and all. Then I was told to scoot forward to the edge of the plane, tuck my legs under the plan, lean back and BAM! I was flying. Taking in the entire world. It was beautiful. A flood of memories (bad and good) flew through my brain. But the most overwhelming emotion was... peace. I just fucking conquered one of my biggest fears. In STYLE. I did it and no one can ever take that away from me. When we landed I so thrilled I called the one person in the world that mattered the most to me. After my jump, I felt free. Free to face my fears head on. Free to enjoy every moment life had to offer. That's what it feels like to conqueror a fear. So I'm telling you, whoever you are... that's reading this... free yourself.

How did I do it? How do you conquer your fear? TAKE ACTION. That's it. No matter what. Do something. Anything. That's the simple truth I learned that I will always carry with me. If you're afraid then simply take action. Then another. Then another. Become the unstoppable force you always dreamt of.

Carpe Diem!

BTW. Here is my life changing "Jesus Take The Wheel Moment."


How You Choose Between Work and Living Your Life

work life balance

“Daddy, come sit with me!” my daughter shouts, fidgeting on our cushy couch. 

“In a minute…” I reply.

I look at her for a moment as a I said it just so she knows I’m acknowledging her but I get right back into the grind of things, typing away furiously. I was in the middle of drafting a marketing plan for a client. It needed to be completed. Right then. Right there. If not, the whole world would explode and descend into chaos. Okay not really. But that’s what it felt like. Does that sound familiar? Has that ever happened to you? Maybe it wasn’t a child that needed you but a girlfriend, or a husband, a roommate, a parent, a sibling, your superhero dog.

If you’re like me, making that decision to pause things for a moment is the damned hardest thing to do. There’s a part of us that’s like “obviously, this can wait.” But, there’s another part of that us says “this cannot wait.” It’s this existential tug of war of “I have to work hard now so I can relax later” vs “I should relax now and work later.” What’s the right answer here?

I’ll tell you what I did next in my own situation. I looked back at my daughter, who had already moved onto whatever movie was on at the time (probably Minions, she’s obsessed with Minions). Then I glanced back at what I was doing. I shrugged. Saved my work. Immediately powered down. Hell, I even turned my phone off. I sat down next to my daughter. 

She looks at me and said, “I thought you had to work?” I told her it could wait. She smiled, snuggled up against me. My heart melted. It wasn’t a hard choice after all. But, let’s get real for a second. That’s a great moment. Honorable decision but that’s not going to happen all the time. Sometimes, she won’t get 100% of dad. Not if dad is trying to get elevate his position in the world and make sure she is provided for. 

So, if you're ever stuck in trying to choice, I have three tips (yes just three) that can help you firm up your decision. 

1) Analyze the Full Situation: Can work wait? Or is it deadline sensitive? If you don’t work on it now, will someone be royally pissed with you or will they not notice? Do you have to hang out at this very moment or maybe later? Do you need a break? Or not really? People have the most trouble with this because there are so many obstacles and variables we throw in the mix that we THINK are an issue that really isn’t.

Example: I once had a client who urgently needed a list of social media influencers to be put together for a specific campaign. He of course needed this 5 minutes from his request. And like most people, I responded quickly that we would take care of it and corresponded with my partner about next steps. Keep in mind he made this request at 9 pm. Which meant no matter what, he wouldn’t really do anything with this list until the next business day and he violated our trusty ‘ol “only during business hours” rule. So, what did we do? My partner and I both agreed… we’ll do it in the morning. And when we did, it was not the first thing we did either. We took our time with it. Not because we were purposefully being rude but because we understood that this list would take time to curate regardless and we would still need to clarify a few things before jumping the gun. Sure enough, when I spoke with this client, he forgot to mention a few critical details about the campaign, it really wasn’t urgent, and he 100% realized after he reached out, it wasn't wise to do it after business hours. It all ended up working out in the end because we analyzed everything and prioritized accordingly.

2) Ask yourself one critical question. This is a question that applies to everything you do in life… what will bring you the most satisfaction? There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s your life. So live it honestly. If you’d rather work, work. If you’d rather not, don’t. If you already analyzed the situation then you shouldn’t be worrying about this any longer. Which is why you have to be...

3) Be decisive. This is not a long, drawn out process. Make your decision. Get behind it quickly and move forward. Don’t waste too much time with “what if’s” or the “maybe I should…” No. Be present. Stay in the moment and stand behind your decision. 

Btw, I’m writing this as I’m eating an ice cream cone with my little sidekick next to me watching… yep, you guessed it… Minions for the millionth f’in time. 

Want to know which people choose? Life or Career? Check out a Twitter Poll I did. Write your own thoughts below in the comments section.