We had the good fortune of connecting with Jay Levin. You may already know Jay, but even if you don’t you for sure will know his newpaper, LA Weekly. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jay below.
Hi Jay, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking is an adventure into the promised land of your authentic self. You can’t get past the constraints laid on you overtly, subtly and insidiously by social and parent conditioning unless you take risks. Great part of the adventure of living a full-filling life.
What should our readers know about your business?My “business” essentially has been identifying and sharing the opportunities for individuals and society to unfold into a more caring, happy, more conscious and “higher” level of relationships with others and with self – this carried out in every realm of human activity including personal relationships, economic and environmental affairs, politics, international behaviors and structural reforms.
In doing so, apart from the years I worked for others, I have led six media companies and started six nonprofit.
As a young journalist and later as a media company leader, it meant both challenging structures of injustice, exploitation and abuse AND simultaneously identifying and sharing the means by which we can alter the inner dynamics that produce harmful and exploitive human behaviors. Just one example of the former is the LA Weekly did the investigative journalism that led to the air being cleared of most smog in Los Angeles and across the state. As an example of the latter, the Weekly was the first urban newspaper of its kind to cover the human development movement. Personally, after selling the Weekly I created workshops in Life Mastery/Life Elevation and have for years coached CEOs in conscious leadership practices as a sideline to my core work.
As a nonprofit leader, I launched organizations that dealt with getting money out of politics; with Los Angeles poverty, hunger and job development; with human rights in Central America; with grassroots voices in Los Angeles development; and most recently Equip Our Kids!.(equipourkids.org) and the California Social Emotional Learning Alliance (SEL4CA.org\). The latter two promote Emotional Intelligence curriculum in all schools – pre-school through high school. Educators call this training Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).
In a lifetime of looking for game-changers, I concluded that SEL is the most potent tool available on the planet that has a chance for a mass adoption that will uplift humanity, – our mindsets and behaviors – to where we all long for it to be. At least those of us who are not sociopaths.
SEL provides training in several super important life skills without which humans have inflicted endless pain on themselves and others throughout most of known history and continue doing so relentlessly on small and large scales. These include:
Maintaining healthy and supportive relationships.
Effective interpersonal communications.
Making good decisions.
Setting and achieving goals.
I’ve learned that schools that provide comprehensive SEL skills training get to see dramatic improvements in grades and in student healthy emotional states. They also get wow-like declines in the familiar negative behaviors –bullying, racism, substance abuse, discipline incidents, digital addiction and suicides. Studies report SEL students tend to lead healthy, productive, creative and successful adult lives and to positively affect community and workplace environments.
Our team shares literally with tens of thousands of educators the belief that SEL is the most important game-changing school reform of our time and it deserves (but lacks) a level of public, institutional, and financial support greater even than that given to STEM education. We also consider SEL to be the most important progressive social movement of our time based on its inherent ability to transform human mindsets and behaviors for the better. That such learning will uplift human society and the quality of relationships at every level like nothing else in the human toolbox.
Our work is generating parent and public awareness of and support for universal SEL. If you view it for its full historic potential, SEL is a VERY BIG deal because it demonstrates that most human dysfunction, pain, conflict and insanity derives from lack of SEL skills not from a lack of character. So our organizations are fully dedicated to assisting SEL’s ascension into a core universal learning by whatever name it is called in different regions of the country.
None of our work is easy but it is rewarding. The major lessons I learned are +persistence matters; +don’t give yourself red lights when you have a vision or desire – give yourself a green light; +take good care of yourself so you can take good care of your team (I tended early on not to and not delegate enough); +hire good people and delegate; +failure is a win because it is showing you where you don’t belong or where you need to up your game; +and work on your inner game and your relationship skills with every method you find helps you.
As with SEL, really successful and happy non-exploitive lives are a SKILLSET, not a character flaw, so keep learning how to up-level your inner and outer games.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In pandemic time it’s been beaches (I like El Segundo’s) , hikes, masked sound baths, even “Sole to Soul” massage and “Emporium Thai Restaurant,” both on Westwood Blvd south of the Village, which were re-opened the first moment possible. In non pandemic time, infinite possibilities but I like doing rounds of second tier music clubs and bars like TR!P on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. You get some remarkable local musicians there- and can elsewhere once you figure out who to sign up for advance notice. Also love small theater and hope it revives soon. For comedy, to whatever restaurant you can see “Uncabaret,” which nicely has gone digital during the pandemic, and whatever nights (don’t remember if it’s Monday or Tuesday) Comedy Store has its free or reduced ticket price.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Our EQuip Our Kids! staff, advisory board and wonderful team of volunteers. And with minor exceptions the pretty cool LA Congressional delegation.
Photo of me and Abbie Hoffman credit Richard Greene