Nathan Sykes

April 9, 2021

Joe Polish's Sabbatical

I've had the pleasure of speaking and being in the company of Joe Polish a handful of times, usually at his mastermind group, Genius Network. I promise the community is better than what the name implies. Joe is an excellent connector, communicator, and host of events that connect high level entrepreneurs. His commitment to also hosting and working with the teens of these high level entrepreneurs is how I got invited to my first meeting back in 2017, and it impacted my life so much that I dedicated my first book, Retire Before College, to Joe Polish (and Walt Disney).

Joe's also very, very open about his past. He has struggled with drug and sex addiction in his past, and has overcome hurdles and moved mountains to become a better person. His journey and his work with high level entrepreneurs has caused one to 'anonymously' finance a documentary about his life, which I highly recommend watching if you have a spare moment. If there's someone who deserves all of the success in the world, it's Joe, without a doubt. He's responsible for so much good in the 'upper echelons' of businesses and networking, it's surprising and humbling to hear about his situation as a drug addict and carpet cleaner.

Earlier in 2020, Joe announced that he'd be taking a 12 month sabbatical; the first extended leave from his mastermind group and business in many, many years. Joe is the head of his mastermind (see this picture of people with cut-outs of Joe's head). It's not unreasonable to think that Joe may be shooting himself in the foot by removing himself from the equation - after all, I've personally met and spoken to Genius Network members who happily pay the $25,000/yr investment just for Joe.


Joe's reasoning is excellent, and it draws from a quote that hangs on the wall of his office: "Be willing to destroy anything in your life that isn't excellent".

It's easy to stick to principles when they cost you nothing. We're seeing it happen right now with Apple and the privacy fight in China. Apple has traditionally heavily valued privacy, but China is stepping over a line by requesting the deletion of certain apps, the censorship of certain sites, and user data. Apple rolled over almost immediately because China represents a large portion of its market share. When faced with the decision of upholding their values and mission over losing their Chinese market share, they chose the money. It's unfortunate, but I can't honestly say that I wouldn't have done the same, had I been in Tim Cook's shoes.

What Joe has done is choose his values and mission over money. He's almost certainly going to make less money this year. He's sacrificing a full year of his professional life to do some soul searching and advance the causes he believes in outside of work, like his foundation, Genius Recovery. When it comes to his business, he's not going to be involved with the day-to-day at all (he's said that he is getting a new phone and shutting off all business contacts), but instead he will focus on getting clarity on what's important in his work.

Joe is spending this year on destroying everything in his life that isn't excellent - living true to his values. It's an incredible feat, and I wish him well.