Jason Paul is a Red Bull and GoPro sponsored free-runner whose journey began when he was 14 years old. Jason stumbled upon a video of men scaling buildings and leaping from rooftop to rooftop in Paris. This was all Jason needed to see for his dream of doing the same to be born. He has no travelled across 30 different countries, performing parkour in each. A regular champion at Red Bull Art of Motion, Jason Paul is consistently finishing in the two whether it be Boston, Vienna or Japan. Jason Paul is a prolific creator of adrenaline fuelled online videos, watched the world over. I was over the moon when I discovered that Jason is a real bookworm, and I wanted to learn more! Please enjoy my interview with the incredible Jason Paul…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I usually say I do Parkour for a living and am sponsored by RedBull and GoPro. Which makes sense to the everyday person. If we dig deep I would tell them that most of my time is spent creating my own video-projects and building a clothing brand with my friends under the name Team Farang. So there’s always a few things going on at the same time.
I just finished Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. It really gave me a completely new lens to see the world through. Why does China care so much about Nepal or Taiwan and many other conflicts make a lot more sense to me now.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
My Dad has a deep love for books and instilled that into me early on by reading The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien to me. Much later on he gave me The Journeyer by Gary Jennings. It’s the epic story of Marco Polo’s life and various escapades. Crazy stories from his travels mixed in with sexual adventures on the way where really exciting to read and sparked a fire in me to see the world. I really think it influenced me deeply.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
First I wanted to draw Manga for a living, later on design video-games. Looking back I always dreamed of making a living off of what I enjoyed doing in my free-time.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
I think he’s still inside me somewhere and pretty happy about how things are going. School-aged Jason was super into video-games and would read a magazine called Gamestar every month. Last year I got to do a Freerunning shoot with Nino, who used to be an author for that magazine. The 14-year old inside me had the biggest smile on his face all day.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be?
Oh man, if there is one book I wish I would’ve read earlier it is How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It would’ve saved me so much awkwardness and I really think it’s the best manual anybody could have to life.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
Mostly airplanes or before I go to bed.
There’s been many influences, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and Mastery by Robert Greene. Lately I would say Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, The Thank You Economy has shaped me the most.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
One of my best friends, Enis Maslic, exposed me to Hagakure by Miyamoto Musashi. It’s basically a handbook to the day to day life of a Samurai and the intensity of that lifestyle inspired us. Giving everything you have and full to one mission shaped our approach to Freerunning and motivated us to train like mad men!
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
My friend Max Henry just released a book on how to start Parkour and I’ve been sending it to people all around the world. It’s the single best resource, if you want to start this sport. You can get it on www.parkourroadmap.com.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Growing up it was all fiction every day. I didn’t even know there was non-fiction besides cookbooks. As a teenager I got more into the world of freelance-work this whole world of non-fiction and self-growth became interesting. I think I’ll get more into fiction again soon.
Do you think reading is important?
To me reading is the single most powerful learning tool. I know there is more and more information online, but often I still find books the best way to dive deep into a topic.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
The most entertaining book I’ve read in the last six months was Graveyard of Memories by Barry Eisler out of his series on a assassin living in modern day Tokyo.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I prefer real books any day, but when I’m living out of a suitcase my Kindle is just too convenient.
I wouldn’t go that far, but Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a book I wish everybody would read. Super fast read that quickly sums up what food is healthy and why, all backed on years of studies and then condensed into simple rules like “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.”
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has helped me along my journey of living a minimal lifestyle. Helping me decide what things are really essential in my life and how to organise them. I’ve never seen being tidy as a skill that you can practice until I found this.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I’ve started to study Japanese, which includes learning to read 2200 Kanji. So my daily read will be Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig.