From Monk to Film Maker to Builder of Communities

In the 28th episode of the Elements of Community podcast, host Lucas Root interviews Pedram Shojai, author of eight books, a senior student of Kung Fu, and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine who left medicine to write books and make films.

During the episode, Pedram shares insight on his community-building practices and what it takes to self-improvement in meaningful ways. He talks about how consumers have been duped by people in the self-improvement industry by “douchebags” (a term he uses to describe people who are trying to get your attention in order to extract something from you). To avoid falling into their traps, Pedram advocates for a practice of mindfulness and meditation as a way to become aware of the harmful tendency to stay in an “avoidance of pain” loop and shorten that loop so we can improve more quickly.

Pedram further believes self-improvement is the key to helping the world in a meaningful way – this is what drives him to keep improving himself and building community. In his communities, he has established ground rules and a common narrative framework for members to share their goals and experiences related with personal development, spiritual growth, emotional healing, or physical health. As community leader he ultimately wants his community to be self-governing instead of relying on him. He also shares his thoughts on how power can corrupt even the best of us because it is easy for us to become extraction oriented instead of wanting to help others.

In this episode, Lucas and Pedram further discuss how having a common language within a community creates efficiencies that elevate conversations from surface-level discussions toward more complex ideas and discussions.

This conversation will give you profound insights into community-building strategies, and mindful practices, as well as why it is important not only to focus on our own selfish goals but to help others in meaningful ways. Tune in now to hear how a former monk builds community in our modern world!

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • We talked about how self-improvement helps the world in a meaningful way, and how this drives him to keep building communities.
  • Pedram shares how he created a community with ground rules and a common narrative framework.
  • He also shares his thoughts on how power can corrupt even the best of us, and urges people to stay focused on what is important to them.
  • Pedram talks about his community project called Gut Check, which is all about the microbiome.
  • Lastly, we discussed the power of having a common language inside of a community because of the efficiencies it creates and how it up-levels our ability to have a complex conversation.

If you want to know more about Pedram Shojai, you may reach out to him at:


Pedram Personal:


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