Life Lessons From Admiral Jonser

RADM Scott “Jonser” Jones

Years ago, I wrote a book about Ironman Triathlon. At the back of the book, I put my email address and invited readers to reach out.

Scott read the book, and sent the email…

I was sitting at my computer and wrote him back five minutes later.

Take the shot, make your own luck

22 years prior to that email, Scott dropped out of high school and joined the Navy.

At 17, he took the shot.

40 years of service

Shot after shot, after shot…

June 10, 1982 (E1) to June 10, 2022 (O8)



Scott was able to live his childhood dream.

What was yours?


One good relationship can change your life

There have been moments in my life when Scott has pointed out faulty thinking.

Based on the turnout at his retirement ceremony, there are hundreds of people who have appreciated a timely dose of Vitamin Josner.

One person can make a huge difference in the world.

Find your tribe, iterate towards better, contribute.


Just Keep Winning !

Just Keep Winning – some time this year, I started saying this (all the time) and passing it along to others

  • People hate you for no reason… just keep winning
  • Feeling imposter syndrome… just keep winning
  • Unsure what’s next… just keep winning

I get to the ceremony and it’s on the cake!

This got me thinking…

I have no memory of where Just Keep Winning came from but, now, I have a hunch.



People influence me, without my awareness

When you come across a positive influence, be willing:

  • to change
  • to go to them
  • to share what they like to do

Last Thursday, I gave you a list:

  1. Do they make me laugh?
  2. Do they help me think better?
  3. Do they set an example for the type of man I want to be?

I’ll add one more filter… The Better Test

What happens when this person arrives on the scene?

Pay attention when you see “better” happening.

Jonser makes things better.


The Admiral at 17 => top right

Teaching Kids To Smoke


Growing up, I spent ten idyllic summers at a YMCA camp on Howe Sound.

When I worked my way up to Senior Staff, I learned part of the camp’s Oral History => prior to the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking, the camp used to sell cigarettes in its Tuck Shop.

My boss at the time, told me it went further.

We used to teach kids to smoke.

Keep in mind the camp was run by the Young Men’s Christian Association – these were good people, trying to help a wide range of kids.

The story reminds me to keep my eyes open for obvious harms, accepted by everybody.

Current practice can be completely clueless.

Vaping “it will shift people from smoking” is an obvious example. A handful of entrepreneurs hooked a generation of young people before anyone noticed.

Less obvious is the introduction of electronics, and social media, into the lives of our children. My kids have been staring at screens since preschool. COVID institutionalized screens into the daily lives of our children.

Here’s what I’ve told our oldest, now in Middle School.

  • You don’t want to spend your life doing sexy dances for strange boys and men (TicToc) => who’s on the other side of the screen?
  • There’s no such thing as digital privacy – it does not exist
  • You will need to make a choice => do I want to get stuff done, or stare at screens (IG, Snap, Among Us)
  • Your mother and I saw what it was doing to us and stopped
  • Exercise makes you happy – I point this out after every good workout

Similar to conversations I expect to be having on sex, drugs and alcohol… I had to get my own life in order before I attempted to teach my kids.

Who am I really trying to impress? Following a path of external approval creates a never ending cycle of “more” (likes, followers, stuff, money, food, victories). Where is “more” going to take me?

Fastest way to boost health and self-confidence?

  • Positive Action => a habit of daily exercise
  • Via Negativa => ax the Social Media

Right now, your mother and I are making smart choices for you. Soon, it will be up to you.

Choose Wisely.


Little update on my 2021 tech initiative.

  • January saw me cut my screen time in half. Pretty impressive from a single workflow change and deleting two phone apps.
  • My eyesight improved.
  • Less eMail/Twitter is far easier than less “news”.

My New Year’s Resolution

…was made ten years ago.



Last week. my wife and I were chatting about her needs.

They were modest => a daily swim and an outdoor walk with a friend.

It brought me way back, and made me smile.


Byrn Family 2010. Pearls, Lace and Savagery!

The last time we’d spoken about her needs was a decade earlier.

We had a two-year old in the house and my wife was pregnant with our son.

Actually, we didn’t really talk much.

I broached the topic of changing how we were living. It went something like…

I have neeeeeeeeds.

One of the better things I’ve EVER done was not engage.

Non-engagement was a general policy during pregnancy and, fortunately, my wife was pregnant enough that the habit stuck with me!


Upper left hand corner could be my son’s first photo

Back to “needs” circa 2010.

I looked around:

  • 2,000 sq ft per person
  • 3:1 adult-to-kid ratio
  • weekly cleaners
  • professional kitchen

I did not say a word but I made a mental note.

The situation around us, I had created. All our needs were created by me.

It was time to own the outcome.


Roll forward a decade, add a global pandemic, and we’re down to a walk and a swim.

50% of our baseline cost of living => gone.

I even got rid of cable (took me five years).

Stay focused on where you want to go.

Own the outcome.


We kept the mixer.

Death of a Mentor

In his book (No True Glory), Bing West shares that to remember is to honor. One of my first mentors, Dr. Henry Simon, died recently so I thought I’d share the three best things he taught me.

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Learn, Then Leave

Henry was a senior partner when I joined Schroder Ventures in London and was the quintessential German gentleman.

There was an informal tradition at the firm of the “Henry Breakfast.” As a junior member of the team, when you left the group, Dr. Simon took you out to breakfast. At the breakfast, he asked you what you thought about the firm dynamics; tips for your replacement and shared one thing for you to remember as you continued on your career. It was also a really nice breakfast!  

Henry took me to the Savoy Hotel in London. I can’t remember what I told Henry but I can remember exactly what he told me about my transfer to Asia.

“You’re going to learn a tremendous amount and make a lot of money.  
Remember to leave.”

That’s it.

At the time, it was like a Zen Koan for me. I liked the part about the money, didn’t worry about learning and thought that anyone would be crazy to leave a high paying job. This month is 18 years since the Henry Breakfast and my life has turned out as Dr. Simon predicted.

Learn, Then Leave.

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Never Stop

I hit peak weight in London and was not healthy. My Fat Gordo picture was taken from that time (and that’s me looking good in that era).

Henry was the fittest guy in the office, quite the achievement for the oldest partner worldwide. In triathlon circles, we wouldn’t consider him fast but he was strong, lean and able to take weeklong trips whenever he had the time. When asked for his secret, he replied:

“Never Stop.”

I use that advice in my own life (no zeroes) as well as my approach to coaching (never sacrifice tomorrow – consistency trumps – nothing is worth a running injury).

Never Stop.

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Success Is Not A Democracy

When I joined the firm, our investment committee consisted of the entire professional staff. Whenever there was an investment to be made, we would meet in the boardroom and share ideas. Picture 25 type-A personalities packed in a boardroom deciding how to allocate capital.

Not many of my current friends knew me in my 20s. Suffice to say that my lack of tact, combined with exuberant confidence, resulted in a change to the way we made decisions! I suppose a 21-year-old Canadian going toe-to-toe with the firm’s Chairman (Baker Scholar, family friend, investing since I was born) – highlighted that it might make sense to consolidate decision making.

Henry put his hand up and pointed out that things weren’t working.  So power was consolidated into the hands of the three Senior Partners and the Investment Committee was restructured.  There was a lot of grumbling and a few bruised egos. But… we made better decisions, everyone made more money, and our lives were more simple.  Henry was ok with being unpopular for the sake of collective benefit, a unique trait.

I’m in charge because I’ve demonstrated that I’m fit for leadership and we will all do better with clear decisions.

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To high officials given glory, much from them is expected.

Henry exceeded my expectations.

Thanks.