Justin Foster is the Co-Founder at Root + River – an intrinsic branding practice for defiant leaders. He is also a speaker, writer, and mentor. Justin has coached leaders of every sector and industry to go inward, embrace the mystery and show the world who they truly are.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

My childhood was a blend of fond memories and really scarring ones. I grew up on a cattle ranch in eastern Oregon in the 70s and 80s, so that was a great experience. However, we went to a fundamentalist Christian church and my mother was mentally ill and quite violent and unstable. My father was smart and a hard worker but a weak man emotionally. Until my initial spiritual awakening in 2014, these various factors unconsciously governed much of my life.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

That despite all the messages I received at home, church and school there is nothing wrong with me. That I wasn’t damaged or defective – and that I was much more brave and resilient than I gave myself credit for.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

We often say that our #1 competitor is “shitty marketing advice”! This is mostly comprised of focusing on the tactical side of marketing first, using unethical selling and marketing practices, and over-spending for attention.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I’ve had a series of dark periods – including a 6-year period of deep depression. Most recently was last year where I went through a second spiritual awakening, ended my marriage of 30 years, and had several other massive changes that happened all at the same time. Like every dark period, it was a precursor to brightness – which includes being in an amazing conscious partnership with a new person and becoming a grandfather.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

It is a tie between curiosity and intuition. They both have served me well and made me a decisive risk-taker.

What is your morning routine?

Usually up at 6 am. Drink coffee. Catch up on news. Read. Meditate. Journal. Walk.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Meditation and mindfulness for sure! Also working with a Jungian psychotherapist on parts therapy and core self-work.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I believe far more in energy management than time management. That said, I use a simple daily project model based on agile principles. I select the top 5 items I want to accomplish for the day. These items can come from any of the three major areas of life: self, relationships, work. In addition, I try to minimize the number of back-to-back calls I have each day, plus I always break for lunch – and will usually squeeze in a power nap! I also preserve Mondays to work on creative projects and Fridays to invest in specific business relationships.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I’ve loved reading my entire life so many, many books have influenced me across all areas of life. If I were to pick a top 4 of most recent influential books, it would be:

“12 Rules for Life” – Jordan Peterson
“The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” – Vishan Lakhiani
“Original Self” – Thomas Moore
“The Three Marriages” – David Whyte

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

I’ve been inspired by many quotes, but have tried to live by my own original ones. These include:
“The mission is in the suffering.”
“Live a true story.”
“ Nature kills pretense”
“The only cure for fear is action”