Episode 110: I Own Me with Faith Jones

Faith Jones Cult Lawyer Learning Life


Faith Jones is back with a new book and valuable insight into human rights and the intersection of morality and legality.

Faith’s new five circle framework, called I Own Me, is a result of the first 22 years of her life spent within a religious cult called The Family. You own the rights to your own body. She encourages us to find the true power in owning yourself.

This framework applies to every facet of daily life. Whether someone is harassing you at the gym or someone is defaulting on your contract, the I Own Me framework can be applied.

Get Faith Jones’s book and learn more about her at faithjones.com or search for her on LinkedIn or Instagram.

This episode is sponsored by eLearning Brothers.
Visit www.learninglifeshow.com/elb for more information.

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Jon Tota (00:00):

Hey everyone, Jon Tota here. I want to thank you for tuning into the show each week. We love our Learning Life community and are so grateful for your support. We’d appreciate it. If you would take a minute to rate us and write a review for Learning Life, wherever you’re listening right now. Your ratings and comments help new people find the show so we can keep growing our community and bringing great interviews on the topics you care most about. Thanks for being here. Now on to the show.

Faith Jones (00:24):

When we understand this concept, it gives us a different kind of clarity because I know it doesn’t matter if I leave my wallet out on the table or I paint my car, you know, a hot red that in no way, justifies somebody stealing it.

Intro (00:38):

Welcome to Learning Life, where top experts share their business knowledge and personal journeys each week. “And The thing that I realized from the CEO to the NFL football player, to the janitor – we’re our toughest critics, and we’re hardest on ourselves.” – James Lawrence And wanted to bring education to the market. I wake up in the morning and I am constantly learning.” “The only way to grab somebody’s attention is with a story” – Cal Fussman. Happy learning. And now your host, Jon Tota.

Jon Tota (01:07):

Welcome to another episode of learning life. I’m your host, Jon Tota, and we’re happy to have you back this week. So any of our regular listeners will recall- we had an excellent guest on the show with us this past summer. Faith Jones is an acclaimed attorney, business strategist, and high-performance coach. She began her career as a corporate attorney for Skadden Arps in Los Angeles and Hong Kong; then went on to head up Walton & Walton’s corporate practice, helping startups to fortune five hundreds on expansion, joint ventures, mergers, and other growth activities. Today, Faith works directly with entrepreneurs on both their legal matters in their business and on a personal level as they develop as business leaders. But even more impressive is the movement Faith has created called I Own Me, which is about women’s empowerment, but it’s also rooted in her framework for property rights, which can be applied to all individuals and even our organizations today. Since we last spoke, Faith’s Ted Talk on the topic has released and quickly picked up almost 60,000 views. So we wanted to invite Faith back on with us to tell us what’s going on with ion me and how we can all implement this important framework into our own organizations. So Faith Jones, welcome back to Learning Life.

Faith Jones (02:15):

Hi Jon, thank you so much for having me back on. I’m excited to be here and share these ideas that I hope can help all of us gain more clarity in how we see ourselves and how we relate in our world in a healthy way.

Jon Tota (02:30):

Yeah. And so I am so impressed obviously with the Ted Talk, I’ve listened to it a few times. I think it’s been a huge hit. Can you just for context for our listeners, tell them a little bit about the Ted Talk and kind of your whole experience, what’s happened since you gave the I Own Me talk on the Ted stage and what’s going on with that? And then we’ll jump into the framework and, and how we can all use it.

Faith Jones (02:55):

Yeah. So be- having the opportunity to do a Ted Talk is of course, very exciting. And it gives us a way to get out our message to a larger audience. It was incredibly difficult to take these principles and cut them down into, you know, 10, 15 minutes, but it was an excellent exercise to do that. And since then, my book called I Own Me has also been published and it’s available on my website. And the, in this particular talk, and in the, in that book, I’m dealing with specifically with issues of how do we deal with sexual harassment and abuse and a number of different things that mostly women, but some men also experience. So it’s been wonderful for me to see the reaction and the number of people who have reached out to thank me for putting that up there. I’ve actually been surprised at how many men have said that it helped them a great deal. And I think that’s because there’s a lack of clarity in a lot of these areas around this topic and men appreciate having something concrete that helps them to see where the boundaries are.

Jon Tota (04:14):

And now I think- obviously it’s rooted in very much your personal experience and, and for everybody listening, we’ll in the show notes here, you’ll be able to link through and look at the Ted Talk, watch it firsthand so you have reference and also any of the, the framework graphics and things like that we’ll have available because this is very much rooted in, in the way that Faith delivers this on stage. And so now since the talk and the book has been out, what are you doing primarily to get this movement forward? And, and as you said, it’s really rooted in property rights and that can apply to everyone, not just women. How what’s the experience been since you’ve gotten so much more attention on, on I Own Me?

Faith Jones (04:58):

Well a number of people have come to me and said that they see this as an excellent foundation for organizational training and helping organizations to think through and impart to their people, these concepts and principles of really ethical principles of how do we live our lives and how do we operate in business. And also specifically giving people clarity because of the way the talk was designed around that sexual harassment issues. But I think it might be helpful if I just kind of break down for people a little bit more of the concept of the, of the framework and just to understand the concept of property rights in your body. Cause it is a little bit of a different way to look at this.

Jon Tota (05:52):

Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s talk about the whole concept of property rights from the ground up, because I think most of our listeners probably have an idea of what we’re getting at, but haven’t, they don’t have any context yet.

Faith Jones (06:04):

Yeah. So basically a few years ago I came across, I mean, I’ve been an attorney for over a decade, but I came across a unique idea of property rights as the foundation for morality. And that seed sparked my creation of this simple framework. And it gives me so much more clarity in how I see myself and relate in the world. So the basic concept is that I, as an aware, conscious being have a full property right in my own body. So in legal speak, my body is my property exclusively to control and benefit from. And that means that no one has a right to access it without my freely given permission. So when I’m talking about property here, I’m talking about personal property. A lot of times when we say the word property, people immediately think about what we in the law consider real property or land, but this is really about your personal property. It’s a slightly different category, I guess you could say. Now, some people object to my use of the word property in this context because they feel it demeans the nature of the body. But to me and in the law property is anything which has value. So it can be completely intangible. Like your reputation is your property, which is why slander, which is a violation of that is a violation of your property right in your reputation- something that has value that you’ve worked hard to build.

Jon Tota (07:34):

And so can I ask you a question on this? So now again, I think what’s interesting to this is that you’re almost applying the letter of the law to your own being your own body. And when people step over a boundary, whether it is through sexual harassment or as you mentioned, slavery, anything that violates your property rights to your own body, that legally by the letter of the law, you’re in violation of that. And that’s kind of the way that you’re looking at it or kind of the way that you’re basing this framework. Right?

Faith Jones (08:08):

So it’s interesting you asked that because this is actually what underlies the law. I’m not basing it on the law. I’m looking to how we, what under what lies under the law. So these are the principles on which we built the law, the law was to codify these principles. So and it does codify them, which is why violations of any of these principles are crimes. But we all recognize that we have this inherent right in our body. And that’s what we have built the law based on.

Jon Tota (08:44):

And like you’re saying like historically, they built these laws based on these principles, but when you’re talking hundreds of years ago, they left some important people out of the law in, in some cases because of, of what was, you know, the beliefs of the times. And now it’s almost looking at and saying, okay, well, if this is what the law was based on, and now fast forward to today, this is really how we should be looking at property rights in current day. Right?

Faith Jones (09:15):

Yeah. I mean, in this sense, so what happened is that, you know, especially for women and certain groups, what happened was women were considered property or for a much longer period of time while our laws were being written and built and while our societal customs were being created. And so that sort of underlying implication still exists in our society in many different levels, and even though it’s not currently on the books, so to speak, right. I mean, the fact that we haven’t passed the equal rights amendment and that our constitution does not say that all people are created equal instead of all men, right. That’s a big issue, but I think we as humans recognize that that’s not right.

Jon Tota (10:07):

Right. Right. And, and, and now when you talk about your framework, as it relates to property rights, take us through that a little bit, because this is where, when you give your talk and, and certainly in your book, this is where you’re kind of suggesting the, a new way for us to look at our own body, the ownership of our body, what we decide to do with it, or allow other people to do to us. Tell us a little bit about how the framework plays into that.

Faith Jones (10:35):

Absolutely. So for this particular, in, in the first circle where, which is the body violations of our property right in our body are crimes like assault, murder, rape slavery, and also even small acts that seem seemingly small acts of sexual harassment, right? Like if somebody grabs my butt. Why? Because they’re intentionally trespassing on my property without my permission for their own benefit or pleasure. I mean, this one concept released me from years of guilt and self blame when I was faced with sexual assault and harassment in my personal life. I now know that I never have to justify my right to the exclusive use and protection of my own property. So it doesn’t matter for instance, if, when we understand this concept, it gives us a different kind of clarity because I know it doesn’t matter if I leave my wallet out on the table or I paint my car, you know, a hot read that in no way, justifies somebody stealing it.

Faith Jones (11:33):

And I also have a clear, logical way to express that right to men, which gives me a lot more confidence in what can be very uncomfortable situations. We all think that everybody has the same understanding of right and wrong. But how can we, when we come from totally different family situations, cultures, religions, backgrounds. What is considered “normal” quote, unquote behavior can be vastly different. I lived in China for years and in China, children are taught to copy the teacher or the master over and over until they can do it perfectly. But when they come to America and they copy a paper they’re plagiarizing, right? We have a totally different standard for behavior that doesn’t translate unless we have a way to express it. So this framework is a tool it’s really just a set of simple, clear principles that even an eight year old can understand.

Ad Break (12:25):

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Jon Tota (13:27):

We’re becoming much more of a global society where it’s so much easier to interact. You know, whether you are physically traveling around the globe or doing video calls and remote sessions with people in different parts of the world. And as you interact with people, cultures are so different, as you said, but with China and, and all cultures around the world, the way that we think about property rights and the way that we interact with each other individually and as organizations that it’s probably even more important today to have some common framework that really is bigger than just one culture or one society. And are you seeing that now that there’s more need for this because of the amount of the amount that I guess this generation particularly is becoming more and more global?

Faith Jones (14:20):

Absolutely. And it’s, it’s not, we’re more global, but there’s also less of a sense of objectivity perhaps in right and wrong, where it’s like, ‘Oh, well, that’s based on that religion and I don’t believe in that religion’ or, you know, whatever. It’s, there’s less at this place where people feel like they have a really clear standard or framework that they can defend based on a logical foundation. So that’s what I’m very happy that this can provide to us. And I also use it interestingly enough, as a backbone of the personal development training that I give to leaders. So for instance if I own my own body, I also own everything my body does, which means I own my thoughts, actions and emotions. And what does this do? One young man came up to me after my presentation. He was like, Oh my, I get it.

Faith Jones (15:13):

If I own my body and emotions, then I alone am responsible for my happiness and choices. So if I blame somebody else for my current emotional state, I’m putting my happiness and the power over my own emotional state in their hands. I can only take back my power when I accept full responsibility for my own happiness, regardless of what someone did or didn’t do. So I use this framework when I coach leadership, because before I can deal with a CEO’s issues in their management of their employees, they first need to accept and learn self-management. So they first have to accept responsibility for their own emotions and actions. And when they do, they’re more open to learning like emotional intelligence techniques, and that ends up having even a far greater impact on their employees.

Jon Tota (16:02):

And, and so on that point, cause I know you mentioned this in your, in your Ted Talk and what I kind of had the immediate reaction to that was that when you are acting in a certain way or you’re in a certain situation or potentially that you are overstepping the boundaries of someone else’s property rights, that you have to take ownership of your own actions, responsibility for your own actions, acknowledge it and understand what you’re doing. And, and like you said, you know, own your own happiness and all of that too, but is it also the other side of it is that people need to know what they’re doing with their own body, whether it’s good or bad and accepting the responsibility.

Faith Jones (16:46):

Absolutely. So if I fully own something, right, yes, that’s great. I get to direct and control it and decide who touches it and who doesn’t, but at the same point, I’m also fully responsible for it. So but basically I’ll take you quickly through the, we’ve talked about the first one. I’ll take you quickly through the next one, which is principle three- I own what I create. So if I own what I do right then I also own everything that I create. If I own a fruit tree, I own the fruit it produces. So I own the services I provide as a lawyer. I own the products that I invent. I own the books I write. So while nobody else can own our body, we can license the use of our body, mind time, expertise, right? For agreed upon periods in exchange for something else we value. That’s basically what an employment contract is. And violations of the property right, this particular property right in our creations are crimes like theft, slander, which we talked about, copyright or patent infringement. And on the personal development side, this also shows why I must accept ownership and responsibility for my results. So I’m responsible for them.

Jon Tota (17:56):

When you’re referring to the things that you create, like you said, it’s the results that you create. It’s not necessarily always, like, I think most people probably automatically think tangible things you create, but you can also create byproducts just because of the way you’re acting and things you do. There’s the, there are things created out of that and you have to own all of that.

Faith Jones (18:18):

Right. And that what you’re talking about is the effect, and that’s the fifth circle. That’s the fifth circle, which we’ll get to. And that’s a very important element in the law and in our day-to-day practice. But before we get to the fifth element, we’ve got the fourth one, and this one is huge because this is when I own something – this is the principle of deals and relationships because when I own something, I can exchange it to get something else I want. So law school taught me something that I think every single person absolutely should know. And these are the five elements of a valid deal or contract. And they’re critical because our entire society is based on property rights and exchanges. Every relationship, every business deal, every contract you are entering into contracts continuously all the time, all day that you probably have no idea of. When you take a ticket from a parking garage meter, that’s a contract.

Faith Jones (19:13):

So the five elements of a contract are an offer with clear object, willing acceptance, an exchange of value, mental ability to understand the deal, right. And no undue pressure. This is something I think should really be taught to every employee because you don’t want them accidentally getting the company into hot water. Basically. I see it all the time, you know, in the companies I work with, they, when they send me contracts and I’m like, Hey, do we have to fulfill this? Can you review it? Right. Like sure. But if they all understood the basic elements of a contract, it would make my job a lot easier. Right. So violations of this thing are things like blackmail fraud, breach of contract, those all fall into that that category.

Jon Tota (19:57):

And, and this is you know, and I think this component, you think of the deal circle is pretty timely right now, considering that at the time that we’re recording this president Trump was just acquitted you know, on the impeachment charges. But a lot of that was, or based on overuse of his power of potentially overstepping a boundary there and implying that you wouldn’t get certain things on, in a deal if you didn’t come through on something else that he wanted, whether or not anybody agrees with the terms of all this. But that’s kind of the same thing of forcing someone into doing something without maybe necessarily saying it, but just using the leverage of who you are.

Faith Jones (20:42):

Yeah. So that applies very strongly in a concept of the that’s the undue pressure concept or the manipulation concept. Right? So whether or not, you know, that whether or not any of that happened or not, I’m not going to debate on a call, but but when you think about the, the, the principle of undue pressure, right, what does that mean? It means applying negative pressure to force someone to do something they would not otherwise do. And if you violate that you’re violating the laws of the deal. Okay. Now in a relationships and emotional exchanges, if we’re using things like guilt lies, peer pressure, to try to get someone to do what we want, we’re actually stealing from each other. So rather than looking at the big political picture, I think if we even look at just in our day-to-day interactions, you know, if I demand, somebody helped me at work. So rather than demanding that someone helped me at work, I recognize wait, they own themselves. They don’t have to do it. It’s not in their job description. So if they can’t help me, I’m not angry, right. If they’re too busy or something, and if they do help me, then I have a lot more gratitude to them for actually doing that. And, you know, I might also think about incentives rather than demands. Right. I might incentivize them with some donuts. [laughs]

Jon Tota (22:06):

Right, right. And it changes the way that I guess this implies a little bit along the lines of how you persuade someone to do the things you want, rather than using leverage and power or guilt trip. It could be as simple as, you know, you’re a parent guilting a child into doing what they think is right. But instead, trying to get people to make the choice on their own, because they have to choose to do it with their body on their, on their terms to do the right thing. And whether they agree with you or not is up to them.

Faith Jones (22:43):

Yeah. Creating positive incentives and clear explanations of the benefits can help that rather than just kind of anger, demand or guilt. So people who are in good people who are really good at interpersonal relationships, they seem to sort of naturally understand this balance.

Jon Tota (23:02):

Right.

Faith Jones (23:03):

But not everybody grew up with good examples of give and take or of healthy exchanges and boundaries or of creating win-win outcomes. So for those of us who didn’t grow up seeing that all the time, this gives us a roadmap, it gives us a little help. What do those look like? What underlies those kinds of healthy relationships and tell you what it gives you so much freedom because you’re not falling for the guilt and the manipulation anymore. You recognize it. You recognize, I recognize I’m free to pick the option that’s best for me, as long as I’m not violating the rights of others. So it just gives me so much more freedom in my daily interactions and allows me to really pick the things that are going to contribute the most to my own success.

Jon Tota (23:49):

Right. Right. And now, now let’s talk about the final outer ring of effect.

Faith Jones (23:55):

So in the law violations of this principle deal with how much responsibility you have for something you contribute to, but are not fully within your control. So for instance, if a leader tells his followers to go kill somebody, even if he doesn’t pull the trigger himself, he also bears responsibility. If in product liability, if the company knows that there is a risk that the product can be used in a way that it will hurt people and they don’t take steps to reduce that risk, right. Then they are also, they’ve violated this principle, right? They’re not fully responsible for the harm. Maybe the person was driving their car too fast, but if they know that if they’re driving their car too fast and they hit it at a particular point on the bumper, or the car is going to explode instead of just, you know, getting a dented fender, then that is something that they are responsible for as well.

Faith Jones (24:48):

See. So it gives you a way to explain that to people in a clear way. So this ring really addresses what is our overall impact for either good or harm for our creations and our deals that we make, you know. Not just what is the impact we intend, but what is the actual impact? And the interesting thing is, as you notice, as you move outward in the rings, your individual control lessens. Your full ownership of the outcome and the reward decreases. You’re basically sharing ownership and responsibility with others. So it gives us a clear way to like, think about this visually as well.

Jon Tota (25:23):

Right. Right. And, and, and they, it’s kind of all cause and effect in a way, right? Because it, as you go out each ring it’s further and further extended to your interpersonal interactions with everyone around you.

Faith Jones (25:39):

Right. So it starts first with your awareness of your consciousness. That’s the, you know, that’s fully within you, right. And then you’ve got your body. And then the things that you create where you might need inputs from other people to create those things. And then the deals, once you start making a deal or an exchange, and there’s at least two people in that scenario. Right. And then impact can be massive. It could be worldwide. Right. So that’s how it gives us a way to think about us in our responsibility and relationships to other people as well. But there’s something really cool about this that I saw when I first created the diagram. Violations of each of these spheres of property rights are crimes. And these are crimes all over the world in every country, which means there’s kind of a universal set of principles of how we think about this. Now they’re not all applied the same; cultures are different. But these types of crimes exist everywhere. So with this understanding, I realized I could simplify the law onto a single piece of paper.

Jon Tota (26:40):

Yeah. I think, I think it’s fascinating too, for that perspective. Exactly. Like you said, is that the one thing that is consistent across all cultures is that violations on any one of these rings, it would be a violation or a legal violation, a crime in any society. And so why wouldn’t we act within this framework in all cases?

Faith Jones (27:07):

Exactly. It gives us a way to kind of, it gives us a really clear logical standard that we can teach our kids and that we can use when we’re making decisions. It acts as a kind of a lens to assess each of our actions and make better decisions because that’s what we’re all trying to do. We’re all trying to make better decisions.

Jon Tota (27:26):

Right. Right. And I, and I think you’ve done such a nice job of summing something up that could be really complicated and hits on so many different levels, but you can consume it in one graphic like this and really understand it. So I, you know, I thank you so much for coming back on because we didn’t get to talk about all of this stuff in the first episode that you did with us on Learning Life. And I love this now for all of our listeners who are interested in what you’re talking about. Obviously we will have the links that they can jump right over to the TEDx talk, listen to that. Then also download the framework and start to understand it better. The book, I think is obviously core to all of this. If they want to get the book find out more about you and what you’re doing as far as consulting workshops, things like that. Where’s the best place for them to go to know more about Faith Jones?

Faith Jones (28:19):

Please reach out to me on my website. It is just faith jones.com. So very easy. I have a contact form on there if you want to reach out to me about doing keynote speeches or workshops or gaining materials or training your HR people and the people who are in charge of organizational development, feel free to contact me from my website. Just, you know, there’s a contact form on the website, fill it in, send me a quick email and I will definitely get back to you.

Jon Tota (28:49):

Awesome. Awesome. So for everyone, definitely check out faith jones.com and your book it’s available obviously through the website, but also Amazon or wherever else people are getting books?

Faith Jones (29:01):

No, it’s only available on the website.

Jon Tota (29:03):

Cool. So if people are interested in the book website and on where’s the best way to follow you on social media is LinkedIn the best place for you?

Faith Jones (29:12):

Okay. Yeah. I’m on LinkedIn and also on Instagram. So you can reach me there. Faith Jones – I Own Me, if you just look up that it’ll pop up.

Jon Tota (29:25):

Awesome. Well, Faith, thank you so much for coming back on and sharing all of this and congrats on all the success. It’s so great to see the traction that you’re getting with such an important topic.

Faith Jones (29:36):

Thank you so much, Jon, for having me on and giving me the opportunity to share this with your amazing audience.

Jon Tota (29:44):

Yes, and for all of our listeners. Thank you all for coming back every week and listening to these episodes and wherever you’re listening, be sure to subscribe and leave us comments. We’d love to hear from our listeners and until our next episode, happy learning.