Creatively Pragmatic or Pragmatically Creative - that is the question with Jason Barnard!

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

This one was a beautiful trip down memory lane where you really get to know Jason Barnard. His journey started as a curious boy with big aspirations living in a small village in Yorkshire to a musician in the lively city of Liverpool sharing the stage with Ben Gunn - ex Sisters of Mercy guitar player… then onto the bright lights of Paris - with his band The Barking Dogs. He then reinvented himself as a blue dog in a successful cartoon TV series, only to get a major curveball… and yet another life rebuild. In between, you’ll hear joyful moments, terrifying events, loss, hope and the biggest lesson of all: Our capacity to remain naive and curious can be our biggest strength in those hard times where we have to start from scratch.

A beautiful account of life lessons and victories, on what it means to be human and how painful growth can be at times. In the end, we end up with a fascinating journey where hope always prevails, and where creativity meets pragmatism to create something great!

Some powerful insights in this episode:

  1. The power of perseverance.

  2. Why two steps forward and one step back is always progress.

  3. Learning how to be a pragmatic person and balance it with creativity.


Episode Highlights

Jason’s Childhood

  • Jason spent his childhood in Yorkshire in the North of England. His village consisted of 25 people, including himself.

  • His neighbours were cows, sheep, and farmers.

  • Because of this, he had to entertain and motivate himself - that is where his reliance and self-reliance developed.

  • When he was 12, Jason walked five miles through the snow to buy his first punk album - London Calling by The Clash.

Childhood Experiences and Leaving the Comfort Zone

  • His childhood made him realize he never wanted to get into a situation where he had nothing to do week after week.

  • Moving to Liverpool forced him to explore things outside the comfort zone of his hometown.

  • Getting a degree from Liverpool John Moores University didn’t help him in any meaningful manner. However, that time in Liverpool showed him different cultures and points of view, widened his horizons and opened the doors to everything that followed.

Lessons Learned from Big Experiences

  • Singing in the blues band Stanley the Counting Horse marked the moment that switched the direction of his life.

  • Jason went on to being a professional musician and then went onto making cartoons for kids.

  • Another big influence in Jason’s life was living with people from different cultures and points of view in Liverpool, Paris and Mauritius.

  • Ben Gunn - ex Sisters of Mercy guitar player - played a surprising role in Jason’s musical career.

  • While in Liverpool, Jason experienced a terrifying encounter where people broke into his house, held him hostage and beat him up. This was a unique event that taught him how to face trauma and fear.

  • Determined to finish what he started, despite that trauma, he stayed a year more before moving to Paris.

How Naive Thinking Figured into Jason’s Life

  • Jason moved to France because he was in love with a French woman...

  • He thought that after exchanging postcards with that woman, they would end up together.

  • She turned out to have a long-term boyfriend. He realized it was naive thinking that motivated him.

  • Joining a professional touring band, he gigged his way around Europe for 8 years believing they would be stars one day.

  • It may not be reasonable, but this type of naive thought is a big motivator. Whether it works out or not is (perhaps) not the point.

Appreciating Other Points of View

  • Jason’s mother left him and his siblings with his father when he was four.

  • This experience taught him to not rely on others, whilst appreciating people who close.

  • He doesn’t use the term ‘empathy’ because this implies you know what the other person is feeling.

  • Instead, you can strive to be understanding.

Finding the Right Direction

  • The right path for Jason is doing what he thinks is important and valuable for others.

  • For him, this was making people happy through music and cartoons.

  • Jason is motivated by making positive contributions to the world.

  • After pulling himself out of a deep-debt situation, he realized he wanted to try to understand how Google functions

  • An impossible task, the road becomes more important than the goal, and that gives leeway to be more creative.

The Drive to Move Forward

  • Jason shares that he can break his life into six chunks and that each one ends in disaster.

  • Jason recollects the many times he had faced challenges and got the chance to get up and fight again.

  • To move forward in life, he emphasizes the need for slow persistence and perseverance. Or how he puts it “push forwards gradually in a positive way”.

Hitting Rock Bottom

  • Jason shares that he reached rock bottom when his business partner took away the show that he built with his wife: Boowa & Kwala..

  • After which he grappled with fear and depression for three months.

  • Looking back, Jason reflects on how fear is an emotion, and as such is something you can work to overcome little by little.

Rebuilding Life

  • Jason vividly recalls the moment he knew he was on the road to recovery - seeing a film and wanting to share it with his daughter was the moment he truly started his journey to rebuild his soul.

  • His study of the Chinese philosopher Confucius helped him overcome his fear and move away from his destructive cycle of self-obsession.

  • He started to take action in rebuilding his life and his career.

  • That rebuilding started by caring for others and being kind.

Be a Pragmatic Person

  • Moving to Paris allowed Jason to unleash his creative side.

  • But he realized he needed to make a living. He needed to be pragmatic.

  • He spent several years digging himself out of debt.

  • He reinforced his intellectual and pragmatic capacities until he realized he could move the needle and create his own path by putting his mind to it.

Blending Creativity with Pragmatism

  • Jason has been a pragmatic person by dedicating time to his business. But he also learned to allow space for his artistic side.

  • That pragmatism has meant Jason was able to build a database and collect vast amounts of data.

  • His creativity helps him organize this data in a manner others may not have seen before.

  • Through this blending of creativity and pragmatism, he is breaking new ground both professionally and personally.

5 Powerful Quotes

  • “There's a nice word in French, which is la unique. And la unique is kind of the equivalent of ‘American drive’ but with a kind aspect to it. It means I've just got energy; it’s having positive energy to move forward.”

  • “I can build on that one moment, and I can build more moments like that until eventually, you build what I would consider being your soul back again, which [for me] is caring for other people.”

  • “I'm not a religious person in any stretch of the imagination, but I think as humans… there's something in us that makes us the beings that we are for good or for bad, for better, or for worse, whatever it might be.”

  • “Those two steps forward, one step back is still progress. You've got a chance. Life is all about that forward, backward, forward, backward, forward, backward, and trying to assess whether you're actually moving forward or not.”

  • “Pragmatism had to take over because otherwise, I would not have made it through.”

About Jason

Jason Barnard is a digital marketer, musician, and co-creator of the cartoon characters Boowa and Kwala. He is the founder and CEO of Kalicube - a digital marketing company pioneering the concept of what your audience sees when they Google your brand. It’s also known as Brand SERP.

With over two decades of experience, Jason has also shared his expertise in numerous digital marketing publications and at major marketing conferences.

He also hosts a digital marketing podcast. To know more about Jason and his work, visit his website. You can connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.

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To fuelling success in your life,


Co-authors: Rui Manuel Mendes & Grow Podcast SEO

#perseverance #progress #pragmatism #balance #creativity #lifejourney #success #struggling #comfortzone #lessonslearned #perception #patterns #creativity #neuroscience #brain #psychology #personalgrowth

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