The unconventional Jaeson Ma is a serial entrepreneur, hip-hop artist and venture capitalist in the media, entertainment and technology industry. Before launching his career in Hollywood, he was mentored by MC Hammer and served as a minister and a church planter.
Growing up in the Bay Area, he reflects on his tumultuous adolescence and run-in’s with the law, recounting the pivotal moment that changed his life trajectory. Merging his deep spirituality with a passion for music, he delves into the vibrant West Coast underground hip-hop scene of the early '90s, narrating his journey as the right-hand of MC Hammer, his lifelong mentor.
A former youth minister, Jaeson shares the profound impact of his missionary work on his worldview and values. Stressing the importance of creating meaningful relationships and the power of forgiveness, he talks about his transition to the music industry and collaboration with Bruno Mars following his burnout.
He concludes by re-defining success and underscoring that our true destiny flows from our identity, which is grounded in the unconditional love of God.
Just how did a troubled youth become the right-hand of MC Hammer, plant over 200 churches in 40 countries, and ultimately emerge as an industry maverick to re-define success in Hollywood?
TUNE IN to this mind-blowing conversation with Jaeson Ma & find out.
Jaeson Ma is a serial entrepreneur, hip-hop artist and venture capitalist in the media, entertainment and technology industry. Founder of the investment firm East West Ventures, he also co-founded 88rising, an Asian-focused multi-platform digital media company, Stampede Ventures, a Hollywood production studio, EST Media Holdings, a broadcast media production and distribution company, and most recently, the NFT super-app OP3N.
Throughout his career, Jaeson has raised capital and advised on transactions totaling over $1 billion. An investor in numerous startups, including Musical.ly (TikTok), Grab, Triller, Coinbase, Dark Horse Comics, Slock.it, Brain.ai, he is also a General Partner at Caravan Digital Studios and a Venture Partner at consumer tech fund Goodwater Capital.
He has not only found success in the music industry, but also used his platform to express his beliefs and values, both as a solo artist and as part of the Christian rap duo Namesake. Before launching his career in Hollywood, Jaeson served as a minister and church planter. Author of the book “The Blueprint”, he is also a member of the Milken Institute Young Leaders Circle.
[00:03] Jennifer Wu: Hi everyone, thanks for listening to The Founder Spirit podcast. I'm your host, Jennifer Wu. In this podcast series, I interview exceptional individuals from all over the world with the Founder Spirit, ranging from social entrepreneurs, tech founders, to philanthropists, elite athletes, and more. Together, we'll uncover not only how they manage to succeed in face of multiple challenges, but also who they are as people and their human story.
If this podcast has been beneficial or valuable to you, feel free to become a patron and support us on Patreon.com, that is P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/TheFounderSpirit. As always, you can find us on Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify, as well as social media and our website at TheFounderSpirit.com.
“For me as an entrepreneur, it's not about thinking as much as it's doing. And I think ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is very rare. Being around Hammer, he wasn't afraid to try anything or learn anything. So I think what I learned from Hammer the most was just be open to learn always. And then whatever you learn, put it into practice and try to do it, try to make it happen. And that stuck with me as I progressed or evolved in my life.
If I had not been a missionary first, I wouldn't be who I am today, meaning I wouldn't understand culture. You go to 40 countries, and you eat their food and you learn their languages and you sleep and learn to communicate and appreciate how they think and how they see the world. You learn about humanity. And I think that did a huge part on my worldview, as well as my values, as well as my understanding of what people need, and ultimately storytelling.
I always talk about, don't think about what you can get, but think about what you can give - I learned that as a missionary. I think at the end of the day, at the core, every human being wants to feel loved, but they also want to feel appreciated, and they also want to have that connection.
I realized that forgiveness is not about so much forgiving the person that you need to forgive. It's actually learning to forgive yourself and freeing yourself from that pain and that resentment.
We think that our purpose and our meaning comes from our destiny. But no, your true destiny can only flow from your identity. To me, success is knowing that God loves me and me loving him back - that's success. And there's no pressure, no expectations, and it's unconditional.”
Joining us today is the unconventional Jaeson Ma, a serial entrepreneur, hip-hop artist and venture capitalist in the media, entertainment and technology industry. Before launching his career in Hollywood, he was mentored by MC Hammer and served as a minister and a church planter.
In this wide-ranging conversation, he talks about his early run-in with the law, finding God, meeting Hammer, working as a missionary, hitting the top ten gospel chart with Bruno Mars, the power of forgiveness and the meaning of success.
Just how did a troubled youth become the right-hand of MC Hammer, planter of over 200 churches in 40 countries, and ultimately emerge as an industry maverick to re-define success in Hollywood? Well, TUNE IN to this mind-blowing conversation & find out.
Hi Jaeson, welcome to the Founder Spirit podcast. So wonderful to have you with us today and thank you for taking the time.
[03:38] Jaeson Ma: Thank you for having me on, Jennifer. This is really cool, really exciting.
[03:43] Jennifer: Great, Jaeson, you have followed such an unconventional path in life, so I'd love to start with your childhood. Can you tell us what your life was like growing up in the Bay area?
[03:54] Jaeson: That's a big question - what was life like in the Bay Area? It was fun, it was also rough, I grew up in the Bay, San Jose (California) to be exact.
My mom was a single mother, raised my two older sisters and I, just taking care of kids. She did daycare to pay the rent and so it was month to month, it wasn't easy. I grew up kind of a troublemaker, got kicked out of three high schools, ended up my fourth in San Jose - all in San Jose, from the east to the west side.
(I) almost went to jail for grand theft, and then found Jesus Christ. Somehow a miracle happened, I ended up not going to jail by the grace of God and starting a hip-hop bible study in the hood, east San Jose. Get my friends that were all like druggies or b-boys or DJs or kids in, believe it or not, drama class, out of trouble and to find God.
And I did that every Tuesday night - hundreds of young people would come out and prerequisite was that you have to study the bible with me for an hour, and after that, the church auditorium is yours. And so they would break dance, DJ, rap, smoke (chuckles), I think they would try not to do drugs and it was like really popping at the time.
And that's how I got into youth ministry, and then how I met my first boss, MC Hammer, who was in the Bay Area at the same time.
[05:10] Jennifer: I understand that you come from a very spiritual family - your father was a minister, and your mother and your sisters are also quite devout Christians.
[05:21] Jaeson: Yeah, so my mom and dad were actually sponsored by the Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, where I was born, the major Christian denomination, and they own Pepperdine university in Malibu, California. So my mom and dad were actually the first Hong Kong or Chinese international students at Pepperdine.
My dad was serving in the ministry, and after that, he transitioned to be an entrepreneur and moved out to San Jose. And then they separated, so that's when my mom and I and my sisters just grew up.
And I think faith was always what carried my mom as a single mom, so she was very devout, praying all the time that I wouldn't get into more trouble. And I think that's what kept her grounded, it was definitely the church community (and) faith. And then, of course, my sisters were... we were all influenced by it, right? So we grew up going to Sunday school and church.
[06:05] Jennifer: Besides religion, music also had a significant influence on your life, as you had mentioned. I know at a young age you had wanted to become the 11th member of the Wu Tang Clan. (chuckles)
[06:20] Jaeson: You’ve really done your research (chuckles).
[06:24] Jennifer: So tell me about your hip-hop persona as J. Quest and what the West Coast underground hip-hop circuit was like back in the day?
[06:33] Jaeson: Wow, I think you're the first podcast that's asked me this specific question, this is great.
To be frank, West Coast underground hip-hop culture was my first religion. That was really my first church, my first fellowship, my first community. If you ever watched the movie eight mile with Eminem, where he is in Detroit and he's in these battle competitions with other rappers and the clubs and the underground, that was very much my teenage years.
I was literally sneaking out my window on a Thursday night to go to Plan B Cactus Club in downtown San Jose when my mom thought I was asleep and me faking my ID getting into the club. And every Thursday night, they just had the craziest and dopest rappers perform freestyle battle, sell mixtapes - everyone had a demo and ciphers.
And it was just awesome, it was just amazing because it was just all about the culture, it was all about consciousness. And everyone being original, and everyone having their own style.
So when I grew up, hip-hop was very much the golden age - this is like the early 90s. And you had Wu Tang, you had Nas just coming out, you had Biggie and Tupac. The West Coast underground was a very unique hip-hop scene because West Coast was really known for gangster rap at the time - so you had NWA, you had Dr. Dre and Snoop and all this. And the East Coast was the originators - so Rakim and Afrika Bambaataa, Kaaris One, and you had Nas, and then you had Black Moon and Heltah Skeltah. All these rappers - they were the intellectuals, the philosophers, the real true rappers, rhyme slayers.
But the West Coast underground was this movement that was inspired by conscious hip-hop, and they just went underground. So instead of gangster rap, it was like Souls of Mischief in Oakland, and one of their members went to Stanford, and rapping about a lot of crazy, cool, conscious, philosophical themes and thoughts.
And so there were kind of two movements, one in Southern California, and there was one in Northern California. Southern California was a movement called Project Blowed, with kind of the Godfathers of underground West Coast rap called Freestyle Fellowship. And they were really based on jazz, and then they would have their version of Plan B Cactus Club called Project Blowed, and they would just have all these different conscious rappers coming, really like street poets, they would be flowing over beats.
In the San Francisco Bay area, you had Hieroglyphics, you had Living Legends, you had Hobo Junction. You had just this whole other backpack scene of really conscious underground and very ghetto, like the beats were just made on your ASR-10 computer. And the more ghetto you were, the more legit you were. So the more horrible it sounded quality wise, the more real this was.
Anyway, so I was just so enamored with this culture, hip-hop, from the fashion to the lifestyle to the thinking… I don't know what it was about hip-hop, but it became my persona, my personality - it shaped the way I am today. So anyways, I was part of a rap group called Elements, and then I had my first underground mixtape, senior year in high school.
[09:44] Jennifer: Two Sides To Everything.
[09:45] Jaeson: Wow, there you go. I don't even know where that tape is. And it was funny it’s called Two Sides To Everything, I was called J. Quest. This is cassette tape days, so one side was like my conscious battle rap persona, and then the other side was me doing funny comedic Asian raps.
So I had a song called Enter the Dragon Wagon, I had a song called Asian Girl, I had… It was just like the funniest shit ever. I think the mixtape started off me calling Vietnamese restaurants and prank calling them. Anyways, it was just hilarious.
And then I had a song called “what the pho” (Pho is the name of a Vietnamese noodle soup), that was a crazy song. That was like when Master P had the song called “Make 'Em Say Uhh”, so I said, “Make 'Em Say Pho” because I loved pho so much. San Jose had the most amazing pho restaurant - shout out to Pho 54, I think it's still there.
But yeah, so it's just self-expression, being able to express yourself through rhyme, through beat, through culture, through music. for me, as a young person, it was just so liberating that I could actually use this medium to express myself - express my views, express my thoughts, both sides of my personality.
Because I was really influenced by Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, so that was my comedic side. But then I was really influenced by West Coast underground hip-hop, so that would be my conscious, philosophical, spiritual side.
So that's crazy that you brought that up, because I think if I meet someone that was in West Coast underground hip-hop these days, we will talk for hours because we'll be like, yo, remember that guy, remember that rap, remember how wacky he was, yo remember how crazy that guy was?
It was a great time in my life, really, I was truly happy.
[11:13] Jennifer: Do you still freestyle?
[11:14] Jaeson: When I'm drunk, yes.
[11:17] Jennifer: Okay, so you wouldn't freestyle on the show right now?
[11:20] Jaeson: Oh, no, there's got to be the right BPM (beats per minute) and beat going. I did this last Thanksgiving on my deck, my friends came over and I just started busting out freestyles - it’s fun, I love it.
[11:30] Jennifer: Jaeson, despite having been a troubled youth, you mentioned that you experienced a divine intervention in your late teens. So what led you to change your life in the last two years of high school?
[11:41] Jaeson: There was this encounter.
Like I said, I grew up, I wouldn't say like dirt poor, but it was literally, we didn't know each month if mom would be able to make the rent, so it was like that type of poverty, and so (I) always was just hustling.
(I) started selling candy door to door - I was 12 or 13, definitely was illegal. I for sure remember, this guy came in a white van when I was in 6th grade in junior high, and he's like, you want to make some money? I was like, sure. He's like, get in the van - he’s like, jumped in his white van, there was no seats, and it was just crates of candy bars.
And then he just had a bunch of other street kids, like 4 or 5 of us at a time. And he would drive 100 miles an hour through this regular neighborhood streets and just drop us off all over the place to go door to door to sell candy bars for $5 and pretend that I was almost going to prison and I needed money to go to Disneyland - that was like the whole thing.
Anyway, so growing up, it was constantly from that, then I had 8 odd jobs at the mall. Then I started dealing drugs, basically always selling something.
And then, you know, it was crazy. I think I was working at the mall, Great Mall at the Bay Area. I was working at this Italian suit store that was selling Armani, Valentino suits. And I had two other associates, my partners (chuckles). It's probably my first startup, (chuckles) I guess my first real startup.
And we were just laundering Italian Armani suits because we took the inventory, and so we would miscount by accident, and we would sell suits, and so I ended up making thousands of dollars at 15-16 years old.
And I'm going to high school in a three-piece Valentino suit, thinking I'm like Asian Godfather - I’d think I'm Chow Yun Fat (famous Hong Kong actor) or something. And we'd have our rice rockets and ride around in Honda Civics and Accords that were souped up like Fast and Furious, and it was just a crazy time.
But specifically, I got a call one day from my mom when I was 17 at the time, going on 18. And she was like, Jaeson, the cops are on the other line, and they have a warrant out for your arrest. And is this true? They said they have video cameras of you stealing at your store. And I'm like, mom, what are you talking about?
So I hang up the phone and I call my two friends that were doing this with me, and I'm like, hey, what's going on? And they're like, yo, this one staff found out and ratted on us. And I was like, okay, so do they really have hidden video cameras of us stealing the last three months? They're like, no, it’s BS, cops are just saying that to make us turn ourselves in.
I was like okay, so I had the balls to call the cops myself. And they're like, we have a hidden camera, we have a warrant for your arrest. I was like, I know you guys are BSing, I know you have nothing on me, so catch me if you can and go ahead. I hang up the phone, and it was weird - how much consciousness do you have at 17? And I just had this moment, I had this little awakening, like what am I doing with my life? And my mom's crying every day - I have everything I want, whether that's popularity and friends and cars and money and clothes. I felt empty and I was like, wow, I feel like I need to get my life right. I didn't know what it was. I can't explain what was influencing me at the time, obviously, it was God, but I didn't know it.
So I went into my closet and I took about every single last suit I had last stolen and put them in two big garbage bags. And I told my friend to take me to the police station. So he's like, why are you doing this? Just tell him you stole less than $500 - not grand theft, you don't have to go to juvi (juvenile hall) tonight. I was like, just leave me alone.
And so he drops me off about a mile from the police station, and I don't know what to do. So I'm having this dilemma - should I turn myself in or not? So I call my mom, and she's the praying Chinese mom. And so I'm like, mom, I got to be honest with you, I actually did do it, and what do you think I should do? My mom's like, well, I don't want you go to jail, and like a real Chinese mom.
I’m like, but, mom, should I tell the truth? I was like, what would Jesus do? And she's like, Jesus don't steal (chuckles). And I'm like, what if he did, what would he do? And she's like, well, he'd probably turn himself in and tell the truth to get his life right with God.
And I was like, wow, okay. And so at that time, that's what I'm missing, I'm missing God in my life. And so I just had this conviction in my heart, and I was like, I just needed to come clean. And she's like, just pray the cops have mercy on you.
So I walked into police station with two bags in my hand, and one of my friends got arrested. He was the other guy, and he was lying - he said he didn't do everything. They're cuffing him up, he's crying. And I'm like, okay, this is bad. So cop sees me. He's like, you're Jaeson Ma. I’m like, yes. And he sees these two garbage bags in my hands. I'm like, look, here's everything I have left stolen, I did it, and I'm guilty, I'm sorry.
And he just looked at me like bewildered, really? He's like, I don't know what it is about you, but when I saw you walk in with those two big garbage bags in your hand, it's like I heard a voice in my head tell me there's something different about this kid - he's a good kid, get him help. I was like, what?
He's like, I haven't done this in 20 years of my police career, I should take you to jail right now but I'm not going to do that; instead I need to turn your case into the DA (district attorney), but you'll probably still have to go to jail when you go to court because you're guilty, but I'll let you go for now. So I'm like, what? So little miracle happens.
And bigger miracle happens - they lose my court case for six months. So I think God gave me those six months to repent, change. I literally just did a 180 - I threw away all my marijuana plants in my backyard, I literally went from straight Fs to straight Ds, I started bringing all my gangster hip-hop friends, started this hip-hop bible study. Long story short, I became like a Jesus freak, and everyone was just like, ooh, what, J Ma, what happened?
And by the time I got a letter in the mail six months later saying I got to go to court, I was a very much a different person and everyone knew it - I was like an evangelist and telling everyone I could about Jesus Christ. And I went in, I pleaded guilty to all charges, I didn't even have a lawyer.
So the first trial, they said, come back in a month. I came back a second time - they're like, we are going to get two more lawyers, investigate it more in depth. (I) came back a third time, and they just said, we made a decision and you can go free.
And, I was like, free, there's nothing free, what do you mean I can go free? I don’t have to go to jail? He's like, no. Do I have to pay the company back money? And they're like, no. I was like, well, tell me I got community service. He's like, no community service hours. I was like, what about my probation officer?
And the judge looked at me and said, when you walk out of this courtroom, she won't be your probation officer anymore - just get out of here. And I was like, I can just go? He's like, yes. And I was like, okay, thank you sir.
So I walked out, it was a sunny day, I remember it was downtown San Jose, San Jose PD (police department) courthouse. And I just said, God, you're the nicest dude ever met. I was like, thank you for giving me a second chance, what can I do for you? That day, I was like, I'm gonna let Jesus take the driver wheel and just see wherever he wants to take me, and it’s taking me to here.
[18:16] Jennifer: That's an amazing story, sounds like you were literally saying by the grace of God. As you had mentioned, you then started a hip-hop bible study group at a local church embracing your two passions, spirituality and music. And it's also through that you met someone named Stanley Kirk Burrell, who eventually became your lifelong mentor. So as a 17-year old kid, how did you get a job with MC Hammer?
[18:43] Jaeson: It was through this hip-hop bible study. So he was preaching every Sunday at this mega church called Jubilee, 15-20 minutes drive from my house. So every Sunday, MC Hammer would teach the bible, so it was the most amazing thing ever. It's like MC Hammer teaching the bible, what? Hammer pants, can't touch this, too legit - amazing!
And so every year I would do a hip-hop outreach, a big concert rally where I would bring in different local artists that were Christian or Gospel or positive, and thousands of kids would come and we would have testimonies and share the Gospel. And I thought, how dope would it be if I had MC Hammer to come and speak and perform.
And so I chased him for six months, couldn't get through his bodyguard, church security, the whole thing. And then I was almost going to give up because we were two weeks away from the event, and I finally got a hold of him through his right hand, this guy named Pastor Darryl. And I remember he felt bad for me because I was so persistent, I was there every single Sunday waiting for hours.
And they finally got me a meeting with Hammer, and I was like, hey you know, this is a hip-hop bible studies called Souls Shine on This Lord, (a) soul fellowship. And I just told him the vision, what's been going on. I was like, could you come speak at our anniversary? And he was like, yeah, I like your vision, I like what you're doing, I'll make it happen. I was like, wow.
And then he looked at me, he's like, young man, what do you do? And I was like, I just graduated high school, I work at a tech startup across from Apple Computer in Cupertino (California), making websites for small businesses. So that's the next thing I was slaying.
And then he was like, websites, tech startup, I'm a venture capitalist, I invest in tech startups - you're Asian, you must know how to use a computer, come work for me! And so…
[22:16] Jennifer: Amazing (chuckles).
[22:17] Jaeson: That was that! I just quit my job a week later. Next thing you know, I'm MC Hammer's right hand. Hammer was amazing for me because he was everything I wanted to be. He was entertainer, he was an entrepreneur, and he was also a minister. And so it was just kind of crazy that God placed him in my life, because he knew we were similar in that way.
So he taught me everything. So I would go into the studio with him, and we would literally be recording tracks till 6-7-8-9 in the morning from 10 o’clock at night. And then we would have different artists coming in and out.
And he'd have me go put together a business plan to go raise millions of dollars for this independent music label that we had. (chuckles) I was 17, I don't know how to write a business plan. And he, literally I remember, went to a Fry’s electronics store, and he bought a CD-Rom for $100 bucks on how to write a business plan. He's like, just put in your computer, follow the instructions, if you don't understand something, ask me. I was like, okay. And actually I wrote a 100-page business plan, and we raised a few million dollars, it was nuts.
And then he got into tech, and he's best friends with this guy named Ron Conway, who's the godfather of Silicon Valley, SV Angels. And he coined the term “angel investment”, because he was the first check in eBay and Google and Twitter and YouTube and all these different companies.
He became best friends with Hammer, and they would hang out together all the time. And so I said that Ron wants to be cool and Hammer wants to get into tech - it was like a perfect match made in heaven.
I would drive Hammer to all these meetings. And he'd be like, all right, today we're going to YouTube. And I'm like, what's YouTube? And he's like, oh, they're uploading content to servers - it’s the future, we're going to make our music videos on our camcorders and upload it on the Internet. I'm like, that sounds horrible, that sounds like a horrible idea.
And we actually did, we shot a music video in the alley with a camcorder, and uploaded it to YouTube. And this was when Britney Spears was making multi-million dollar music videos with Joseph Khan. I'm like, this is not going to work. And of course, he just had this foresight.
We were at YouTube when it was 5 people above a pizza parlor in San Mateo, then we were at Twitter when it was 3 people. I remember he was with Jack Dorsey and he was like, your guys should do question and answer’s like forums, town halls. And he did the first thread, he was the first official celebrity on Twitter.
Then later, he brought Ashton (Kutcher) and Demi Moore at the time when they were still together, and then will.i.am. Anyways, he was the first celebrity that was in tech, and you can ask anybody, whether it's Ron (Conway), Ben Horowitz, because he was the Bay Area legend - who's not going to want to take a meeting with MC Hammer? You're like some nerd from Silicon Valley.
[22:39] Jennifer: Right, it's Hammer Time! (chuckles)
[23:41] Jaeson: Anyway, so that was that. His whole thing was always generating rich content, digital distribution, Hollywood's coming to Silicon Valley. And he was like, it's all coming here, watch.
And this is 1997, and so everything in the office was Bluetooth, wireless. He was just always prophetic, he was always ahead of his time, he was always seeing the intersection of content and technology. And I was just a recipient of everything.
And then on the weekends, we'd literally go to San Quentin (State Prison) or we’d go to the county jail and we would go and preach to the prisoners and jail mates, and then we would (do) full blown deliverance sessions. We'd go and cast out devils and do exorcisms - it was nuts. So it was just this crazy time in my life that was so rich and when I look back, I was like, wow, those are really awesome dates.
[23:24] Jennifer: Having had that exposure to many things through MC Hammer, so going from visiting startups to creating music, what lessons did you take away from this whole experience?
[23:39] Jaeson: Great question. You just got to do it. I think the end of the day for me, as an entrepreneur, it's not about thinking as much as it's doing. And I think ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is very rare.
Being around Hammer, he wasn't afraid to try anything or learn anything. And he was always just like, oh wow, look at this animation company from Korea; oh wow, look at this social media company; or oh wow, look at this fiber optic cable company that can deliver content and data faster; oh wow, look at the way this minister is preaching.
We were just constantly learning, constantly doing, so it wasn't any time to sit and go to school. And our school was the school of experience or the school of hard knocks. It was the school of just executing, trying, failing most of the time, but you would just keep learning and growing.
And so I think what I learned from Hammer the most was just be open to learn always. And then whatever you learn, put it into practice and try to do it, try to make it happen. And that stuck with me as I progressed or evolved in my life.
[24:41] Jennifer: In 2001, you had facilitated an investment by MC Hammer in the nearly bankrupt film “Better Luck Tomorrow”, which was directed by the young Justin Lin, who later became a very famous director of multiple films in the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
This film, in particular, was about Asian-American overachievers who became bored and enter a world of petty crimes and material excess. It received a lot of critical acclaim at the time. Was this the first time that you realized that you wanted to represent Asian talent to the world?
[25:16] Jaeson: Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in America, but every summer I would spend in Hong Kong, and I'd be with all my grandparents, and I'd be watching all the 80s-90s Hong Kong classics like God of Gamblers, A Better Tomorrow, Hard Boiled, Killer, Shanghai Tang…
In the 80s and 90s, Hong Kong was like the K-pop or the Korea K-drama. It was just so great, and it had that aura, it had that golden era, it had that power and excellence and storytelling that was just as good as Hollywood, but from Asia.
And in many ways, I would say as good as Hollywood, and innovated a lot of what we see in Hollywood. So all Hollywood action is now and was influenced by Hong Kong action, whether that was martial arts or whether that was John Woo with two guns and The Matrix - they had all the same martial arts trainers.
So I always had this dichotomy because I would be in Hong Kong, and I see all these badass Asian heroes, these guys were like the Robert De Niro, Al Pacinos of Hong Kong and Chinese cinema. And I would just be like, man, I want to be like that when I grow up.
And then I come back to Bay Area and kids are laughing at me because I got chinky eyes or they're making fun of me because of the food that I'm eating or whatever it is. And I'm watching TV and I don't see any Asians anywhere - it was like Connie Chung, she talks white, she acts white and her husband is white. I'm not against interracial marriages, but if you're Asian-American, you want to be white.
And so that was interesting, and the only people I saw were like Jackie Chan and Yan Can Cook.
[26:47] Jennifer: I love Yan Can Cook. (chuckles)
[26:49] Jaeson: Absolutely, Yan can cook and so can you, and then only to find out that wasn't his real accent - it was all for entertainment.
[26:55] Jennifer: Exactly, exactly…
[26:57] Jaeson: And then, of course, I grew up watching Bruce Lee re-runs, and he was the baddest man on the planet, probably the coolest dude that ever lived, even till today in many ways.
And so when I saw Better Luck Tomorrow, and it was this all Asian-American cast, almost had that Hong Kong action vibe. And it was a story that was just based on a true story and those real characters, and it was just done well. And it was inspiring and disturbing and everything that you want a movie to make you feel - challenging but badass, it was dope.
And this movie is actually a reflection of my childhood, like, this is me - I was involved with that shit. I was smart, I was also a thug, and trying to get straight A's, also trying to kill and shoot people.
So I remember just watching the premiere at this Asian-American Pacific Film Festival in San Diego with Hammer, and I just thought, wow, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to represent Asian culture in mainstream media the correct way, and the only way to do that is through film, it’s through media, it’s through storytelling, it’s through content.
I always use that famous quote from Alan Ginsburg, whoever controls the media, controls the minds, thoughts and behavior of society and culture. And so I realized, like, media is the most powerful form of influence. There's a reason why there's extreme left and extreme right; there's CNN and there's Fox and there's nothing in between. There's a reason why there's identity politics and there's all these different things that's all influenced and controlled by media.
And that's why every billionaire, once they become a billionaire, what's the first thing they do? They buy a media company, they buy a publication, they buy the Washington Post, they buy a basketball team. They know media influences how people think, how people perceive, how people see the world, how people interpret reality or truth.
And so I was like, okay, well, if I'm going to change the perception of how people see me and see Asians in general, I have to get involved in media. So I told Hammer after working for him for like 5-6-7 years, I want to leave venture capital, which was the main thing we're focusing on and the companies that we're building, and I want to go get my film and television degree at UCLA or USC and go to Hollywood. So he gave me his blessing, and then God had his other plans.
[29:09] Jennifer: And you decided to become a full-time missionary in your 20s.
[29:13] Jaeson: Because my Chinese pastor was like, you are not going to Hollywood, that’s the devil talking to you, and that is not God. And I was like, what, what do you mean it’s not God?
And then Hammer gave me great advice. He was like, look, Hollywood will always be there, been there, done that, just go do God's work first - lay a strong spiritual foundation, build your character, do God's work, serve the poor. So that's when I became missionary.
I ended up going the extreme opposite direction, went to seminary full of theological, and I majored in global leadership, but also management as my undergrad, as well as biblical studies and also post modern youth culture.
And that's where I experienced the world. I look back, I'm like, wow, if I had not been a missionary first, I wouldn't be who I am today, meaning I wouldn't understand culture. You go to 40 countries, and you eat their food and you learn their languages, and you sleep and learn to communicate and appreciate how they think and how they see the world and their religions and their gods and their food and their style and their music and their challenges… the rich and the poor and the gaps and everything in between.
You learn about humanity. And I think that did a huge part on my worldview, as well as my values, as well as my understanding of what people need, and ultimately storytelling.
[30:25] Jennifer: I think that's so important because I grew up in Salt Lake City, I had a lot of Mormon friends, and most of them went on their mission at the age of 19 or 20.
And thinking back now, it's just such a formative experience that you can give to someone, because you learn to live a spiritual life during that time, and you also learn to connect with people, which gives you incredible foundation. Not just the spiritual foundation, but also for the rest of your life.
In what way did this missionary work helped you become a better entrepreneur, do you think, Jaeson?
[31:04] Jaeson: Another great question, Jen. I was just with guys last night, we were talking about how Mormons are the greatest salesmen.
[31:12] Jennifer: They are, they absolutely are.
[31:14] Jaeson: Because they're not afraid to knock on any door and get rejected, they're okay with someone saying no and just keeping at it. And so Mormons end up becoming the greatest salesman and saleswoman because they can take rejection and they're persistent and they learn to deal with people, how to communicate with people, all kinds of people, in all different countries, in all different places.
I think they're brilliant in that way. But anyways, your question is…
[31:42] Jennifer: In what way did this missionary work help you become a better entrepreneur?
[31:46] Jaeson: You go to 40 countries and you start 300 churches from scratch, you work with every type of person in the world, from rich to poor. I would work with students to homeless to billionaires and their kids and everything in between - you just learn to understand people.
And I think for most people, public speaking is the most scary thing to do. And as a missionary, you have to overcome that quick and just learn how to talk at any given moment, at any given time.
And so I think the main thing for me was learning cross-cultural communication. How to talk to people of different cultures, of different backgrounds and how to really listen, how to understand, how to appreciate and how to serve. Because I'm not there to get, I'm there to serve Christ, I'm there to share the Gospel, I'm there to give God's message of love and hope and forgiveness.
When I came back to business, sometimes I'd be at a business conference and they'll ask me on a panel something like what's the best thing that you can give advice to a young entrepreneur? And I always talk about, don't think about what you can get, but think about what you can give.
And whenever I come into a relationship, it's always like, how can I add value? How can I add value to this relationship? How can I serve? How can I give? How can I not want or take, but how can I actually bless? And I learned that as a missionary.
Everywhere I went, it was like, what are your needs? And how do I pray for that? How do I provide for that? How do I serve that? How do I understand that? Because I think at the end of the day, at the core, every human being wants to feel loved, but they also want to feel appreciated, and they also want to have that connection.
There's always this personal connection, business is all about trust and relationships, right? It's like, do I want to do business with you? Do I trust you? And I think that was the power of the Gospel, the Gospel is relational.
It taught me that whether it's ministry, whether it's business, whether it's working with your own team, in a corporate environment, a startup environment, a nonprofit environment - end of the day, everything boils down to relationships and trust. And that's what I learned.
[34:00] Jennifer: That's amazing. After five years in the ministry, you decided to head to Hollywood, finally to pursue a career in music and formed a christian hip-hop duo called Namesake. Of course, you had your mentor, MC Hammer, but how did you go from really being in the ministry to breaking into the music industry?
[34:20] Jaeson: Yeah, so I basically burned out from missionary work, I burned out also from the religious aspect of Christendom.
There was just a lot of fundraise, and I got to deal with agendas and personalities and all kinds of stuff, and I was tired of being in this church bubble, speaking at conference after conference after conference. I'm like, do I want to be a conference speaker for the rest of my life?
I don't know if this is really making impact, I want to build something, I want to do something that I can say I built this or I did this. Not saying that building churches and speaking wasn't that, but I want to do something that I was passionate about outside of the vocational religious ministry.
So I burned out, I checked myself into a Christian rehabilitation center. But they basically got the religion out of me, even though I was a Christian minister or missionary and was like, hey, you know what? God just likes you for you, you don't have to do anything for God, and he'll still accept you. And I was like, what? I'm Chinese, that's impossible. (chuckles) I got to earn my A's, right?
And so I'm there, and I'm just having this detox and then start having dreams every night. So, for five nights in a row, I had the same dream with a different character. So each dream, there was a different rap icon that wanted to sign me as a gospel rapper. And the first night was Dr. Dre, the second night was Will Smith, then it was, I think it was Puff, then it was Hammer. And then the fifth night, it was Eminem.
And every night, it was the same dream, like, yo, hey, you, I want to sign you as a gospel rap artist. And I'm like, me, what? And so you have a dream once, whatever; twice, that's weird; three times, you’re kind of like, okay, why am I having this dream? Four or five times is pretty obvious - okay…
[36:14] Jennifer: Yeah, it's a pattern here.
[36:16] Jaeson: The man upstairs trying to speak to me. So I went to my mentor there, and I was like, hey, why do you think I'm having all these dreams? He's like, well, I think maybe God's telling you to go be a gospel rapper. I'm like, how do I do that? He's like, I don't know, go figure it out. I was like, but that's the devil, and I shouldn't be making rap, right? And he's like, maybe God thinks you passed the test.
So I went back to LA, and I found this worship leader at a church, his name is Mike Whang and I just knew him through the circuit, and he was telling me how he was making beats with Cubase on his laptop. And so I went to his house and he's playing guitar and putting a drum beat on it. And this is like back in the day when Linkin Park and that whole energy and that whole sound was going on. So I was like, dude, let's make some songs.
And so every day we would go in and we just start making worship rap tracks (chuckles) - Christian Linkin Park, right? And so I would just rap, and then he would do a worship jingle for the chorus. And then we made an album, we had ten tracks and it was called Namesake, for the name of Christ, the name of God. And then we actually printed a bunch of CDs and I didn't know what to do with it.
And it was crazy, I met with my only friend from high school who's an Asian american actress, and she was the only connection I had left in Hollywood outside of Hammer, because I've been a missionary for so long and I was fish out of water. I was like, yeah, I actually made his rap album and she was, oh, let me listen to it.
She's listening to it - she's like, it's not bad, you should give it to my friend, he manages all the Asian nightclubs and some Asian-American rappers. I was like, Asian-American rappers, who? I'm the only one. And then she was like, this rapper called Far East movement, they're like the Asian Beastie Boys; remember Jin the battle rapper, he’s signed by my friend now.
And I was like, okay, which clubs? Naming the nightclubs. Because this is like my old life, right? I was like, isn’t this run by this triad? And she was like, yeah, he used to be, but not anymore. I was like, why would he want a gospel rap album? She was like, just give it to me.
So I get a call from her, she's like, hey, that manager dude wants to meet with you in a few hours. So I go to downtown LA and this dude sitting there, I remember he had this tiger dragon tattoo hanging out, shirt down, sunglasses - literally straight out of a Hong Kong triad movie.
And he's sitting there, and then he's like, what do you do? I was like, a youth pastor. He's like, what, I thought you were a rapper. I was like, well, I'm missionary for the last five years. He goes, I'm a pastor's kid, my dad's pastor, my grandfather's pastor - I've been to church, been there, done that, and I don't want anything to do with it; so if you're super into Jesus and all that, don't try to preach to me, I know where I stand.
I'm like, okay, well, dude, Jesus is not about religion, he’s about relationship. And technically, he says in the scriptures where two or three gather, he's there with them. So technically, me, you, my friend here talking about the big J upstairs, we're having church right now. Then I share my testimony - I almost went to jail, God saved me, and then ended up saying a prayer for him, gave him a little prophetic word. And he was shocked, like shaking, and so he goes to the restroom and he comes back out minutes later and he's freaking out. And he's like, look at my phone, and the alarm is going off, look at what it says on my phone.
And so on his calendar, it said the word “church.” And I was like, why does it say church? He's like, that's what I'm saying, right?I was looking for a church location for our music video shoot (for) Far East Movement - but they weren’t able to find it this morning, and that's why I was able to change my schedule and have lunch with you. But it's 2 o’clock right now, we're having church. And I was like, oh snaps, Hallelujah!
And then so he ends up introducing me to the leader of Far East Movement, and he also introduces me to Jin, all within a span of 48 hours. And so I lead them all to Christ, and their careers were going nowhere at that time, they literally couldn't pay the rent, couldn't pay the bills - it was like scrapping. And I was like, God has a plan, we're going to create Asian Def Jam for Jesus Christ; I'm going to raise money, invest into the company, and we're going to become soldiers of light, we're going to do God's work as Asian hip-hop label. And so I baptized all three of them in his bathtub, 1234 Wilshire Boulevard and the rest is history. And then Far East Movement was assigned to produce my album.
And then it was super funny because Kevin Nish after listening to my Christian rap album, he was like, yo, J, we listen to your music, it's alright, but I'm not really sure what to do with you, your raps are okay. You could tell that he was being nice, like they're not great (chuckles). And he was like, but you're not Jay Z or you're not Eminem. He was like, man but you know what, J’s, when you pray for us, you talk to us about God, you ever thought about just talking or preaching or praying over the beat?
And I was like, what do you mean? I’m like preaching? He's like, why don't you play that beat your friend just sent you and play one of your sermons on YouTube over the beat and just see what happens. So he plays my sermon over the beat, and then it just lands in this crazy cadence and his hair just starts standing up.
And he's like, yo, J, this is crazy - you're like Joel Osteen (televangelist) and Eminem, smashed into one. And I'm like, really? And he was like, can you just preach about anything at any time? I've been doing that for the last ten years of my life. And he's like, let's get you in the studio.
So we go into the studio, and he tells me to preach about love. So I just freestyle three verses over this beat in this crazy offbeat cadence, and it just sounds crazy. He's like, yo, we got to make this more commercial, more pop-friendly, so it doesn't feel religious, I guess somebody sing on the hook.
And I was like, okay, who you got? He's like, I got this guy, and he's really good, he sounds like Michael Jackson, man, I know he needs the money - he's our Filipino brother. I was like, what's his name? He goes, Bruno Mars. And I'm like, that's a weird name, Bruno Mars.
So I'm listening to his tracks, he sounds like MJ. So he called Bruno, and he comes back and he's like, yo, I got you the deal of the century - he needs the money, Christmas time’s coming up. $1,500, four tracks, he'll write, record it for you ASAP, pronto. So I write a check - Bruno Mars, $1,500.
And Bruno lays the tracks for me, and then when I get the songs back, I'm like, dude, it sounds so good, why would I want to get someone else to sing on it? I'll just release it like this. So I end up releasing a track on Amazon Music, and it hits top ten gospel charts out of the blue. I was nobody, it just drops and it just blows up, and it starts getting millions of views on YouTube. And I'm like, what is going on?
And anyway, so that started a whole movement. So then Far East Movement recorded a G6 months later, and then it went number 1, and then we signed them at Interscope. And then Jin, we sent (him) on an one-way ticket to Hong Kong with Universal (Music in) Hong Kong, and he's now the biggest rapper/actor in China.
Anyway, so that's how it started, that's how I got into the music industry and ran that company for a few more years. And then we started bringing K-Pop fans over, and then that just kind of became the business. It was this East West crossing over in Asia and Hollywood, specifically in music first, and then I went later into talent to film and all that.
[43:08] Jennifer: It's Interesting that you mentioned the song “Love”, which featured Bruno Mars. Your third album called Glory, there were also other songs called “Life”, “Gratitude”, “Passion” and “Glory” - you were clearly preaching through your music.
And one of the lyrics that I came across in the song “Life”, you said, “we may have hard times, struggles, pain, and suffering. You got to learn to forgive, because forgiveness is the way to freedom.” Jaeson, who did you have to forgive?
[43:38] Jaeson: Great questions, man. You really are a good podcaster, I must say, you’re definitely most thoughtful and well-researched podcaster I've ever had a podcast with - so kudos to you.
My dad, for sure, number one, I didn't really get to know my dad till after my 30s. At that point, we didn't talk, because he was in and out of my life, he was never really consistently there. And he's just a very interesting man, to say the least, and a lot to look up to, but also a lot in my job that was just very chaotic and very distressful.
So for a long time, I was bitter at him and I was angry at him because he wasn't there, in my mind at least, and especially his relationship with my mother and my sisters and the family and everyone else. And so for a long, long time, I really hated him, and I basically just detached myself.
But it wasn't until probably I would say in my late 20s or early 30s that just a revelation came to me that if I continue to harbor this anger and this resentment, what I hate is what I'll become and what I resent is what I'll become. And that was eating me on the inside.
And I realized that forgiveness is not about so much forgiving the person that you need to forgive. It's actually learning to forgive yourself and freeing yourself from that pain and that resentment and that anger and that bitterness and that unforgiveness. And so I realized at the end of the day Jesus was speaking to me - I've forgiven you, why can't you forgive your dad?
So that was the moment I woke up and I was like, you know what? We're all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God, and we all need Christ, we all need forgiveness, and we all need grace, and we all need love ultimately, that none of us deserve because we've all fallen short, we've all made mistakes, we are all imperfect.
And so when I begin to see him with the eyes of Christ versus my own eyes, I begin to realize, oh, this is also how God sees me. He forgives me consistently, continually, even though I keep messing up over and over again. How can I not extend that same forgiveness that he's given me (to) someone else?
And that's why, what's the greatest Commandment? “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. ” (Luke 10:27) Well, if you don't love yourself, God help your neighbor, right? Because you're only going to treat others how you treat yourself. And so, how can you treat yourself without knowing how God treats you? How God loves you?
So, oh okay, that's how it works, that's the cycle of life. God loves me unconditionally, I can love and accept myself unconditionally. Therefore, I can love you, or him or her, my dad, my enemy, my competitor, my ex-girlfriend, ex-business partner…
Instead of looking at them with resentment and bitterness and anger and competition, it's Jesus saying, pray for your enemies - what good is it if you just forgive those who love you? That's not the power of the gospel. The power of the gospel is forgiveness. More powerful than the atomic bomb is the power to forgive.
How can a Jew forgive a Palestinian? How can a Palestinian forgive a Jew? How can Chinese forgive the Japanese? How can Japanese forgive the Chinese?
The world would just be a wonderful place if we all learn to forgive. And realizing that forgiveness is not weakness, but forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is letting go and not holding that pain and that grudge that makes yourself ugly.
And so for me, once I was able to forgive my dad, I realized, wow, I can learn so much from him. There's actually so many great qualities that he has where I was always focused on the negative. I wasn't focused on, oh, my God, I'm so much like him, obviously, because I'm his son.
So I just think that forgiveness is the most powerful force on earth. And whoever does learn to forgive learns to be free.
[47:20] Jennifer: It's really interesting. I had a very similar experience with my mother. For most years of my life, I was very annoyed with her and very frustrated. And then after I had that moment and I realized that she actually loved me, that she did everything out of love, then my perspective on everything she was doing completely changed. Once I changed myself and how I saw her, everything was beautiful.
[47:46] Jaeson: What made you realize that what she did was out of love?
[47:49] Jennifer: I think we had a conversation, because she opened up to me in a way that she normally wouldn't have, because as Chinese mothers, we don't talk about our feelings or anything. And she shared with me something that was very intimate, she showed me her vulnerable side.
And that's when I felt the connection, (it) was not when she was blocking everything, but when she was willing to open up and also show me that she was vulnerable, so that created the connection.
[48:14] Jaeson: I think that's so powerful. Until we as human beings, let down our pride and we're able to be vulnerable, be human, be weak, then we can actually have a conversation.
I was watching this YouTube - it was two fathers, one Palestinian, one Israeli, both have lost children by the war. And instead of hating each other, they came together to form an organization, cross-religious and cultural lines to advocate for reconciliation and of the bloodshed.
And I think instead of coming at, hey, you're wrong, or, hey, you did this to me, it was more like, wait a second, we're both hurting here, and we both are at loss, and we're both just human. And why are we letting religion or land or any of these things separate us from being together? And so I do think, so powerful, right?
The moment we let go of our egos, we can actually have a real conversation and we can actually find forgiveness.
[49:11] Jennifer: I think it takes a lot of self-awareness to let go of our ego, and most of us are stuck living in our minds versus living with our hearts.
So, as mentioned, you went on to co-found East West Ventures, 88Rising, and now with OP3N. It seems like to me that every three years, you start a new company (chuckles) - 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021…
So what are your future plans, and what does success look like to you?
[49:43] Jaeson: I had a conversation with a young entrepreneur this past Sunday, and she's brilliant, she's Harvard PhD, she’s only 23 years old, she just got accepted to Y Combinator, and she's also a pecking opera performer, won a beauty pageant…
And she was telling me this story of how her mother's like this hardcore Buddhist, and she went back to China recently in the summer, and she met with a Buddhist monk. The Buddhist monk gave her five pieces of advice, and the advice was like, never desire to be rich, never desire to beautiful, never desire to be number one, never desire to be famous, and never desire to be powerful - it's all the things that you want to be.
And then she was just stunned - but that's all I want to be (chuckles), what do you mean I can't want this? Then I said, well, did she give you a conclusion? She's like, no, she just told me to think about it. Then I'm like, oh, that sounds very Buddhist.
And I told her a passage of scripture from the life of Christ - there's a scripture in first John the Gospels (1 John 2:15-17) where it says, “Do not love the things of this world. If you love the things of this world - the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life - the love of the Father, your heavenly Father, is not in you.”
So it's interesting, you go like, why did John put this passage there? Well, it's actually a reflection of the life of Christ, because when Christ came into the world, he didn't start his ministry till he was 30 years old. And in many ways his ministry was like a startup. It was like up till 30 he was just a carpenter, he was just like an average Joe, like making tables with his dad.
But all of a sudden he changes into Jesus Christ Superstar, and his startup lasted only 3.5 years. But this is probably the greatest startup in human history. This 3.5-year old startup has now transformed 1/3 of the planet.
And it's very interesting if you study the Gospel, before he's inaugurated to start his ministry or his startup, he gets baptized by his cousin John the Baptist in the Jordan River. And everyone witnesses this, he's out in the Jordan and John baptizes him. And then when Jesus comes out of the water, it says that the heavens opened up, a dove flies down and the audible voice of God is spoken over Jesus and everyone hears it. Here's a son of God, and his Dad in heaven is saying one line, that's it, just one thing.
What would God say? What's the line? What do you think he would say? What would we probably be like? Yo, everybody bow down and worship. This is my man, don't doubt what he says, right? But instead he literally says one line, and the line is, “This is my beloved son in whom I'm well-pleased”. That's it - the only thing God ever says out loud in human history, Jesus Christ, this is my beloved son, and I'm well-pleased.
And I tell people all the time, we're not human doings, we're human beings. And the word beloved means be loved; it doesn't say do love, it says be loved. It's very interesting - I don't have to do anything to be loved, to be accepted, to be important - I can just be me?
And I always tell people that your purpose in life doesn't come from your destiny. A lot of us, we think, oh, I'm an architect, I'm an engineer, I'm a ballerina, I'm a football player, I'm a banker, I'm a finance, I'm an entrepreneur, right? If one day I become a billion-dollar company and entrepreneur of this company, I'll be successful.
So we think that our purpose and our meaning comes from our destiny. But no, your true destiny can only flow from your identity. And your identity has to be built upon the truth, that God loves you, plain and simple, nothing more, nothing less, that I am loved by God. And because he loves me, I can love myself. And he's already pleased with me, I don't have to do anything to get that recognition or that acceptance, I don't have to please anyone.
And so it was after this that Jesus then didn't go into his ministry - he didn't heal the sick or raise the dead or cast out a devil or resurrect from the tomb. He goes 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, and he doesn't eat or drink for 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, when he's weak, physically weak, the devil comes.
It says in the Bible that the devil Satan himself comes to Jesus and tempts him three times and says, hey, man, I'm sure you're hungry, it’s been 40 days, you haven't eaten. If you're God, why don't you turn that rock into bread and show me you're God? Show me you're the son of God. Jesus is like, “no, I should not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” - he recites scripture truth back to him.
So devil goes, okay, takes break, comes back 15 minutes later - like, I heard you're all powerful, you're the man, you could do anything - miracles, signs of wonders. If you jumped off this mountain cliff, I bet you could call a whole gang of angels to just pick you up and save you. Why don't you show me, prove to me that you're all powerful, that you're mighty. And he says, “you shall not test the Lord, your God.”
Finally, he's like, alright, I'm going to do my last temptation comes to Jesus, and he's like, here's my best and my last. I'm the prince of this world, I own everything you see. (He) takes him up to the top of the mountain, he sees all the cities and all their glory and all their power and everything that man's built. And he's like, hey, whatever you want, I own it, you bow down to me, it's yours, I'll give it to you. Basically, sell your soul to the devil for money, for fame, for power, for influence.
What does Jesus say? “You shall only worship the Lord your God and not worship or bow down to any idol. Satan, you can get behind me.”
After this, the devil leaves and that's when Jesus goes into town and heals the first sick person, casts out the first devil and then ends up becoming Lord of Christ. So then you go back - what are those three things that first John says, and I'm preaching to you now, is do not love the things of this world. What are those? The “Lust of the Eyes”, which is, oh, look what she has, look what he has - look, a better car; look at, oh wow, they spoke at the TEDTalk. Why am I not speaking at the TEDTalk? Like, look at that fancy dress, she’s got a Louis Vuitton bag - “Lust of the Eyes”.
Then number two, the “Lust of the Flesh”, which is food, sex, pleasure, drugs, whatever, right? Like we want to feed the lust of our physical, insatiable desires and hunger. That's gluttony, that's all these things that Americans don't do well at.
The third is the “Pride of Life” - what is the pride of life? Well, it's look at what I've done, look what I am? I'm number one, I'm not number two, I'm number one, look at what I've accomplished, look at all these things that I've done.
So you ask me, what is success? To me, success is knowing that God loves me and me loving him back - that's success. And there's no pressure, no expectations, and it's all free - it's unconditional.
And secondly, it's doing what he tells me to do. Jesus said, “I only do what I see the Father doing.” And so again, but whatever he created me to do, whether that's to rap or to preach and exorcize demons or to start media companies and tech companies and invest or whatever. That's just a manifestation of who I am, that's the gifts and the talents and the skills that he placed in me.
If he's placed in you to be, as Martin Luther King says, if you're going to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper that ever lived, because maybe one day you'll be sweeping the streets in heaven.
So in other words, just be the best that God's created you to because you know he's created you to do that, but that's not your success. Your success is knowing that God loves you, that you can love him. And because you're so filled with this cycle of love, you just manifest that love in who you are.
So I always say, what's the difference between a great ballerina and a good ballerina? Well, a good ballerina performs the movement, but a great ballerina becomes the movement. So when you know you're truly in the zone, is that you're no longer trying to please anyone or everyone, but only one - God. God created me to do this, I'm going to do it.
So for me, success is obedience to God and just having that relationship with him on a daily basis and nothing more, nothing less.
[57:35] Jennifer: That's a wonderful message. I think it applies to people who are looking to start out their career and also people who are in a midlife crisis and probably looking to reframe their life. Thank you so much, I lo ve that message!
Jaeson, we're now coming to the end of our interview, and as you know, we end every episode with a quote. And for this episode, we have a quote from Bruce Lee, a Chinese-American martial artist, actor and philosopher:
“The function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential.”
Jaeson, thank you so much for coming on the Founder Spirit podcast today and sharing with us your most unorthodox life.
[58:16] Jaeson: Thank you, Jennifer, for being the most inquisitive and thoughtful podcast questioner I've ever talked to, so God bless. And really, I pray and I know that this podcast is an honor for me, it’s going to be an honor for everyone that's on it and it's going to more so bless so many people that hear it.
[58:33] Jennifer: Thank you, Jaeson. I know your prayers are very powerful, so it's an honor for me to have you on the show. Thank you!
[58:39] Jaeson: God bless Jennifer and the Founder Spirit and let it go to the four corners of the earth spreading love, joy, and most of all, forgiveness to all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
[58:51] Jennifer: And if this podcast has been beneficial or valuable to you, feel free to become a patron and support us on Patreon.com, that is P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/TheFounderSpirit. As always, you can find us on Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify, as well as social media and our website at TheFounderSpirit.com.
The Founder Spirit podcast is a partner of the Villars Institute, a nonprofit foundation focused on accelerating the transition to a net-zero economy and restoring planetary health.
[59:13] Jennifer: So I understand that you have performed hundreds of exorcisms. How do people react to you these days when you tell them that you were once a ghostbuster?
[59:32] Jaeson: It was only this last night, I was having drinks with clients of mine and brought a friend who was a movie producer. And I could tell he was just kind of awkward in the meeting, but he was just very conscious.
Because I was telling him, I’m working on this documentary about this KGB russian spy who literally spread what we call ideological subversion in the US. I don't know if you've heard of Yuri Bezmanov, but I've been advising a friend that's been working on this documentary. A lot of what you see now in the United States, in the west, identity politics and disaggregation, the divide between left and right. All this is misinformation, disinformation, ideological subversion.
And then somehow they were talking about my friend Jeremy Lin Linsanity, because one of the bankers went to school with him in Harvard. I told them my Jeremy Lin story - I was at his first game, and God gave me a word to tell his mom that he was going to be starting five at the New York Knicks very soon, he would have multiple 30-point games, and God would use him to be a light to the whole world. Then it happened - next thing Linsanity broke out and all this craziness.
So the guy sitting next to me was like, so you're spiritually connected, you were channeling. And I'm like, yeah. He's like, how? And then so I was just like, well, I used to be a missionary, I was in 40 countries in my early 20s cast out devils, cure the sick, raised dead. He's like glued, right?
Anyways, at the end of the night, he tells me he's been on a spiritual journey. He's been in Hollywood working at major companies, and just felt lost. And a few years ago, he got into Kabbalah and started studying. Then apparently he had a bad experience and he left. And then he met Joe Dispenza, and then he was doing spiritual work and all this other stuff. So, long story short, at the end of the night, I gave him a word, and he (was) really touched.
And I know this sounds crazy because we're on this podcast, but last night I got home and I got visited in my dreams by a demon, it came and attacked me. And then I woke up, I was so tired. I was like, I don't want to deal with this, going back to sleep. And then it came again in my dream, and I was casting the devil out of the dream. And then when I woke up in my bed, he was actually in my room. And so I commanded it to leave in Jesus’ name and immediately sent a message to my prayer team to say a prayer protection for me.
But a lot of times what happens is a lot of people don't realize that the spiritual realm is what's more real than the physical realm, meaning the spiritual realm existed before the physical realm. God existed before there was earth. And so everything we see in the physical is actually a manifestation of the spiritual.
And so when you become aware and in tune with the spirit realm, you just start recognizing things. And so when you start touching, I knew what had happened is because this guy was so involved in kabbalah and portals and all that other stuff that opens up doors to the other realm that long story short, me interacting with him, most likely something came over from his dimension or whatever you want to call it, whatever he was carrying. So that happens every now and then with me, like every month or other months.
And I always say that evil spirits, they come in three different forms, and that's people, places and objects. And so they can either be transferred from a person; they can actually be in a place, like you're going through a redlight district in Thailand and you're like, wow, why does it feel so dark and icky here; or objects, so people can actually cast spells onto objects.
So you got to be very, very careful, and that's why you want to make sure your house is clean, you're constantly right with God. But, yeah, I mean, that's just a real-time story. (chuckles)
[1:02:58] Jennifer: Hopefully tonight you'll have better dreams, hopefully this podcast will only bring you positive energy, Jaeson. (chuckles)
[1:03:05] END OF AUDIO
(03:43) Growing Up in the Bay Area & Raised by a Single Mother
(06:24) Hip Hop Persona as J. Quest & the West Coast Underground Hip Hop Circuit
(11:30) Divine Intervention
(18:16) Hip-Hop Bible Study Group and Hammer! Time
(23:24) Lessons Learned From MC Hammer
(24:21) The Rise of Asian-American Cinema & Influence of Media
(29:09) Missionary Work and How It Relates To Entrepreneurship
(34:00) Breaking Into to the Music Industry with Bruno Mars
(43:08) Power of Forgiveness
(49:11) The Meaning of Success and the Temptation of Christ
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