Interview with Phil Van Treuren
Phil Van Treuren is a writer, artist, entrepreneur and perpetual work in progress. He grew up in the small mining town of Round Mountain, Nevada and is a graduate of Southern Utah University.
Phil’s short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including the South Dakota Review, Hadrosaur Tales and the Kolob Canyon Review. His first book, The Stock Horse and the Stable Cat, was published in 2022. He lives outside of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.
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How did you become interested in philosophy?
A fellow entrepreneur who I admire suggested that I look into Stoicism, because it was a philosophy that had helped him in life and business. I knew nothing about philosophy, but I bought books by Donald Robertson, William Irvine and Ryan Holiday to learn more. I quickly realized how impactful Stoicism could be for me, and I added Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius to my reading list.
Something about Stoic thinking just "clicked" for me, and I was amazed at how quickly it changed my life for the better. I knew it would be something I'd enjoy learning about for the rest of my life. I really think that Stoicism is one of the best gifts that humanity has ever given itself.
I think that people who are able to adopt a Stoic mindset about embracing change and turning obstacles into opportunities are going to have a much easier time adapting.
What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach others?
Technological advances are going to make the next few decades a time of unimaginable change for everyone, and will impact all of our lives and careers. I think that people who are able to adopt a Stoic mindset about embracing change and turning obstacles into opportunities are going to have a much easier time adapting. You can read more about my thoughts on this here.
Those of us who are able to accept a quickly changing world and learn new ways of doing things are going to have a huge advantage as this century unfolds. We shouldn't be afraid to embrace new technologies that make it easier to do the things we love and magnify our natural talents.
Here's one example I like to give: almost all of my research, writing and editing is done on my cell phone, with my thumbs, in my spare time.
I run a business during the day, have young children at home, and my early morning hours are dedicated to exercising . . . so I simply don't have large blocks of time to sit at a desk and write. I'm able to be an author because I figured out how to write for a few minutes at a time on my phone, when time allows. In fact, I think that some of my best writing has been done while giving a bottle to a baby!
If I had refused to write on my phone because it's not the way "real authors" do it, then I would never have had the opportunity to publish what I have. In fact, I've even learned to love using my phone to write, because it forces me to be slower and more deliberate with how I craft each sentence.
Do you have a favorite quote that you use?
I think that one of the reasons Stoicism is so powerful and easy to apply to our lives is because of its simplicity. I love this quote and offer my own paraphrase.
Rather than showing lots of complicated examples, seek a few clear ones. The best doctors don’t just hand out a bunch of prescriptions . Instead, they only give the medicine that’s needed.
Gaius Musonius Rufus
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?
Please visit www.StoicSimple.com to check out more of my writing and Stoicism-related digital work. The Stoic Simple website is really just a vehicle for me to teach myself more about Stoicism, but it's also a place where I sell my books and publish articles about entrepreneurship, philosophy, futurism, fitness and other topics that interest me.
Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy, in Athens.
I would enjoy it, if I was able to present something that I'm uniquely qualified to discuss!
I'd probably bring the most value by talking about my experiences in using Stoic thinking to find success in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, digital creation, social media marketing, publishing and brand-building.
So positive, enthusiastic and creative - and loves and applies Stoicism!