For over a decade, Jonathan has helped world leaders, Fortune 100 CEOs, Hollywood celebrities and Nobel Prize winners communicate across cultural and linguistic barriers.
He is a co-founder of Next Level Communication and Cadence Translate. Jonathan has served as a member of the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum; as a mentor at Chinaccelerator and the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University; and as a visiting instructor at the University of Ottawa and the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing (UIBE).
Why Next Level Communication?
Early in my career, I had a front row seat watching leaders at work: negotiating climate conventions, free trade agreements, cross-border M&A, you name it. I’ve seen first-hand what can be achieved when people from different backgrounds are able to speak, listen, build trust, and do business; I’ve also seen how painful and expensive it can be when communication breaks down.
I started Next Level because I believe that the delta between good and bad communication is a noble arbitrage to exploit; because I believe that every leader and organization can turn the way they communicate into a competitive advantage in their industry; and because I believe that each of us can strive to reach our own next level as communicators, simply by being more mindful about how we speak and listen in every conversation, with every person, every day.
Tell us about your personal communication journey.
I was born into a family of Scrabble players, crossword puzzlers, storytellers and essayists. Tinkering with how words worked was cool. I started writing bad high school poetry in middle school, and by college I was a semi-finalist at the U.S. National Poetry Slam. I started learning the Chinese language out of a love for Chinese food, believing that the inscrutable characters held the key to unlocking secret menu items. Indeed, it unlocked that and more – my career as a Chinese-English interpreter took me around the world, working side-by-side with some of the most interesting and influential people on earth. I learned from them that effective communicators come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but they all tend to share a few common qualities. First and foremost, the best talkers I met were almost always the best listeners – they understood themselves and their audience at a deeper level than most. These next level communicators inspired me. So the last few years of my journey has been less about mastering language, and more about cultivating a mindset and a temperament. Learning to listen more deeply; to being focused and expansive all at once; to transcending the micro and the macro of things, while staying present and patient and at peace. To loving who and where I am, even as I know that there’s a next level to explore just beyond my reach. And there always will be. And that’s just great.
What are your interests outside of work?
I like games: chess, poker, and Go are my favorites.
I like being outdoors: hiking, biking, and – more recently – skiing and surfing.
I like sitting and thinking.
Most of all, I like spending time with my family, friends, and potential friends. That is to say, I like human beings.
What is something about you that people may not know?
I have an irrational fear of death related to malfunctioning construction equipment, mobile generators, and other large mechanical devices that whirr.
What are some growth or learning goals that you are working on?
I am about to become a father for the first time, and am getting ready to learn a lot of new cutting-edge communication techniques from my newborn daughter, who will be my greatest inspiration and the greatest coach of them all.