Jake Heilbrunn: From College Dropout to Published Author - Creating Life 'Off the Beaten Trail'


“Being bold is having the courage to listen to your inner voice and live in a way that makes you light up despite what other people think.”

Jake Heilbrunn is an author, blogger and speaker who, at the age of 20, is already living a pretty bold life. He dropped out of college after his first semester, backpacked around South America alone (without a phone!) and then wrote a memoir about what he learned. Off the Beaten Trail is a coming-of-age pilgrimage that led Jake to realize there are unlimited ways to live and that people can create their own destinies when they trust their intuition and take action.

“When we take a leap of faith based on our gut, based on our intuition, things tend to work out and we find the happiness in the pursuit of what we’re doing.”

By the end of his first semester of college, Jake was unhappy and unhealthy. He had a passion for traveling, but he was afraid of the unknown. Then a career counselor asked Jake two questions that changed his life:

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen?

  2. What is the best thing that can happen?

I realized that I was living a life based on the expectations of others. The life I was living and the life I wanted to be living were not in alignment.

Two months later, Jake was on a plane to Guatemala with a backpack, no cellphone and very little Spanish. He spent four months backpacking through Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica so he could explore other ways of life and disconnect from a society dominated by social media.

As Jake learned to find happiness in the journey, he became a more process-oriented person. He adopted an intense morning routine, inspired by Tony Robbins, that helped him write 100,000 words in three months:

  • Wake up at 5:30 AM.

  • Take a cold shower.

    • “It’s the analogy of doing something uncomfortable to start your day because you get in the mindset of doing other uncomfortable things and just do it.”

  • 10-minute guided mindfulness meditation.

  • Make tea or coffee.

  • Put on Hans Zimmer and write.

  • Take a break to work out or do yoga.

  • Go back to writing.

  • At the end of the day, Jake would visualize jumping out of bed to start writing the next morning.


“With or without writing a book, writing is a very powerful way to process what you experience.”

Jake demonstrates the power of visualization to manifest a better (and bolder) life. By visualizing the future he wanted and taking bold action to achieve it, he manifested book endorsements from two awesome influencers that he really looks up to – Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Success Principles, and Chris Guillebeau, NYT Bestselling Author of The $100 Startup and The Happiness of Pursuit. Like a GPS system, visualization can keep you in route when you are heading towards a goal.

Because I’ve been visualizing it, it’s like I set this GPS in my head … If you take conscious action that’s guided by vision there’s less re-routing.

You can pick up a FREE Kindle version of Jake’s book on Nov. 2nd & Nov. 3rd by going to Amazon and searching for “Off the Beaten Trail: A Young Man's Soul-Searching Journey Through Central America

It’s really awesome to see someone as young as Jake setting such a good example for people of all ages. He shows that life experience isn’t necessarily tied to how many years you’ve been here, but how intentional you’ve been with the time you have had. Pick up a copy of Off the Beaten Trail (Kindle version is free Nov. 2-3, 2016) and get inspired.


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  • What are some of the fears Jake had to overcome to get on the plane, and why didn’t he bring a cellphone?

  • How did Jake become exposed to the mindfulness practices and people like Tony Robbins that helped him become confident enough to write a book at 18-years-old?

  • How has Jake’s life changed since coming home? What does he do differently on a social level?

  • What strategies can listeners employ to connect with influencers or mentors that they look up to?

  • How can Jake advise people to start trusting their gut or their intuition, if they don’t know how it feels?

  • What is feedback Jake has gotten from people who have read his book or heard him speak, and what actions have they taken that he inspired them to make?


  • A powerful story about self-reflection, self-growth and bold action

  • How mindfulness practices helped Jake structure an effective morning routine

  • How to listen to your intuition

  • Strategies for connecting with influencers and mentors that you look up to

  • Plus much more…




Production & Development for The Bold Life Movement Podcast by Podcast Masters