People with Passion: An Interview with Van Jones
The first time I met Van Jones, we had a fight. I had just landed in the US to do a year of law at Yale, and had ventured out to my first party. I was one of the few with a weird accent and I was trying to find my people.
I decided I didn’t like him and hoped I’d never bump into him again. But Yale Law School isn’t a big place and we ended up in several classes together. He was annoyingly smart and incisive. He challenged all the professors – so I realised our initial encounter wasn’t unusual. And as my year at Yale went on, Van Jones became one of my closest friends.
He introduced me to Prince’s music.
He read my essays and told me to write less complicated sentences. ‘Keep it simple with a subject, a verb and an object.’
He was a commanding presence and headed up a hunger strike in response to the internment of the Haitians on Guantanamo Bay, rallying students and academics.
We graduated from Yale together and without family to celebrate with, I was so grateful to be invited by his parents to join them for graduation dinner.
I knew back then he’d do something significant with his life.
As the years have passed, I’ve watched him navigate the highs as well as the lows of his career, from working in the Obama administration, to being a CNN reporter during and post the election of Trump, to him now hosting his own TV show, The Van Jones Show. He’s the author of three New York Times bestselling books, including his most recent, Beyond The Messy Truth. He’s a gifted thinker and speaker.
This month, I managed to corner him for an hour, to talk to him about the qualities that make him who he is. I’m so excited to share this inspiring interview with one of the most powerful voices of our time.
Thank you for such an inspiring conversation. Van Jones’ description of the combination of small strong ego and vast soul is exquisite. On a fundamental level it ties in perfectly with the original meaning of the word “ego” – “I” or “me” in Greek. And I think it’s natural juxtaposition to what Mr Jones said, would be to state that comfort in one’s skin is found in knowing that you are part of something so much more glorious than just you, and having the freedom of agency to contribute towards that collective as an individual, in a way that feels personally meaningful to you. There are many “deeper floors” indeed; and thank you again for this!