Iconoclast and rebel in high school. College dropout. Grateful Deadhead. Custom furniture maker, cabinetmaker, and woodworker. Divorced and broke.
Real estate developer. Successful attorney. Happily married. Thriving relationship with children, step-children and grandchildren.
Healer - Teacher - Soul-Centered Coach - Speaker - Facilitator - Minister
Outstanding listener, teacher, and communicator. Highly empathic and intuitive.
Renaissance Man! Indeed, what a long, strange trip it's been! And, from Jere's perspective, the story is only now beginning to get really interesting.
The following article was published under the title "Out Of Practice: The Path to Satisfaction" in the Spring 2017 issue of "Mitchell," the magazine for the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama:
There is more to Jere Friedman than meets the eye. At first glance, the honor graduate of the Mitchell College of Business and Georgetown University Law Center is a successful attorney with Weiss Brown, a business and technology law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. Specializing in business start-ups, securities offerings, and mergers and acquisitions for over 20 years, he has earned a reputation as a highly-skilled financial law expert and valued mentor of new attorneys. Taking a second look at Jere gives you a more complete picture: an individual who is not only successful using traditional measures but someone that is finding true fulfillment.
A native of Mobile, Jere followed a somewhat convoluted path to South. After graduating from high school in 1972, he attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. During his first year there, however, he discovered that something was missing. “I’d grown up knowing that I would follow in my brothers’ footsteps to go on to college, but once I got there I realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do in life.” So Jere dropped out after his first year and spent the next several years living in different places and working at various entry-level jobs.
In 1979, Jere completed a training program in Cabinetmaking and Carpentry at what is now Southern Union State Community College in Opelika, Alabama. He opened his own custom woodworking business in Opelika, building custom-made furniture and cabinets and restoring antique furniture. “I call this the ‘starving artist’ period of my life,” says Jere, with a smile. “I was very talented and built some truly beautiful pieces of furniture, but couldn’t make a living at it. Ultimately, I woke up one day and realized that I was broke and divorced, with two young children to support. So I moved back to Mobile and started over again.”
Jere secured a job at a custom woodworking shop in Mobile and enrolled at South Alabama. He then accepted a position with a family-owned commercial real estate development and management company. Jere switched his major from education to finance and graduated from the Mitchell College of Business with honors in 1987.
In 1990, Jere enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center. “I chose Georgetown because I was interested in international law. In fact, my goal was to find work as an attorney doing business transactions in what is now the former Soviet Union. Life, however, had other plans for me. I didn’t receive an offer from any of the firms doing that kind of work, so I broadened my search and ultimately landed a great position with one of the largest firms in Phoenix, Arizona. That turned out to be the best thing that could possibly have happened for me. I got great training and experience and, ultimately, was able to grow my own practice. And, best of all, a few months after moving to Phoenix I met Ellen, who became my wife a few years later!”
With his practice, Jere found success. But sometimes success comes with a price. Working at a large law firm can be very stressful. The hours are long, the stakes are high, and clients can be very demanding. “One morning as I was getting dressed for work I looked in the mirror and realized that going to the office was the last thing I felt like doing that day. Then, as I thought about it, I became aware that I’d been feeling that way for about two years. I decided that life is short and I did not want to spend the rest of my life feeling that way about how I earned a living.”
Ultimately, Jere left the large firm and joined a smaller “boutique” firm, where he grew his practice over the next several years. When that firm broke up in 2007, Jere set up his own firm. He grew that practice for eight years and then joined Weiss Brown in 2015.
The big shift in Jere’s life occurred when he attended his first “gongbath” in 2009. This started his path to fulfillment. Despite the name, a gongbath involves no water—the fully-clothed participants are “bathed” is sound waves. The gong is played in a therapeutic way to bring about healing. Friedman describes the experience this way. “From the moment the mallet struck the gong at my first gongbath, I felt drawn – compelled – to learn to play these marvelous instruments and to share with others the joy and healing they bring to me.” He began playing gongs and is now considered one of the foremost gong players and sound healers in the world, playing at seminars and workshops around the world.
Along the way, Jere earned a Masters in Arts in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. “Spiritual Psychology provides us with a technology by which a person can use everyday life experiences as rungs on the ladder of his or her spiritual evolution. I learned to bring more loving and acceptance into my relationship with myself, and that has improved and enhanced every other relationship in my life. It even made me a better attorney, because I am now a better listener and bring more compassion and empathy into my law practice.”
Jere also is now a certified meditation and mindfulness instructor and a certified breathwork healer. He is now weaving all of these skills into a rich tapestry from which he provides professional coaching services and offers classes, workshops, and retreats on Spiritual Psychology, meditation and mindfulness, conscious leadership, spirituality, and overcoming burnout. He currently is developing these teaching and coaching opportunities as his professional platform for the next stage of his life as he begins to transition out of the full-time practice of law.
Jere now describes himself as “an Employee of the Universe – with full benefits!” He says, “The gongs opened me up and put me back in touch with the ‘little boy’ that’s always been there inside me. When he ‘came out to play,’ I found so much joy and happiness that it flowed over into every other aspect of my life. This is how I found fulfillment – I learned to follow my heart, to take risks, and to dare to pursue what I’m truly called to do in this lifetime. The more I listen to and follow this calling, the happier I become and the more joy I have to share with the world. This is where healing happens.”
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