Millennial Magazine - Features- Julian Shojaie- Existential Bro Podcast

Photo courtesy of Podcast Row, Artcade Live Camera Audience Event at Fred Segal

Julian Shojaie, Esq., also known as Juju, is a Southern Californian lawyer, published author, poet, and host of the Existential Bro Podcast, who delves into the intricacies of today’s unique relationship dynamics.

With a multifaceted academic background and a career that spans the fields of family law, psychology, and creative expression, Juju explores the true meaning of vulnerability and interrogates the non-binary reality of emotional intelligence.

Now in its 3rd season, the Existential Bro Podcast confronts the societal pressures of masculinity, and sheds light on the complex nature of what it means to be an emotionally intelligent and vulnerable man.

Juju may come across as grounded in logic and analytical thinking, he is after all an attorney, but his empathetic and passion-driven nature has been a source of inspiration for his love of poetry and artistic expression.

The concept of “Existential Bro” and his journey into the world of podcasting first started in 2019 with the help of his two UCLA college buddies, Ricky “Rick” Lee and Doc.

While the podcast initially served as a means for Juju and his co-hosts to understand their own emotions, it wasn’t until early 2022 after a heavy breakup that Juju’s mindset would forever change.

He published his first book of poetry, 100 Jours Sans T’aimer, as a reflection on the nonlinear process of breaking away physically, mentally, and spiritually from a person that once defined his future.

This creative endeavor shifted the focus and direction of his show. The Existential Bro Podcast is now solely hosted by Juju Shoji, and dives deeper into the development, maintenance, and evolution of all forms of relationships. Listeners can now gain more insight on how to navigate their own platonic, romantic, or even parental interactions.

With high-profile guests, such as doctors, lawyers, activists, dating coaches, and celebrities, the discussions promote openness and vulnerability among men to help them speak candidly about their emotions.

Millennial caught up with Juju to learn about how his life journey brought a career in law into the conversation of existentialism, emotional intelligence, and intimate relationships.

Describe the series of life events that lead to starting The Existential Bro Podcast?

As I reflect on my professional journey, I realize that my passion for relationship psychology has been long-standing. My research in college of marriage and family therapy during adjustment periods in family separation, and my time with Untapped Admissions as a college counselor, helping kids and families navigate future education – at times, through the midst of a divorce – led to an expansion of my interests beyond my practice in law.

Millennial Magazine - Features - Professionals - Julian Shojaie Red Carpet

Photo by Ramon L. Kirk

For a long time, I believed that one’s career and purpose could not be commingled, and that finding passion in what you do is nothing but a misnomer. Despite this, I have always found myself counseling family and friends through the aftermath of their failed relationships. Maybe I used this as a form of distraction to hide from my own failed relationships.

What’s the famous saying? It’s a lot easier to give the advice, than take it?

To be honest, it was not until I started Season 3 of the Existential Bro Podcast and rebranded the focus to go “all in” on relationship dynamics that I realized the importance of following my passion is what gives me purpose in life.

How did the podcast first begin?

The Existential Bro Podcast’s inception dates back to early 2019, when I collaborated with two of my buddies from college, an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Doc and soon-to-be dad, Rick, and founded the podcast in a studio apartment.

Together, we wanted to advance the notion that “masculine” men can explore the realm of emotional intelligence within their relationships and feel comfortable expressing their emotions without fear of being judged.

The initial goal of the Existential Bro platform was to create a space where men could open up about their feelings while exploring the complexities of interpersonal relationships, careers, and mental health.

That’s so cool! How do you explore relationship topics and where do the conversations go?

The Existential Bro Podcast encourages vulnerability and introspection by exploring the intersection of existentialism and emotional intelligence.

Existentialism emphasizes the importance of individual freedom and choice in the meaning of one’s life, while emotional intelligence involves the ability to understand one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, to navigate relationships and make effective decisions.

By providing a platform for open and honest conversations about these topics, the Existential Bro Podcast seeks to empower listeners to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships, both with themselves and others.

Millennial Magazine - Features- Julian Shojaie- Existential Bro Podcast- studio

Photo by Rudy Nardone

How was the podcast affected by the pandemic?

The first two seasons were challenging as it was difficult to grow a community of listeners who understood the meaning of “The Existential Bro.” The COVID pandemic further impacted the reach of our content, as fewer people were commuting, and the need for hour-long podcasts to ease the strain of traffic became less necessary.

Although family and friends were more than supportive of our initial growth, the podcast lacked sponsorship, investor funding, and studio space. It was not until the end of Season 1 that the explosion of TikTok and Instagram Reels proved to be a game-changer for the podcasting industry.

To adapt to this trend, podcasters everywhere had to find a way to communicate their message in 30-second to one-and-a-half-minute clips.

However, by its very definition, existentialism encapsulates the ability to speak freely and dive deeply into topics that not many have contemplated. The podcast is focused on deep and meaningful conversations, and the idea of cutting audio into short clips not only went against the purpose of the venture but felt impossible to do.

Millennial Magazine - Features- Julian Shojaie with Athlete Media

Photos courtesy of Podcast Row, Artcade Live Camera Audience Event at Fred Segal

How did you turn those philosophical conversations into trendy social media soundbites? And what does your social strategy look like now?

Even with the ever-growing evolution of social media’s presence in the podcast industry, it was difficult to stay true to our original purpose. The idea of simplifying the message in an effort to attract a larger audience and relating to as many viewers as possible through short digestible clips, started to grow more attractive.

It was not until I asked myself why I even started this podcast in the first place that the vision came. To have fun and laugh amongst eclectic and authentic people. To be genuine to our listeners. To hear them. To be open with a greater audience and make a true impact – even if it is only one listener, an impact, nonetheless.

Despite these challenges, with consistency and faith the Existential Bro Podcast continued to grow and evolve. The fandom started to grow after I rebranded as a solo host at the onset of Season 3. The social media growth was tenfold as the viewership of minute-long video clips began to increase, which in turn brought listeners back to the full-length episodes.

Responding to feedback through my social media profile has been instrumental in introducing more people to the message of the Existential Bro. I could not be prouder that more and more listeners are learning to embrace authenticity and not shy away from their flaws or insecurities, and instead wear them as a badge of honor to show how far they have come and will continue to grow.

You’re still a practicing attorney! How do you balance life as a lawyer and being the host of a successful podcast?

As a host of the Existential Bro Podcast, alongside Rick and Doc in the first two seasons, we discussed intimate, platonic and familial relationships, imposter syndrome, feelings of inadequacy, self-reflection, and emotional intelligence like only existential bros could.

However, it was not enough just to riff on different topics, we needed to embody them too.

Before attending law school, I studied psychology at UCLA and focused my research in cognitive behavioral therapy for children (CBT), family counseling, and preventative couple’s therapy. This experience served as a crash course in the fundamentals of intimacy and marriage, which proved invaluable as I recently began my professional career as a family law attorney.

Nearly four years later, I remain humbled and grateful to continue my professional legal career outside of my podcast. Finding a firm like Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, P.C., where I can channel my passion for family law and the psychology of relationships has been a blessing. I never expected to find such an opportunity so early in my career.

Millennial Magazine - Features - Professionals - Julian Shojaie Full Body LACMA

Photo by Rudy Nardone

Working alongside exceptional attorneys who represent high-profile clients in Los Angeles has been a silver lining that I was unaware existed until I witnessed firsthand the team’s rigor and commitment to their clients and the betterment of their families.

My journey thus far taught me that following your passion is possible, and that it is never too early or too late to pursue what you love. Through the Existential Bro Podcast and my work at Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, P.C., I have found a way to ditch the notion that it is necessary to live a dichotomous life, and I could not be happier with where it has led me.

Give us a glimpse into the Existential Bro convos. What have been some of the greatest words of wisdom from guests on the show?

There have been a lot of golden truths expressed. It’s hard to boil it down to just a few. But on Episode 18, I had infamous director and writer, Jessa Zarubica on as a guest who taught me the importance of finding love within yourself and how to no longer need validation from your partner to feel loved.

She even challenged conventional notions of masculinity and gender roles in relationships, and promoted inner-child healing work for Doc, Rick, and I.

On Episode 19, Dating Intelligence Podcast host Chris Louis alongside Jamie Villamore emphasized this idea of “staying in your dating lane.” What he meant by this is that we should open our relationship dialogues with our flaws so that we attract the right partners who love us for us and not the show we may at times feel the pressure to bring to the table to make it to the second date.

And finally on Episode 22, Houman Hemmati M.D., Ph.D discussed this idea of “kids needing to be bored.” He raises the important question of how to raise children in the digital and A.I. social worlds, and offers the need to raise children with patience, discipline, and a real sense of consequence to their actions.

Hemmati explains how boredom allows children to not constantly need to feel stimulated, which may be causing long-term effects of depression and anxiety once the false expectations of the world begin to set in and things are no longer just at their fingertips.

Season 3 is already several episodes in. What can we expect from the rest of the season?

I introduced Season 3 as a solo venture. My cohosts are now occasional commentators, and some of the Existential Bro’s most recent guests include Chris Louis from the Dating Intelligence Podcast (@datingintelligence) with Jamie Villamor, JJ Nolan (@thejjnolan) from the Netflix Original YOU and Pretty Problems, Dr. Houman Hemmati M.D., P.H.D. from FOX News (@foxnews), and TikTok celebrity DJ Habibeats (@djhabibeats).

Millennial Magazine- Features- Julian Shojaie- Houman Hemmati

Photo by Rudy Nardone

What are your plans for the future of The Existential Bro Podcast?

I am absolutely humbled by how far the Existential Bro Podcast has come from our first episode in Doc’s small studio apartment to a live studio audience performance two seasons later. But this is only the beginning. We still have a few episodes left of Season 3, including a Season 3 finale reunion with Doc and Rick, and Season 4 is expected to debut at the beginning of 2024.

To learn more about Julian “Juju” Shojaie and The Existential Bro Podcast follow him on the social media channels below: