200 episodes

Nick Onken is a fashion and lifestyle photographer for today’s top brands, performers, and game changers. On ONKEN radio (Formerly NION radio) Nick explores the body, mind and soul of the creative entrepreneur, bringing you inspiring and influential guests to help take your creativity, business, and life to the next level.

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Nick Onken is a fashion and lifestyle photographer for today’s top brands, performers, and game changers. On ONKEN radio (Formerly NION radio) Nick explores the body, mind and soul of the creative entrepreneur, bringing you inspiring and influential guests to help take your creativity, business, and life to the next level.

    211: Grace Harry – Creating Your Arsenal of Joy Snacks

    211: Grace Harry – Creating Your Arsenal of Joy Snacks

    “All of these things around joy and pleasure are so penalized and stymied in this country for the business of capitalism.” - Grace Harry

    Today's guest, Grace Harry, is a Joy Strategist among many other things. What even is a Joy Strategist you may ask? In this episode, I sit down with Grace as she explains the job title that she created for herself, her upbringing as a wild child with a young mother in Brooklyn, and her drive to help other people focus on joy and pleasure as their only teachers.

    After dropping out of high school in tenth grade and working for The Cosby Show, Grace ended up working in the record industry for 27 years. When she decided to move on from the industry, she was the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Creative Services at Def Jam Records. She shares her fear that people are forgetting how to be their own selves and explains that, now, her thing is people who create art to connect with others. She and I talk about how to get back to how we feel and the process of shedding the things that don’t grow us.

    Listen in as Grace and I discuss the many times we shift identities throughout our lives, how to cultivate our own "joy snacks", and what we lose when we don't protect our joy.

    You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!

    “We have to get back to a connection to the self and source without an intermediary.” - Grace Harry

    Some things we learn in this podcast:

    What does a Joy Strategist do [12:20]

    How to protect your joy [14:30]

    What is Joy’s favorite joy snack [15:40]

    How to stay connected to yourself [18:00]

    Were the Salem witches midwives [26:00]

    What does the rainbow signify [27:30]

    How many times do we shift identities in one lifetime [37:00]

    Links Mentioned:

    Learn more about Ashley Lee & Annie Kolatkar's The Brain Integration Institute

    Connect with Grace Harry on Instagram  | Play With Grace

    • 1 hr 12 min
    210: East Forest – Music, Psychedelics, and Creative Flow

    210: East Forest – Music, Psychedelics, and Creative Flow

    “You have to allow the messiness and the struggle.”

    - East Forest

    What’s up, my fellow earthlings? Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), a space where we explore the worlds of creativity, consciousness, and everything else in between. My goal is to help you optimize your life and to unleash your full potential, and I am so grateful to have you all on this journey with me.

    I can’t wait to introduce today’s guest on my podcast — East Forest. East is one of my favorite musicians and a kindred creator. He has created music that has been monumental in my own personal journey through psychedelics and mushrooms. Experiencing my magic mushroom journeys through East’s music has truly been transformative and life-changing.

    “There is a glue that unifies everything I do. My podcast, talks, retreats, writings, events, and the music I make are all about inviting introspection. It’s a form of trusting an individual’s inherent wisdom as they dive into their inner world and learn to make their own decisions. I want to share the experiences, tools, and sounds that I have learned for other people to get closer to their own essence.”

    - East Forest

    Through his music, East aspires to bridge the tools of our past with our rapidly advancing future by forging a modern pathway that can act as an antidote to our way of life in this fast-paced world. He has toured extensively around North America and through parts of Europe, bringing his message to thousands.

    East is an incredible artist, and his soulful music is loved by many across the world. I can’t wait for you guys to feel inspired by this man’s life and journey. Let’s get to know him a little more —

    Who Is East Forest?

    East Forest is an American musician who plays blissful and immersive electro-acoustic music. East’s natural talent for creating soundscapes helps him speak directly to one’s heart and can unlock profound spiritual experiences. 

    After experiencing depression early on in his childhood, East started using psychedelics and creating music for others on their own psychedelic journeys. What began as an experiment with music turned into a pathway for spiritual growth for many because of the compatibility of East’s music with meditation, technology, and psychotropic substances.

    Due to his music’s nature and popularity, East has collaborated with multiple personalities like the late psychologist and spiritual leader Ram Dass and artists including John Hopkins, Nick Mulvey, Dead Prez, and Peter Broderick, among others. He has also partnered with Google, Johns Hopkins University, Yale Psychedelic Science Group, and he has even been a TED speaker.

    East is a creative soul brother, and I’m excited to share with you this episode where we talk about creativity, healing, mindset, psychedelics, and how music lies at the core of it all.

    Using The Power of Music to Heal

    After a brief stint as a photographer, East started making music while under the influence of magic mushrooms. This unlocked a new dimension for himself that allowed him to use his music to help people heal, and over the years, he created a musical language that formed the backbone for all his work. It’s incredible how East channels his music into a tool for healing.

    “I don’t know how it works, but it’s a lot about humbling myself and trying to clear my way to open myself to those energies. … I also do a lot of rehearsal, which is a matter of getting fluent with the same gear — … it’s sort of doing any sort of exercise to get your muscles in shape — … and one of the biggest things I am rehearsing is improvisation. … I realized that I couldn’t plan it, and started discovering what worked and what didn’t [while I performed]. … And when I reach a point where I feel that it sucks to keep going … or when things are not working,

    • 1 hr 10 min
    209: 11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization

    209: 11 Life Values in Creativity & Life Optimization

    “Follow your feels.”

    - Nick Onken

    Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio) — the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey.

    Today, we’ve got something slightly different. I want to share 11 excellent life-optimization hacks that have helped me out over the last few years to access my creativity. Not only that, each has been instrumental in helping me live a better life and feel good. I’ve been disciplined about learning what techniques there are and figuring out what works for me over the last couple of years. 

    It’s important to realize that not everything I share will work for you, but these 11 optimization hacks can start your journey. I’m excited to share them, so let’s get into this episode!

    Personal Development

    There was a time my business was failing, so I decided to enroll in the Mastery In Transformational Training (MITT) that my friend Lewis Howes introduced me to. It focuses on teaching about living in possibility and how our negative thoughts construct limiting beliefs. Once I understood the limiting beliefs creating my life, I could break free and build new beliefs that have been game-changers for the last few years. 

    Interviewing hundreds of guests on this podcast has shown me that any form of success starts with mindset — I can safely suggest that this is a great place to start.

    Not all beliefs are conscious, though, and through my emotional intelligence leadership course, I learned that the subconscious mind makes up 95% of our beliefs while the conscious mind represents only 5%! Traumas and belief systems are embedded in the subconscious, so utilizing tools like psychedelics such as psilocybin and ketamine to navigate the subconscious — to rewire the subconscious — can be tremendously advantageous. 

    It’s on the rise, and people are using psychedelics for therapy to treat depression, PTSD, and addiction. I’ve learned the important difference between medicines and drugs — medicines help heal trauma while drugs tend to focus on symptoms. 

    Psychedelics can be daunting, but more studies are coming out showing how highly transformative they are, and if you’d like to hear more on the subject, Episode #185 talks about my journey with psychedelics.


    Health has been one of the most significant investments I’ve committed to over the last ten years and that I’ve accelerated to optimize my body during the last three years. 

    As I get older, I’ve become more in tune with not just how my body looks but, more importantly, how I feel after eating foods like carbs and sugar. To start, I changed my diet to include fewer carbs and sugars. 

    It’s important to recognize that everyone’s body works and reacts differently based on our sensitivities to different foods. Eating fewer carbs and sugar is working for me — but you’ve got to investigate what’s good for you and create healthier habits. A documentary that helped shift my perspective, That Sugar Film, shed light on what sugar does to your body. 

    The effect of sugar hits home too because my mother has cancer, and sugar feeds cancer. My decision to decrease my sugar intake has become abundantly clear for longevity. It’s taken discipline and new habits, but it’s been hugely rewarding, and I can feel it physically.

    Avoiding sugar doesn’t mean sacrificing taste either! If this too feels daunting, listen to Episode #78 with Rocco Dispirito, where we discuss incorporating healthy eating into your lifestyle. 

    Supplements have also become a big part of my regime, and after loads of experimenting to feel what worked best I set...

    • 34 min
    208: Blu – Turning Your Traumas Into Your Greatest Gift

    208: Blu – Turning Your Traumas Into Your Greatest Gift

    “Whose story was I living?”

    - BLU

    Hey, fellow earthlings! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

    As a creative person, I believe it’s essential to integrate creativity into every part of your life — mind, body, spirit, business, and anything else you can think of! That kind of creative alchemy is what I live and work for, and I want to inspire you to do the same.

    Today, I’ve got an extra special guest for you. She’s a personal creative hero of mine, and her art and mission to bring beauty to the world has massively inspired me in my own career as a photographer and creative entrepreneur. 

    Her name is BLU, and she’s here today to teach you how to deeply listen and carve out your own unique path in this world. Here’s a little preview:

    “The more people living from their heart, living from that gift, and the more people sharing their creative gifts unabashedly and like fully just going for it — it will heal the world.”

    - BLU

    It’s so true. Whatever your creative gift is, it is essential that your creative projects, at their core, are true to you. When you’re being your true, authentic self, that’s when you can impact the world in a big way. 

    And you guys, that’s just a little taste of the love bombs BLU dropped in this interview. We’re about to dive into a ton of knowledge taken from the transformative journey she has been on. Today, she’s going to help us discover that our greatest struggle can actually be our superpower. Let’s go! 

    Who Is BLU?

    BLU or BLU Cosmic Eagle is an artist and musician from England. She grew up in a boarding school for girls and served in the Royal Air Force before moving to the States to attend college in Florida. She found herself living a perfect textbook life, but she felt empty inside — like all of her creativity that she enjoyed as a young girl was stripped from her and replaced with a sterile cubicle. She knew her life had to change. 

    Her neighbor invited her to try magic mushrooms or shrooms for the first time, and that led her on a path to becoming a curious mystic. She discovered that everything she grew up knowing may have been false, which included her internal narratives. When she learned that she would gradually lose her hearing due to an incurable hereditary disorder, she decided to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a musician. She bought a guitar and went traveling with it. 

    Now an accomplished musician, BLU had to work through her own shifting identity alchemy to reach the point she’s at today where she sees her hearing loss as an invitation to listen deeper. She encourages others to turn their traumas into their greatest gifts in her recent TEDx Talk where she shares the amazing story of how she turned limitation into liberation. 

    In this episode, BLU explains what it looks like to live to blow your own mind. We also discuss what it was like for BLU to lose her hearing, the difference between prayer and performance, and why she wants everything in her life to be beautiful.

    Making Beauty a Calling

    BLU’s name is an acronym for “Beauty, Love, and Unity.” She named herself when she discovered that her life’s work is to bring beauty and light everywhere she goes. By renaming herself she was rebirthing something new in her life.

    “If I was to summarize everything in my life’s work, it is to restore beauty, love, and unity on the planet again.”

    - BLU

    BLU does try to bring beauty into as many facets of life as possible, whether that’s how she decorates her house, how she treats her body, how she interacts with people, or how she creates her art. 

    • 1 hr 13 min
    207: Detaching Your Self Worth From Your Identity

    207: Detaching Your Self Worth From Your Identity

    “Our ego is our teammate.”

    - Nick Onken

    Hello my fellow alchemists! I’m your host, Nick Onken, and we're back with another solo episode of the ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. Today. I'm going to talk more about identity alchemy, and I want to share with you my journey of finding my self-worth and my identity. 

    As I've gone through this journey myself, I've realized that the more you attach your self-worth with the identity that you put out into the world — whether that's your career, your relationship, or your family — if you're solely attached to that identity, what happens when that goes away? What's left for you? 

    What I have learned through my 20 years of experience as a photographer is something that I am applying to help people tell their visual stories and build their brands. People want real authenticity, and the story you are telling the world is what needs to resonate. This is where identity alchemy comes in — to help you tell a personal story that is authentic to who you are and allows you to find your self-worth.

    My Journey of Finding My Self-Worth as a Photographer

    Photography is a personal and creative outlet for me. I often find myself putting my heart and soul into my work. It's always been something that fills me with joy, but my journey wasn’t an easy ride — it’s had ebbs and flows. 

    Believe it or not, I actually started out as a graphic designer. I went to school for graphic design. I bought a digital camera to start shooting for my design work, and that was the start of my journey as a photographer who has been building and enhancing brands for almost 20 years now. 

    When I started doing commercial photography, I figured out that it was what I really wanted to do. Being a commercial photographer is who I wanted to be in the world. So I pursued my passion, even to the point of slaving myself away, working up to 16 hours a day doing foot tests, photoshoots, building my portfolio, designing my website, and marketing myself. I was living in a small room in a house in Santa Monica where I paid $800 in rent per month.

    When I moved to Los Angeles, I started all over again, building my business from scratch. It was a long journey, but I knew that's what I wanted. I wanted to be a commercial photographer shooting campaigns for lifestyle photography, traveling the world, and doing various campaigns. Eventually, I got a job for Nike shooting some pro sports players that catapulted my career as a commercial photographer.

    However, after completing the job for Nike, I wasn’t able to get another photoshoot job for the next two years. So, I started to question myself. I started to question who I was. I started to question if what I was doing was the right thing. A mentor told me, “Just keep going. You’ve got to keep pressing through because nothing happens overnight.” 

    It’s true! Success doesn’t happen overnight. When we look at others’ Instagram stories, sometimes we envy their successes. But what most people don't realize is how much work goes into achieving success. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and commitment to reach your goals. There will be times when you want to give up, but if you push through the hard times, then the good ones will come. 

    For me, the good came in 2008 when I finally got my first big advertising campaign. It was a full production campaign with 30 people working under me on the set in Miami, Florida. It was a campaign for Secret deodorant, which ended up being a huge print ad. I could still remember sitting on planes and noticing somebody flipping through a magazine and seeing my ad — it was a cool feeling and an ecstatic experience. 

    When I moved to New York at the peak of my career, I was throwing parties and going around the city ti...

    • 19 min
    206: Maejor – Healing the World Through Music Frequency

    206: Maejor – Healing the World Through Music Frequency

    “I have made a conscious decision to evolve without pain.”

    - Maejor

    Hello, my friends! Welcome to another episode of the Onken Radio podcast (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

    Today, I’m excited about my special guest and music master, Maejor. I really wanted to have him on because he is all about frequency and healing the world through frequency in his music. He’s produced albums and songs for Justin Bieber and is also a leukemia survivor.

    All these things have given him a unique perspective on life, making him a great guest to talk to about the alchemy of life. We will also share with you his mission to heal the world through frequency by creating all of his music in 432 Hertz and other healing frequencies. 

    Here’s a quick taste of what’s to come from my interview with Maejor:

    “I believe this year has been a rebirth in many ways for myself [and] for a lot of people. How can I use this moment in this time in the best way to give love? I’ve made a conscious decision now to evolve without pain.”

    - Maejor

    Maejor is a quality guy who feels deeply connected and has the greatest heart. In my opinion, I think most people that reach his level of success live in a different world — one that’s not tapped into what most people experience. What I really appreciate about Maejor is he’s still tapped in and because of that is challenging his own creativity to be a light in the world for healing. 

    Who Is Maejor?

    Brandon Michael Green, known by his stage name Maejor, is an American record producer, singer, and songwriter from Detroit, Michigan. Maejor has written and produced songs for several prominent artists in the music industry — most extensively Justin Bieber — and is half of the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) duo Area21 alongside Dutch DJ Martin Garrix. 

    In honor of Maejor’s grandmother, Edna Mae, who passed away, he used her name in the spelling of Maejor because of the closeness of their relationship and her impact on his life. 

    Maejor has been producing music from the age of 17, and it’s been his focus ever since. 

    “I always had a vision that I was going to do something very positive and impactful for the world — I don’t know where that came from. I just had that thought when I was a kid.”

    - Maejor

    As Maejor’s career progressed, big names started noticing him in the industry. Part of his vision for making an impact in the world was to create centers that teach underprivileged kids music. However, this plan always felt like something “down the line” that he was going to do. The success in his twenties led him to rapidly build on the momentum he was creating until he was dealt a devastating blow.

    “I got leukemia when I was in my twenties. [I thought] ‘Whoa, this is pretty crazy — what does that mean?’ I never [even] knew that word, I never [even] knew what that was. My timeline switched [from] ‘something I’m going to do [in] 20 years’ to ‘who knows [if] I’m going to be around [in] 20 years?’ What could I do now?”

    - Maejor

    Maejor’s second chance has given him a different perspective on life and how to create an impact in the world using his music. It’s a great honor to bring you his story and dive into the creative process that he’s developed. Maejor’s connectedness to the world we live in and journey through spirituality made this a magical interaction.

    Let’s jump straight in!

    How to Remain Present

    The past year has created chaos in most people’s lives, and while it’s easy to say things like “Be more present,” putting that into practice when the world feels like it’s collapsing around us is another story.

    • 1 hr 6 min

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