Arnold Siegel is the founder and creative force behind Autonomy and Life, a unique venture that empowers participants to live fulfilling lives entirely of their own design. Rooted in a quintessentially American intellectual framework and supported by an immersive curriculum, Autonomy and Life has found a wide audience over the course of its 36-year history.
Autonomy and Life: A New Paradigm for Self-Actualization
Through Autonomy and Life’s foundational retreat workshops and advanced classes, Siegel reaches new students each year. More than 5,000 individuals have taken workshops and coursework with Mr. Siegel. All relish the opportunity to realize more fulfilling, rewarding inner lives while acquiring and sharpening the tools needed to excel in an increasingly competitive marketplace for talent and ideas.
Autonomy and Life began in 1985, when Arnold Siegel left a successful corporate career to devote his full energy to sharing his maturing conception of the transformative potential of humanity. Since then, he’s been equipping students with the tools to take control of their actions and minds, to harness their innate creativity and talents, and to capture the original spark that makes true self-determination possible.
Arnold Siegel: The Marketplace Years
Arnold Siegel has long been preoccupied with the tension between social dicta and the autonomous potential inherent to every individual. By his own admission, he spent the first half of his career—a quarter-century of his adult life—“focused on my role in the marketplace,” not on the higher-order questions he’s examined since.
Siegel achieved enviable success during those “marketplace” years. A native New Yorker, he headed west to find work in booming Los Angeles’ burgeoning financial industry. He chose a growing Century City accounting firm, and by his 30th birthday, he’d been named partner—the youngest ever at his firm. In 1970, he became managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office, taking control of its entire Northern California operation.
In 1973, Arnold Siegel accepted the role of chief operating officer and partner at a rapidly growing Bay Area real estate development firm. During his years at the firm, he spearheaded the construction of one of the largest waterfront residential communities in the region to date.
Then Siegel decided to leave the comfortable world of real estate development behind and start an accounting firm from scratch. He had a simple goal for his new firm: to shake up the staid accounting industry and create new opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs. His approach merged traditional, full-service accounting and bookkeeping services with immersive, cutting-edge entrepreneurial training to help clients achieve their visions.
A half-decade later, Siegel launched a second, more ambitious venture: a commercial satellite network capable of beaming content to more than 20 U.S. cities at once. At the time, Siegel’s venture was the closest thing in existence to the consumer internet, which wouldn’t take shape for another 10 years.
Autonomy and Life Today
Arnold Siegel is aware of the ever-evolving—and, it appears, accelerating—forces of technological, economic and social change shaping our world today. More than 30 years since the company’s founding, Autonomy and Life therefore remains very much in experimental mode. Siegel continues to refine his discipline for a world very different than the one into which he was born, and he is always pursuing new means and methodologies to map Autonomy and Life onto the unfamiliar and seemingly amorphous rhythms and strictures of life in the 2010s.
Mr. Siegel remains as active as ever. He personally leads two planning workshops and 8 advanced classes each year. Currently, the planning workshops and the advanced classes are being conducted on Zoom.
When he’s not teaching coursework or leading the planning workshop, Arnold Siegel spends his days thinking, reading and writing at his Mill Valley, California home. He’s hard at work on a brand-new volume, How to Think About Autonomy and Life, while also contributing to Autonomy and Life’s blog.