Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life, a unique venture rooted in an unmistakably American, wholly original intellectual model. Through intensive coursework and immersive, multi-day workshops, Autonomy and Life empowers individuals to live rich, rewarding lives of their own design.
Autonomy and Life: American Intellectualism for Our Times
Underpinned by an exacting intellectual framework rooted in Siegel’s lived experience, Autonomy and Life reaches new participants each year through three-day retreat workshops and two-day advanced classes. Since 1985, more than 5,000 participants have received personal instruction from Mr. Siegel—some returning for further classes and workshops. Nothing gives Siegel more pleasure than hearing enthusiastic testimonials from first-time or repeat students endowed with new tools and technologies to confront real-world challenges, live their best lives, and achieve true self-determination in an increasingly competitive world.
Arnold Siegel hasn’t always been at the helm of Autonomy and Life. He founded the movement in the mid-1980s after a successful two decades in corporate America—a period he calls his “marketplace years.”
Years in the Marketplace
Siegel left New York, his hometown, in 1960. Heading west, he landed in California, enamored with the individualistic, live-and-let-live attitudes that defined the booming state’s culture. He found work at a prominent Los Angeles accounting firm that was well-positioned to take advantage of Southern California’s rapidly diversifying economy.
Mr. Siegel’s timing was fortuitous, and he made the most of his good fortune. At 29, he was named partner of his firm, the youngest employee ever to hold that title. The following year, he seized the opportunity to found the firm’s San Francisco office. As managing partner for Bay Area operations, he worked with some of the country’s most dynamic companies.
In 1973, Arnold Siegel was named partner and chief operating officer at an upstart real estate development firm based in the Bay Area. During his relatively brief tenure, he oversaw the approval and construction of a major waterfront residential community near San Francisco. That project remains one of the Bay Area’s most ambitious waterfront developments to date.
In 1977, Siegel left the real estate business to focus on his first passion: accounting. His new firm, launched from the ground up, was a hybrid: part traditional accounting firm, part startup accelerator. Siegel used his business experience to provide clients with the actionable, real-world skills necessary to build sustainable, fundamentally sound businesses from scratch.
In the early 1980s, Arnold Siegel launched his final “marketplace” venture: a private satellite communications system capable of serving more than 20 U.S. cities with simultaneous content feeds. In retrospect, Siegel’s innovation has been compared to the consumer internet, though the hard-wired network that we use today wouldn’t exist for another decade.
Arnold Siegel: Autonomy and Life in the 21st Century
As technological, social and economic change accelerates around us, Siegel works to refine his philosophy for life in the 21st century. Each retreat workshop and advanced class presents another opportunity to explore new techniques and methodologies. Appropriately, Siegel calls Autonomy and Life “the 30-year experiment”—a self-conscious acknowledgement that his framework, however coherent and satisfying for those who employ it, is fundamentally a work in progress.
Arnold Siegel’s day-to-day is busy. He personally leads retreat workshops twice yearly, typically at high-end resorts on the East and West coasts. He also leads one advanced class every month in New York or Los Angeles. When he’s not leading classes or retreats, Arnold Siegel spends his time in quiet contemplation at his home in Northern California. He breaks up his introspection to work on his brand-new book, How to Think About Autonomy and Life, and to record his musings on Autonomy and Life’s blog.