Arnold Siegel

Autonomy and Life

Arnold Siegel is the founder and principal of Autonomy and Life, an original intellectual venture that equips everyday Americans with the tools they need to live fulfilling, self-actualized lives. Built on a unique philosophical framework and driven by Siegel’s continued intellectual exploration, Autonomy and Life has touched the lives of thousands of participants over the course of its history—what Siegel pointedly terms “the 30-year experiment.”

Autonomy and Life: Tools for an Actualized Life

Arnold Siegel personally develops, refines and teaches Autonomy and Life’s curriculum. The curriculum’s centerpiece is the retreat workshop, a three-day deep dive into the intellectual underpinnings and practical applications of Siegel’s philosophy. Autonomy and Life holds two retreat workshops per year, usually at high-end hotels and resorts on the East and West coasts. Up to 100 participants attend each workshop, with ample opportunity for networking and social reflection.

Students who have completed a retreat workshop can take advantage of Autonomy and Life’s advanced classes held in hotel ballrooms and event spaces in the New York and LA area. Siegel is constantly revising and refining his methodologies to remain current and relevant in an ever-changing world. Many attendees find the long view of ongoing study with Siegel a critical touchstone in responding to the demand of the 21st century American narrative.

Through Autonomy and Life’s retreat workshops and advanced classes, Arnold Siegel passes his philosophy on to new students every year; since 1985, more than 5,000 individuals have recognized the opportunity to achieve richer, more rewarding inner lives that empower them to stand apart from others in an increasingly competitive and uncertain world.

Arnold Siegel in the Marketplace

Autonomy and Life began after Siegel sidelined a successful corporate career to more fully develop his emerging philosophy of human possibility. He’d long wrestled with questions of self-fulfillment, self-actualization and the inherent tension between modern social participation and the autonomous potential shared by every human being. For decades, he largely kept these questions to himself, choosing instead to embrace his role in the marketplace. He knowingly terms this period of his life the “marketplace years.”

Mr. Siegel’s marketplace years were marked by quick success. Before age 30, he’d been named partner of a California accounting firm’s Century City office—the youngest partner in the firm’s history. He later relocated to Northern California to take the helm of the firm’s Bay Area operations. Later, as chief operating officer and partner of an ambitious San Francisco real estate firm, Siegel oversaw the planning and construction of a major waterfront residential development. In an area notorious for strict zoning and tight environmental regulation, Siegel’s project remains one of the most ambitious shoreline developments ever built in the region.

Arnold Siegel then stepped away from the world of real estate to found his own accounting firm. For this new enterprise, he envisioned a hybrid: part traditional accounting shop, part startup accelerator. He aimed to equip competitive entrepreneurs with the practical leadership skills they needed to thrive in a cutthroat environment. After helping numerous clients achieve their marketplace vision, he launched a commercial satellite communications company that served nearly twenty U.S. cities with simultaneous content feeds. In hindsight, many have compared this venture to the early internet, though the actual World Wide Web wouldn’t emerge for another decade.

Autonomy and Life in the 21st Century

As technological and social change accelerates around us, Siegel remains an anchor in the storm. He’s spent the last 30 years of his self-described “experiment” refining and updating the intellectual underpinnings of Autonomy and Life for successive generations of seekers. In the years ahead, he’s as committed as ever to maintaining his framework’s relevance, no matter what changes may come.

He’s as active as ever too. Well into his eighth decade, Arnold Siegel remains the driving force behind Autonomy and Life. His grueling travel schedule finds him in a different city every month. When he’s not working with students, Siegel can be found in quiet, productive contemplation at his Northern California home. A regular contributor to the Autonomy and Life blog for more than 8 years running, he’s putting the finishing touches on a brand-new book, How to Think About Autonomy and Life.

Arnold Siegel thinking about Autonomy and Life