130: Stop Running Away From Your Story: Interview with John O’Leary

Everybody has an origin story. The heroes and villains of your favorite novels have one. And so do you. But perhaps it’s not the same story you’re telling to the world.

130: Stop Running Away From Your Story: Interview with John O’Leary

This week on The Portfolio Life, John O’Leary and I talk about a defining moment when an explosion launched John 20 feet across his garage with third degree burns covering almost 90% of his body.

Listen in as we discuss how John ran from this story for three decades until it finally caught up with him.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, John and I discuss:

  • Trying to live a normal childhood after the explosion
  • How his parents sold 75,000 copies of an unauthorized biography
  • John’s first speaking invitation from a few girl scouts
  • The ultimate question to ask about your book, speech, or blog
  • Why vulnerability disarms people
  • Who we always look for in our third grade class photo
  • Using story to build bridges


  • “We frequently confuse being out of bed with being awake.” —John O’Leary
  • “When you make your story an excuse to get other people sharing their story, powerful things can happen.” —John O’Leary
  • “Wake up from accidental living.” —John O’Leary
  • “Do the next best thing right now.” —John O’Leary


Click here to download a PDF of the full transcript or scroll down to read it below.

What is your story? Are you running from it or telling it? Share in the comments


Today’s guest survived burns on 100% of his body. 87% of those burns were third degree burns and it happened when he was 9 years old. He then spent the next three decades running from that story, until finally it caught up with him.

Here’s Jeff Goins and John O’Leary.


[00:01:07] JG: John, welcome to the show.

[00:01:09] JO: Jeff, delighted to be with you, man.

[00:01:11] JG: Glad you’re here. It’s been fun to connect. I want to just jump into your story. You called me up, gosh, several months ago now and started sharing your story and I just thought it was so incredible. It’s touched a lot of people I know, and we’re going to talk about that, your book, and all kinds of other things. But let’s, you know, take us back to really where your story begins.

[00:01:33] JO: Yeah, so it’s my belief now that everybody has a story, just frequently not the story we’re telling the world. I’m a living example of that truth. I spent the majority of my life, almost three decades not really knowing what my story was, and what it is is this Jeff: when I was nine years old, I was involved in an explosion in my garage that split a can of gasoline in two, it picked me up, launched me 20 feet against the far side of the garage, literally set my world on fire.

I ended up with burns on 100% of my body, 87% were third degree, and then would eventually spend the next five months in hospital, the next several years recovering and going through surgeries, and therapy, and all the arduous efforts involved in this. But then the rest of my life, trying my very best to forget about it all and pretend like it never happened. So that’s the baseline, that’s the foundation, that’s the beginning of my story.

[00:02:33] JG: It’s incredible, because this is such an important part of what you do as an author, as a speaker. You’ve got this national bestselling book, On Fire: The seven choices to ignite a radically inspired life, and yet this was a story that you thought, “Oh, that just happened to me. I want to move on from that.”

[00:02:54] JO: When it first happened, my mom came into the room where I was, in the emergency room. She has not seen me yet, she walked over to me, she takes my hand and my hand is completely burnt up. I’m eventually going to lose all my fingers to amputation. We don’t know that then, but we know it’s not good. So she takes my hand, she pats my bald head and she says, “I love you. I love you, John.”

And I just remember thinking, “Gosh, I can’t believe she’s not furious with me,” you know? I blew up the garage, I blew up this can of gasoline, I caught the house on fire, I thought she’d be irate. And when she said, “I love you,” I remember thinking, “Gosh, it’s actually serious. It’s not just about the garage or the gasoline can, it’s much more.” So I looked up at my mom and I said, “Mom, knock it off with the love. Am I going to die?” And this lady, and I was one of six kids, six babies, but this is her favorite laying in front of her, so she’s got a lot at stake right now. And I remember she looked back at me and she says, “Honey, do you want to die? Your choice, it’s not mine.”

[00:03:56] JG: Oh my gosh.

[00:03:57] JO: And I just remember thinking, “Oh, gosh, how cold-hearted are you, lady?” I was looking for the milkshake promise. I thought she would say, “Baby, everything is going to be okay and we’re going to get you out of here today and we’ll swing through McDonald’s on the way home.” But that woman that day set in front of me truth, “Your choice, not mine.” And I remember saying something like, “Mom, I do not want to die. I want to live.”

And her response was, “Good, baby. I’m glad. You made the right call. Then take the hand of God, you walk the journey with him, but you fight like you have never, ever, ever fought before.” And Jeff, on January 17th, 1987 a 9-year-old boy now flanked by his mom and dad, decided to fight on having no clue what the 18th of January or the 19th, or the first round of surgeries, or the first round of amputations, or the bandage changes would look like.

All we knew was the fight was on, and as the fight continued, I made a decision that once I got out of this hospital I was going to be ordinary, I was going to fit in. I was going to be like everybody else. This weird, kind of healthy decision while in the hospital, but then this ultimately unhealthy decision, this goal to fit in is ultimately why I hid from the scars, and I hid from that story, and I hid from the beauty of it all candidly, for three decades.

[00:05:17] JG: Wow. And then what eventually woke you up, made you want to tell the story?

[00:05:23] JO: Gosh, and I love that term, “wake up”. I think frequently we confuse being out of bed with being awake.

[00:05:29] JG: Yeah.

[00:05:30] JO: You know, we confuse being married to being in love or we confuse having a child and us being a parent. And hey, don’t confuse these things. So yeah, waking up is a great way to say it, Jeff. What woke me up, what really changed literally my life, and my mindset, and what I do professionally today, and how I look in the mirror, and how I treat others, was 11 years ago when my mom and dad wrote a book about what happened to their son two decades earlier. This unauthorized biography of my life, essentially.

I remember thinking, “Gosh, guys, why are you writing this? You’re not writers. You don’t know what you’re doing. I’m not even sure you know how to use a PC at this point.” And yet they wrote a book, it came from their heart, and I know that’s a lot of what you write about and you preach about, “Have a story and then tell it to the world. Come from your heart though. Share your knowledge.” That’s what they did, they shared their heart.

They printed 100 copies and in the 11 years since, they have sold more than 75,000 copies, which is a huge hit for stay at home mother and a fella who today is inaudible, because he’s got Parkinson’s Disease. You can’t even really understand my father anymore. But they wrote this story, they shared their scars, they shared mine, and they changed my world. I remember looking at that book the first night it came out, I read it. This picture of me on the front of it from when I was 9-years-old, the first night home, this big ol’ smile on my face.

But this picture for me, for decades, it always reminded me of the wheelchair. Because if you look really closely, you can see the handle in the background. It reminded me of the neck brace and the scars and the challenges of the previous five months. But after reading their book, instead of seeing all that was wrong, for the first time ever I saw the gift and the miracle. The fact that, yes, the majority of my body was burned, but my face was saved. And that is nothing short of a miracle.

I saw a smile on this kid’s face, I saw a twinkle, and hope and faith and boldness still in his eyes. I saw this optimism and this resiliency and this grit that I had never acknowledged before. Maybe even more than that, in reading their story, I realized I was not the only one that got burnt. I read about my mom and dad and all that they struggled through, and my five siblings and all that they lost. This gift of empathy came out of reading that, which freed me finally to fully embrace my shadow and the great gift of my life and to change really the manner in which I operated, change my MO, change the way I looked in the mirror.

And it opens me up about three months later when a group of Girl Scouts, Jeff, there were a grand total of four third grade Girl Scouts that asked me to speak for their group. I’m an introvert by nature, I’m not a writer, never written anything except in college and high school when I had to. I hated writing back then. But I’ve always thought in life, when opportunities knock, whether it’s Jeff saying, “Hey, will you come on my podcast,” or four Girl Scouts saying, “Will you speak to our class, Mr. O’Leary?” The answer is “yes”.

So this introverted guy who had never told anybody his story, shows up. I practiced the talk, Jeff. It was a 10 minute talk. Practiced the talk for more than 45 hours, preparing to speak, and I’m not exaggerating.

[00:08:42] JG: That’s amazing.

[00:08:43] JO: Preparing to speak to these girls. I walked into the classroom, never looked at the little monsters, read from my notes the entire time, that’s my first talk. There were no Samoas exchanged, there was no compensation granted, I got nothing for it, except a general applause and hugs on the way out the door. But that’s my first talk, and I’ll never forget it, man. I’ve given 1,600 since, but my first one was to four Girl Scouts in the third grade and again, it changed my life.

[00:09:12] JG: I’m a little disappointed that there were no Samoas. I mean…

[00:09:15] JO: I remain crushed, and that’s my currency.

[00:09:18] JG: Yeah. Those are dangerous. So you’ve got this incredible book and it’s touching lots of peoples’ lives. It’s obviously an amazing story, and yet it took your parents telling it first, and you just being touched by the empathy of that to realize that this is something that other people needed to hear.

[00:09:41] JO: That’s still what touches our hearts and motivates us to write and podcast, and blog, and create, and innovate in ways that we did not yesterday. This empathy, and realize that people need to hear a story of hope, perspective, persistence, and the truth that in spite of what all these candidates are yelling about, the best is yet to come. We live in a charmed and a blessed time, but the media has us focused and fixated on fear, and what you focus on in life begins to grow everywhere around you.

So in comes this guy who’s a little bit beat down by the scars of his life, sharing stories not about me – the reason I love writing, the reasons I love speaking is because the stories I share have actually nothing to do with me. I happen to be one of the characters, but I’m more like one of the observers. I’m paying attention to what’s happening around me, or to me, and then sharing the good news. And even in speaking, I don’t talk about, “Gosh, then a burn patient goes through this, and then the poor burn patient goes through this surgery, and oh the poor guy. But I climbed on.”

The word “I” is seldom used. It’s stories of parents who walk into emergency rooms and it’s a story of siblings who show up when a little boy is still on fire, and the actions they take that saved that little boy’s life. The story of volunteers and announcers, and servants, and doctors, and nurses, and people I’ll never meet again who showed up to the next best thing, right on time and through their generosity, you and I are on the show today. So I get to brag about others and then share what I learned from them and what it means for the rest of us in our writing, in our speaking, in our parenting, and in our lives.

[00:11:19] JG: That’s really interesting John, because you know, you’ve probably encountered people especially out speaking, but when you write a book eventually you find other people who want to be writers, or they find you. And I often hear this and they go, “I’ve got this great story that I need to tell,” and the truth is, that isn’t always, perhaps often, what makes a great book. And it seems to me that you intuitively understood that you had this extreme story, which is incredible, but extreme stories have this ability sometimes to make people feel like, you know, “My problems are not that big.” Or, “I could never do that.” Or, “I’m just trying to lose 10 lbs.” Or whatever it is.

And yet you’ve taken a very extreme, incredible story and just by virtue of the success of your book, it’s evident that you’ve translated this into other people’s stories and practical things that people can do today to live more fully alive. Is that something that you intuitively just understood, like people are going to disconnect from something so extreme if it’s all about me and all the stuff that I went through and how I overcame all this stuff? Or did you have to learn that?

[00:12:30] JO: Right, it’s a great question. Even the question shows a lot of insight, Jeff. When we get an old class picture in front of us, so take yourself back to third grade, now look at your class picture. Who are you looking for first? Are you really looking for the cute girl that you were in love with? Are you looking for the teacher? Are you looking for your best friend? Always, you look for yourself.

[00:12:53] JG: Yeah.

[00:12:53] JO: I think it’s important we recognize that and the way we view third grade class pictures, but also the way we read books, the way we sit in audiences, the way we read blogs, the way we listen to podcasts, the way we do almost anything in life. And I say this with great candor and great love, but we are a selfish people, and that’s okay. Once we realize, “Hey, love wins but you’ve got to first sell them something that will turn them on to the great possibility in their own lives and what they can do for the lives around them.

The most phenomenally greatest story ever told is only about one person. That story will never be told well, because it lives and dies with the person telling it. It’s when that story ripples out and says, “And this is what it means for you, and this is how it’s going to touch your life, and this is how you’ll be a better spouse, or a partner, or a parent, or sell more books, or whatever else you’re doing.” That’s when we sit up, that’s when we take notice, that’s when we stand in line to meet that person and say, “Gosh, my story is nothing like yours, but you’ve got to hear it.”

The more I find that I share vulnerably my story from the lens of the other heroes that show up, because Jeff, when you hear me speak or you read my stuff, I’m not the hero. I’m the storyteller. It’s everyone else that’s the hero. But it disarms people, it allows them to remove their mask, to come up to you afterwards and then to share boldly theirs. And then through empathy and connection you can build a bridge to say, “Gosh, what can we do with this together?”

[00:14:12] JG: Yeah, I love that. Really smart, not something that is intuitive or natural to a lot of people. Even, frankly, probably some people that you’re sharing the stage with. But as you’ve seen, John, and as you practice, which I love, when you really make your story an excuse to get other people sharing their story, I just think that’s when really powerful connection happens. And I think that’s what most of us want anyway, when we’re writing books, giving speeches, creating stuff, it’s we want to not feel so alone; we want to connect with people.

[00:14:47] JO: And I think the idea is to take the microphone, take the megaphone, take the typewriter, take whatever vehicle you’re using to share your knowledge. You’ve got a lot of people listening right now who have an awful lot of knowledge to share, but making sure as they share, as they type, as they speak, that they identify who the hero of the story is.

And if they’re striving to make themselves the smartest, the fastest, the brashest, it’s a story that has a short shelf-life. If we’re striving to share in a way to elevate the way others do work and do life, they win. And the beauty is this: and then we win too. So I think, yes, you can wear the cape in the story, but make sure you put it on someone else first.

[00:15:29] JG: I like that. Yeah, that makes sense. Were you afraid, ashamed, embarrassed? Did you struggle at all when it came to first going out there and telling your story? And I’m thinking especially when it comes to speaking, but writing as well?

[00:15:45] JO: And the answer is “yes” to both. I was shocked first of all that anybody would want to hear it, and I think all of it, like I said in the opening remarks, we all have a magnificent story and magnificent knowledge. I think we just need to figure out ways to package it more effectively so that others will want to hear it and that we’ll be passionate to share it. So I was amazed that anybody would want to hear this story, and I think that lack of confidence came across the first four years. I did not really know who I was, I did not really know the beauty of this story, and if you don’t really know it for yourself you can’t possibly multiply it to impact that lives you’re trying to share it in front of.

It’s when you can wholeheartedly share the beauty of your knowledge, and your story, and your life, that it can have other people sitting up and again, standing up eventually realizing the beauty of their own life, which is ultimately what we’re all trying to move people towards. I don’t think anybody writes a book or gives a speech for an audience of one. You’re not just doing it so that you can have it eventually on your night stand and say, “My god, I am the best author I know. Just ask me. Just ask me. I fricken rock!” Which brings up another point; writing a good book or giving a good speech is not enough. How do you market it? How do you package it? Who do you know?

I remember years ago I did some research before I wrote my book on leadership and leadership books, and I think in 2011 there were 36,000 plus books written on leadership alone. That’s a crowded marketplace to swim in. If you think your leadership is that much better than everybody else, maybe? But how are you going to tell us all about it? And I think as we share our stories, as we share our mind — mindshare — part of what we ought to be thinking is, “And how best can I share this message to a marketplace hungry for it?”

[00:17:23] JG: Yeah. Well your book is one of those books, it’s connected with a lot of people in just a matter of months. It was an instant number one national bestseller. Why do you think it connected with people? What have people told you that has been useful feedback for you, and how did that align with your own expectations of the book?

[00:17:42] JO: So Jeff, when I give speeches, before I sit down to write it and, you know, I’ve provided quite a few now so it’s almost second nature. It’s almost who I am. I still always ask the question before I sit down to bullet point it out, “Why does this matter to the lady, the gentleman, the person in the back row?” And in answering that, you can create a speech that will get the lady, the gentleman, the whomever in the back row to uncross their arms, open up their heart and take notice for what’s possible in their life.

If you can do that as a speaker, well then you also should probably ask yourself, because I write a newsletter every Monday, “Why does this matter to the 100,000 people that are going to read this this week? What does it mean to them?” And if I can’t answer that, throw it in the trash because it’s not worthy. So I ask myself that as a blogger. When I do podcasts, I ask the same. I post daily on Facebook and Twitter, I ask the same, “Why does this matter, man?” Not to me, but to others.

So in writing the book, it wasn’t, “Um, how can I sell copies?” Or, “How can I make myself seem great?” Every single word, literally every single sentence and paragraph, and then chapter, and then the entirety of the book, was focused on “why does this matter?”. And one of the ways that I was able to really focus this energy, maybe this is something your experts can take on if they choose, I wrote every chapter for an individual person in mind.

[00:19:02] JG: Oh, interesting. Like each chapter was for a different person?

[00:19:05] JO: Absolutely.

[00:19:06] JG: Oh cool.

[00:19:06] JO: I wrote one chapter for a person that I know, and I won’t say who, has an absolutely brutal attitude. And I love this person, I want this person to realize how beautiful they are, and how blessed they are in live, and how amazing the gifts in front of them each day is, but they don’t. Every day is brutal for them. There’s no reason for that. And so all of chapter four was around this person and I was trying to think of, “What is the best love letter that I could provide this person? Here it is.”

I have four children, so all of my four babies — they don’t even know this, but I wrote chapters for each of them. I wrote a chapter for my wife, I wrote a chapter for my mother, and I wrote a chapter for my father. So being focused on “why”, who’s the end user? It allowed me to write a love letter in language that connected, I hoped, maybe with seven people. But in writing it for them, it’s amazing. I think it connected with maybe people they knew and it may be people they knew.

Even the cover of the book, On Fire, I’m not on the front of it. When you flip it over to the back, O’Leary and his four kids and his gorgeous wife, they’re not on the back. There’s no Golden Retriever Pictured. It’s all about the reader. You’ve got to open it up to see a couple of pictures of John, and a couple of pictures of the fire, and a couple pictures of his kids. But we begin with the most important person in mind, which is the user, man. The buyer, the reader, that’s who’s life we’re trying to change.

[00:20:23] JG: Yeah. I love that. I love that idea of just writing piece of your book for different people. That’s brilliant. That’s a great, great tip. Well, so you’ve got this book, you’ve got this message, you’re sharing it with crowds and companies and large audiences and conferences, and it’s all kind of couched around this idea of being radically inspired. Now as a writer who talks about a lot of other writers and creatives, that maybe even kind of means something different in the context of like, “How do you get your inspiration?” Right?

This is a question that I hear all the time and one I really struggle to answer. And I’m curious, because here you are living a radically inspired life, inspiring others to do the same, what does that word “inspiration” mean to you? Because in the writing community it is sort of polarizing. Like some people believe in inspiration, they wait for the muse before they go create or do their work and other people don’t believe in it, then they just go to work and they go, “Yeah, whatever. Like, I don’t wait for inspiration. I just do it.”

[00:21:22] JO: Yes.

Click here to download a PDF of the full transcript.

[00:21:24] JG: What does that word “inspiration” mean to you? You’re helping other people find it, how do you find it for yourself as well?

[00:21:30] JO: Awesome, and the answer to your question on the front side is “yes”. So there are days where I’m highly lit up for life, and there are days where I look at the screen wondering, “What in the world am I going to type next? I think they’ve heard it all from me already.” Sometimes you’ve got to dig deep for inspiration. Your specific question, “What does inspiration mean for you?” In the old Webster dictionary, and I’m a pretty faithful guy, but one of the definitions was simply “spirit”. Another definition was “to breathe life and possibility into those around us”.

How can you argue that there’s not a need in the marketplace for these two things? I mean, it’s really difficult for me to say, “Dude, we don’t need people to wake up to the possibility of their lives.” Well, really? Have you taken a look around the subway? Have you seen how closed off people are in Starbucks today? Have you seen the animosity and the vigor with which we hate things online and then we judge and we have chaos all around us? So I think the marketplace is starved, starved for hope and inspiration.

So then the next question is, “Okay, good O’Leary, we might agree with you on that, but where do you find yours?” And it’s odd to say this, for a guy who communicates a lot online like I do and like I know you do too, but I think frequently we’ve got to shut the laptop, we’ve got to keep the phone off, and you’ve got to keep your eyes wide open and you’ve got to cut away the cataracts. You’ve got to really look to understand, and really listen to hear. And the more our eyes are opened to see what is really happening around us, the more we’ll see things through a lens that the rest of the world is not.

And in the more articulate way we are able to share that with those around us, they will sit up, they’ll take notice, and they’ll say, “Gosh, we’re not hearing this very frequently. Who is this guy? Who is this gal? What is it they’re talking about? What is it they’re writing about?” And then all of a sudden now we start to build this tribe, and we start to build this movement, a movement that with the wars and the shooting and the casualties that are around us all day, I think now is the time for it. So I am trading in inspiration. I am unapologetic about it, and I am looking for some followers and some evangelists to share the stadium with me.

[00:23:35] JG: Yeah. No, I love that. Is there a time, and maybe this happens on a regular basis, when you were sharing your story through your book or your blog or your videos that you do, your podcast or anything like that, speaking to an audience, whatever it might be, where somebody came up to you and was inspired by you in a way that surprised you?

[00:23:56] JO: So it happens, and I say this with the greatest amount of humility but honesty too, every day when I’m speaking. In sharing the story, you know, I’m burned. Just to kind of — because we didn’t talk much about the burn story. But this kid’s burned on 100% of his body, 87% third degree. The math on this my friends, is you take the percentage of the body burned, you add the age of the victim, and you figure out mortality. So in 2016 there is 109% likelihood of this kid dying. in 1987 there is no chance.

So you’ve got to understand, it’s a crazy story no matter what. But the way it’s shared is all about the people who come into this little boy’s world. What they do, the roadblocks they bump into, the challenges they face, the adversity that they must overcome and how they seek to move through it anyway. It’s me learning as a kid about it, it’s me then sharing this as a man, and it’s me encouraging readers and audience members on what they can do in their own lives.

And so it’s a highly, and we’ve used this word already but here it comes again, highly inspirational story of what is possible in all our lives. Because it’s not a burn story, it’s actually a life story. It’s an overcoming story. So then afterwards the beauty is people come up, they stick around in line, they give me a hug and the very first thing they usually say is, “Man, my story is not like your, but…” and then they go on and sometimes it’s about divorce, sometimes it’s about child abuse, sometimes it’s about things we can’t even talk about on this show.

Other times it’s about, “I’m struggling in sales. I don’t know where to turn next in creativity. I’m not sure how to build following.” Whatever. But it’s their story and it’s real, and it’s our opportunity in that sacred moment to poor into it and to invest in them the best that we have. So I’m always amazed at the awe and the beauty that people are willing to share their stories with me.

[00:25:50] JG: Looking back on it all, John, do you have any regrets?

[00:25:56] JO: There’s a lot of ways to answer that. The answer’s always “yes”, even the way I left my house this morning, you know?

[00:26:01] JG: Sure.

[00:26:02] JO: And I say that sincerely. I could have done a better job with my wife and I could have done a better job with my kids, I could have. I could have done a more effective job this morning at work. I could have been more effective in jumping into work and doing the next best thing. So constant regrets, but it’s not living in there. The regret I had for 20 years was blowing myself up, for a litany of reasons. One is, every time I look in the mirror it’s a reminder. Secondly, every time I feel an ache or a pang on my body, I realize why. Thirdly, I spent the majority of my life with no close love. I never dated until after college, and that’s painful.

But now looking back on it, I’ve realized that the best of my life was the result of that explosion. It led to where I went to college, it led to a chance encounter — I don’t believe in coincidences — with a brunette with brown eyes named Elizabeth Grace. It took a while to court her, but I found that, truly man go online, Google O’Leary and you’ll believe me once you see her. She’s stunning. But as pretty as she is physically, it’s her heart that I’m really referring to there.

She’s just got a beautiful heart, she’s blessed me with four kids, I have work that matters, we’re well compensated for it, we’re touching lives each day, we live in the freest, wealthiest country in the history of the world. Are you kidding me? So today I have no major regrets, it’s just a desire. Like, I encourage my friends and followers to do, to continually wake up from accidental living, to choose to be inspired, and to do the next best thing right now.

[00:27:28] JG: Yeah, I love that. What does tomorrow look like for you? What is the next best thing?

[00:27:35] JO: So, I’ve earned my frequent flyer miles from all the major airlines and you sometimes sit next to people flying through the night, from LA to New York, bragging on how many miles they’ve collected while they drink their gin and tonic. And I’m looking at my phone at pictures of my kids, homesick. So, yes I love my work. I imagine that I’ll always be a presenter, as long as I have a voice to share and people to listen to it, so I’m looking forward to that.

But it is pulling back on the travel, it’s speaking maybe a bit less frequently to maybe larger audiences intentionally. It’s writing more, it’s having a podcast, it’s having a radio show that we just started. It’s touching more, and more, and more lives, not from the platform in some random city that I love, but touching lives from my den, which is a room away from our kitchen, which is a room away from my kids’ bedroom, which is the room that I want to spend the majority of my life in.

So I am now focused not only on what I want to do, which is touch lives around the world, to wake people up from accidental living, but also where I want to do it. I think, frequently, we can become the victims of our own success. I wanted, in the early stages, to become a speaker. Well, two years ago I spoke 169 times, the year before 194 times. That number continues to fall downward because we’re saying “yes” less often, we’re saying “yes” to the more appropriate groups, we’ve having a greater impact because we’re pulling back our time and reinvesting that time in areas of work, in areas of life that matter more.

[00:29:03] JG: Well, John, you inspire me, not just with your story but with the choices that you’re making today with your life and I aspire to do a lot of those things as well and so maybe we can hold each other accountable?

[00:29:15] JO: Man, I’m in. I’m a St. Louis, Missouri guy and I know we’re communicating through email all the time. I’m also a follower of yours online. I love what you do. I not only hop on your podcast, but I drink the Kool-Aid. So I am honored to be on, I’m delighted to help mix it today and looking forward to drinking more going forward.

[00:29:31] JG: Well, thanks John. Hopefully we’ll combine that Kool-Aid with a couple of Samoas. I eat Samoas like Brian Regan talks about eating Fig Newtons. Like he looked at the package, and I don’t know if you know this bit, but he is like, it’s like one Newton cake, one Fig bar or whatever they call them, is a serving. He goes, “One? I eat those things by the sleeve!” That’s how I eat Samoas, by the half a box.

[00:29:59] JO: Well, that’s how I do it too. And I also usually do it from a random room in my house where my kids can’t find. Because the Samoas man, they go quick.

[00:30:07] JG: Yeah. It’s not a quiet experience either with the crinkling of the paper and, yeah.

[00:30:10] JO: No.

[00:30:11] JG: Well, John this was a pleasure. Thanks so much for your time and sharing your story. The book is, On Fire. A lot of people are loving it, I am one of those people. You’re inspiring a lot of people, thousands of people, and I’m grateful to be on of them. So thank you.


[00:30:30] AT: So, what’s your story? And are you running from it, or are you telling it? Let us know by going to goinswriter.com/130. Or message Jeff on Twitter @jeffgoins. We appreciate the time you take to listen to our show. I’m Andy Traub and on behalf of Jeff Goins, thanks for spending some time with us.

Now, go build your portfolio.

“JO: We all have a magnificent story and magnificent knowledge. I think we just need to figure out ways to package it more effectively so that others will want to hear it, and that we’ll be passionate to share it.”