What if 90% of your work was pro bono and only 10% of the time you were paid?

This is the situation I find myself in at the present moment. I became a Keynote Speaker a few years ago. When I first began speaking, I spoke for free 100% of the time. I called schools, service organizations (Rotary, Lions, Optimist, Kiwana, Knights of Columbus Clubs), churches, youth detention facilities, homeless shelters and residential recovery centers for adults and asked to speak to their youth and adults free of charge. When I spoke to groups, I was consistently thanked for sharing my story, being vulnerable, talking about tough topics like depression and fear, and teaching how to believe in a dream and accomplish the seemingly impossible. I had people encourage me to continue sharing my story, they told me I was the best speaker they had ever heard, and some told me I said exactly what they needed to hear at that moment. This feedback encouraged me, and fueled my desire to pursue a career as a spe…

Our Difference is our Strength

Recently, I had the shocking fortune of running past a building that I thought was going to topple over on me. As I ran past the building I noticed that it was a triangle on the bottom and a square on the top. The different shapes at different ends of the building made it look like the building was "twisting." I have not been able to shake the thought of this building. As I researched the building, I discovered that it will be the 4th tallest building in the city, and the "twist" is actually supposed to strengthen the structural integrity of the design. The building has attracted a lot of attention because of it's "difference" of architecture. Critics have come out in droves to suggest that the building is sinking, or that each floor is one inch short, or that construction has been halted - all of which are untrue. 
This got me thinking about how we humans interact with one another. As a norm, the masses are more comfortable with homogeneity - samene…

Why hire an Inspired Speaker?

An inspired life, is an easy life.
Recently I was speaking at an event for a Business Journal in the North Eastern United States. The CEO of a $4 billion company with 22,000 employees was sitting in the audience. While at my talk, he sent an e-mail to his team and told them to book me for their annual kick-off meeting which was 30 days later. Thirty days later I found myself back in the same city, and about to go on stage in a ballroom of 600 executives. The CEO introduced me and explained that he had heard me speak the prior month, and my talk had put two questions on his heart: 1. What is possible? and 2. What am I really capable of doing? The CEO explained that hearing my story made him re-examine these two very important questions, and he wanted his executives to have the opportunity of hearing me speak so they too could have a growth experience. In the next 45 minutes I told my life story, and we laughed together, cried together, hoped together, hurt together and cheered together.…

DISRUPTION in the New Year

“Changing of the status quo. Setting out in a new direction. Breaking the cycle.”
I hear the term “disruption” a lot at conventions, conferences and business meetings where I speak. It is talked about as being a novel idea, something that we all must take up arms to do. In fact, it is something that is begun on a daily basis. The real message with disruption is that we must “follow through” once we start our disruption.
It is timely to have this discussion as we start a new year. As individuals, we make new resolutions and set goals for ourselves for our professional, personal and spiritual pursuits. As organizations, we reveal new annual plans with new service and product launches, budgets and strategic initiatives. These are efforts to disrupt the status quo, and bring about positive change. For any business or person that wants to grow and evolve, we should all be able to agree that change is a necessary ingredient for this process. Stagnation is a sure path to a slow and tragic deat…

The Why?

I'm on the phone with a friend I met on the Camino de Santiago in Spain just 3 short months ago. She asks what I've been up to, and I tell her I just finished running for 24 hours. There are some pauses, some clarifying questions, some laughs, some stories, and then she asks me, "Why Jason? At some point you need to ask yourself, why do you do this to yourself?"

For anybody who has ever ventured to do something "out of the ordinary", be prepared to be asked by others "why?"  Think deeply about your response, before you respond. This is an amazing moment, when you can truly share the essence of who you are with another person. They don't care about what you do for a living, they don't care about what you have, they don't care about where you came from, they don't care about the color of your skin, they don't care about whether you're blind or in a wheelchair, they just want to know who you are at your core. They are asking …

Feeling weird....

My youngest daughter took this picture of me last week. I was riding to a coffee shop near our home to give her some money, so she could have something to eat and drink with her friends. As it turned out, she was not at the coffee shop and was in a car with a bunch of her friends going in the opposite direction. Her friends spied me, and hollered at me out the window. I couldn't look up as I need to concentrate intently on the road in front of me so I can avoid potholes and hazards in the road. My daughter's friends began asking her how I was able to ride a bike when I couldn't see. Like me, she just passed on another long winded explanation of explaining my degenerative eye condition and the meaning of legal blindness. She has had to explain my legal blindness so many times, I could understand how she was just tired of rehashing the same topic another time. When I got home, she showed me this picture. This is the first time I have seen myself "commuting" since I…

Unconventional in the hallway

As I struggled with a difficult situation of the heart, a person I respect very much once told me four words that gave me the courage to continue moving forward.  Those words were:
There are no rules
I had to pause for a moment and process the profoundness of this wisdom. She was correct. There are no rules for how we fall in or out of love. In fact, some of the greatest love stories have the most unlikely beginnings. The same can be said for inventions, discoveries and breakthroughs. Most of the time, a brave soul has to withstand monumental criticism and opposition in order to bring something truly extraordinary into existence. This was true for Thomas Edison's thousands of failed experiments before the light bulb, Steve Jobs' journey to inventing the iPhone, and Mick Fleetwood's saga that resulted in the creation of a timeless band that would birth the Rumours album.

Conventional thought can be a deadening of the soul. It can be an excuse for mediocrity. It can sterilize o…