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the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 67: Gratitude with John O’Leary | Recap Episode

Our conversation with John O’Leary couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate time. His philosophy of humility, love, and gratitude which we speak about in today’s recap contains many lessons to apply in business but also in a personal capacity during this time where the world has reached a sudden halt.

We talk about John’s experiences with people that helped him and how he pays this forward by treating everybody with kindness, no matter their position in society, and how this fits into his immensely positive worldview but has also played a central role in his success. Tune in for some much-needed inspiration and make sure you catch the full length too.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • The secret to John’s success: that he practices love and gratitude.
  • How valuable John’s message to always love people is at this time.
  • The significance of John’s ability to win the hearts of even small children.
  • Never thinking a job is too small for you or below you as a good leader.
  • Learning the value of each and every job from the situation the crisis has caused.
  • How John had no choice but to succeed because of having to support his family.
  • Setting your fee structure and remembering the value of working for free at first.
  • Being reminded of how much of a miracle life is, and finding gratitude in the crisis.

Tweetable Moments:

John’s career is built on gratitude and love. His secret is not some business process.” — @roryvaden [0:02:25]

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO, the business owner, the entrepreneur, you are also the trash taker, the cleaner, the window washer. A servant’s heart and a true leader never rises above that.” — @aj_vaden [0:04:32]

“Don’t be so arrogant to think that you should get paid in year one of building your brand.” — @aj_vaden [0:09:18]

“Choose to be grateful, choose to consciously be thankful for the things you do have versus unconsciously complaining about the things that you don’t, or being entitled in thinking you’re above facing the challenges that are in front of you.” — @roryvaden [0:18:09]

About John O’Leary

In 1987, John O’Leary was a curious nine-year-old boy. Playing with fire and gasoline, John created a massive explosion in his home and was burned on 100% of his body. He was given less than a 1% chance to live.

John inspires 50,000+ people at 100+ events each year. He speaks to companies and organizations across industries, such as: sales, healthcare, safety, marketing, finance, faith, education and insurance.

John receives nearly 100% of his engagements from referrals. His schedule is a testament to the power of his message and who he is as an individual. His emotional story-telling, unexpected humor, and authenticity make each of his presentations truly transformational.

John’s first book ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was an instant #1 National Bestseller; 200,000+ copies have sold and it has been translated into 12 languages. John’s Live Inspired Podcast is top-rated on Apple Podcast and has more than 2,000,000 downloads.

His second book IN AWE: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning and Joy will be published in May 2020.

Links Mentioned:

AJV: (00:00) Welcome friend to the special recap edition of the influential personal brand podcast. Man, did we need to hear from John O’Leary right now! AJV: (00:10) Seriously. He’s so awesome. He’s just the best guy. AJV: (00:15) I mean his attitude, his mindset if you haven’t listened to the purpose. So yeah, I mean his story is incredible. We’ve been friends for years. One of the most successful speakers in the world, truly. And just an amazing guy, but to hear, to hear his story, you know, it’s like you can’t, we were talking to him about how he’s built his career and everything, but you can’t, his career is built on gratitude and love. Like his secret is not some business process or something. And that, that was my first big takeaway and I had never heard him say this, but he said, you know, there is an ROI on love. And when he was telling the story about loving on the AV guys that are like backstage at a keynote that you know, nobody talks to and if they do talk to them, it’s like, Hey, get this done for me or get this put in. AJV: (01:02) Or, you know, why doesn’t this work or whatever. And having those guys refer him, I just like that is the epitome of him. And I just thought that was a good reminder for all of us. Especially now when things are difficult and things are hard. Like you’re never too busy to love on people. You’re never, you’re never too broke to love on people. You’re never too important to love on people. And the world is starving for that right now. And I teared up in the interview like I, I just needed it so badly. He’s so amazing. AJV: (01:35) And you’re a big seller AJV: (01:36) And I am a softie. It’s true. It’s true. AJV: (01:39) We might take on John like outside of the interview is that anyone who can capture the heart of a three-year-old as an inspirational speaker has got my vote. Our child, our oldest child, Jasper talks about John O’Leary. Every day and I don’t mean some days, every single day he said, daddy friend, mr John, I want to watch the video daddy’s friend, mr John. And I just, to me there’s something about like what is it about him that has captured this curiosity in even a three year old and there is this uniqueness about John, I really do help you watch the interview. But actually it’s very rare that I take notes but I have a lot of notes. It’s very rare. But there were just like so many good one liners and nuggets and just like you said, it’s really an era of needing messages like this. And this is kind of in line with what you just said. It wasn’t my first point. My points are kind of out of order cause I had so many. But I loved this and he said there is no such thing as a little job. AJV: (02:49) And I love that and I, you know, it’s like we very much have the attitude, it doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO, the business owner, the entrepreneur, you are also the trash taker, the cleaner, the window washer. It’s like at one point do you think that you have elevated among the above the jobs that need to be done? And I just really believe that a servant’s heart and a true leader never rises above that. If there is trash on the floor, you pick it up, right. If there is something that needs to be cleaned, you do it. There is never this concept of rising above. And I loved it. He talked about this story about Lavelle, the janitor, janitor, the janitor in his hospital room when he was in the hospital bed for six months after he had this horrific accident. Yeah, truly fighting for his life. AJV: (03:39) And he said, he said, I believe that Lavelle saved my life many times because I was so succeptible to the tiny viruses. A little cold or anything could have been what ended his life. And he said, but because Lavelle was in there cleaning his room and making it sanitary every day, that was a part of what saved his life. AJV: (03:58) There’s no little jobs. AJV: (04:01) I’m just even reading this and it’s like I’m going to have to like hold the tears back because he said that today in the midst of covert 19 he said there is never been a greater reminder in our country of how every job matters. AJV: (04:16) Yes, like the grocery store when he said delivery truck AJV: (04:22) Tricity internet. I mean imagine if we didn’t have internet right now, like that AJV: (04:28) Be a big deal. It would be interesting. That would be a big deal. Or just people who are willing to get up and go to the grocery stores and keep those open and people who are willing to get up and put their lives at risk to keep a coffee shop open or the restaurants open. AJV: (04:43) The nurses right to, Oh my gosh, of course the doctors, gosh, our first responders and all the people who you know, you just never realize like what I mean how critical that just delivering, getting mail delivered is like keeping the country running. Being able to get things at your house. The person who picks up a side job running to the grocery store to grab groceries that an elderly person can get groceries delivered to their house. Amazing. AJV: (05:11) So many things. I just love that in the midst of this and then just also talking about that story of lavel just putting a name and a face to, it’s like some people may see it as a janitor. He said, no, this man kept me alive. It’s just such a powerful perspective. AJV: (05:30) That’s powerful. Yeah. And you know, kind of playing off of what you just said, I think when he was actually telling the story of how they got started and, and you know when he went out and started speaking and it was totally by accident and then you know, he ended up going, okay, this ha, this is our full time thing. We have to make it work and we have to do whatever it takes. And I feel like you and I have been there in our relationship, like with our business where it’s like both, both times. Yeah. We didn’t have a choice. Like we had to make it, we had to make it work and okay, AJV: (06:03) But we did have a choice. We chose to make it work. AJV: (06:06) Yeah, well we, we chose to do whatever it took to make it work. Like you always have a choice. You can take, you can take a safer route. But to that point of like there’s no small jobs. I remember a couple of weeks ago this is a little sort of side note, but Mmm, there, there was chaos in our house and there’s chaos every once in a while cause we have two little kids and everything. And I was overwhelmed and I just scooted out of the room like, and I just went upstairs and, and then later that morning AJ was like, I could tell she was upset and not upset, but just like she was quiet and I was, you know, she kind of brought up like, Hey, you bailed on me. And I felt so bad in that moment because it’s like you have to be willing to dig the ditches. AJV: (06:56) Like you got to do the work of digging the ditches and whether it’s your spouse or your business partner or the people next to you, everybody has to be willing to dig the ditches together. And I think, you know, people use that analogy like who you’re going to be in the foxhole with and a fight, which I think is, you know, inspiring and if you’re a war person or whatever, but the reality is for most of us, the daily life isn’t a foxhole. It’s not a matter of life and death, but it is a matter of digging ditches. It’s a matter of who’s doing the work and are you staying in the fight? Are you staying in the battle? And Mmm, just doing the work it takes to make it work. And so I took that. That was one of my big takeaways was when he was talking about doing whatever it takes to make it work, which also ties to what you were saying about there is no small job. Yeah, you got to hang in there and you gotta you gotta dig the ditches AJV: (07:46) And just appreciate like I don’t rise above the small jobs like yeah, I just, I love that. So yeah, so I guess that would be my first point. I will, I’ll claim that as my first point. My second point, which I think is kind of connected to that a little bit, but I just thought it was worthwhile sharing is don’t be so had to read this so I get it right. Don’t be so arrogant to think you should get paid in year one. AJV: (08:12) Wow. AJV: (08:13) I was like, I am right. Because I think so many people are like, what should I charge? What should I charge? And like part of like what we do at Brand Builders Group is helping people set their pricing schedules and their fee schedules. And it’s a really hard sketch. A hard question. But I love to, the attitude of like, if you really went back and you said, okay, well how did we get started and what did we do? It’s like, okay, well we spoke a lot for free. AJV: (08:37) Yep. AJV: (08:38) I lot like, I mean for eight years I was still speaking for free. Like I was still getting paid to speak, but I was still speaking for free. And it’s like, remember AJV: (08:46) Still speak for free at certain events, like still to this day, AJV: (08:50) But it’s like really before your speaking career took off, you know, I was like, you spoke over 300 times for free. And it’s like that very first year that we really launched our first business. You know, I spoke something like 220 times for free that year. AJV: (09:04) Can we tell him how much you made? The first year we had this, this is, this is not in Brand Builders Group. You’re making even less than brand builders group AJV: (09:15) [Inaudible] everyone gets paid before. AJV: (09:16) Yes. but in our first, our first year in business, you made like in our first business, 30, 20, 40,000, 24,000, $24,500 rolling in it. That, and then, you know, by the end of our, I mean, okay, a few years later they were making that every month. And then, you know, a few years later you’re making that more like every week. AJV: (09:36) Yeah. I mean it’s, it’s really is amazing and I think that’s, you know, not to like broadcast, you know, what we make or anything. But in year one I was making $24,500 of speaking for free. AJV: (09:49) A ton, AJV: (09:49) Like every day. But then it was by year 10 you know? Yeah. I mean it was more like I was making that a week. I was making it that a week AJV: (09:58) And to put things back in context. Okay. So brand builders, we’re now about a couple of years into the business. So year one you made AJV: (10:07) $600 I think it was technically, I think I made 13 AJV: (10:11) Oh yeah, for delivery work. Cause you assisted on some delivery work but AJ is the CEO of brand builders group and she gets paid last. She only gets paid if there’s anything like leftover and it’s been AJV: (10:23) Virtually zero now for virtually zero other than the delivery work. Yeah, I do. Some clients do some of that, but I just, I thought that was so important and I guess it hit me because we get asked that so much and I think 12 years later into our professional lives and personal lives, it’s we forget that the reality is, is when we started speaking, we didn’t charge. We said yes to everything and that’s so much of what John was saying. He said, my business group has, has said yes. I just said yes. He said we were yes, led and mission driven. And he said, and don’t be so arrogant to think that you should get paid the first time you do it or the first year because we did it for years. We still do it like, like we are, you know, after the sell of an eight fair bit, eight figure business and all the stuff that we’ve done, it’s like we still don’t get paid and we’re digging, AJV: (11:19) We’re digging ditches right now. We’re, we’re brand builders. Even though the, you know, the clients are doing well and our T, you know, like we’ve been able to get our team up to good levels of pay. AJV: (11:28) But there’s just, I just loved what he said. There’s like this, this attitude of people get entitled. I was like, I deserve to make this money. My time is worth this says you says who? And I just loved his attitude of like, don’t be so arrogant doing that work. Yeah. I love that. I just thought it was such a good reminder of when you’re asking yourself, what should I get paid and what should I charge? Maybe the question is like, well, just how many times can I do this before someone says, can I pay you? AJV: (12:00) Great. Gosh, that’s such a, such a great reminder. Yeah. It’s again, just so powerful to hear this inspiration and, and here’s the thing. You may be there right now, right? Like, maybe you were a speaker or you were an employee or you were someone making a lot of money and all of a sudden, boom, covid hits, you know, some crazy things happens in China with a bat. And here we go. Like all of us have to just do whatever it takes and you rebuild by serving, figure out a new problem and start serving it and start solving it and start helping and don’t be above it. And then the money always follows, like the money will come back around. Mmm. Way more important than the money. And this is what he’s all about. And this was my third takeaway was just being reminded of how much life is a miracle. Yeah. Towards the end. And he was just talking about you know, like one and there’s like a one in 400 trillion chance or whatever it is of your, of your DNA coming together the way that it is. AJV: (12:59) And just like the fact that you’re here and, and then talking to somebody like John who’s so grateful for everything and go, go, you know what? Imagine if you didn’t have your hands right, like imagine if you didn’t have your hands or if you didn’t have your eyesight or if you didn’t have, like there’s so many people that are, you know, living with a lot of fear right now because their immune system is really weak and just really dangerous time for the vast majority of, of us. And, and perhaps you, we have so much to be grateful for. It’s, it’s so beautiful that we’re even here. We you know, as, as crazy as the current situation is of the quarantined world. It’s also pretty incredible how we’re able to connect and do business virtually and have our basic needs met and food delivered to our house. AJV: (13:50) And there’s, if this was, if there was ever a time in history to have this, it would be right now, like this has to have been the easiest time, the most medically advanced to ever have something like this. And it’s all about that perspective. I remember seeing something on Instagram about Covid where it said your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on the couch. You can do this. I posted, that’s right. I saw it somewhere and I’m always sealing AJ’s lines and but it’s true, but it’s true. You know, like we’re, we’re alive. We’re here and just don’t forget the miracle of, of that. The miracle of life. There’s so much to be to be grateful for. AJV: (14:32) Yeah, mine is probably my third point is similar to that and I think it was, it was probably towards the last half of the interview when we were talking to John about just how has this affected your business? What’s your attitude? What’s the plan on the go forward? And I just, I love that he said, I’m just so grateful for the season and I think it’s really hard for a lot of us to admit that openly because there are so many people who are struggling. There are so many people who’ve lost their businesses, they’ve lost their jobs, they’ve lost their lives, they’ve lost family members. You know, you’ve, you will look at New York and you’re going like, how can I publicly say I am grateful for this season when people are every single day on the front lines risking their lives, people are dying, people like they are suffering. AJV: (15:17) And at the same token, there is this amazing privilege that has been given to so many of us to be at home. To refocus and reprioritize. And I, I really honed in on what he said and he kind of like took this and two parts in the beginning he said, you know, in year one I speaking my speaking career started because our little girl scout asked me to speak at her girl scout troop and then a parent in the audience was a part of the rotary club. And then some was there was a part of Kawanna. So his first year he spoke three times all for free year two, he spoke eight times, all for all for free. Year three though, he started charging and making money. He spoke 60 times. But yeah, 14 years later he has spoken more than 2000 times to millions of people. AJV: (16:07) And many different continents. And he said, he said over the last, you know, two months, he goes, I’ve had 41 days in a row where I’ve been able to tuck my kids into bed. That’s never happened before. I’ve had 41 days in a row where I’ve gotten to make them lunch. That’s never happened before. I’ve had 41 day, you know, and he’s kind of goes on and on and you’re like, it’s interesting because the first half of our interview is very much about how did you get your speaking career started and what you can expect. And it’s like, it goes from girl Scouts to like literally millions of people being impacted by John’s story on multiple continents in 2000 times. And, but yet, but the the amazing part of this interview is like, I’m so grateful for the things that I never knew I was missing. Like being home for 41 days. AJV: (16:57) And you also, in the context, if y’all don’t understand, like for John, somebody who’s primarily a keynote speaker and their primary revenue, like the keynote speaking business, he’s gone all the time. But this pandemic is impacting speakers radically. I mean, our entire keynote business is basically on the course of three weeks. Over the course of three weeks. Lost every event. Yeah. You know, indefinitely disappeared. You know, some of them will come back at some point maybe, but it’s okay. AJV: (17:28) But for him to, to have that attitude, it’s not like he just has it all hunky Dory right now. Like it’s entire business bookings for the rest of this year AJV: (17:40) Just went out the door. AJV: (17:42) They’re like, this isn’t like, Oh, it’s this one thing. It’s like, no, that’s his entire business went poof. And yet he is still choosing to be grateful, AJV: (17:50) Choosing to consciously be thankful for the things you do have versus unconsciously complaining about the things that you don’t, or being entitled and thinking that you’re above facing the challenges that are in front of you and. AJV: (18:04) Or that you’ve somehow earned or deserved to not have to deal with difficulty. RV: (18:09) Or to not that you’re above, above the work. Just really, really great, great reminders. Loved it, man. We needed this. And go listen to it. There’s a good chance you need it. Even if you don’t need it, you need it. Go listen to John O’Leary and be grateful. Know that your work matters. There is no job too small. There’s, there’s no audience to serve. That’s too small. There’s no message that’s too small. The work is important. The world needs you. Go find them now. We’ll catch you next time.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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