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Expected to die, today he’s inspiring others to truly live.

World-renowned inspirational speaker + national bestselling author John O’Leary wants to help you wake up from accidental living so you can do, be, achieve and impact more through your life.

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  • Every Monday, John shares a quick burst of inspiration to help start your week on fire.
  • Every Thursday, John interviews an amazing guest on their story, successes, failures, lessons, and life to help you uncover tips to apply in yours.

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Dec 24, 2020

At a time that many of us feel there is less to celebrate than usual, today’s guest reminds us that despite the challenges there is so much good! Even better, he shares tips so you can see it for yourself.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, New York Times-bestselling author/illustrator behind the wildly popular Lunch Lady and Jedi Academy series, wrote the graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo that moved me profoundly. In it, he shares about the gift of his grandparents, who raised him because of his mother’s heroin addict.
Today’s conversation will remind you that what you’ve weathered does not have to hinder your opportunity to live a better, bigger, bolder life now.


  • At 3 years old, Jarrett began being raised by his maternal grandparents while his mother was battling a heroin addiction.
  • As the son of immigrants, Jarrett’s grandfather taught his children their lineage and the importance of hard work.
  • Pandora’s Box: As a child, Jarrett used sketching as a way to process his unique situation yet it was when his wife was pregnant with their first child that talk therapy helped him better understand his past.
  • “My grandfather once said I was sickeningly well-behaved as a kid. Part of that was fear losing stability.”
  • Hey, Kiddo: In Jarrett’s award-winning young adult memoir, he candidly shares his unconventional childhood, the nightmares that haunted him and how drawing became his outlet to express himself.
  • In 2012, Jarrett openly shared about his childhood for the first time publicly during a TED Talk. This allowed him to find the balance of sharing his story, hearing other’s stories and self-care to prepare him to write Hey, Kiddo. Watch his TED Talk here.
  • In the audio-version of Hey, Kiddo, the influential teachers in Jarrett’s life voiced their parts of the story.
  • While working at Camp Sunshine, a family camp for critically and terminally ill children, Jarrett was inspired to create more tender stories for a younger audience.
  • Jarrett’s second graphic novel Sunshine will be published in 2021 and details the life-changing story of a Camp Sunshine camper + the profound impact it had on his life.
  • Raising compassionate kids: “As parents, we lead by example. We suspect our kids aren’t paying attention but they will remember the way we behaved more so than the way we talked.”
  • Two-year process: Receiving dozens of rejection letters from publishers, Jarrett figured they favored his illustrations over his writing. Every week, he’d send new artwork to publishers which led to a publishing deal for his first book Good Night, Monkey Boy.
  • In his wildly successful Lunch Lady series, Jarrett highlights the often-overlooked and underappreciated workforce of those serving children.
  • Get Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s book Hey, Kiddo here.
  • Pre-order Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s second graphic novel Sunshine here.
  • Learn more about Jarrett J. Krosoczka here.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? I wish I still had that level of imagination.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? My flat files that have the artwork from all of my books.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? My grandfather and we’d feed Stanley and Leroy the seagulls.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Whenever someone wronged me, my grandmother would say, “tell them to $h!t in their hat,” and my grandfather would say, “sometimes when you talk to a-holes, you get $h!t on.”

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? I wouldn’t tell my younger self anything because that younger self needed to not know that things were going to be okay.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Are you sure I could only have one sentence? Just read the books.


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