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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 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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May 3, 2018

"It was good until it wasn't."

Erik Wahl valued hard work and success. Achievement + money were his measurement and, by his early 30s, he was very successful in corporate America.

Until he wasn't. During the dot-com bust in 2000, Erik lost the "financial fortress" he'd built and his identity along with it. This led him to ask the life-changing question:"Who were you before the world told you who you should be?"

Erik answered this question, made BIG changes in his life + redefined success. Now, as a performance graffiti artist, he helps clients like IBM, Microsoft and Disney answer this bold question, too. Today, we're going to "unearth great things lying dormant inside" of you. Join us! 


  • Watch the entire episode on YouTube.
  • Often we're rewarded based on the 3 Deadly P's: Power, prestige + possession.  
  • Our script for how to live is off, we tend to live with a scarcity mindset. "I must secure what's mine so I can build; there's not enough available." Choose abundance instead.
  • When you're rocked at your core foundation - financial, relational, health - you realize you long for something more.
  • "As a speaker, I bypass the cynical brain + go straight to the heart. I stretch minds so we can see everything a bit differently."
  • A mind stretched never returns to its original dimensions.
  • Create for the sake of creating, not the finished product.
  • I changed my definition of success: "What if success is a good meal with my wife and boys at the end of the day? I don't need certain life elements to be a certain way to be successful."
  • Today, Erik is a performance graffiti artist. Check out John's behind the scenes tour of Erik's studio.
  • Opportunity for love, relationship and empathy are hidden in plain sight. Don't be too "successful" to see them.
  • Better leaders are more creative + adapt to change.
  • Everyone is creative, but our creativity is hidden in uncertainties + the quietness of life... a space we don't often enter.
  • Creativity, like gratitude, is a discipline. Embrace the choice to be creative like you embrace doing other difficult things.
  • When asked "Who here is an artist?" Every hand goes up when we're kids, very few as adults. Why? Hear Erik's answer.
  • "Let go of the idea that we 'earn value' through how we perform on paper, what college our kids go to, what car we drive."
    • How do I pivot into this? Look at your life + values. Are you living a life of success or significance? Does your calendar reflect your priorities?
  • Art is an exploration of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Can I get out and dance with my wife and not let the critics or my own internal voice of judgement stop me from the enjoyment of moving with someone I love?
  • How do we encourage the next generation to hold tight to their crayons? Commission your child to create. While doodling, they're thinking expansively + problem solving, not for a grade.
    • "Paint a picture of what you want to be when you grow up, and I'll take you for ice-cream... Write a poem about how much you love your mom, and I'll take you to a game."
    • Ask questions about your child's creation. It gives you insight to who they are.
  • Spontaneity is a mini lab to practice living present in the now.
  • Follow Erik at
  • Demarius "found" Erik's first geo-cached painting. 
  • Erik dedicated his books Unthink and The Spark & The Grind to his wife and business partner, Tasha.
  • For those of us enduring a trying season in our marriage, what would you say? Focus on why you got married, to: Lift each other up, help your spouse become the very best, become better as two then we could be as one. You entered into it with excitement, love and lust; revisit those emotions. 
  • It's how you act and react to bumps in the road that defines your marriage.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? The Soul of Money by Lyn Twist. It changed my relationship with what had been a dominant identity for me.

2. Tomorrow you discover your wealthy uncle shockingly dies at the age of 103; leaving you millions. What would you do with it? Decreasing my wants and needs has been the most fiscally conservative policy I could have taken on. We'd use it to give to others; build traction for someone else's vision..

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? One of my wife's photo albums because I know how much she would want those and I want to see her face when I come out with it in hand!

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? St. Francis of Assisi, he came from a life of privilege and chose a life of connectedness. I'd want to talk with him about that transition + experience.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Be present. 

6. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at age 20? Don't be so guarded around shaping your identity; you have no idea of what this future "you" will be doing in life... thinking you know is a recipe for challenge.

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?  Servant.


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I can’t wait to see you here next Thursday! Today is your day. Live Inspired.

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