Life is full of challenges. But it’s how we navigate those challenges and carve our own path in life that will ultimately determine our success.
During my presentation I share my own personal journey including difficulties growing up in a trailer park with a disabled sister, the unexpected passing of my mother, returning to art after 10 years of not drawing at all… and, of course, how one idea – to use my artwork to help others and raise money for charity – changed my life and led to me working with some of the biggest superstars on the planet.
It has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and I share the most important lessons that I’ve learned along the way. The good, the bad, the ugly… while delivering a message of hope, inspiration, and how the power of determination, selflessness, and a positive mindset can unlock a life of fulfillment and happiness.
And that’s a message worth hearing.
I’ve been fortunate to speak at a lot of schools over the past few years. There just something special about connecting with kids and delivering a message of inspiration that, with hard work, determination, and perseverance, there’s truly no limit to what they can achieve.
Each visit starts roughly the same way: a bunch of kids staring at me wonder who the heck is this guy?! Then, I start by showing a video of working with folks like Russell Wilson, Eddie Vedder, Macklemore, and others, and the mood completely changes! Suddenly, I’m cool! And now the kids are really interested in what I have to say! 😂 Thanks Russell, Eddie and Macklemore!!
I recently spoke to the students at Northeast Tacoma Elementary. The room was filled with kids over three separate sessions and, as always, the kids were amazing!
After the talk, there were quite a few kids that want to meet, ask more questions, get pictures, etc. And it’s so amazing to see how excited they are to tell me about their own artwork! As the students returned to their classes, I noticed there was one kid who stayed behind.
He told me his name is Errick, and that he has Cerebral Palsy (just like my sister, who I mention during the presentation). I don’t want to specifically share what we talked about, but I later learned that when he got home from school that day he was so excited to tell his mom about our encounter.
Funny thing is… I did the same thing when I got home: I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about this amazing kid I met.
It’s moments likes this – and kids like Errick – that let me know I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life.
And, even better, they’re making a positive difference in mine. 🙏
For me, success in’t just about what I accomplish in my life, but what I can inspire other to achieve also. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it’s a goal that I’ve set for myself.
I’ve received hundreds of letters from students, and it’s always wonderful to read their thoughtful notes about what they took away from our time together. It’s so incredible know that your message is well-received and made a positive impact on another person. Truly amazing. 🙏
I had the opportunity to speak to the students at Truman High School, an “alternative” high school in which each student attends for their own unique reasons (bullying, attendance issues, social challenges, etc). I was invited tell the students about my story and show them my artwork but, as I began to speak, I realized that I had an opportunity to deliver a message that was, ironically, less about me… and more about them.
We talked about dedication, perseverance, work ethic, entrepreneurship, having a positive attitude and, most importantly, helping others along the way.
As soon as I concluded, I was surrounded by a wall of students who wanted to get pictures, autographs and show me their art. I stayed and spoke with each student as we discussed their art.
I noticed a girl in the back who was too shy so a teacher brought her to meet me. I shook her hand and introduced myself, but she wouldn’t make eye contact. I asked her name, but no reply.
Then her teacher handed me her artwork. As I reviewed her drawings, I told her all the things that I really liked. She remained silent and continued staring at floor, but I saw that a smile began to emerge.
The next day I received an email from her teacher. Here’s an except: “Yesterday, she joined my voluntary book circle, made four new friendships as a result. This after nearly two months on campus barely (if ever) speaking a word to any other student.”
Wow. Reading those words made me tear up.
– Teacher, Truman High School