Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

Inc Magazine Top 20 Leader shares his personal, professional, and financial secrets.

  • Orrin Woodward

    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

    This blog is an Alltop selection and ranked in HR's Top 100 Blogs for Management & Leadership.

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Leadership of others begins in the Family

A Tribute to Denny Smith

Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 27, 2016

Today, Laurie and I headed up to Pennsylvania to see some of our best friends and to celebrate Denny Smith’s life. I first met Denny speaking at a conference back in 2006, his hunger to learn was evident from our first conversation, a conversation that would turn into a lifelong friendship. 

Rhino Leaders

Denny, Greg, Orrin, & Tony

Denny soon became a trusted confidante, one who could be relied upon to do the right thing because it was the right thing. He modeled the character, tasks, and relationships necessary for great leadership, leadership strengthened by mentoring with Greg Johnson. In many ways, the relationship these two formed reminded me of the partnership I have enjoyed with Chris Brady, built upon respect, trust, and loyalty.

Greg and Denny joined forces when neither one of them had a nickel to their name. Nonetheless, through the power of dreams, work-ethic, and persistence, these two forged an amazing lifestyle for their families. Denny, the muscular Marine, and Greg, the intellectual Ivy Leaguer, may have started in different fields, but they quickly united around the principles of the American Dream, a dream focused on life, liberty, and the pursuit of their goals and dreams.

These two men accomplished so much and their example has inspired thousands of others to do similarly. Needless to say, I am one of those countless others and one of my greatest joys was spending time with these two men, hearing their crazy stories of how they persisted, despite the pain of the process, to achieve their dreams. Between globetrotting around the world, living in beautiful mansions, and enjoying the time/money to spend with friends and family, these two experienced life like few others. 

Dreams, however, this side of heaven, do not last forever. For every person, whether rich or poor, is appointed to die. Death, in a word, is the great equalizer. Perhaps, no single event turns a person’s perspective from this life to the next faster than the loss of a loved one. Denny’s cancer and death caught all of us by surprise. To say we are going to miss him is a huge understatement. Thankfully, Denny was a Christian who knew his Lord and Savior and even though he enjoyed this life, he also prepared for the next one. I will miss Denny greatly, but I rest in the fact that I will meet him again. This is why I am going up to Pennsylvania, not to mourn, but rather to celebrate Denny’s life.

Denny seemed the picture of health, not only was he the poster-child of positivity, but he also regularly exercised and lived a moral life. Last year, however, he simply could not shake off a bad cough. I remember the day Denny and Donna picked me up in Philadelphia because we had scheduled a morning tour through Independence Hall. Denny and I both loved liberty and history so we did what we always did when we hung out – we laughed and learned. In reality, this was true anytime Laurie and I spent time with Denny and Donna, for both of these two loved to learn and laugh. This is what made them so special to so many.

Denny and Donna Smith

Denny and Donna Smith

Still, something was amiss, I couldn’t help but notice that Denny’s laugh ended in coughing fits. Finally, after practically prying it out of him – Denny never like to talk negatively about anything, especially himself – he admitted he was having difficulty shaking this “cold”. Donna said she had been on him to go to the doctor for over a month, but Denny, the tough Marine, believed he would beat it on his own. I took Donna’s side and asked Denny to get this checked out immediately. Denny agreed and we resumed enjoying the rest of the day.

Several weeks later, I received a call from Denny. He said the doctor had run test confirmed his cough was from an aggressive form of lung cancer and the odds did not look good. Denny’s attitude through all of this was amazing. He spent most of the phone call encouraging me! This is the type of man Denny was. He received bad news and yet he called to encourage me? Who does this? I asked Denny how he was doing and he said he was going to fight with everything he had. I told him if anyone could beat this, it would be Denny Smith, the tough as nails Marine. We prayed together and asked God to intervene for His Glory, no matter what the outcome. Denny then began the fight for his life, knowing, through his faith in Jesus Christ, he would win either way.

I have many great people in our leadership community, but what Denny accomplished the last 6 months of his life is amazing. Despite investing time to catch up with friends and family, undergoing exhausting chemo-therapy session, and endless hours researching lung cancer, Denny grew his community. Incredibly, while fighting for his life, he went CAB Coordinator, qualified for Operation Advance, and the prestigious Fun-in-the-Sun trip. In fact, the day before he passed away, he was in our hotel suite with 25 other guys. I asked Greg Johnson to give Denny a proper introduction because many of the younger leaders did not know his story. Greg’s introduction made many of them tear up as they realized what Denny had overcome to be there. Not surprisingly, Denny, although short of breath, proceeded to build the dream like few people can. He encouraged everyone to dream bigger and chase down the dream within the time each of us is allotted. 

In my mind, this moment perfectly encapsulated Denny Smith, the quintessential dreamer and doer, who refused to give up. He didn’t wait for life to happen but rather went out and made it happen. One may wonder why a man, so close to death, would share about the power of the dream, but I knew what Denny was doing and I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition.  While most people breathe without difficulty, they struggle to dream; Denny, in contrast, struggled to breathe, but dreamed without difficulty. Denny never stopped dreaming. This is his enduring legacy – Denny dreamed while others slept, worked while others recreated, and accomplished while others excused.

Later that day, he was admitted to the Cape Coral hospital and the following day Denny went home to be with the Lord. I know I speak for the tens of thousands of people Denny touched when I say – thank you, Denny, for teaching us how press toward the mark and leave it all on the field even to the last second. And I do mean the last second, for as the doctors hooked Denny’s body up to a breathing ventilator, his lungs shutting down from his lost war against cancer, Denny looked at his friends and family one more time and gave them a thumbs up. What a man and leader. Only a person who was sure of his destiny would, even at this crucial juncture, still maintain his love for others over himself.

This is why I love Denny Smith and this is why Laurie and I are traveling up to Pennsylvania to celebrate his life. If you knew or heard Denny Smith share the dream, I would love to hear how he touched your heart.


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Family, Freedom/Liberty, LIFE Leadership | 37 Comments »

RESOLVED to become a School Curriculum

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 13, 2015

ResolvedI am excited to announce that the 13 resolutions from my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE is being developed into teaching curriculums for the different age K-12. Director and Principal of the American Leadership Academy, Rob Brown, proposed a partnership between LIFE Leadership and himself to develop the curriculums for both charter-schools and the home-schooling markets.

After studying through the proposal LIFE Leadership agreed to support the project and help make the dream of reaching the next generation a reality. The results of this partnership promise to make a huge impact in the educational community. Here is a portion of the letter I received from Principal Rob Brown:

 I read Resolved  over Christmas holiday and the vision began to form in my mind of a rich leadership program unlike anything offered in an elementary or secondary educational format (homeschool included). We could adapt all the curriculum we already have and apply the Mental Fitness Challenges to our high school aged students. We could build daily leadership lessons based on the 13 Resolutions and teach them to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade!

I asked myself some questions: Why don’t we teach this? What might happen if we did? What if I had learned these principles as a kid? What difference would it make if tens of thousands of K-12 students were taught about their Purpose, Character, Friendship, Finances, and Leadership on a daily basis for their entire growing-up years?

Our Nation is in crisis, and it is our responsibility to fundamentally re-establish America’s greatness. The most effective way for us to achieve greatness is through living these principles with fidelity and teaching them to the rising generation. As we teach these principles to our children they will grow up living these truths, and our homes, churches, businesses, and legislatures will be filled with those that have the right tools and the courage to do the right things in order to preserve freedom for us, our families, and our friends.

Education is like weddings and funerals. Everyone does it and the market is wide open. Covey has over two thousand Leader in Me  schools and little home school reach. Resolved  has provided a superior vehicle. I have a framework for a step by step guide to make ResolvedSchools  a reality and teach leadership to achieve greatness in our homes and country. I will be creating this for my schools regardless, however, I know that by partnering together we can create a real Win-Win that could affect countless lives.


Rob Brown

Director- American Leadership Academy Gilbert Campus

It has been a joy to work with Principal Brown. He lives the resolutions on a daily basis and with his help, he took the principles of RESOLVED and explained them in way that resonates with students. If you have children (or know someone with children) in charter schools or home-schooling, then this book is the first part of a full curriculum to follow. The goal is to inspire the children to become resolution-centered leaders that make an impact in the world. Here is the introduction I wrote for the RESOLVED: Student Edition to be released later this year:


In 2011, when I wrote RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I did so to share the resolutions that had so radically changed my own life. The results of this labor of love have been nothing short of mind blowing. For within the first year, the book made the Top 100 All-Time Leadership book list and became the framework for the bestselling Mental Fitness Challenge Program.

Still, when Principal Rob Brown, of American Leadership Academy in Gilbert, Arizona, contacted me to discuss using the resolutions in RESOLVED to create an entire K-12 school curriculum, I was a little taken aback. Principal Brown had written to me:

I am the principal at American Leadership Academy in Gilbert, Arizona, a K-6 elementary charter school. As the name implies we are patriotic, leadership driven, and focused on academics. It’s the leadership part that drew me to this school. I love that we teach children the principles of leadership. When I was introduced to Resolved I was amazed at how simple and powerful each chapter was. I said, “What would happen if we taught this to kids!?!”

What would happen, in our opinion, is the students would accomplish private victories which would lead to public victories and then onward to leadership victories which, finally results in a legacy to pass on to the world. After Principal Brown, Chris Brady – CEO of LIFE Leadership, and I discussed the idea further, we realized that beyond just a school curriculum, RESOLVED – Student Edition is just the first, of many, books in a series that will eventually become The Children’s Leadership Library.

Rob Brown is not your average principal. The hunger to learn and the passion to teach is evident in everything he does. Indeed, the book you hold in your hands would not have been completed were it not for his drive to finish what he starts. Furthermore, I cannot think of a better person to partner with in spreading the power of resolutions to transform lives than a principal on the educational front lines. It has been a pleasure working with Principal Brown.

Finally, the principles taught in RESOLVED: Student’s Edition can help anyone at any age. Each section concludes with a workshop. That’s where the real power lies. Complete each workshop as you read. As you apply these principles you will gain confidence in making choices. You will really begin to understand the importance of the choices you make and how they will influence your life. I have taught for years that vision is tomorrow’s reality expressed as an idea today. It’s time to stop talking about education transformation and it’s time to start living it. This book has turned the dream into reality.


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family, Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership, Orrin Woodward | 69 Comments »

Wisdom for Families: Part II

Posted by Orrin Woodward on July 21, 2014

Here is Part II of Mike Hartmann’s powerful story of faith, hope, and wisdom. LIFE Leadership isn’t just our business built on purpose; rather, it’s our purpose built on business. Wisdom and truth cannot eliminate pain in this fallen world, but it does provide the perspective and perseverance to overcome instead of succumb to the challenges life presents. Unfortunately, in modern culture’s pursuit of happiness, many have forgotten that true happiness is an inside job, not an outside one. LIFE Leadership intends to change this one life at a time. Here is part II of one family’s life-changing story.


Orrin Woodward

“But, a word of warning: if you don’t go to battle, if you actually listen to him, if you actually allow Goliath to stop you from going to where you know you not only should go but you need to go, he is going to grow in strength and he is only going to become more relentless for the rest of your high school career and the rest of your life. If you think he’s bad now, I promise you this: he will only get bigger. He won’t get more powerful because he never changes: he’s only a sheet of paper and you can overcome him at any point of time. But right now is your opportunity. This is your moment in time. This is your opportunity to stand up to him and knock him square on his back so that you can prove to him, and more importantly to yourself, the man you truly are.

“There’s no shame how you were feeling earlier. That’s normal and totally expected. And I promise you this: there are probably many of your peers feeling the same way tonight because he’s trying to stop them too. Trust me and go to battle and knock him down!”

Spiritual Truth & Spiritual Warfare (and What was Really Happening):

Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God and He died for my sins. He completed all the requirements of God’s law when he hung on a cross at Calvary some 2000 years ago. After laying down his life after taking the punishment for my sins, He rose from the grave on that glorious Easter Sunday. And He provides me with everlasting salvation which has been given to all human sinners through His Grace.

The devil, who is very real and exists in our everyday lives, cannot take away Christ’s victory. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior have everlasting salvation. And there is nothing the devil can do to change that fact or take that away from us. But this is what he can do: he can steal the joy of our victory and he does it every day with those same tactics with which he attacked my son, specifically: doubt, fear, & worry.

Why would we listen to such an evil, self-defeating thought process? We’ve read it and heard it thousands of times: the fact that we are human beings is a miracle all by itself. The fact that we live in North America in the time in which we do is an absolute blessing. The fact that we were born or maybe we had the opportunity to immigrate to United States of America and live here is nothing short of incredible. And in spite of these facts, so many trade-in the greatness of what we can truly achieve at any moment in time for the lies that the devil sows in our heads which hold us back each day.

As a father, I felt incredibly blessed to have been able to share the leadership lessons that I’ve learned through the association of Life Leadership and its personal development material (specifically, lessons were taught through the following sources: Self Talk by Orrin Woodward & Chris BradyGoliath is Calling by Orrin WoodwardA New Label by Bill LewisThe Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz, the All Grace Outreach subscriptions, and countless live speeches and testimonials). Without the books I’ve read, the CD’s I listened to, and the association of the great friends & mentors (Marc Militello) I’ve gained through this incredible journey, I would have only been able to respond in my original authoritative “because I said so” style. And I would’ve forced my son to go on a trip without equipping him mentally on how to fix his thought process. He would’ve gone reluctantly, but he would’ve been overwhelmed with the doubt, fear and worry that was there to begin with. Ultimately, those forces (and my original mishandling of the situation) would’ve had a radically negative effect on his experience and our relationship.

The Victory:

Well this is how it turned out: Kyle went to battle with Goliath and knocked him flat on his back! Kyle started talking to himself during our conversation over the phone, repeating what I was coaching him on; repeating and believing the positive uplifting and encouraging message that we all should be repeating to ourselves each and every day. He got up that Sunday morning at 4:30, ate breakfast and went to church. By 6AM, the kids, including Kyle, were in the vans and trucks heading down to Tennessee. He spent a week away from his family, for the first time in his life, and he had an amazing experience! Kyle loved it and made a ton of friends. He (along with the entire volunteer army from Keystone) helped make a huge difference in a family’s life and grew tremendously as a young man for the entire experience. Kyle learned skills of construction, he grew closer to Christ, and most importantly he learned the truth about Goliath: that he falls down quick and he falls down hard when you show the courage to stand up to him. As the old saying goes, the bigger they are the harder they fall.


Kyle (In Red) with his friend Griffin, just before departure.

In closing, I ask you the following:

  • What Goliaths are calling you and filling your life with self-depreciating thoughts?
  • What affirmations can you begin saying out loud to combat this merciless, yet truly powerless, foe?
  • What information can you tune into to prepare you for the battle?
  • Who can you count on to stand in your corner as an encourager in your life?
  • When will you begin?

Why not begin right now? Your brighter future is waiting. I’m cheering for you! Just like I did for Kyle. . .


Posted in Family, LIFE Leadership | 9 Comments »

LIFE Leadership: Wisdom For Families

Posted by Orrin Woodward on July 14, 2014

My good friend Michael Hartmann sent me the best message on how he applied some of the LIFE Leadership principles within his family.  This is another example of why I believe the true successes in LIFE Leadership are not just the people who reach LIFE Coach levels. Rather, the true successes in LIFE and life, are those who seek wisdom everyday to improve themselves personally and professionally. For when a person improves themselves, he/she makes life better for everyone around them.

In the early days, Chris Brady, Terri Brady, Laurie Woodward, and I, once we realized what an impact the leadership training was having within our small community, made a commitment to never stop learning and growing. Regardless of the size compensated community, we believed becoming a person of character was job one. Imagine the national transformations if everyone sought to gain wisdom like Mike and Tonya Hartmann have to become better leaders in all areas of life.

Do you have a story to share how LIFE Leadership products helped you respond with more wisdom than the scripts you learned? If you do please share them with me. Who knows, you might be the next story featured on my blog. This is Part 1 and I will post Part 2 later this week. What an inspiring story!


Orrin Woodward

The Mission

I have a hero in my life. His name is Kyle. He’s 14 years old stands 5’ 7” and weighs 115 pounds. Oh, by the way, he’s also my son.

Three weeks ago, Kyle was supposed to go on a mission’s trip to Copper Hills, Tennessee, through Keystone Community Church with the youth group and youth pastor. In a period of three months, Kyle raised over $300 in donations to cover his cost of his trip.

It was awesome to have Kyle find it in his heart to want to be part of a mission of higher purpose than I ever participated in when I was 14 years old. The opportunity to learn an incredible life lesson presented itself before the trip even began and is the inspiration for this blog. My profound respect for Kyle really comes from what happened the night before he left and how Kyle stood up to his greatest fear and how he learned a very valuable lesson that I’m sure he will carry rest of his life.

The Attack

I was out of town and leadership convention in Columbus, Ohio. My wife Tonya was with me but, due to an unforeseen circumstance, needed to leave early and was home Saturday night. I’m thankful that she was home because without her presence I don’t know how things might have turned out.

I called home at a break and talked with Kyle to see how he was doing. Tonya told me Kyle was really upset. He no longer felt excited about the trip. On the contrary, he was unsure of himself, trepid and anxious of the coming week.

I asked Kyle what was on his mind and out poured the unfiltered, emotion-filled dissonance:

“I’m quiet. I’m shy. No one talks to me. I have no friends. Please let me stay home. Please don’t make me go on this trip.”

Think back to time when you were 14 years old. That’s the onset of ninth-grade and, for all of us who survived those trying times of high school, you can probably empathize with how my son felt at this moment in time.

When feeling stressed, my natural reaction is one that was modeled to me from my father when I was an adolescent. Strict, straightforward, and blunt. There wasn’t much negotiation in the house in which I grew up. Maybe, some of the readers can relate to the“Because I said so” upbringing. This was my instant reaction:

“Kyle! You have been raising money for the last three months. We have been preparing for this very trip that entire time! The entire youth team and church leaders are expecting you to be there tomorrow morning. You need to suck it up, get a grip, and stop this doubt because you are going tomorrow. Make no mistake about it.”

Well, that went over as well as you can probably imagine. Kyle shouted back in the phone, “You don’t understand and you don’t care! I’m hanging up!”

And then he really did hang up.

The Turn Around

I immediately called back and Tonya answered the phone. My words were exactly this, “I think that went really well…”

To which Tonya replied, “What conversation are you a part of?”

I realized how insensitive and uncaring I was at that moment in time and asked to speak to Kyle again. While she was getting Kyle back on the phone, I meditated briefly and asked for wisdom & intercession, so that I would be able to share some of the leadership principles (that I have been studying for so many years) with my son to give him a different perspective and help him in his troubled time.

I started talking to Kyle and just offering perspective on what was truly happening here. I don’t know where you, the reader, may be spiritually, but here are some of our core family beliefs:

  • There is a God.
  • That very God created and calls each of us by name.
  • That we are meant for greatness.
  • That there are forces in this world that actively and constantly attack us and tear us down in order to stop us from achieving our true life mission and purpose.
  • Those very forces come out in full fury in the moments that we are about to accomplish some of our greatest achievements.

I shared the following conversation with Kyle to enlighten him on what was exactly was happening in his life:

“Kyle, you’re 14 years old and you are about to do something great. You are specifically going out to help a family in Copper Hills who, for whatever reasons, are living a life of poverty in this great nation. They need your help and it’s been on your heart for a long time to be part of this mission trip. What’s happening at this very instant is truly spiritual warfare. And you need to recognize it for exactly what it is: nothing more than a bunch of lies masquerading as doubt, fear, and worry.

“You see Kyle, you are about to accomplish something great. Something that you will look back on the rest of your life with pride and a sense of accomplishment, and the feeling and satisfaction of knowing that by your actions you made a difference in someone’s life.

“And what’s happening to you, right now, is you are under attack! These negative forces want to stop you dead in your tracks because they know that if you falter at this moment in time they will have secured a foothold from which to attack you and remind you of your ‘failure’ for the rest of your high school career and for the rest of your life. They want to prevent you from moving forward in a positive direction tomorrow and in the other opportunities you’re going to have in your future to make a difference.


“At this very moment in time, you are facing your personal Goliath. And he looks big, and scary, and mean, and he is launching his insults and doubts at you. Your Goliath is shouting his lies at you and he wants to stop you right now. And here’s the real problem:You are listening. You are listening to the voices in your head that are calling you out, that are labeling you as someone less than you really are; that are creating a distorted reality which appears intimidating and it’s creating fear. You’re listening to the voice inside your head and that voice isn’t you. That voice is tripping you up before you get your foot out the door to do something great.

“And I promise you this: You can beat him. You can go to battle you can face your Goliath. And you will win. I know because I had to do this many times in my life. And every person who walks the earth needs to do this on a regular basis if they plan on accomplishing greatness with the time they’ve been given.”

I paused to let what I was saying sink in. I asked Kyle if he wanted to learn how to turn this around. Through a quiet voice, Kyle told me he did.

“This is how you go to battle: You need to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. Action conquers fear. This Goliath is accusing you of being shy, of being quiet, of having no friends. He looks as if he is a giant and he’s intimidating. But I promise you this:Goliath is nothing more than a sheet of paper standing there with nothing behind his picture.

“You need to stop listening to yourself & start talking to yourself.”

“Kyle, you need to confront your Goliath. You need to be a man walk up to him and knock him over. And you do that by talking to yourself. You need to start using your mouth and your voice to silence his lies.

“Remind yourself right now that, ‘I am outgoing. I am funny. I make people laugh. People like to have me around.’

“Remind yourself how much your family loves you and that your mom and dad wouldn’t knowingly send you in an area that we knew would harm you. As a matter fact, I know only good will come out of this!”

“Kyle, start repeating those things out loud. That you are a winner. That you are a champion. That you have what it takes to go to battle and win! Kyle, you are 14 years old, a young man. You’re not a boy. And you’re not an adult yet. But God has placed you in our care so that we can help you along this battlefield and help you cross it successfully.

“I promise you this Kyle, from the bottom of my heart: If you choose to go to battle, you will defeat this Goliath and for the rest of your life you will remember tonight as the night where you learned one of the most valuable life lessons that you possibly can learn: You can battle Goliath and, when you do, you will beat him. Once you learn that lesson, your entire up-and-coming high school existence is going to be so much easier because this is so powerful.

“You can battle Goliath and, when you do, you will beat him.”

Posted in Family, LIFE Leadership | 31 Comments »

Chris Ashton Kutcher: Build Your Life

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 16, 2013

I recently received this video on Chris Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech. He spoke so truth in an age of lies and didn’t need hours to do so! We need more people learning, speaking, and acting on truth if we intend to build a life, not just live one. This is exactly what LIFE Leadership is – a way to build your own life! I was extremely impressed by what Mr. Kutcher had to say and encourage more people to have the courage to learn, speak, and act on truth. Here is a summary of his talk followed by the video.


Orrin Woodward

Chris Ashton Kutcher’s Speech Summary:

1. Opportunity – Opportunity looks like hard work. I have never had a job in my life that I was better than and I never quit my job until I had another lined up.

2. Sexy – The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, thoughtful, and generous. Everything else is crap, that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. Don’t buy it!

3. Living life – Something I just relearned while making a movie about Steve Jobs. Jobs said when you grow up you tend to get told that world is the way it is and your life is to live your life inside the world and try to not get into trouble. Maybe get an education, job, and family. Life is simpler when you understand that everything around us that we call life was made by people that are no smarter than you. You can build your own life that other people can live in. Build a life, don’t live one!

Posted in Family, Freedom/Liberty | 51 Comments »

This One’s For You Dad: In Loving Memory of Orrin H. Woodward

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 15, 2013

This Ones for You Dad: Loving Memory of Orrin H. Woodward

I was wrapping up my sophomore year of sports at LakeVille High School. Personally, it was another dismal year as I played baseball and struggled all season. (Later, I discovered my glasses were no longer the proper prescription for my severely degraded eyesight, making me as good as blind, but that’s a story for another day.) In sum, my two years of high school sports had yielded intermittent play on a winless freshman basketball team and benchwarmer status on the sophomore baseball team. I had earned my spot on the bench and my self-talk wasn’t helping. Simply put, I didn’t believe I measured up to the level of competition and I fulfilled my low expectations with amazing consistency.

Nevertheless, I loved athletics and when asked to participate in raising money for LakeVille’s sports programs I readily complied. For this particular year, the track coach had suggested a lap-a-thon contest, where people sponsor the athletes for the total laps around the quarter-mile track in an hour. Although I had never run a mile in my life, I felt I was in fairly good shape (since all I did was play sports when not in school) and set an aggressive goal to help the sports programs. Don’t ask me how I arrived at 30 quarter-mile laps in one hour, especially since I had never run more than 2 laps around the track in my life, but that was the goal I set. Further, I rashly proclaimed this goal to every person I asked to be a sponsor of me in the lap-a-thon.

In hindsight, this was not the best plan of attack. For every single person I asked to sponsor me laughed out loud when I told them I was going to run 30 laps. In fact, most of them degenerated into arguments (my people-skills were non-existent) as I told them unequivocally that they could count on me running 30 laps. This only increased the level of laughter and they sought to reason with me and my crazy goal. The comments from my friends ranged from, “Your crazy,” to “The track stars can barely do 30, so you certainly can’t” and finally “Orrin, you said you have never run a mile in your life, so quit embarrassing yourself by committing to run 30!” Dejected, I went home that day with zero sponsors, zero dollars raised, and practically zero confidence in my ability to run 30 laps.

Fortunately, I sought out my Dad’s thoughts on the unfolding saga and received a kinder albeit tentative response. When he was younger, my dad had been an excellent athlete in the army, promoted to be one of the first Green Berets. However, he cautioned me that running 30 laps with no experience would be a painful ordeal. If possible, he suggested I might want to shoot for a smaller goal. Looking back today, with time, experience, and as a dad myself, his advice was right on the mark. It truly was crazy for me to think I could run 30 laps, risking my health, pride, and peace of mind for this absurd goal. Nonetheless, when I explained to my dad how I had already committed myself to hundreds of people, reluctantly, he agreed to support my efforts. He even agreed to attend the lap-a-thon and time my lap pace to ensure I hit 30 laps.

With Dad on my side, I boldly returned to school the next day and announced to my classmate doubters that if they sponsored me and I didn’t run 30 laps, that they would not have to pay the cost of sponsorship. In other words, I would have to pay for everyone who sponsored me leaving me without money or my pride. With this disclaimer, practically everyone volunteered to sponsor me since none of them believed I had a prayer of running 30 laps in an hour without ever having run even a mile previously. I wrapped up the day with nearly $100 (perhaps not much today but around a million dollars for a broke kid!) in sponsorship dollars. Not surprisingly, I became the talk of the high school as people predicted how many laps I would do before collapsing.  In fact, the increasing drama led to higher attendance at the event so they could witness Orrin Woodward go down in flames. Even then, I tended to be a little polarizing. 🙂

With all the advance hoopla, I realized I should probably practice a little before the big event. Accordingly, the day before the race, I laced up my tennis shoes (that’s right, I didn’t even have running shoes) and ran one time up and one time down my street. This may sound impressive until one realizes that my street dead-ended after an eighth of a mile! In other words, I prepared for this grueling hour long run with a quarter mile jog. Yes, I was clueless on proper running preparation, but with only a day left, I didn’t think I ought to do too much. In truth, there was nothing I could have done to prepare my legs for the physical beating they would endure the next night.

My inexperience led me to make another huge mistake. For some reason I put on a pair of sweat pants underneath my running shorts. This forced me to run the entire race while wearing ridiculously sweatpants despite unseasonably warm weather with start-time temperatures in the mid 70s. Nonetheless, although physically unprepared, I was mentally ready. I took the verbal sparring of my friends as personal challenges which helped me focus on the task at hand. I reviewed each of the names on my sponsor list ensuring I remembered the names during the race. This allowed me to dedicate each lap to different people who sponsored me, especially the ones who told me (along with everyone else) that I would fail.

When the gun sounded, I quickly found a comfortable pace and settled into my routine. I even found a song that I played in my head (for the life of me, I cannot recall which one) and matched the beat of my feet hitting the ground. Lap after lap progressed without incident by dedicating each one to one of my many naysayers. The first 15 laps went flawlessly. I felt great and was halfway home with over 35 minutes to go. The two track stars (predictably) were first and second, but the buzz in the stands (probably fueled by my dad’s enthusiasm) led many to ask who was the kid in third place. I followed on the heels of the two track stars lap after lap as the gathering crowd cheered us on. Do divert myself from the increasing pain of each lap, I focused on how I would feel collecting the nearly $100 dollars from each of my sponsors for the sport programs. The second half, however, did not go nearly as well as the first half. In essence, it became a mental game of pain management, choosing to endure the pain of the laps over the pain of defeat.

The combination of running further than I had ever run before, in sweat pants that refused to release any heat, was debilitating. On top of it all, I barely drank any water because I refused to walk to drink and had no idea how to drink and run simultaneously. Thus, my body was severely overheated, dehydrated, and exhausted. Each added lap narrowed my focus to three options – collapse, quit, or continue. As I ran, I heard my internal voice practically screaming at me to quit and admit that my friends were right. Yet, somehow, deep inside I mustered the mental strength to ignore it, continuing to place one foot in front of the other. Another key was my memorized list of sponsor dedications. Their criticisms kept me going when nothing else did. It helped me focus past the immediate pain and onto the upcoming prize. In a word, I simply refused to let this dream die. Although physically beaten, mentally, I was winning.

I distinctly remember finishing lap 29. I was only one lap away from the greatest victory in my young life. Suddenly, from up in the stands, my dad yells at the top of his lungs, “Son you have under a minute left!” Upon hearing the news, my mind and body went to war. Should I just surrender, since its impossible to run a 60 second quarter in my current condition? Or, should I just sprint with everything I have since its crazy to come this close to a goal and miss? Thankfully, I had no idea how fast I could run a quarter mile so I resolved to unleash an all-out final kick sprint! Racing past everyone else on the track, I pushed my aching muscles and at-capacity lungs beyond the breaking point. I feared the gun sound any second, signifying the end of the event, and prayed it would hold off long enough for me to finish the last lap. Just imagine the joy I felt as I collapsed across the finish line for my 30th lap! I was so happy, yet so physically spent that I just laid there with my head facedown on the track wondering why the gun still hadn’t sounded the end of the contest.

The answer wasn’t long in coming. Laying prostrate on the ground, the track coach tapped me on the head, informing me that I still had nearly 4 minutes left. Apparently, the coach had chased me around the track, attempting to get my attention and tell me not to start my final kick. However, I was so focused that I didn’t hear him or anyone else for that matter. I rolled over onto my back and looked up into the stands, trying to understand why my dad had yelled out one minute left. Embarrassed, he explained later that, although the race was supposed to start at 7 pm, it was delayed and didn’t officially start until 7:05 pm. Somehow, my dad had missed the new start time and I lost five minutes on his time watch. My closing kick, in other words, began with 6 minutes to go. Undaunted, yet exhausted, I gathered my composure, stood back up, and proceeded to walk one final lap dedicated to my dad. 🙂 I finished the lap-a-thon with 31 laps and went home victorious, but more importantly changed. I learned a valuable lesson that night, namely, it isn’t what other people believe about your abilities that matter near as much as what you believe. Critics and nay-sayers will always be present in a dreamers life and must be used for inspiration and perspiration, not exasperation. Learn to use criticism as fuel and you will never run out of energy.

Speaking of energy, for the next week at school, I had to hoist myself up the stairs with my arms holding on to the handrail. My legs simply didn’t work. I could barely walk and couldn’t do the stairs without help. Even so, no amount of pain could deprive me of the self-respect I gained from following through on an audacious goal. Furthermore, the collection from my lap-a-thon sponsors was a treat as well. 🙂 That crazy lap-a-thon night was life-changing for me. Indeed, my remaining two years of athletics was drastically different than the first two years as I went on to varsity letter in cross-country, wrestling, and track both my junior and senior years. This culminated in winning the prestigious Garth Yorton award for best male athlete of my senior class. All from a kid who just dared to set a big goal and dare to follow through.

Remember, life is a series of test and no matter how many test one has failed, today is a new day to begin again. My dad and I discussed that lap-a-thon many times over the years. In fact, even after I was in college at GMI-EMI, I visited my dad at work and discovered many of his co-workers knew me as the son who ran the 31 laps. My dad passed away in 2001, but the memories we shared will never pass away. Indeed, hardly a day goes by without my reflecting the many lessons I learned growing up in Columbiaville, Michigan. Thank you dad for investing your time in me. Because you encouraged me to follow through, you had a front row seat in one of my defining life moments. For that I salute you and say – this ones for you dad!


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family | 34 Comments »

Absent Fathers

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 12, 2013

Dan Hawkins shares some sobering thoughts on absent fathers in this video. Dan and Lisa Hawkins are building a large community of entrepreneurs throughout the country. As a featured speaker on the Mental Fitness Challenge, Dan is making a difference around the world. Imagine if every dad learned the principles taught through the LIFE business and nurtured his children to dream and do. The gift of LIFE is given in 24-hour increments. The question is: What are we doing with our 24-hour gifts?


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family | 49 Comments »

Turn Rejection Into Energy

Posted by Orrin Woodward on December 1, 2012

In the tenth grade, near the end of the school year, LakeVille Schools had a Lap-a-Thon contest to raise money for the sports programs. Since I intended to play sports, I volunteered to gather sponsors who paid me based upon how many laps I could run. Having never run a mile in my life, I had no idea how many laps I could run. I have no idea what mental calculations I performed to arrive at this number, but I set my sights on 30 laps. Why a 16 year old kid, who had never ran in his life at that point, believed he could run 30 laps is beyond me! Furthermore, when all my classmates told me unequivocally that I would never run 30 laps, feeling I would be lucky to run half that many, it really upset me. Remember, its not the size of the man in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the man. The more they said I couldn’t do it, the more inspired I was to do it. I committed to all my sponsors that if I didn’t run 30 laps that they wouldn’t have to pay, leaving me with a serious debt to the school on behalf of my sponsors. Talk about having a strong reason why! 🙂 With no practice, outside an 1/8 of a mile jaunt up my dead-end street, I went to the track resolved to run 30 laps or die trying. Here is the video to explain the rest of the story. 🙂


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family, Fun | 44 Comments »


Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 2, 2012


Chris Brady did it again. For months, he kept a torrent pace of emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings to influence me on the importance of LIFE skills training for youth. The results of his efforts have blown us all away. The Edge Series alone is surging past 6,000 subscribers! In fact, many of the kids are earning the money and paying for their own subscription. How do I know this? Because anyone 12 years old or above can attend a LIFE event, and the amount of adolescent boys and girls attending seminars has increased dramatically. When I speak across the USA and Canada, I routinely have multiple boys and girls, dressed in business attire, tell me their story as they ask me to sign a book or their Edge Subscription.

Leadership and life skills are crucial in a person’s life. Why wait until after the school years to realize this? Why not give your kids an EDGE? The first EDGE is parents who model the right behaviors, and the second is the Edge Series delivered directly to the home of hungry kids wanting to learn the principles of success. Packed full of stories from the successful men and women in the LIFE business, along with exclusive interviews with top names in athletics and business, the Edge Series has become one of the favorite products in LIFE. What the Mental Fitness Challenge is to adults, the Edge Series is for youth. A huge thank you goes to Chris Brady and all of the speakers who have made the Edge Series what it is. Below is a video that describes the Edge Series.


Orrin Woodward

Posted in Family, Leadership/Personal Development | 44 Comments »

Chris Brady: A Month of Italy

Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 3, 2012

When Chris Brady called me last year and told me he was working on another book, that didn’t surprise me as he loves writing and has produced a series of wonderful books; however, when he sent me over a draft copy, I knew immediately this one was different. Chris, although certainly one of the top leaders in the personal development field is, in truth, difficult to fit into the typical leadership expert genre.  Indeed, because of his versatility developed through numerous experiences, innovations, and interests, Chris talents flow in so many directions – he’s artistic, witty, philosophical, humble, and the most creative person I have ever met!

Chris applies all of these qualities in writing this book. In fact, Laurie and I have toured Italy several times in my life, but we felt reading A Month of Italy was as enjoyable, if not more so, than us actually being there. How is that possible? Because Chris, through his creative writing style, gives you a seat in the Brady mini-bus as they tour the Italian countryside. In addition to the informative history and gut-splitting humor shared during the day trips around Italy, Chris will also have you pondering the finer distinctions in life, like the difference between the urgent and important, as you “experience” renewal within the context of the Brady family vacation. I laughed; I cried; I thought; but most importantly, I changed after reading this book. Below is Chris’s description of his new book.


Orrin Woodward

Italy Book pictureHave you ever felt overworked, overstressed, maxed out, and out of focus?

Have you ever needed a break from it all, and by that, I mean something more than a frenzied weekend or busy plastic vacation?

Have you ever had enough of your cell phone, emails, social networks, texts, and the like?

Have you ever felt like you were out of balance and needed some serious restoration?

Have you ever considered the fact that you could take a career break – a sabbatical – to allow you to clear your head and restore your focus?

Have you ever dreamed of traveling through the back roads of Italy and seeing the famous Tuscan countryside?

Have you ever wanted to sample Italy’s cuisine, sunsets, culture, art, architecture, and history?

Are you entertained by humorous narrative and adventure stories?

For anyone who can answer “yes” to even one of these questions, I am happy to announce that my latest book, A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation, is set to debut this July. For just a little taste, here is the dust jacket inscription:

What can possibly be said about Italy that hasn’t been already? Primarily, that you can enjoy it too! Refreshingly relate-able in a genre previously populated by wealthy expats and Hollywood stars, this book chronicles an ordinary family taking an extraordinary trip, and most importantly, paves the way for you to take one of your own! With hilarious wit and fast-paced narrative, Brady thrills with honest commentary on what a “trip of a lifetime” actually feels like, and most endearingly, he succeeds in convincing you that not only should you take a similar one, but that you will!  Within a few pages you’ll be visualizing panoramic Tuscan vistas and breaking open the piggy bank, laughing as you turn the pages and dreaming of your own escape.  This story is one of going slow in order to go fast; it’s about rediscovering and brining back into favor a lost art, namely, the art of vacation, and it is, or rather should be, a story about you.

Here are some of the early reviews:

“I was intrigued from the first sentence clear through the book! It teaches so many life and leadership lessons—about family, relationships, learning, improving, and becoming better. I’ll read it again and again, and I’ll read it on the plane on every vacation I ever go on.” – Oliver DeMille, NY Times best selling author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, Freedom Shift, and 1913

“A beautiful story and pivotal idea for a book!” – Richard Bliss Brookeauthor of Mach II, The Art of Vision and Self Motivation and The Four Year Career

“With humor, Brady guides you through heart-warming history, incredible beauty, the most gracious people, and of course, the world’s most delicious food and wine! After reading his entertaining work, you will be charting your own course to Italy.”  –Sharon Lechter, Co-author of Outwitting the Devil, Three Feet From Gold and Rich Dad Poor Dad

 “Extremely engaging and delightful – a well told story!” – Chris Gross, CEO Gabriel Media Group, Inc., cofounder of Networking Times.

 “This is a book every traveler should read and bring along in order to experience the best of Italy.” – Dr. Gaetano (Guy) Sottile, President and Founder, Italy for Christ, Inc.

“Witty, funny, and at points downright hilarious, but mixed with profound truths shared in a way that makes one pause and ponder.” – Orrin Woodward: Winner of the 2011 IAB Top Leadership Award

“A spell-binding lesson in learning how to live again, with real purpose. You can’t stop turning the pages . . . .” – Art Jonak, founder MastermindEvent.com

“I have never read a book that teaches so much while being this fun at the same time.” – Tim Marks, best-selling author of “Voyage of a Viking”

“This is the best work Chris Brady has written to date. If this is a vacation handbook, it has redefined the vacation experience.” – Venkat Varada, Silicon Valley Executive

“Vacationing truly is a lost art, and Brady poignantly and beautifully illustrates why it is so vital for driven leaders. A timeless treatise on ‘sharpening the saw,’ A Month of Italy is a book I will sip and savor, ponder and reflect on time and time again. Not only are Chris’s insights powerful and refreshing, but his vivid and witty writing is simply a pleasure to read. Reading this book is a charming vacation itself, and it will inspire you to vacation deliberately, effectively, and joyfully.” – Stephen Palmer, New York Times best-selling author of “Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America”

“In our hectic lives we are rarely 100% present in any situation. Chris Brady shows that with proper play time, our work time is so much more effective. He has freed my spirit!” – Jason Ashley, country singer/songwriter (Texas Songwriter of the Year 2008)

“Italy is unique. Moreover, it is a country where the traveler can en- joy the most various experiences. Chris Brady’s book has the ability, astonishing even for an Italian, to convey to the reader that variety, that richness of feelings, sights, perfumes, tastes . . . and people.” – Senator Lucio Malan, Senior Secretary of the Presidency of the Italian Senate

In early July, look for it in bookstores and online stores everywhere, and of course, here. I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Chris Brady

Posted in Faith, Family, Fun | Tagged: | 81 Comments »