Andy Andrews has been hailed by the “New York Times” as someone who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America. His books have been translated into 40 languages. Four U.S. presidents have asked him to present as an inspirational speaker. He has worked with the Department of Defense, and some of the world’s largest corporations and sports teams. Learn how being homeless pushed him to become a voracious reader. This continual learning helped him create a new beginning. Today Andrews is at the top of his game inspiring others to do the same.

Q. A reporter of the “New York Times” described you as someone who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America. And Zig Ziglar said, “Andy Andrews is the best speaker I’ve ever seen.” Is that a meteoric rise in your opinion? And how have those comments fueled your career?

Well, the “New York Times” guy saying that I had quietly become one of the most influential people in America, I think quietly would be the key there. I’m not sure that’s true. I appreciated it when he said it, and I know why. I don’t really have a specific group that I speak to, or that I work with, or that I write for. It’s kind of across the board. And so, I’ve done eight years around the world with special operations [for the Department of Defense], worked with the Naval War College…

In this podcast, you will learn details on how Andrews has been tapped to inspire others. During the conversation, he also shares the tipping point for him to transition from comedy to becoming a best-selling author and public speaker.

Q. Will you share a bit about your lifelosing your parents and becoming homeless?

My parents died when I was 19. My mom died of cancer. My dad was killed in a car accident the same year. So, it was pretty crazy. I’ve always had the ability to take a bad situation and make it worse though, so I did. I made some moves that didn’t work out, and I ended up literally homeless. I was living under a pier on the Gulf Coast and in and out of people’s garages, which was not smart.

These devastating tragedies forced him into unbelievable circumstances. Through perseverance he found a way to rebuild his life — and we can too — by listening, having a thirst for knowledge, challenging the status quo, and reaching beyond what seems possible. This interview is like a short conversation with a life coach who has lived it all and is sharing so that we can learn. His story of discovery and befriending a homeless man (“Jones”) initiated a whole new thought process and discovery to take Andrews’s life to a new level.

At one point you said, “Is life just a lottery ticket or are there choices one can make to direct his future?” What are your thoughts on that now?

I believe there are definitely choices that somebody can make to direct their future. I think that the choices we make are determined by our thinking…I mean, consider the things that prompt your thinking in a direction. It’s usually something you read, something you see, something you hear, somebody you’re around. And so, we can choose how we think because we can choose what we read, we can choose what we listen to, we can choose what we watch, and we can choose who we hang around…

One of our [FiftyForward’s] key values is ensuring that every interaction, regardless of complexity, is met with kindness and empathy, giving hope to those who may be alone in this world. How might that ring true in your life?

I think how we treat each other will determine the future of our nation. That may not be a really encouraging statement to make right now, but I really believe that how we treat each other is critical to how we get along, how we are able to produce, [and] how we’re able to help.

In this interview, Andrews discusses the importance of continuous learning and the dangers of becoming complacent with what we already know. He underscores that wisdom comes from a deeper understanding of principles and encourages individuals to constantly seek knowledge and challenge their existing beliefs.

From individuals, he has met throughout his career while touring with Joan Rivers, Kenny Rogers, Chaka Khan, Cher, and Dolly Parton (and others) to how he has surmounted devasting real-world situations, Andrews talks candidly about his life experience. He touches on family, his inspiring books — including The Butterfly Effect — which came out of working with the Air Force on suicide prevention, an upcoming movie, and lays out his vulnerabilities as an inspiration to others. This interview and story reinforce that even at our lowest low, anything is possible if we reach for the stars.

This Squeeze the Day is brought to you by the All of Us Research Program from the National Institutes of Health. Learn how you can help change the future of health by participating in the program.
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