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John  O'Leary

John O'Leary

Burn Victim, Author & Founder of Rising Above Programs


In 1987, John O’Leary was a curious nine-year-old boy. Playing with fire and gasoline, John created a massive explosion in his home and was burned on 100% of his body. He was given less than a 1% chance to live. Read More >

This epic story of survival (first showcased in 2008 with his parents’ acclaimed book Overwhelming Odds) has never felt more relevant than as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic together.

John inspires 50,000+ people at 100+ live and virtual events each year. He speaks to companies and organizations across industries, including: sales, healthcare, safety, marketing, finance, faith, education, and insurance.

Consistently described as “the best speaker we’ve ever had,” John receives nearly 100% of his engagements from referrals. His schedule is a testament to the power of his message; his emotional story-telling, unexpected humor and authenticity make each presentation unforgettable.

John’s genuine, collaborative approach to partnering allowed him to understand early that clients’ biggest pain point in the wake of the fallout from the pandemic is team “burnout.” To address this, John expanded his Live Inspired Coaching program to bring his keynote from inspirational to transformational. Early successes in the program have clients saying their teams are more focused, collaborative and engaged than ever.

John is a two-time #1 National Bestselling author. His first book ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life has sold 250,000+ copies and been translated into 12 languages. IN AWE: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning and Joy published in May 2020 with many saying it is the message we all need right now.

John’s award winning Live Inspired Podcast has more than 2.5 million downloads and enjoys world-class guests like Brené Brown, Mitch Albom and Shawn Achor.

John considers his greatest success to be his marriage to his wife Beth, their four children and his relationships with friends and family. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Speaking Reel

Sales and Business Keynote Clips

Faith Keynote Clip

Speech Topics

The Power of One: How One Attitude, One Action & One Person Can Change the World

Expected to die, John O’Leary now teaches others how to truly live. Read More >

John was a curious nine-year-old boy. Playing with fire and gasoline, he created a massive explosion in his garage and was burned on 100% of his body. Given less than 1% chance of survival, John is proof of the power of the human spirit.

His unlikely recovery meant a journey of pain and loss that could have easily been insurmountable. However, far from being an example of someone who simply endured tragedy, John is a luminous example of thriving through adversity.

Surprisingly, this “survivor” story isn’t focused on John – rather, it is a celebration of heroes who intimately served him and his family. From a dedicated Hall of Fame sports announcer to a visionary burn nurse (and countless others), every individual involved in this 1987 fire teaches us this truth: one person can make a profound difference in the lives of others.

With emotional storytelling and unexpected humor, John reminds audiences of the significance of daily attitudes, the power of gratitude, and the impact of serving others with courage. He reawakens audiences to realize the gift of today and the possibility of tomorrow.

John is consistently referenced as “the best speaker we’ve ever had” – earning five star reviews and inspiring 50,000+ individuals at 100+ events each year. His book, On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was an instant #1 national bestseller, has sold 100,000+ copies and has been translated into 12 languages. Read Less ^

On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite Your Radically Inspired Life

We live in a world where “accidental living” – mindlessly moving through routines, wasting countless hours on social media, or complaining about what’s wrong in our jobs, families and society – has become the norm. But John O’Leary reminds us that just because we got out of bed this morning, does not mean that we are truly living. Read More >

What would our day, impact and output look like if we lived a radically inspired life, every, single day?

Living radically inspired means you learn from past mistakes, rise above challenges and thrive no matter the circumstances. No one embodies this more than powerhouse inspirational speaker John O’Leary – who was nearly killed in a devastating fire at age nine. Today, John inspires 50,000+ people each year around the world.

In his #1 national bestselling book ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, John has identified choices to transform your life and business.

John shares the critical truth that “inflection points” – moments in time that change everything that follows – occur daily. John will help you realize it’s your choice how inflection points affect you. Your life has much less to do with what happens to you, and much more to do with how you react to it. Are you ready to live on fire? Read Less ^

Be the Light: How to Follow Your Calling to “Be Light” in the Modern World

It is easy to feel like we are living in a period of darkness, with the current global tensions, political unrest, fragmented communities and intensifying violence. Read More >

Be The Light reminds us that light pushes back darkness, love destroys evil, God still reigns and the best is yet to come.

Most importantly, we’re reminded that as Christians, we are called to be the light. In his keynote, John shares 8 keys to empower you to fulfill this calling.

No one understands the importance of having light in a dark world more than powerhouse inspirational speaker John O’Leary – who was nearly killed in a devastating fire at age nine. Today, John inspires 50,000+ people each year around the world.

John’s poignant storytelling is a blend of emotion, humor and authenticity. His faith testimony beautifully illustrates the power of prayer and God’s presence during our times of greatest challenge. Read Less ^

Sales & Business

Today’s business environment has more challenges than ever: budget cuts, declining employee engagement, and the pressure to increase financial goals. John empowers audiences to shift perspective, increase individual and team accountability, and embrace a culture of abundance rather than scarcity. His keynotes have dramatically affected the personal and professional lives of business men & women – and the bottom line.


As a former trauma patient and hospital chaplain, John is a popular speaker choice for hospital systems, healthcare associations, and medical/EMS conferences. He understands that the healthcare profession demands individuals who are dedicated to serving patients and families, often with limited resources and exhaustive schedules. John will reignite participants’ passion for their healthcare careers.

Insurance & Finance

John and his family have experienced the incredible impact proper financial and insurance planning can have. John’s father, Denny, has been living with Parkinson’s disease for the past three decades. It is Denny’s disability insurance policy that has sustained his family’s standard of living. Additionally, their family has also rebuilt after two separate house fires. John is a favorite for client appreciation events, regional / national meetings and recognition events.


John has shared his message at administration conferences, student assemblies, and professional development / in-service workshops. John inspires audiences to fully realize the possibility of how one can serve, love and impact more profoundly. John’s message celebrates individual uniqueness, the power of everyday heroes, and the need for character and integrity. John’s message may be the most important gift your students, faculty, and staff receive this year!


As John O’Leary so intimately knows, one poor decision can dramatically affect the rest of your life – and also your family, organization, and community. Read More >

Leading with a vision of eliminating all employee accidents, John challenges audiences in manufacturing, construction and utilities to improve their safety through personal accountability – one employee, one decision at a time. While many safety programs focus on what NOT to do, John focuses on what TO DO to cultivate a safe work place, lead and thrive in life. Read Less ^


Today’s world can seem so dark. All too often we are reminded of the pain and disappointment in our everyday lives. Faith doesn’t guarantee the avoidance of adversity, but it does share the truth that a loving God suffers with us in our pain, celebrates with us in our joy, and invites us into an eternal relationship with Him. Read More >

John O’Leary illustrates the incredible power of love, gratitude, forgiveness, purpose, courage and resilience. This program will empower you to shine your light of faith for all to see! Read Less ^


“John did an outstanding job captivating the hearts and minds of our attendees…at the business and personal levels and his talk was the highlight of the weekend.” – National Association for Electrical Distributors. Read More >

John has reinvigorated association members in all industries – he will share the intangible values of connecting with like-minded professionals, being part of something more and the truth that the best is yet to come. Read Less ^

Direct Sales / Network Marketing

Tastefully Simple CEO Jill Blashak Strahan has this to say about having John speak at her annual sales conference, “Our consultants are viewing their business and lives in ways they never have before. John touched our souls!” Read More >

John was also a hit at the Scentsy annual fall Family Reunion for 8,000 attendees. In fact, he was immediately booked for the Scentsy leadership conference in January. John will reignite your consultants’ passion for selling and your vision for what is possible. Don’t miss this chance to set your business ON FIRE. Read Less ^