Motivational Speaker
Jonathan Sprinkles
Employer: Sprinklisms, Inc.

Position description:
Some people tell me I'm a motivational speaker. I travel the world, speaking to audiences about achievement strategies they can use to live an awesome life at work and home. I show people how to aim high, reject excuses and connect with the success and lifestyle they deserve. If all else fails, I just make stuff up.

Photo: Jonathan  Sprinkles
How They Got There
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Undergrad degree:  BBA Marketing

Favorite class in college:  Calculus 401K and 401L. There were only two classes, but I took them four times. Persistence!

College to career:  Upon graduation, I worked for 2.5 years at Dell Computers as a sales rep in their fastest-growing business division. It was wild! I had NO CLUE what I was selling to people, but I learned how to be confident when I spoke so people trusted me. At first, I was a terrible salesman, but I developed a reputation for being a hard worker (something I learned while repairing my GPA at UT). I was often there from 9 am to 7 pm, learning, watching and taking notes. Because of this, I moved up quickly and started making what I thought were the "big dollars."

I was making $80,000+ at 24 years old. I felt like such a baller!

The problem was, they refused to develop me outside of the monthly product trainings. I saw very quickly that this was going to lead to many more years in a cubicle, tied to a headset, staring at a computer all day. But the money was great. I had a pair of golden handcuffs around my wrist that kept me chained to my "good job."

I attended weekly Toastmasters meetings so I could learn how to be more articulate and persuasive in conversation and during presentations. I started a streak of winning blue "Best Speaker" ribbons that I posted in my cubicle. It didn't hurt that half of the club members weren't native English speakers.

Recruiting for UT gave me an insatiable passion for speaking to young people. I started spending my weekends talking to kids about staying in school and making good choices in life. The kids gave me honest feedback. They were quick to tell me when I sucked. But I was hooked. In time, I loved my "weekend gig" more than my full-time job.

In April of 2002, I prayed about when I should leave. A month later, I was gone. My boss said that there was no way I could make money as a speaker.

When I left, I thought he was right. Times were slow. Very slow. I started tapping into the money I had saved for a rainy day. It was POURING at my house! Had I made the wrong decision? Was my boss right? Was I just hearing things when I decided to step out?

Things eventually worked out.

The same guy who made C's in both public speaking classes, six years later, was voted National Speaker of the Year.

The same guy who was afraid to leave his job became a coach and mentor to other speakers.

The same who was told he couldn't make any money as a speaker was just hired by Dell to train their managers about leadership. And guess who was in the audience. I made more money in those two days than he did in a month!

The journey has made me humble and overflowing with gratitude. I thank God that I wasn't allowed to quit when I wanted to so the message can live on and influence future generations of Longhorns.

Career influences:  I was a student recruiter for the McCombs School of Business. After class, I would get on the plane with the Deans and go to cities such as San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. We had a great time, but I was dreadfully nervous every time I spoke. I tried not to show it, but I was beyond stage fright.

I learned how to use my nervousness to my advantage. I channeled it into a high-energy pseudo-comedy routine. The Dean's loved it and the parents and students enjoyed the breath of fresh air. Eventually, it got to the point where the Deans would do their thing, talking about the statistics, then say, "Now here's the star of the show..."

What they DIDN'T know was that, because I was over-extended as a student leader, my mind was everywhere but in the books. At the conclusion of the first semester of my junior year, I posted a 1.75 GPA. The so-called golden boy was one semester from failing out of college.

After a lot of doubting, feeling sorry for myself and negative self-talk, I decided to really live by faith, not just talk about it. I became a passionate student of personal development and achieving our human potential. My studies led me to a series of "productivity principles" that, when I applied them, altered the course of my life forever.

One notable change happened when I began to seek out people in class who wanted to excel, not just those who were popular. It was my first time ever fully relying on people of different ethnicities and nationalities to pull me out of the hole I dug for myself.

I quickly discovered what I had been missing because of my blinders. I realized that UT was full of cultures that I had previously overlooked. Once I embraced all that was in front of me, I fell in love with all that UT had to offer in this area.

To make a long story short, I made some life-long friends, made the Dean's List two of my final three semesters, and was awarded the two highest honors given to any student leader at UT.

It was the worst-best thing that ever happened to me.

I use my story to inspire students and professionals who can identify with having to create a comeback in life. My experiences at UT are at the heart of my message reminding people that anyone at any time can change.

"All things are possible to him who believes." - The Gospel of St. Mark

The Ups and Downs
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Pros:
  • People pay me very well to travel the world and see gorgeous places I probably wouldn't have otherwise.
  • I love getting letters, Facebook posts and Tweets about how my message has positively impacted people. When someone tells me that my talk or one of my books helped them change their life, it gives me an unparalleled sense of enjoy. I am 100% positive that I get to live my God-given purpose every day.
  • No two days are the same. I have a very dynamic schedule. I may stay up working until 4 am on a project one day if I'm in a zone, or I may decide one afternoon to sit on a couch and watch reruns of "The Office" while eating a big bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.
  • I am working daily toward a vision that is bigger than I am. It takes different skill sets to do this on a high level, so I have to push myself to get better. It is impossible to get bored or feel stuck in a rat race. There is always a new project that will stretch me and provide the rewarding feeling of providing new ways to add value to the lives of the people I serve.
Cons:
  • Public restrooms in airports.
  • I am a pretty high-energy guy on stage, so I sweat a lot. I go through shirts like Octo Mom goes through diapers. I swear I am paying my dry cleaner's kids' way through college.
  • It is very difficult to maintain strong relationships because I'm rarely in one place. Very few people can relate to the pressures and responsibilities I see on a daily basis. I often hear, "People make time for what's important to them," but it's not always that simple.
  • I don't like telling people what I do for a living. People have some weird reactions to meeting a motivational speaker. They either expect me to be happy and perky all the time (I'm not) or they say something really dumb like, "Well let's see if you can motivate me right now!" I tell people I deliver pizzas for a living.
  • Although I speak to big audiences sometimes, 90% of my life on the road is spent by myself (see the movie "Up In The Air" for details). Life on the road has its drawbacks. Airport traffic, poor food choices, and even occasional loneliness. It takes a lot of mental toughness to do this at a high level without losing your focus.
  • Being in the public spotlight is a trip. Technology has afforded us the opportunity to voyeuristically peek into every aspect of the lives of people in which we have an interest. There is a fine line between "keeping it real," being fully transparent, and pouring too much of yourself out until you have nothing life. My #1 inspiration is serving people, so I love being there for the people who appreciate what I do. But it can become all-consuming, event to the point of imbalance. It is impossible to burn out that which you love most.
  • Dave Chappelle once said, "Not even part of your life can be for sale." I have had to learn the hard way to draw lines between my "public persona" and my "private self." There are times when I am "on" and times when I allow myself to turn "off." This way, I can recharge and have more to give when I am back to doing what I love.


Recommendations
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5 quick points:
  • Get the best grades you possibly can. While your GPA won't fully reflect your intelligence level, it does reflect your ability to stay focused. Let that number be something you celebrate and want to share with your family and future generations. Set a new standard of excellence. Stretch yourself. Don't settle!
  • Make friends with the nerds. They tend to do rather well in life (ie. Microsoft, Google, Facebook). They get braces, contacts... and private jets!
  • Develop a reputation for working hard. Being smart, witty, or well-liked isn't enough. Not nearly. When the money is on the line, all of that stuff won't matter. The one thing that will make you an invaluable asset to your company or organization is being a person who gets the job done. Kevin Durant (UT basketball phenom) credits much of his success to the words of his mentor who told him, "Hard work will always beat talent when talent refuses to work hard." All else being equal, the hard workers always stand tall above the rest of the crowd.
  • Don't expect UT to find your purpose for you. UT's job is to provide you with a quality education and expose you to opportunities to use it in the real world. That's it! If you are expecting a school to show you why you were put on Earth, you're looking in the wrong place. Jim Rohn said, "Your formal education will make you a good living. Your self-education will make you a fortune." It is often the books that you read OUTSIDE of class that have the biggest influence in the directions you will take in life. Eighty-five percent of the memories you retain from college will come from experiences outside the classroom. Don't cheat yourself. Be curious. Keep asking big questions and you will get big answers.
  • Give. I don't mean give back. Just give. Find your unique way to make the 40 Acres a better place. Start a new program. Improve an existing organization. Pick up a piece of trash when you see it on the ground! It's no secret. UT is a big school with a lot of moving parts. Anybody can sit back and complain about what's wrong. But most people won't take the time to develop a solution. We need people who are willing to step outside their conveniences and make the CHOICE to be difference-markers on campus.


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