Juan O’Quinn

Survivor, Mental health, Self-Leadership in Life, Never Giver Upper

Juan O’Quinn is the living proof that anyone can overcome just about any obstacle to achieve his/her goals. In grade seven, Juan O’Quinn was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, a disorder that involves repetitive movements and anti-social behaviour. Juan O’Quinn was unable to pay attention or sit still for longer than ten minutes. Juan O’Quinn was often mocked, made fun of, and made to feel “different” from his peers. Yet with the assistance of family, Juan O’Quinn forged his way though school with his “Never Give Up” attitude.

During high school, he managed to get into the reserve army. He still struggled. As an enlisted soldier, he had the support of his fellow troops who did not care about the grimaces or ticks. Soldiers do not fight for politicians they fight for each other. Some knew about his disease, but Juan kept it from his commanders who would not have understood. This secrecy tore at his soul at times, but through his fighting spirit and continuing to dream big, he heard the call of a different drum, literally.

Juan then pursued his dream of becoming a record producer and getting his band, made up of lifelong friends, a record deal.  He ignored the naysayers, moved across the country to Vancouver and convinced the five-man band, The Young Saints to move with him.  He promised them he could help them secure a record deal.  After years of hard work and sacrifice the band managed to secure a record deal with Polygram Records and even received a Juno nomination.  One of the first Rock bands from Newfoundland to do so.

Juan then moved back to the East Coast to pursue his education where he got his BA from Memorial University and a law degree from Dalhousie. For a person with Tourette’s this is almost impossible. He lived as an older poor student and sometimes did not have enough money to eat properly. It was his “Never Give Up attitude” that got him though.

After years in private practice in Newfoundland in 2010, Juan moved his family back to British Columbia to the Okanagan Valley where he then built a successful firm specializing in Family law, Criminal Law and Civil Litigation and was then recruited to work for the British Columbia Prosecution Service.  Throughout his life, his friends told him, he would fail. Juan’s response was yes, I may fail, but “I am not a failure”.

During his years as a prosecutor, he was diagnosed with Cancer but fought it and won.

Juan’s story is one of perseverance and encouragement. His massage is: “find your passion and never quit”. Although he had suffered through many years of others telling him that he would fail, that he was not smart enough, he never gave up. Juan feels a responsibility to share with others his struggle.

Despite what life throws at you, we owe it to ourselves to be the best us we can be. And to get up every day and fight every battle. The victory is not in the winning, its in the fighting.

As a speaker, Juan will motivate audiences to not be afraid to fail, afraid to risk, afraid to face adversity. Juan’s inspiring story is “no matter what your challenges are they can be overcome”.  To be successful, you don’t need to be the smartest person; you don’t need to come from a wealthy family; you don’t need to be perfect. You will be bruised sometimes but you can still achieve whatever you set out to accomplish.

Topic Presentations

In this inspiring presentation, audience members will learn about the importance of the power of individuality.  Each of us has talents, qualities and competencies enough to enable us to succeed.

Whether you have a disability or not, courage will ensure that challenges will never stop you in your tracks. Adopt a “never give up” attitude and face adversity head-on.

Juan will cite many stories where he suffered setbacks and give audience members insight on how to learn from our mistakes. Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial; Juan teaches us to be resilient and tough-minded. Above all, audience members will end up believing in themselves to become warriors and champions.

How we must learn from our setbacks? This powerful presentation equips us to be our own superhero.

In this keynote address, Juan reveals the ways and means to re-discover yourself and the vital link between this and the importance of maintaining mental health.

We all know about the pressure that society puts on all of us to fit in, to be like everyone else, to look the same, to own as much stuff as we can and to define ourselves by our buying power. And that this pressure often prevents us from determining who we really are. It clouds our ability to see what is truly important.

The best and most effective way to maintain or regain your mental health is to understand who we really are. This failure to identify who we really are leads us to devaluing ourselves, low self-esteem and other mental ailments.

Juan’s message applies to both individuals and organizations.

Juan teaches us to pay attention to our hearts, our body and your spirit. How important it is to forgive yourself for your mistakes? He explains that ultimately your success depends on how well you know yourself. And, subsequently, how much you believe in yourself. How important it is to be good to yourself? What does this mean?

Juan will provide examples from his life and enlighten us on how his life-lessons can help each and every one of us. He will strip it down for us and assist us in becoming happier, healthier and mentally wholesome.

In this presentation, Juan discards old thinking about disabilities and introduces us to a whole new world.

Many people suffer from a disability, yet they are contributing members of the community both in the workplace and home. What’s the value of hiring someone with a disability in your place of work?  Audience members will be surprised at these answers.

In one way or another, everyone suffers from a disability. Yet we are all entitled to every opportunity to succeed. Too often disabled people are overlooked. Given an opportunity and right encouragement, all employees whether or not they are disabled, can achieve wonders.

Juan will give numerous examples of how he was given the chance to succeed, even though he had Tourette’s. He thrived and surpassed even the most skeptical.

All you need to do is to give persons with disabilities a chance. Juan’s message is powerful and true. Look for the abilities rather than disabilities.

Juan makes us see the value on inclusion in our workplaces and in our society.

This presentation talks about the changing landscape of our country and the value of creating a society that includes racial diversity, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

How important it is to provide access and equality to different groups? How do we eliminate gender and racial prejudice and the bias that exists towards disabled people? How do we make these people feel welcome?  If we don’t those with disabilities feel devalued and ostracized and people of color feel left out. What about our Indigenous people?

Each and every one of us is the same way. We want success and a recognition for our contributions.  Own deep we are all “one life, one heart and one spirit".

In this lecture Juan will talk about Leadership and how it is more than just saying you’re the boss. It about setting an example for those who work for you and with you.  It about showing those in your life who you love that you may get knocked down but you must get back up every single time.  It about doing rather than saying.

Leadership is about treating those at the margins of our society with compassion and kindness.  It is about being there for our children even when they fail or make bad decisions.  It about passing on the accolades to those we work with yet shouldering the blame when necessary.  It’s about helping others identify and reach their goals.  Juan will provide examples from his years in the army and the time spent helping his band get a record deal how leadership is about being accountable to those you lead.

Most of all, audience members will learn how leading from the front commands respect and fosters teamwork, responsibility and individual initiative.  Juan is living proof that Leaders are not born they are built and you too can become one.

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