Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Josh Sundquist Is Helping To Change Our World

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Leadership is lifting people up. Leadership is encouraging others. Leadership is recognizing the unique gifts in others and speaking life into those gifts. Leadership is providing a safe space for people to thrive in their uniqueness.

As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Sundquist.

Josh Sundquist is a bestselling author, motivational speaker, and Paralympic ski racer. He’s the author of five books and his life is the inspiration for the new television series, Best Foot Forward on Apple TV+. He also voices Frank Olivetti on the hit Netflix series, Mech Cadets. Josh’s videos on the internet have over 1 billion views. He is a former Paralympic ski racer and a member of the U.S. Amputee Soccer Team.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I had a pretty awesome childhood growing up in the Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Like most kids, I played sports and ran around the neighborhood with my friends and brothers. But at age nine, I was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma and given a fifty percent chance to live. I spent a year on chemotherapy treatments and my left leg was amputated.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

One of my favorite books that I read before entering high school was Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Even though it was written in the 1930s, I drew a lot of inspiration from his approach to business and relationships.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve made tons of mistakes. And mistakes are what help us grow. You can read about these mistakes and other embarrassing stories in my books, We Should Hang Out Sometime and Semi-Famous: Embarrassingly, A True Story.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

I’d love for kids who are facing cancer to be able to imagine a bright and joyful future for themselves. I hope that any child facing cancer or an amputation can believe that there’s a wonderful life ahead of them despite their challenging health circumstances.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Going to the Paralympics was one of the biggest thrills and honors of my life, but at the end of a day of skiing, but writing books and traveling the globe as a storyteller is my passion.

I hope that people are entertained and that they laugh out loud and want to read my books again and again with their families. And on top of that, I hope they walk away with a slightly different perspective on what it means to look or to feel different. I hope that families who have a child with special needs find my books relatable, and that families who don’t find that it broadens their perspectives.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve loved to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I even had a “radio program” that I would broadcast throughout our home’s vents when I was a kid. Since then, I’ve been grateful to share my stories and comedy on social media where my videos have been watched over 1 billion times.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Being a writer and executive producer of Best Foot Forward on Apple TV+ enabled me to help authentically cast an actor to play me on the series, which was inspired by my childhood. It was a fantastic experience to be part of this important process to impact disability representation in entertainment. We cast an incredible young kid to play me and I’m proud to say we’ve remained close friends.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Service, Quality Time and Love . We can all better serve the needs of others by loving others right where they are without judgment. Every day we walk out the front door of our home is an opportunity to encourage our neighbors. With my wife Ashley, I especially enjoy spending quality time talking with young kids and their caregivers who are facing a challenging cancer diagnosis or amputation and cheering them on. Each of us has the ability to make a difference — even just one conversation can change the trajectory of a lifetime. So many people have done that for me and I am grateful for the chance to do that for others.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is lifting people up. Leadership is encouraging others. Leadership is recognizing the unique gifts in others and speaking life into those gifts. Leadership is providing a safe space for people to thrive in their uniqueness.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t try so hard
  2. Have FUN
  3. Don’t try so hard
  4. Have FUN
  5. Don’t try so hard

I still need to remind myself of these things every day when I sit down to write, so they’re worth repeating over and over. It’s important to have discipline and writing goals, but it’s more important to learn from the journey. Enjoying the creative process can be a struggle, but having fun along the way is what makes life worth living.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

1MT1MT. This is the motto I wrote on the tips of my skis when I was training for The Paralympics. It stands for “One More Thing, One More Time.” It means doing one more thing than you wanted to do and one more thing that your competition is willing to do. We all have different meanings for “1MT1MT” and that’s what I love about it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Kevin Feige. He’s my hero. Kevin’s leadership and vision with creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly iconic — he’s changed the course of comic book storytelling and modern film production. I’d love to learn more about his storytelling process.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me online at

Instagram: @joshsundquist

TikTok: @josh.sundquist

Facebook: @motivationalspeakerjoshsundquist

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Josh Sundquist Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.