It isn’t every day that a person can mix a love of breaking things and encouraging others to becoming a motivational speaker, but that is exactly what Dean Johnson did. On Nov. 13, Johnson came and spoke to a group of students at Athletes in Action (AIA), an on-campus Christian group.
He began his speech with a video compilation of places he has visited and spoken at. The video included him breaking a pile of stacked cinderblocks in one swing, or taking cans and smashing them like they were clay.
In one clip, Johnson had two piles of cinderblocks on either side of him, piled six or seven high. He stood between the two piles and threw both his elbows down, smashing them in half like Styrofoam.
“I use feats of strength to capture people’s attention,” said Johnson.
While at Sonoma State University, he wasn’t able to set up as grandiose of feats, but after the video he did take out a phonebook, ripped it in half and threw the pages in the air to the enjoyment of the audience. He then took a frying pan and rolled it up into a cylinder and looked through it before passing it around for everyone to try to unravel.
After he concluded with awing the crowd, he turned his attention away from the physical feats and more to the talk. He read a parable about a son who took all of his money from his father and spent it all.
He became poor and had nothing, and at the lowest of lows, the son came back to the father to beg for any sort of forgiveness. In the parable the father sees his son from far off, runs to him and gives him food, clothes and treats him as though he had never left.
Johnson applied this parable to everyday life. He related that to how when people are at their lowest, God will be there to pick them up and help them. Johnson continued as to how by surrounding oneself with good people, that person in turn will become a better person themselves.
Johnson’s speech ended on an emotional note of talking about how many girls sell themselves selves short because they are looking for love. He talked about how girls today get hurt and broken from untrue love and bad relationships.
His technique of mixing encouraging words and examples of extreme strength seems to be effective so far. Johnson’s résumé includes visiting Cambodia every year to speak to people about the importance of trusting each other right. He talks to girls and women who are in prostitution there to give them encouraging words and urge them away from that lifestyle.
Here in the U.S. Johnson is currently the Oakland Athletics motivational speaker where he holds church services in the dugout and speaks at the team’s yearly Faith and Family Day postgame event. Before the Oakland Athletics, he had also spoken to the Seattle Mariners.
He also travels to prison yards across the country, journeys to schools around the Bay Area and speaks out about hardships to others. While at schools, he more often speaks to girls who have been in broken homes, or have been in abusive relationships.
Athletes in Action hope to invite more special speakers like Johnson in the future. To meet with AIA in the following weeks, come visit them Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the Cooperage.