RECAP:  Zeigler University Guest Speaker Series Kicks Off 2021 With John O'Leary


The highly sought after motivational speaker, John O'Leary kicked off Zeigler University Guest Speaker Series for 2021 earlier this month. On January 19, O'Leary spoke about his life story and how he used it as motivation to keep going even during the most difficult times he has experienced.

During two sessions, the two-time National Best Selling author went into detail about his journey from a 9-year old boy that suffered a terrible accident that lead to 100% of his body being burned to the man he is today. One of the most compelling parts of his story was his relationship with St. Louis Cardinals announcer and Hall of Famer Jack Buck, whom played a huge role in keeping him motivated during his recovery when doctors gave him just a 1% chance of survival.

It was no doubt a powerful session that left many reflecting on their own lives and how they could take charge of it, especially during difficult times. Read a few thoughts from Zeigler team members that were part of the seminar below.


"I am very thankful to have had the chance to listen to our most recent speaker John O'Leary. His powerful words and story brought a tear to many eyes in the room.  The biggest take away was, that true joy and contentment come from gratitude and a positive perspective", said Kerrie Gradisher, corporate recruiter and trainer for Zeigler Auto Group.

"John O'Leary was simply fantastic.  I've never seen such a response after a guest speaker.  After the morning session, I was lucky enough to share some tears and invest in some unprompted time with my teammates.  We discussed John's story, as well as how we could shift our own perspective.  It was also a privilege to watch the recording again with my family.  The hugs from my wife and kids that night were a little tighter and lasted just a moment longer.  I am truly grateful and looking forward to discovering what more I can do!" - Dick Barker, Brand Performance Manager at Mercedes-Benz of Hoffman Estates

"I wanted to thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts, I do enjoy the guest speakers and feel every single one has an amazing story to tell, however John's story touched me very deeply. Not knowing his story at first, he tugged at my heart with his connection to his dad (I lost mine 4 years ago). As John told his story, I got so emotional on how GRATEFUL he was. His fathers strength, through his medical condition to still SMILE and be grateful, that is so powerful. As we wake up daily, I believe we all can take the little things for granted, like having all fingers, the ability to speak and walk. How beautiful that the O'Leary family, smiled and didn't let anything come between the beauty of LIFE. That everyday he woke up and appreciated the gift of seeing the sunrise (had me in tears). So easy for people to feel sorry for themselves and yet listening to his story, you can't help but think "WOW"! I have always been grateful for the little things, but now after hearing his story, I wake up and actually look out the window and smile," Nina Gewargis, sales and leasing consultant for Zeigler Auto Group.

As for O'leary, he had this to say about his session with Zeigler Auto Group employees:

"I don't know how many leaders you had on the two calls, but the engagement was seriously epic…. in particular considering many weren't even able to type in as a result of being in a training room!  Very inspirational - and a reflection of you and the culture you've helped build... Thanks for making my day - truly special. Stay on fire."


See Past Speaker Lineup

About Zeigler University

Zeigler University is an internal leadership and development program within the Zeigler Automotive Group organization dedicated to attracting, training, and retaining the best talent in the industry. 

The program includes one-on-one mentoring, strategic recruiting; and programs such as the Zeigler University Speaker Series with past celebrity guest speaker appearances that include Grant Cardone, Bill Rancic, PJ Fleck, and more.

Zeigler Automotive Group is one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the nation with 75 franchises and 30 locations in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Vehicle brands represented include all of the domestic and the majority of the imported manufacturers.

Founded in 1975, the company ranks among the top 1% of automotive dealers in the U.S., and has earned recognition for its commitment to both customer service and employee satisfaction. Recently, Zeigler Automotive Group was named one of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in Illinois and Michigan.