Archive | April 2013

The Dakota Happiness Factor Tractor

kyle SD

The past couple days I’ve been in South Dakota speaking at a conference for 1,600 FCCLA students. It was a great experience; I spoke about effecting positive change, taking action, and being persistent to accomplish goals.

What took me aback, and what always seems to take me aback when I’m in South Dakota, is how genuine and accommodating the people of South Dakota are. I don’t think much thought is put into North and South Dakota by those who don’t live there; they fly under the radar, and to be honest, that’s why I wanted to write this blog post.

I think we can all learn something from South Dakota.

While most would agree that the weather in the Dakotas is not the most favorable and the population leaves something to be desired, there is a happiness factor in the Dakotas that is evident. I’m generalizing of course, but people in the Dakotas are consistently making the choice to be happy!

A student at the conference told me she was from a city with 14 people! I said, “Oh, so one of those one-stoplight towns you hear about?” She said, “Yeah…Except there are no stoplights.” Many people wouldn’t be very optimistic in this scenario, but to my surprise, she told me that despite the lack of people and attractions in the town, there were always things for high school students to do.

This girl has a great attitude.

Just for fun, I’m going to call this the Dakota Happiness Factor Tractor.

I think everyone should take a ride on the Dakota Happiness Factor Tractor. Not only is this descriptive of South Dakota in just about every way (seriously, there’s a tractor museum in Kimball, SD), it has a pretty nice ring to it too.

The courtesy and politeness the people of South Dakota show to complete strangers has made me feel at home there several times, and I’ve appreciated that very much.

We all should aspire to be happy as those in North and South Dakota do and allow that happiness to rub off on those we interact with.

Have you been to North or South Dakota? Do you think this is true? Leave a comment and let me know!


Wake Up Call by Kyle Willkom (Gag Reel)

Check out the bloopers from the release video!

It’s time for a Wake Up Call!

My book is officially available! Here is a short video sharing ways you can help me one more time. I am very passionate about getting this book into the hands of high school students across the country. Thank you for all of your support throughout this process.

How It Came to Be (Part 7 of 7)

The Story of My Book and Why I Chose To Write It.

Here we are. Tomorrow is the day. The time has finally come for me to share with you what I’ve been working on for the last year!

It is hard to believe that I am one day away from being a published author, a process that has been a string of events I could have never planned starting the day I stalled an airplane two years ago. I feel incredibly blessed to have an opportunity to make a positive difference in young lives, and I’m hoping that this book will be a Wake Up Call for students across the country.

Thank you for reading along as I’ve told you How It Came to Be. Some people call these experiences serendipity, where everything falls into place for a reason. I think I agree with the author, Sam Horn, when she says “Serendestiny” may be a better term to describe it.

I will be posting a video tomorrow, April 17, to share Wake Up Call with my family, friends, and acquaintances. My hope is that you all will share this video with your family, friends, and acquaintances to help me spread the word of the book and help engrain the leadership lessons within the book into the lives of every student in the country.

I am more excited than ever to release this book! Thank you for all of your support!

It’s time for a Wake Up Call!


How It Came to Be (Part 6 of 7)

The Story of My Book and Why I Chose To Write It.

The rest of the process felt as though I had rolled a snowball down a mountain. I said in an earlier post that “I thought” writing would be the hard part. Turns out everything is the hard part when it comes to getting a book to an audience: writing, editing, designing, publishing, marketing; none of it could be overlooked, and it all seemed a little more difficult after I kicked my coffee addiction.

I had asked my friend, Steve Novak, a shooting guard for the New York Knicks, to write the foreword, which he agreed to, and everything he had to say was incredibly humbling.

I was excited and nervous. The time had come to order my first book.

I’ll never forget the day that I placed the order. Please refrain from judging me when I tell you this, but it was 8 pm in the FOCUS Training office, I was the only one there, and I had Tupac on full volume. The feeling was surreal. I had worked on my book for over a year, and it was about to be a legitimate, physical copy.

When I received the first one, I thought back to the reason I wrote the book. It was never to feel glorified or to put it on a list of accomplishments. It went back to that conversation in the first class cabin of an airplane; I wanted to have a positive impact on youth across the country. So believe it or not, I did not feel a great sense of accomplishment when I received the first copy of my book; it hadn’t impacted anyone yet.

I have always been a firm believer that the only way this book will reach students across the country is if people believe in the lessons within it and share it with everyone they know. No marketing strategy in the world can sell something that people don’t want or don’t believe in.

I’m two days away from releasing this book to my family, friends, and acquaintances, in hopes that they will pass it along to their family, friends, and acquaintances before the official release on May 6. I really think that together, we can get this book to every student in the country!

Days Until WAKE UP CALL!


How It Came to Be (Part 5 of 7)

The Story of My Book and Why I Chose To Write It.

Just to catch you up: at this point in the story I’ve stalled a plane, made a bet, had an idea, met a celebrity, made a decision, noticed a trend, took a break, and accepted an offer. Keeping up?

When I signed my contract with FOCUS Training, a big piece of my job would be providing leadership workshops and keynote speeches to high school students around the country. If you know me or have been keeping up with these posts, you know two things.

  1. This is something I’ve become very passionate about

  2. The way this fit with the book I was writing could not have been scripted more perfectly

FOCUS Training was way ahead of me on the second train of thought. They had written a book deal into my contract, and I excitedly agreed to have them publish my book. If I thought the pressure was on before this, my commitment to finishing the book was now in a written contract!

I recommitted to finishing my book, and in December, close to a year after I started writing, it was done…or so I thought.

(To be continued tomorrow…)

Days Until WAKE UP CALL!


How It Came to Be (Part 4 of 7)

The Story of My Book and Why I Chose To Write It.

After stalling an airplane, making an interesting bet, having an idea, meeting a celebrity, and making a decision, it was time for me to actually start my book. I made my outline, and started what I thought would be the hard part: writing.

I had heard some great things about a crazy new drink called coffee so I decided (after three-and-a-half years of college) that I was going to become addicted. I don’t know many people who have consciously chosen to incite a coffee addiction, and I’m still not really sure how I feel about it, but my productivity skyrocketed that semester.

Starting this book was the most empowering feeling I’ve ever had. The first week was sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Then I made my first mistake:

I told someone.

I don’t remember who, I don’t remember exactly when, but all of a sudden, the pressure was on. I was ACTUALLY writing a book. It wasn’t just a thought anymore. People started asking me about it, and I, at the expense of my writing time, would happily answer.

“When’s it coming out?”

“Not anytime soon!”

While there was now more pressure to finish the book, and writing in solidarity at a coffee shop became more difficult, I started to notice a trend. Almost everyone I talked to, at some point in their life, had thought about writing a book. I started to think to myself:

At what point in the process did they give up?

From then on, my primary motivator, anytime I had writer’s block, anytime I felt too tired to wake up early to write was:

This is when most people would give up.

This thought has continued to be a motivator for me, and it really is the thought that pushed this book forward.

When I graduated from Marquette, a lot changed. I spoke at the college of business commencement ceremony, trained for a marathon only for it to be cancelled the day I was supposed to run it, and accepted one last summer internship.

This is relevant because I also took two months off of writing during my internship. Looking back, I think this was a great thing. I enjoyed my life during that time and didn’t worry all too much about my book.

But at the end of my internship, I accepted a full-time position at a leadership development company called FOCUS Training (I actually signed my contract with the boss I stalled the plane for in my first How It Came To Be post).

As I read through my contract, one line made me do a double-take. I looked up with a smile and said, “Really?”

(To be continued tomorrow…)

Days Until WAKE UP CALL!

%d bloggers like this: