Accessibility Activist Speaker
Disability Awareness Speaker at Major Events and Companies
As a global speaker, author, business leader, husband, father and adventure seeker, John will move you to action with his powerful story of overcoming astonishing obstacles. He shows you why it’s important that we continue to remove barriers that are limiting people from pursuing all aspects of their lives.
John’s passion for inclusion is rooted in the fact that he is blind, but it certainly doesn’t define him. He truly believes that proximity builds empathy, and through his storytelling, he will humanize what it means to be inclusive and show what is possible when we build a sense of belonging, for all people.
Book John for your next event by clicking the button below!
What Others Say:
Inspirational, vulnerable, and authentic
“John Samuel’s words were inspirational, vulnerable, and authentic. He kept our students and guest engaged as he shared about his personal lived experiences in an exciting way. He has a way with words and I highly recommend him speaking for your event/program.”
Director, Student Accessibility Services, North Carolina Central University
Down-to-earth, realistic approach
“John is clearly passionate about DE&I and brought a unique and relevant perspective to our employees during our company meeting. His focus on DE&I beyond race and gender helped expand our organizational conversation and allowed us to have meaningful discussion about tough topics. What John brings to the table is not only a direct, demonstrable example of why proximity builds empathy but also a down-to-earth, realistic approach to enhancing diversity across all types and sizes of organizations.”
Sr. V.P. People & Culture, IntegriChain
Inspiring change in a positive direction
“Working with John Samuel was a privilege and honor that I will never forget as it changed me as a CEO, in a most favorable way. John, in his kind way, taught me to broaden my view of who should be considered when implementing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. In fact today, as a result of learning from John, our association wide initiative is focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. John has a gift of using his skills, abilities and challenges to move audiences, to educate the masses and most importantly to inspire change in a positive direction. I will be forever thankful for meeting John and our association will be forever better.”
CEO of Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC)
Previous Speaking Engagements Include:
When I moved to Africa, I had set two goals for myself, to be a Top 30 executive under 30, and to reach the highest point on the continent. There was no such award for top executives under 30, but I did build a multimillion business, which I was happy about. However, on June 5, 2012, with the support of one of my best friends, and a team of guides and porters, I reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
With a unified goal, and amazing communication, we were able to reach the top of the 19,341-foot mountain, despite my limited sight.
Traveling is something I love, and I’ve had the privilege to live in 5 countries and visit over 30others! The best part of all this traveling, is the fact that I have friends all over the world and will always have a place to stay!
Host of All Access Live
Every two weeks, I host a live interview on LinkedIn with entrepreneurs, leaders, and allies, who are removing barriers for all people. In these unscripted chats, viewers will learn how they can remove barriers to create a more inclusive culture in their own organizations, from people who are already doing it. Follow me on LinkedIn to stay informed of my latest posts and videos.
- 2021 TEDx Raleigh Speaker
- TBJ 2021 Leaders in Diversity Award
- George Washington University School of Business 2020 Commencement Speaker
- TBJ 2019 40 Under 40 Award
- Business Journal’s 2019 Rising Stars National List of 100 Influential Young Business Leaders
- Raleigh Chamber 2018/19 Leadership Raleigh Class
Other Projects and Interests
At the end of 2020, I met Lindsay Wrege, who is the CEO & Cofounder of 321 Coffee, and I immediately wanted to be part of her mission! She launched a coffee business out of her dorm room, which now employs dozens of people with disabilities. Well, I put my money where my mouth is, and I invested in the company! If you want a great cup of coffee, and make a difference, check out 321 Coffee!
Design and Innovation:
When I got my first job in high school, my first purchase was a Swiss Army watch. That began my fascination with watches. So, when I started having success in Africa, I purchased an Omega Speedmaster, the first watch worn on the moon. The contrast of the white hands on the black face made it easier for me to see the time, even though I was losing my sight. Eventually, I could no longer see the time, and I thought I could never have a wristwatch again. That’s until I learned about the EONE Bradly Timepiece, which is an inclusively designed watch, that cam be enjoyed by people with vision, and without. This watch showed me that accessibility could be sexy! I’m super excited to be collaborating with EONE to raise awareness for inclusive design, and taking part in their new product launch, for the Switch timepiece! Check my new watch out and see how I tell time!
Drip My Cane:
After 18 years, and three attempts to embrace using a white cane, I finally did it. I was hesitant to use a white cane, because the moment I did, I was telling the world that I was a blind person – and that was something I didn’t want to accept. But once I did, the world opened to me in a way I never thought possible. I gained a new level of confidence, and I was no longer timidly walking through life. Although I was now accepting of the white cane, I felt others weren’t. In networking events, people would see my cane, and wouldn’t want to approach me, in fear of saying the wrong thing. To break down that barrier, I launched “Drip My cane,” a contest to get people to come up with designs for my cane. I was inspired by the old MTV show, Pimp My Ride! Reach out to me to see how you can get involved in this creative initiative!
Boards and Philanthropy:
Aravind Eye Foundation
When I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), my parents wanted a second (and third, fourth, …) opinion. So, one time when I was visiting my family in India, my parents arranged me to visit this magical place where they were curing people with blindness. So, in the early hours of the morning, I set off on an 8-hour journey to a town called Madurai. However, there was no cure for me. It would be nearly 15 years later, that I would learn that this place was the Aravind Eye Hospital, and the largest eyecare provider in the world, treating over 45 million patients for preventable blindness. As I learned about how they became the McDonald’s of cataract surgeries, I became a fanboy of their leadership and culture. And it remains one of my highest honors in my professional and personal life to serve on the Board of Directors of the Aravind Eye Foundation!
United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County:
As I traveled around the world, I developed an appreciation and desire to collect art along my journey. But my interest in the Arts went to the next level, when I learned about how the Arts community was committed to accessibility and ensuring that all people could participate! Thanks to my friend, Charles Phaneuf, the former President of the United Arts Council, I was asked to serve on the Board, and I’m super excited to have a seat at the table!