Fuel Up! An Attitude Of Gratitude: Kyle Johnson With Lighthouse Works

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By Tom Jelneck
CEO

“That tap on my shoulder saved my life.”

Smoothies and Surfing

Hitting the beach after working long, grueling hours at the smoothie shop was the highlight of Kyle Johnson’s life. Back then, his focus was to have fun, make a few bucks, and party. He didn’t have a vision, he didn’t see the future — he simply was.

After some time at Valencia Community College, Kyle wound up in a sales position, where he ultimately landed his first serious gig as marketing manager for a financial planning firm. Without a solid financial planning background, he was a bit at odds, but quickly learned the ropes and began attending Rollins College to tighten up his marketing and business skills.

The Firm

The firm’s CEO, Kyle’s boss, ran a tight ship. He wasn’t the easiest guy on the planet to work for — he challenged Kyle, was a stickler for punctuality, was sometimes abrasive, and quite direct. This was far different than the smoothie scene, to say the least.

Time rolled on and things began to bubble to the surface. He was self-medicating, worried, and stressed, and those feelings were making their way deep into his family, his motivation, and his soul. Something was missing. Sure, he had the degree, the marketing knowledge, and a stronghold in the marketplace. He knew what he was doing, and he understood how to navigate the landscape, but something just wasn’t there. He was so low, he believed he was near death.

“I was over 200 pounds, chain-smoking, and intoxicating. And what I discovered was that this guy doesn’t know how to live without purpose.” Kyle Johnson — Fuel Up!

From time to time, the firm courted nonprofits. They provided workshops to help them teach their donors to maximize tax savings and gain solid financial footing. During one of these workshops, Kyle was approached by the then development director of Lighthouse Central Florida, who tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to be a part of a young leaders group within the nonprofit space. He accepted, and that’s where Kyle’s real story began.

On Purpose

After being exposed to the nonprofit world through the leadership group, Kyle’s eyes began to open. He dug in and got to know some amazing people, and then he set some wheels in motion. Back at the firm, Kyle started to put his finger on what was missing — purpose. He knew what his job required of him, and while he did take great pride in delivering that, it wasn’t what was fueling him, and it was lacking purpose. It was time to take a vacation.

Back To The Beach

A wise friend once expressed to Kyle that in times of difficulty, it’s sometimes more powerful to imagine what the positive outcome could be as opposed to dwelling on the negative situation at hand. That became his mantra. When he took his family on a quick getaway to New Smyrna, Kyle focused on centering on the positive, not the emptiness he was feeling deep within his soul. His days started and ended with prayer, and he focused solely on finding his next steps and what would fuel his purpose. On the last day of the trip, Kyle and his wife went for a walk on the beach while their children watched TV. He told her, “It’s time for a change. I need to move on. I’m going to do this.”

That next Monday, fresh from a salty getaway, Kyle sat down with the firm’s CEO and resigned. A crushing weight was lifted from his shoulders, and he was filled with optimism for what could be. Remember that tap on the shoulder? The same woman who had asked Kyle to serve on the board was about to go on maternity leave, and she didn’t feel called to continue serving in the same capacity at Lighthouse Central Florida. She asked Kyle if he was interested, and he accepted. His life truly changed that day, and because of that, hundreds of other lives were about to change as well.

Shining A Light

“Charting a course for Living, Learning and Earning with vision loss – this is Lighthouse Central Florida at its core!”

Lighthouse exists to empower those affected by vision disabilities. By working with all ages, from infants to senior citizens, they teach independent skills and help children, from an early age, do things on their own. Kyle is where he belongs. He’s thriving, he loves the organization, and he’s making a tremendous impact on lives throughout Central Florida.

One of the most unique things about Lighthouse is Lighthouse Works. With over 100 visually impaired employees, Lighthouse Works empowers lives by providing phone customer service for large companies, boxing up and shipping out over 165,000 Disney Magic bands a month, and more. This model also helps to financially sustain the nonprofit portion of the organization while continuing to foster independent living skills.

This journey of a man beaten up and broken down, and how he transformed not only his life but the lives of countless others, will inspire you. Kyle Johnson will motivate you to look at your career and your purpose in a whole new light. I’m so grateful that I got to spend some time with him, and I know you will be too. Listen to Kyle’s story below. Enjoy and fuel up!


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About the Author

Tom is the chief coffee brewer, CEO, digital marketing strategist, and kickass content creator for brands across the globe at On Target. He loves nothing more than helping small to medium-sized businesses find their online voice and growing their leads, prospects, and sales.

On Target Digital Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency located in Orlando, Florida. Through branding, web design, content creation, and social media, we get brands found and talked about online. To learn how we can help your brand grow and thrive, call 407-830-4550 or fill out our contact form. Thanks for reading and sharing!