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Who's Aaron: It all began in grade school with a kiss









Aaron Bird considers every day a great gift, is an author, leading success coach, star and executive producer of the highly rated personal development series on YouTube, and holds a Ph.D. in Theology. He's one of the most requested motivational speakers, influential online trainers, sought after life coach's, Director of the CCF at the University of Illinois, and the founder of Designing Champions Coaching and World-Class Couples Academy. It all shifted when Aaron found his life's purpose: Live with a 10x love for others and to help them do what matters most - most of the time - so that they get the most out of their lives.  

Aaron grew up in modest surroundings where his parents never made more than 20k a year, but filled him with much love. He's obsessed with helping others get their breakthroughs, find their true voice, make their difference in the world, and live a life that matters most to them in a world that snuffs out peoples' dreams. He grew up the son of a preacher man who took him to a grade school event that forever changed his life - because it was there, in the 7th Grade, that he first saw (and gave his first kiss - big fail!) to the girl of his dreams. 

Learn more about the failed kiss that changed aaron's life forever:

The first kiss that changed everything

My dad and I pulled up to an old rebuilt white barn where my Jr. High Self would attend a summer day camp. As we walked through the front door I saw over 150 kids sitting at long tables doing arts and crafts. I scanned the room for a place to sit and saw one of the most striking beautiful 7th grade girls I’d ever laid eyes on!

All the way across the room, there she sat in all her beauty.

She had that blond curly hair from the 80’s, big pink glasses resting on her nose, and bright white angels flying around her singing the hallelujah chorus. Most importantly, there was an empty chair across the table from her!

So I turned high-tail and sat next to my guy-friends. But the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl. And in that moment dad asked…

"What would the grandpa-sitten-in-rocking-chair-sippen-lemonade version of yourself tell you to do in this moment?" 

The answer came immediately: Go get the girl.

So I looked over at her. I must have fallen into some kind of puppy love trance because when my guy-friends noticed I was gawking at her, they teased me relentlessly.

They kept saying, "She’s out of your league. She’s not from our town, so it won’t work. She’s older than you, that’s dumb. It’ll never happen for you, bro."

You know, the usual talk of people trying to talk you out of your dreams because they're justifying why they don't dare their own.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I really really really REALLY wanted her to at least notice me. To know that I existed. To become apart of her life.

Seeing my fear, Dad spoke up again, this time asking a question he often asked in times where my dreams and passions were at stake… 

"Which is going to win out, your fear or your faith?"

What a great dad!

There was no questioning how certain I felt she was "the one" lol. So I stood like a champion! My friends’ eyebrows raised with curiosity, disbelief even. But my knees immediately locked up, my feet felt like cement blocks, and my hands now clammy. Is this what love feels like? I wondered.

Thinking I might pass out, I stood there with two beads of sweat dripping down my forehead…paralyzed with fear and what ifs. The guys were right, she was out of my league. And there’s no way this could work with each of us living in different towns. We're in 7th grade. How's that supposed to work? With fear screaming at me, I heard a quite whisper behind me…

"Are you all-in or not, son?"

She tilted her head to one side and I melted. I was all-in. ALL-IN.

So I started walking towards her. Slowly. Awkwardly. I thought I could hear small gasps from my friends. Maybe it was the wind outside. I don't know. 

Thinking I saw her look up, I halted - pretending to be invisible before the times of Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. What if I embarrass myself? What if she doesn’t want me to sit near her? What if I smell? (All Jr. High Boys smell, right?). And what if she slapped me right there in front of everybody? My whole life would be ruined!

I need a plan. Something that will make her feel like a million-bucks. A million-dollar plan. Make her feel like she's the only girl in the world. The answer hit me like a flash of lightning.

Go give her a kiss.

Yes! That’s what I’ll do! I’ll go give her a kiss!

I took a brave step in her direction and in so doing changed the direction of my entire life.

What did someone once say? Fortune favors the brave?

She was all the way across the room and the other 149 kids doing crafts between her and me blurred to the periphery. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My heart beat thrashed in my ears and I felt my breath bottle up in my chest.

She didn’t know I was there. Didn’t even know I was alive. But I knew she was there, and when I saw that smile on her face I stepped into a moment that my future self would later high-five me for.

All because of a kiss.

Was I scared out of my mind? In every step. I felt light headed and my hands went half-numb. I even forgot to breathe until someone accidentally bumped into me.

In regaining focus, I pumped myself up to give this girl a kiss. My first kiss. I put one foot in front of the other.

The closer I got to her, the more fear screamed:

You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not in her league. You’ll bumble, stumble, and mumble. You’re going to fail. Turn back. Turn away. She’s not for you, loser. Everyone will laugh at you.

And before I knew it, I was sitting down across from her.

She looked up through her big-rimmed pink glasses, our eyes meeting momentarily. When she ignored me and went back to working on her craft, I felt I dodged a bullet. A chance to breathe. I sat there furtively glancing. No words were exchanged.

How should I give her this kiss? Should I lean across the table? Ask her politely? Crawl under the table and come up the other side? Just tell her?

I couldn’t take the pressure! So I just asked.

I said, "Um, excuse, um, excuse me, um, um, um, excuse me?" She looked up without a word.


The blood rushed to my head like I was on a rollercoaster. It just rolled off my tongue.

"May I give you a kiss?"

If you look up the definition of Eternity in the dictionary, you’ll find this part of the story.

"Excuse me?" She replied.

Oh boy. Did she not hear me? Do I need to say it louder? Now more people are listening.

I went for it again. "May I give you a kiss?"


And that’s when I did it. I put my 7th grade hand across the table and dropped a Hershey’s Kiss in front of her craft.

Like a Boss.

Her Jr. High face blushed for so long that I got up out of embarrasment and walked away.

Still no words from her.

Minutes passed. Hours. Days. Weeks went by. And nothing. The same friends who laughed at me, saw my total devestation. Dad encouraged me to call her. I did, but no reply. I thought I had been cool, but now I felt nothing but Jr. High heartbreak. 

It was in those hours, days, and weeks that I learned heart-ache and humility. I felt failure in a personal way for the first time. Maybe I should just settle for less? Maybe I didn't deserve her. Maybe my limited beliefs were right after all.

Like a dope, for the next several weeks I moped around about everything, like I was dealt an unalterable hand of cards from God:

  • That I would never play in the NBA.
  • That my family was destined to continue living below the poverty line.
  • That I couldn’t be with my dream girl.

But I’ll never trade in those weeks because that’s also when I learned the value of keeping the faith despite felt failure. Why?

  • Because she called me.
  • Because we went to the Jr. High dance. Where jealous guys put gum in my chair. (Yes, I sat on it)
  • Because I escorted her to the High School Homecoming Dance where she was crowned the Queen.
  • Because I knelt down on one knee to place a ring on her finger to make her my princess.
  • Because we got married. And bought a house together. And had children. And travelled the world.

All because of a kiss.

And everything that kiss represents -- keep the faith in the face of fear, generate certainty despite doubts, have a million-dollar plan, go all-in, and make my 100-year-old-self proud -- was solidified for me on June 19, 2001.

My dad’s last day on Earth. The guy who encouraged me to go after the girl. While standing in the hospital hall, we heard a strange yell from his room. Only 2 minutes earlier he said to us, "It’s getting late so I’m going to rest my eyes now." The strange yell sent us running back into his room.

If you look up prostate cancer final hours on the web, this is what you’ll find: “At the end of life, the chemical balance of the body becomes completely upset. The dying person then slips into unconsciousness. This is usually right towards the end, maybe only a few hours or days before death. Breathing becomes irregular and may become noisy until it just stops completely. You won’t be able to wake them at all.”

But he did wake up.

After rushing into the room, we found him in this unusual unconscious state. In my desire to see him wake up, my pounding heart led to telling him through my tears how much I loved him, how grateful I was he was all-in with his kids, the times he took me fishing, how he was present at all my games, and for encouraging me to ask that 7th grade girl out who was now standing next to me as my wife, his daughter-in-law. I then leaned over, whispered into his ear how thankful I was for that first kiss and everything it represents, and gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead as tears streamed down my cheeks. "I love you, dad."

And that's when he woke up. For a final five seconds, he sat up, trying to open his eyes, his breaths irregular. With both arms he reached out trying to hug Pandy and I one last time, then, before falling back into heaven, he said his three final words: “I Love You.”

The man who helped put my wife and I together in Jr. High. Who then stood as the Best Man in my wedding. Fitting, that his last day was the same day as my wife and I’s anniversary. The three of us in this room together.

In that quiet moment, I looked at him and thought, That’s a life that mattered. That’s a guy who did work that mattered. 

It put everything into perspective. Do I matter? Do I spend my time working on things that matter?

Right then and there I committed to living life to the fullest, all 1,440 minutes of each 24 hours. 

To live a life that matters.

To do work that matters.

To start things that matter.

To help others do what matters most - most of the time - so that they get the most out of life.


Much love,




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