How a Friday Night Campfire led to American Ninja Warrior and a Life of Meaning for Alex Weber
Alex Weber was a senior at Penn State University.
He was a college lacrosse player, a member of a fraternity, and had a college girlfriend. He was months away from graduating. A career in finance was practically guaranteed. He should have been high on life and excited about his future – but he wasn’t.
Something was missing. A small voice inside of him was chirping, trying to capture his attention. But Alex was so busy and immersed in life’s distractions that he barely heard that voice, let alone stopped to listen, until the night he did and his whole life changed.
In the four years he spent at college, Alex Weber had never once just hung out at home on a Friday night. He and his friends had never once considered making a campfire – or their version of a campfire- in their tiny little West Philadelphia backyard. But one night the idea popped into someone’s head, and the young student happily hung home with a few friends to simply relax and enjoy the night.
It was the first of many decisions Alex Weber would make that would alter his life trajectory.
In the years since, Alex Weber has dabbled in TV appearances, earned a title as a Guinness Book of World Records Holder, competed on American Ninja Warrior, become a TV show host, and traveled all over the world to speak and inspire others.
All of those moments have happened in his life as a result of the conversation held at the tiny little campfire, built with magazines and fueled with lighter fluid, in a scrap of a backyard.
“It was one of the only times I was just with good people actually talking about what I want to do and where I want to be,” he remembers. When he was asked what his future looked like from where he was sitting then, Alex realized Penn State and a finance career were not going to be the proper trail guides for him to travel down a path to a fulfilled life.
That voice inside of him took advantage of the quiet moment and the open mind, and chirped its message right into Alex’s heart; comedy and entertainment were the things that brought him joy. Those were the things beckoning to him from his future. Finance and the corporate world…. not so much.
It’s one thing to have that “Aha moment” and another to take action on it. Lots of people have those moments and either do not recognize them or allow fear and limiting beliefs to serve as a barrier between their current situation and the one they truly wish to create. Alex was not going to be one of those people.
The voice inside of him had grown from a chirp to a song, and the melody played over and over in his mind. He began writing down all the thoughts he had. He took stock of his feelings on lacrosse, his relationship, his life and what he truly wanted to do with his life.
The next morning he read what he’d written, and that day he began building the life he knew would be packed with moments that truly matter to him, as opposed to moments that were largely uninspiring.
Getting started is often the hardest part of any leap, says Alex. Taking that first step down an uncertain path can be scary and overwhelming. But once that first step is behind you and you take another, you begin gaining momentum and life becomes exciting. It’s an ongoing process, repeated over and over in myriad ways in life. Combined, those first steps build a mindset and a lifestyle that open doors to opportunities and moments that simply would not exist from the confines of a life lead according to how others tell you you are “supposed” to live.
At first, Alex led a double life. On the surface, he appeared to be the Alex Weber everyone knew. He stayed in college, played lacrosse, and maintained the “alpha male” image. On the sly, he’d sneak off to a theatre class or an audition. His secret was out, though, when a commercial he’d landed a role in aired on local channels, and he was outed as a double agent in life.
Alex Weber had no real “X” on his map on life.
He knew only that he was being pulled in a direction that required him to listen to his inner voice, take chances, remain open to opportunities, and never accept setbacks as defeat.
Whether it was a random open call, a last-minute open mic night, an agent who ignored him for months, or falling off a competitive course on national TV, Alex maintains the mindset that every opportunity is a meaningful moment or has potential to create one, and throws himself into each day accordingly.
He’s all over the map. Literally.
Between being a record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records, hosting Crash the Course on digital TV, competing in American Ninja Warrior, being the youngest recipient of California’s Coaching award, or enthusiastically pouncing on speaking opportunities, Alex Weber has built himself into a viral celebrity and a one-man brand that has people from all over the world asking him to come speak. He’s got an arsenal of stories to pull from as he relates life’s lessons to audiences.
Ask him about “hanging out” with his American Ninja Warrior friends and he’ll laugh, because “hanging out” with that group is more about doing things most people would consider crazy or impossible. Ask him about a routine speaking gig in one country and he’ll tell you about how he turned that into a spur of the moment trip to another country, and two more gigs on top of that.
Ask him about his high moments and he’s sure to sprinkle in painfully funny stories of his low moments, too.
Whatever the story, it comes with a message and energy that rams that message home.
“Follow your fire,” he says, because “that’s where the best parts of us appear.”
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