Rick Ornelas: “Learn from those who have done it before”

The mission of my book is to inspire others to change the world for the better. The story contains what I call “Lessons for a Better World” because I feel they can have a global impact. This is for two main reasons. First, the lessons can be practiced by anyone at any time, anywhere. Part […]

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The mission of my book is to inspire others to change the world for the better. The story contains what I call “Lessons for a Better World” because I feel they can have a global impact. This is for two main reasons. First, the lessons can be practiced by anyone at any time, anywhere. Part of their beauty is in their simplicity. Second, because humanity has been struggling in a time of darkness. Pandemic aside, things such as fear, anxiety, depression, racism, and hatred have been increasing at an alarming rate. We are ripe for change and can do so with the right spark.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Ornelas.

Rick Ornelas is an author and “Positive Change Expert” who teaches others how to create an incredible future when they unlock their amazing potential and begin sparking change.

He’s the author of 12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World and founder of I Spark Change, a global movement and online community of those who seek to make the world a better place one act at a time.

Rick wasn’t always interested in helping others despite being pushed repeatedly in that direction by near-death experiences, family tragedies, and deaths. It wasn’t until the ever-worsening times of 2020 when he was laid off, quarantined, and desperate that he finally got the wake-up call.

His awakening came in the form of divine inspiration and an awe-inspiring spiritual connection when he least expected it. He went from hopeless to writing a best-selling book in under three months while envisioning and creating an incredible future. This fulfilled the dream he had been ignoring for years: to build a community of amazing souls to spread positivity, hope, and love while creating a ripple effect throughout the world.

The I Spark Change community has grown at a phenomenal rate of over 800% in just a few months. Rick has been featured on The RAS Project, The Good Men Project, The Anti-Burnout Club, The Authority, Thrive Global, and internationally on Spirit Radio Network. He continues to expand his influence on others’ health and happiness as a regular contributing writer for Lifehack. His next book, 12 Hours of Heaven; Time on Earth is due out later this year.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My childhood was full of stories and memories. I was a typical middle-class kid in the ’70s and ’80s in a very disciplined and loving family. It was a lot like you see on TV…only better! This was because I was the youngest of five, which might sound bad at first, except that I had four older sisters who loved me to death. They always made sure I was up to date on the latest trends and introduced me to all of their female friends. Plus, my wife likes to say they “broke me in” for her. I was further broken in by my father, who taught me all sorts of lessons on the importance of hard work and family. Throw that all in with various sports and activities, and I was a pretty involved kid with a great childhood.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

About twenty years ago, I was fortunate to hear Keith Harrel speak live on the power of your attitude. He was incredibly dynamic and positive that it was infectious. I promptly read his book “Attitude is Everything,” which solidified everything I learned from his presentation. I have practiced many of the book’s recommendations since with success and passed them on to others.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

Considering I began my career in sales working with many other young guys, I can say many funny stories may not be best suited for this platform. One shareable tale that comes to mind is when I was very young and filling in as a handyman for an apartment building my mom managed near Hollywood. One of her tenants was a famous young actress who I was anxious to meet. One day, my mom asked me to install a new shower head in one of the apartments upstairs. Much to my surprise, it was the apartment of the young actress. I was so nervous that I didn’t exactly complete the work correctly. My mom ended up calling a real plumber after the shower head fell on the girl when she turned the water on to take a shower after I left. That was the last repair job of my career.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

The mission of my book is to inspire others to change the world for the better. The story contains what I call “Lessons for a Better World” because I feel they can have a global impact. This is for two main reasons. First, the lessons can be practiced by anyone at any time, anywhere. Part of their beauty is in their simplicity. Second, because humanity has been struggling in a time of darkness. Pandemic aside, things such as fear, anxiety, depression, racism, and hatred have been increasing at an alarming rate. We are ripe for change and can do so with the right spark.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

12 Hours of Heaven is a fictional story about an angel sent down from Heaven to help 11 people from all walks of life. They all get trapped together in an elevator for 12 hours. During this time, he helps all of them with the biggest challenge of their lives and changes them for the better.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

My book’s initial inspiration occurred twenty years ago after I had the near-death experience of a major car accident where I flipped my car on the freeway with my wife and two young daughters on board. Miraculously we all escaped completely unharmed. The accident caused me to reflect on my life and consider what was truly important. At the time, I wrote this down as a “To-Do List for every day” as a reminder to myself of the value of life. This led me to envision the story of 12 Hours as I felt an angel had protected my family during the accident. It wasn’t until the pandemic and quarantine of 2020 that I finally decided to share the story with the world as a way to inspire others.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Fortunately, there have been many impactful stories that others have shared with me over the past few months. A radio host shared one after she interviewed me on her show about a listener who texted into the station.

The text came from a young single mother in the middle of a period of postpartum depression as she struggled to care for her five-month-old baby. She had been very down and was considering taking her own life when she heard the interview and was so inspired that it gave her a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

We are working to spread positive change throughout the world as part of the I Spark Change movement. Everyone worldwide is encouraged to join our online community by going to our website or Facebook page. It’s entirely free, and all we ask is that any individual, group, or organization that joins commits to spreading positive change around the world.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is showing others the incredible future they have in store if they realize their true and amazing potential. It is getting them to operate at a higher level than they feel they can attain themselves. Part of the importance of spreading I Spark Change is that many people are living too comfortably. They are fearful of leaving their bounds of comfortability for the unknown. By sharing our stories and leading by example, we show them that anything is possible.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Starting a new endeavor is challenging no matter who you are. One of the best things you can do is reflect on how to improve. This is different from wishing you had done things differently or having regrets. Still, It can sometimes help to have some tips in advance. Here are the five that resonated with me.

1. Everything takes more time than you think: marketing, writing copy, even shipping. You think you can just knock it out in a few minutes but take the time to do it right the first time, and you’ll be glad you did.

2. Learn from those who have done it before. There are plenty of resources available from books, courses, videos, and a lot of free. I have been soaking in as much as possible in my weaker areas, and it is helping us grow. Spend the aforementioned time to learn as much as you can, and you’ll reap the benefits.

3. Have a good story to tell, and don’t be afraid to share it. When I initially had the idea for I Spark Change, I kept it private, thinking It needed to be completely “ready” before it was worthwhile. Once I realized the time was right, I made a short video and shared it with the world. The response was incredibly positive and supportive. Boy, I could have used this support a lot sooner had I been open.

4. Rely on your inner circle for support…but only so much. People want to help, and they usually will but only on the simpler things and not to the level you think. It’s your dream and no one else’s. Don’t expect them to be as driven and passionate as you are. You are the only one who will chase your dream.

5. It will be difficult, and there’s always more work to do. Trust me; it’s an uphill climb every day. You can ease the burden by setting some milestones and goals along the way. Once you accomplish them, celebrate these small wins, but only briefly. Set new goals and keep working on your mission.

The bottom line is if you follow your heart and pursue your dream, you won’t go wrong.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Unfortunately for me, I had to learn this the hard way through plenty of failures and missed opportunities. Early on, I always made things possible through intelligence, grit, and determination. If something didn’t go well, I was able to “just wing it.” It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I realized if I just planned things out a little better, it would lead to phenomenal results. This is still something I work on every day as old habits die hard. Fortunately, I have three daughters that have heard this too many times, thinking it was for their benefit. If they only knew…

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Tristan Harris- the president and a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and creator of The Social Dilemma.

I have been trying to connect with individuals like him since 2009 when I began working on a social media platform for people called Puzzme. He is the type of person who can help see my dream of creating the world’s first social media platform 100% geared towards connecting individuals and organizations to spread positive change become a reality much sooner than I will be able to accomplish on my own. @tristanharris

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our Website https://12hoursofheaven.com/ to find out about upcoming books and information on the release of 12 Hours of Heaven; Time on Earth.

Sign up to join I Spark Change at www.isparkchange.com. We won’t spam you, I promised. You will be notified about our community’s growth, new blog articles, events, and future books.

Join our growing Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/isparkchange. More and more people who want to spread positive change join each day!

Follow us on Instagram @i_spark_change for immediate spirituality, inspiration, and motivation. You’ll be glad you did.

Puzzme- the future social media site http://puzzme.com/. You’ll be one of the first members when the site goes live.

Amazon- to order a copy of 12 Hours of Heaven: Lessons for a Better World https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KP8NDT4

YouTube for greater insight into the driving forces behind I Spark Change. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVxszC0wtIG4XxUOiFrHUqQ

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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