From skydiving with the Navy SEALs, to sharing dinner and Mass with the Franciscan nuns, to hopping on a private jet with the owner of the Minnesota Wild, to temporarily living as a homeless man in Detroit, Joe Sweeney ’80 has done it all.
Sweeney shares some of his latest stories in is his new book,“After Further Review.” The New York Times bestselling author writes about finding his life’s mission and uses sports analogies to help readers do the same. His life mission, he says, was first discovered when he was a student at Saint Mary’s 40 years ago.
In “After Further Review,” Sweeney quotes two renowned explorers of human and social behavior, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, whom he first started reading about while he was a student at Saint Mary’s. Sweeney loved studying psychology, human behavior, philosophy, spirituality, and figuring out why people do what they do.
“One thing Saint Mary’s taught me is that all of us have something burning inside of us, some form of inspiration,” Sweeney said. “Many of us keep it suppressed for most of our lives because we’re afraid of what people are going to say if we really express our true selves. But my job is to inspire people, find out what’s bubbling inside them and bring it out.”
To help find his own fire inside, Sweeney took to the streets of inner-city Detroit to get a very personal look at what life is like for those far less fortunate. With only $30 in his pocket, he purchased a one-way bus ticket to Detroit and lived as a homeless man for a week.
“The exercise is meant to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” explained Sweeney. “At the end, you realize there’s a greater power that will take care of us. It was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.”
A businessman for 33 years, the Milwaukee native now spends a lot of his time traveling, speaking, training, and coaching others to find their true inspiration. Sweeney encourages others to stop, hit the pause button, and reflect. He believes it’s then you’ll be able to figure out a game plan for how you want to live your life.
“The people who perform the greatest have a big enough why. If you’ve got a big enough why, you can get through anything,” said Sweeney. “When I speak, I tell stories about my experiences. But I challenge others by asking, ‘What’s your why? Why do you get up and go to work in the morning?’ If you can figure out your why, you’ll set the world on fire.”
“After Further Review” is Sweeney’s third book. His first book, “Networking is a Contact Sport,” started as memoirs written for his kids that he never intended to publish. His second book, “Moving the Needle,” is about changing human behavior. All of these books are a result of ideas and messages Sweeney had inside of him. He once heard, “A life worth living is a life worth recording.”
Growing up as the ninth boy in a family of 10 children, Sweeney received 20 years of strong Catholic education. He fondly remembers Saint Mary’s helped set a spiritual foundation for his life and recalls many people who influenced him while he was there.
“Saint Mary’s really taught me how to be my authentic self,” said Sweeney. “Many times that doesn’t mean fitting into the tribe, which is something I talk about in my third book. All of us want to belong to something, which creates tribalism. It’s great to belong, but it’s hard to be your authentic self. Saint Mary’s taught me how to be my true self. And there were a lot of professors who helped me.”
Learn more about Sweeney at joesweeney.com.