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Social Impact Authors: How & Why NASA Rocket Scientist Olympia LePoint Is Helping To Change Our Worl

Social Impact Authors: How & Why NASA Rocket Scientist Olympia LePoint Is Helping To Change Our World

An Interview With Edward Sylvan

My first book, Mathpahobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist helps people overcome their math fears, so they can graduate from college, and earn their STEM degrees. It also helps parents learn effective methods to teach their children while learning math.

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

Olympia LePoint is an award-winning NASA rocket scientist, author, TED Talk speaker, and journalist. Most recently, Olympia created a human decision-making scientific theory called Quantum Deciding, revealing the secret science to achieve your best future. The theory is included in her new self-help educational book Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want, with a forward written by retired NASA Astronaut Robert Curbeam. The book breaks down how to overcome your fear of the future in just six effective decisions. It has quickly gained international praise and recognition, with endorsements by top professionals and CEOs.

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?

I am Olympia LePoint, an award-winning author and an award-winning rocket scientist who continually learns to reprogram my mind for success, as seen in my TED talk “Reprogramming Your Brain to Overcome Fear.”

In my career building NASA rockets, I helped launch 28 NASA Space Shuttle Missions to into Space, and I am the author of the Answers Unleashed educational science book series geared to ignite people’s minds to find answers for the future.

My road to success was extremely tough. In my childhood, I grew up in the inner-city South Los Angeles where fear and danger were a part of my childhood. In fact, I was “Oly from The Block.” In poverty and surrounded by gang violence, I was raised by a single mom who did her best to parent four girls without support.

Our mother told us that the only way to change our lives was through education. I listened to her, and I worked hard to graduate from high school, and enter college. I majored in mathematics even though I was failing courses previously. Later, I mastered mathematics, and I was one of the top five graduates of a 6,500-graduating class in 1998 from California State University Northridge.

Today, I am a professional speaker and journalist. I give virtual talks at major universities and at global technology conferences to promote Science, Innovation and Diversity with new thinking. I appear on major network news channels speaking about Space Travel and Science. On TV, I speak about my books and science-related topics — from Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson’s space race to the concerns with STEM education, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Cryptocurrencies, NASA News, Science innovation and Climate Change — so people can make wise decisions for a better future.

My latest book Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want outlines the decisions that I took to become a rocket scientist, and the book helps people make decisions for creating the future that they want.

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?

Yes. The book was Innumeracy. I read it when I was 15. The book is about “mathematical illiteracy” and its consequences. I liked the one-word book title. My mom’s friend gave it to me. I still have it on my bookshelf. At the time, I was overcoming my fears regarding math calculations and struggled in math. ( Note: math is a language of patterns.) I told myself that I wanted to write a book about understanding math in the future. Nearly 20 years later, I wrote my first book Mathpahobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist.

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

This story may sound funny, but it was scary at the time. I discovered that I was allergic to wheat and tree nuts one day when I was helping launch a Space Shuttle into Space. That day, we arrived to work at 1:30 a.m. for the 3 p.m. launch later that day. We were to sit and be alert for over 12 hours.

Our vice presidents catered the room with donuts, fruit, and coffee to keep us awake. Well, midway through the pre-launch preparation, my head started spinning and my eyesight began getting blurry after eating 3 donuts. I was experiencing an allergic reaction to the donuts that were deep-fried in peanut oil! Oddly enough, I had never had an allergic reaction to donuts or nuts until that time.

I did not know what to do at first. And, I had to stay calm and collected, because astronauts’ lives were on the line. There was no other person who could read the numbers in my role. I took deep breaths.

Quickly thinking, I went to the restroom and splashed cold water on my face. I prayed to God for help. My prayer was answered. My head stopped spinning. I took the cold water with me, and I kept splashing cold water on my face every few minutes, so I could see the screen in front of me. Well, the splashing happened every few minutes for close to 3 hours. That quick thinking was enough for my body to refocus on safely launching people to space. Hours later, the reaction went away. I stayed for another 10 hours in the room. And we successfully launched the flight. I have never eaten donuts since.

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

My first book, Mathpahobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist helps people overcome their math fears, so they can graduate from college, and earn their STEM degrees. It also helps parents learn effective methods to teach their children while learning math.

My second book, Answers Unleashed: The Science of Unleashing Your Brain’s Power helps people overcome their memories of failure, so they transform that brain energy into innovation. The book also helps people gain a better understanding of how intuition plays a role in helping us find answers to life’s challenging situations.

My latest book, Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want helps people make effective decisions about their future. The book also helps people realize that they make decisions in six categories: Their faith, identity, intent, how they learn, how they use resources, and the way that they love themselves and others through time. As you make new decisions, you start attracting new opportunities. And each decision points you to the future that you want. If you want to change the world, you can start with your own decisions first. This book helps readers master their decisions with a new decision-making science that I call “Quantum Deciding”. Through making effective decisions, we can build a society of critical thickeners and global problem-solvers.

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

There are several interesting stories in the book. It is challenging to only pick one story. There are many stories that memorize the reader.

One of my most favorite stories is when I recall when my 9-year-old self met my 30-year-old self. I am a firm believer that you can envision parts of your future accurately. When I was 9, I wrote down my future. I woke up at 3 am. And could not sleep. So, I chose to write a list of all the careers I would have in my lifetime. Rocket scientist was on that list. I envision myself as a rocket scientist at a desk, and I saw the equation in some unknown book. After writing that list, I fell asleep and forgot about the list for nearly 20 years.

Fast forward. One day at age 30, I was doing calculations at work. I saw the same formula that I saw when I was 9 years old. It was the most shocking déjà-vu experience that I ever lived through. I was experiencing an event that had not taken place yet. In fact, I had jumped through time to witness my 30-year-old self, and then come back to write down what I saw. With that déjà-vu time, I realized that my 9-year-old had connected with the 30 years old in a dimension independent of time and space. That connection helped me make decisions that would obtain that future event. With my epiphany, I went back in time and thanked my 9-year-old self for envisioning the future.

We each can jump through time to meet ourselves in the future. And we can predict certain things in our future. We must be willing to see the best events possible.

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?

After I left the rocket science world, I saw that the U.S. ranked 28th out of 32 industrialized countries when it came to math and science education. As a result, I became determined to discover the reason, and help the U.S produce more science innovators. The answer was simple. People feared math. And math is the course that everyone needed to earn their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees.

So, I set out to help people overcome their math fears. I started giving workshops at the local college. Then I gave talks at science centers. Then I decided to write my first book to help explain how to remove ‘Mathaphobia’. My efforts led me to be on TV as a regular guest Science expert, giving live and virtual TED talks, and writing a series of well-known science books seen on TV and read in schools and universities across the United States.

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

I enjoy mentoring kids. One of my previous co-workers asked me to mentor her 10-year-old son in 2007. Zach had just failed his math class and felt discouraged. When I met with him, and I discovered that he was extremely smart, and the teacher did not understand the young boy’s brilliance. We worked together for 8 years. Zach even suggested that I help his older sister Jessica.

Zach began acing his math classes as a direct result of the work we did together. His dad was a well-known organizational psychologist, and he was honored that I helped his son succeed. As a result, his father Dr. Dirk Zirbel wrote the foreword in my first book Mathpahobia. Today, Zach is now a grown man. He entered the university, aced his Calculus class and is now a leader in his career. I am very proud of him.

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

  1. The community can share information about my book series so professors and teachers can assign my book for their students to succeed.
  2. Society can learn how to make effective decisions in their own lives using my books, so respect can be created amongst diverse peoples.
  3. Politicians can increase supplemental STEM educational programs, and fund programs from STEM authors like myself.

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

Leadership is when you commit to following through on the plans that you have for your life. Leaders are people who live their lives by example.

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

  • Start banking on yourself; your time and commitment are enough to start your mission and business.
  • Expect to fail and congratulate yourself when you learn a better approach.
  • Your health is far more important than anything you do in your career.
  • Sometimes you must leave ill-suited jobs, so you can live out your life purpose.
  • At the end of the day, your decisions will allow you to rest peacefully.

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

I live my own special quote:

“If he or she could do it, so can I. I can do anything that I set my mind to. Watch me. God, now help me do it.”

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. 🙂

I’d like to meet Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, and learn how to create a science-tech platform for people across the world. I’d like to become a billionaire and philanthropist in years to come from technology inventions.

I’d also like to meet Jennifer Lopez. She is a phenomenal businesswoman and entertainer. I’d like to merge entertainment and technical aspects together in a profound way to educate millions of people of color across the world who may not have access to proper forms of science education. I’d like to entertain people globally with science in a similar memorizing fashion with “The Olympia touch”.

I’d also like to meet Oprah. She is a brilliant philanthropist, entertainer, and network businesswoman. Her story gives all people strength. And I’d like to be on her show and explain the profound lessons that I learned in my journey.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can go to AnswersUnleashed.com and OlympiaLePoint.com

Social Media:

  • Instagram.com/OlympiaLePoint
  • Twitter.com/OlympiaLePoint
  • Facebook.com/OlympiaLePoint
  • LinkedIn.com/in/OlympiaLePoint
  • YouTube.com/c/AnswersUnleashed

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

Thank you. It has been a pleasure answering these questions.


Social Impact Authors: How & Why NASA Rocket Scientist Olympia LePoint Is Helping To Change Our Worl was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.