What do all superheroes have in common? Before dedicating their careers to fighting crime, they must first overcome hardship. Whether a fractured family is at the root of their pain or it’s the angst of being an outsider, these types of life-altering experiences are what everyday audiences relate to. For Lee Burns, it’s what’s given him the very tools he needed to succeed.
Now an accomplished entrepreneur, public speaker, actor and author, Burns’ numerous claims to fame make him an anomaly in the industry. However, Burns’ various accolades wouldn’t mean nearly as much without knowing what fueled him to live a life without boundaries. Although, not without consequence.
As an addict and self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie (from bull riding to skydiving), you could say that Burns has stared death in the face more than once. But to reference German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, what didn’t kill him made him stronger.
The confines of a religious upbringing in rural Texas are what pushed him in a rebellious direction. After finishing high school, Burns dropped out of college and went on to pursue a career as a professional firefighter and paramedic. He quickly rose to the top and earned the title ‘Rookie of the Year’ within his first 12 months on the job. While Burns’ hard work and efforts proved successful, it was simply not enough to make ends meet.
In his search for part-time work, he tried his hand at modeling and landed multiple campaigns across the country with the help of a local agency, Fashion Theater Dallas. One project in particular that he participated in included the iconic ‘Six Alarm Jockey’ underwear advertisement, which was so well-received that it sparked a two-year press tour and ignited in Burns a love for the entertainment industry.
Admittedly, Hollywood always seemed out of reach for Burns growing up—as it does for most people who hail from a small town. However, this didn’t stop him from eventually finding his footing in front of the camera, and later on screen for programs such as Entertainment Tonight, Extra and CNN. Ultimately, Burns made the decision to pivot and dedicate his career, and his life, to acting.
It wasn’t long after that Burns became one of the most sought after actors in Texas, with starring roles across television and film. To propel his blossoming career even further, he made the move to Hollywood and went on to share the screen with stars such as Jamie Lee Curtis in “Freaky Friday” and Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo in “Just Like Heaven.” During his time on the West Coast, Burns also developed the The 7 Steps to Getting on Set—a method he frequently taught to fellow aspiring actors.
His hard work was paying off, but then reality brought him back down to Texas to care for his wife’s ailing mother in 2012. This curbed Burns’ trajectory in entertainment, but his entrepreneurial spirit encouraged him to look at life from a different angle. This time, he was flipping houses, writing his first novel, “Freedom For Joe,” and exploring new industries altogether.
A lack of experience or know-how never stopped Burns before, so it made sense that he suddenly found himself diving headfirst into the respective fields of GPS and franchise car dealers—applying lessons he had learned throughout his vast career to climb the corporate ladder. Soon, he added titles including national director, VP/Partner, COO/Advisor and Board and Shareholder to his ever-growing résumé.
On top of all these ventures, Burns has simultaneously built a career as a renowned public speaker, delivering his seminar—Game of Life and How to Win It—to audiences across the globe. Most recently, inspired by his nearly two decades of public speaking and wide scope of work, Clear Wind Publishing published his second book, “How to Talk to Someone…And Not Die, A Handbook for Superheroes.” The title itself is meant to make readers feel as though they’re in the same room having a one on one conversation. Clear Wind’s Sarah Wronko noted it was the first time in over 15 years that she did not order a book to be copy edited due to Burns’ unique, conversational voice.
In his new title, Burns turns his attention to the power of communication and how in our society’s current climate, we can go about repairing it. As an expert in the field, Burns uses his own adaptability to relate to readers who think that they don’t possess, or have even lost, their powers to communicate. “The most dangerous thing to me is that we are all being told to be afraid of each other and that we are against each other,” he explains. “If we all stop talking to each other, we’re sunk.”
Burns doesn’t undermine the achievements of the average person, whether big or small, and he knows firsthand how to get back up when life puts you down. Or at the very least, how to break free from habits that are holding you back on your path to superherodom.
Order Lee Burns’ new book, “How to Talk to Someone…And Not Die, A Handbook for Superheroes” on Amazon on Nov. 10, 2020.