Sharing Your Secret Name: What Happens When You Stop Pretending with Kary Oberbrunner

Kary Oberbrunner, CEO of Igniting Souls, is an author, coach, and speaker who helps individuals and organizations clarify who they are, why they’re here, and where they’re going so they can become souls on fire, experience unhackability, and share their message with the world.

Both of Kary’s parents worked in full-time ministry, and he naturally grew up thinking that he would be a helper of people. Business wasn’t on his mind. Money just wasn’t something his family had—so he never had an opportunity to miss it.

Kary’s childhood was filled with a lot of love from his family—but also a lot of pain. He wanted to be accepted, but his stutter left him avoiding conversations and connections with people. Then, at the age of 10, Kary experienced a few deaths in the family. Without the use of his words, he took that pain inside of himself. He started fighting as a teenager and joined the wrestling team to act out his anger, which was ultimately just self-hatred. He eventually began to self-harm, which carried on well into college.

Kary wanted to be an Air Force chaplain. While studying for his Master of Divinity degree, he met his future wife, who personified everything he wanted to be but was too scared of. Six months after they started dating, they were engaged. Six months after that, they were married. But that first year of marriage was a rough year and his self-harm hit an all-time high. One of his classes was on counseling, and he was in danger of failing—he wasn’t connecting with people. He decided to come clean to his teacher about his self-harm, the first person he had ever admitted it to… and his teacher failed him instantly. His mentor, the vice president of the seminary, told Kary they wouldn’t fail him without his signature, but only on the condition that he seeked counseling. With his mentor and wife pushing him in that direction, he finally took the leap. And he got clean.

As Kary settled into his life as a pastor, he started to get bored. He always needed a side project to keep things interesting. He decided to write a book, which turned into a second and a third and so on. In his fourth book, “Your Secret Name,” Kary made the brave decision to share his story of self-harm and how we all have parts of ourselves that we hide from the world. And that was the book that unlocked everything, saw tremendous success, and really changed people’s lives.

His newest book, “Unhackable,” gives a detailed process for closing the gap between dreaming and doing through daily missions. We live in a world where people are facing extreme fatigue at every moment, and the only way to focus on what’s important is to find out how to push away those outside influences. If you’re going to do something, you should do it 100%. That’s what Kary has learned how to do and it’s what he wants to share with others.

What Brett asks:

  • [01:20] Can you tell us about your early childhood days?
  • [05:29] How do you feel about this part of you that wants to show up as an entrepreneur?
  • [12:56] What was it like to love people but struggle with this learning disability?
  • [16:20] What was your inner critic saying to you?
  • [25:00] Where did your healing begin.
  • [31:41] Was your mask a part of you or was it just to hide the real you?
  • [37:21] How did you learn to let the entrepreneur in you come out?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • We all have a part of us that we try to hide from the world. It’s from facing this, owning up to it, and moving through it that we can truly live a life of happiness.
  • Everyone has a story to tell: an easy one and a scary one. You can always write the easy ones, but until you share the story that you’re scared to put out there, you won’t realize the effect you can have on the world.