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Today we continue our best of 2014 series. Joe Loya’s life trajectory of rising up and moving forward took a radically different turn after losing his mother at an an early age, and stabbing his father in the neck at the age of 16. This was beginning of of a life of crime, and 14 month bank robbing spree in which he robbed 30 banks. In this amazing chat about his life, we discuss the amazing power of innovating with your story. 


  • The loss of a parent at a very young age 
  • Growing up with an abusive father
  • How stabbing his father unleashed Joe’s anger
  • The power of a story that continually changed
  • How being robbed caused Joe to ratchet up his game
  • The murder of an ex cellmate that changed Joe’s life
  • Achieving balance without acting against your consciousness
  • How writing starts to reveal the patterns of our lives 
  • Why you must start to own your story 
  • How Joe became a talking head for crime 
  •  The pain of victims that led Joe to working with female writers
  • Why your story is a fluid thing that you can own
  • How we deal with grief and why it’s a part of life 
  • Why holding onto grief can be insidious 
  • How being trained to look for meaning helped Joe transform 
  • A look at what happens in the mind when you rob a bank 
  • Why your story is a fluid thing that can change 
  • Learning to laugh at the things you take seriously
  • Our cultural misperceptions of the people who are prison 

Joe Loya is an essayist and playwright, as well as a contributing editor with the Pacific News Service. His essays have appeared in several national newspapers and magazines, including the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, and El Andar magazine. This episode of the Unmistakable Creative is sponsored by Skilledup, an online course discovery platform built to help shape the future of learning​. Download their free toolkit for creative professionals. 

Originally aired over 2 years ago.

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Our listeners say, “If TEDTalks met Oprah you’d have the Unmistakable Creative.” Eliminate the feeling of being stuck in your life, blocked in your creativity, and discover higher levels of meaning and purpose in your life and career. Listen to deeply personal, insightful, and thought-provoking stories from the world’s leading thinkers and doers including best-selling authors, artists, peak performance psychologists, happiness researchers, entrepreneurs, startup founders, artists, venture capitalists, and even former bank robbers. Former guests have included Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Justine Musk, Scott Adams, Rob Bell, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elle Luna, Jordan Harbinger Brett Mckay, and Simon Sinek.