ABOUTÉmile Odbäck Nelson
Émile graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with highest honors and a University Award of Distinction, as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, and was selected to give the graduation speech for nearly 10,000 people. While at UCSB, Émile served as the Editor in Chief of the University’s top-nationally-ranked Newspaper, the Daily Nexus, where he won several awards and broke a story that helped a political refugee gain asylum in the United States. Also, in his time off, Émile worked with a top Hollywood director, and published a book on student success. Émile now speaks to thousands of students per year, and works full time to help people relearn the art and importance of connection — often by sharing Fika!
In many ways, the only consistent things in my life have been change and curiosity. My longing to learn and explore new things has been my driving force, and has taken me all over the world, from Sweden where I was born to Santa Barbara, California where I have now lived for several years.
When I was young, I had the childish dream of growing up to become a combination of my two greatest heroes, Astrid Lindgren and Ghandi. I so admired Lindgren’s ability to share meaningful stories with humor and joy, and Ghandi’s courage and passion for making the world a better place. Because of this dream, I first went to Stockholm University and became a lawyer, then moved to the United States and became an author.
Then, in 2002, I discovered the incredible healing power of art, which came into my life when I became seriously ill. Since then, I’ve created hundreds of paintings and had several shows in Los Angeles, Stockholm and New York.
Now that I’m a little bit older, my biggest goal is not only to make myself the best I can be, but to leave at least 5 million smiles behind me, as footprints on this earth, when it’s time for me to move on to whatever is next.