Isaac Lidsky Profile

  • Over the course of 13 years, a rare genetic disease caused Lidsky to gradually go blind; however, the former child television star and Harvard prodigy constantly found ways to reinvent himself and lead a fulfilling life.

  • As the CEO and owner of ODC Construction, Lidsky converted the once-failing construction company into a $150 million success story five years after acquiring it.

  • A graduate of Harvard Law School, Lidsky was the first and only blind Supreme Court Clerk.

  • Lidsky's book ,Eyes Wide Open, details his remarkable story of how he adapted to his blindness and learned to deal with fear of uncertainty.
  • Over the course of 12 years, Isaac Lidsky gradually went blind due to a rare genetic disease. Though he initially viewed his diagnosis as a death sentence, he eventually discovered that although he was losing his sight, his vision of himself and the opportunities available to him were growing greater and clearer than ever before. Today Lidsky is an internationally known motivational speaker, father of four, and the CEO of ODC Construction, a once-failing business that he converted into a $150 million success story.

    Lidsky received his diagnosis at age 13, the same year he was playing the part of “Weasel” on the NBC sitcom, Saved By the Bell: The New Class. An academic prodigy, he left Hollywood and entered Harvard at age 16, graduating before he turned 20.

    In 1999, Lidsky cofounded an online advertising company that sold for $230 million over a decade later. After two years with the company, he returned to Harvard for law school. By the time he graduated, he was legally blind, but seemingly unstoppable. During his time as a U.S. Justice Department lawyer, he argued more than a dozen appeals in federal court on behalf of the U.S., winning every case. To date he is the first and only blind Supreme Court clerk, having worked for both Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

    After the birth of his triplets in 2010, Lidsky made a career change to CEO following the advice of a career coach. He and a partner bought a floundering concrete foundation subcontractor, ODC Construction. They expanded its services and reinvented its culture and business practices, transforming it into one of Florida’s most competitive players in the construction industry.

    Lidsky’s debut book Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly examines how he didn’t let blindness hold him back from building a fulfilling life. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a frequently sought-out business advisor, and board member of the Florida Hospital For Children. His 2016 TED talk, “What Reality Are You Creating For Yourself?” has received nearly 2 million views.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      “Isaac Lidsky may possess the most eclectic resume in business. Over the years, he has been a child television star (he played series regular “Weasel” on NBC’s Saved By The Bell: The New Class), a Supreme Court clerk (for Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and the co-founder of an internet startup. More recently, Lidsky has used his gift for logistics to build ODC Construction into one of the fastest-growing construction businesses,” transforming an unsophisticated $11 million concrete subcontractor that was hemorrhaging money into an industry-leading $150 million construction services company—in 5 years.”
      Inc. Magazine, “The Incredibly Inspiring Journey of a Blind Entrepreneur,” October 1, 2015.

      The full list of his accomplishments is far longer. Lidsky graduated from Harvard at 19 with an honors degree in mathematics and computer science. He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. As a U.S. Justice Department lawyer, Lidsky argued more than a dozen appeals in federal court on behalf of the United States and never lost a case. He founded a nonprofit organization to fund the development of treatments for blinding diseases and within 5 years grew it to a dozen cities nationwide and more than $5 million. The technology company he founded sold for $230 million.

      In 2016 Lidsky set out to share with others his empowering approach to living and leading, and he was promptly recognized as a visionary thought leader. Penguin Random House acquired for publication his first book, Eyes Wide Open, and TED invited Lidsky to present a mainstage TED Talk at TEDSUMMIT 2016 in Banff, Canada. Lidsky now speaks to and works with organizations around the world.

      He has been recognized for his achievements dozens of times and his leadership is routinely sought after. He is an advisor to a $1+ billion tech “unicorn.” He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the world’s premier peer network of chief executives and business leaders, and was tapped to lead the Orlando Chapter and to serve on the Regional Executive Committee for the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean. He was asked to join the Young Entrepreneur Council. He has been appointed to State leadership positions by the Governor of Florida and to a federal position by a U.S. Senator. He sits on the Board of the Florida Hospital For Children. He was named 1 of 4 Temple Bar Scholars by the United Kingdom’s Inns of Court and brought to London for a month-long idea exchange with UK Supreme Court Justices and leading barristers.

      Perhaps most striking, Lidsky is only 37, and he is blind. Born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare degenerative disease of the retina, from age 12 to 25 he slowly lost his sight. As his bio makes clear, neither his youth nor his blindness have limited him, however.

      This is true in his professional life and personal life alike. Isaac married Dorothy, the love of his life, in June 2004. In September 2010 she gave birth to their triplets, Lily Louise, Phineas and Thaddeus—collectively, “The Tripskys”—and in December 2015 baby Clementine completed the family. The six Lidskys live in Windermere, Florida.

      Unsurprisingly, Lidsky has been featured in numerous national media, including Forbes, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, 60 Minutes, CNN, Voice of America, Business News Daily, Daily Business Review, Business Insider, Men’s Health, People Magazine, the National Law Journal, and the American Bar Association Journal. He is regularly asked by the media to provide his commentary on the construction industry, leadership and/or entrepreneurship. Invariably, his story shines through his commentary, and with his story, great inspiration.

    Isaac Lidsky Speaking Videos

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    Isaac Lidsky's Speech Descriptions

    Motivational keynote speaker, Isaac Lidsky relays how going blind led him to develop “eyes wide open vision.” The CEO of a multi-million dollar company, first blind Supreme Court clerk, and former child TV star illustrates how we can reach our full potential by breaking free of our faulty assumptions, “black and white thinking”, and fears. Drawing from his own psychological journey from teen celebrity to visually impaired entrepreneur, he imparts tactics for broadening your thinking, cultivating greater awareness of your emotions, and mitigating volatile situations, particularly from a position of leadership.

    Eyes Wide Open

    You create your own reality, and you believe it. Isaac will prove it to you, sharing his eye-opening perspective of sight itself as an example. You’ll gain the vision to shape your life deliberately, with awareness and accountability.

    Leadership & Teams

    To lead is to listen. True leadership is the alignment of intentions and effort, and true success a byproduct of common purpose. We accomplish nothing alone, and we accomplish little if we cannot listen to each other. Isaac will talk you through it. Listen to him and you’ll learn to conduct a harmonious team.

    Motivation & Achievement

    In every moment you choose who you are and how you want to live your life. With this empowerment comes responsibility, complete and inescapable. When you’re beset by challenges, you’re tempted to plead with your heroes, blame your villains and surrender to your limitations. This is a temptation to relinquish your choice, to abdicate your control. Isaac will inspire you to make a better choice. Your heroes, villains and limitations are fictions you perceive as reality. Choose to see through them. Choose to let them go.


    Fear is a powerfully destructive force in our lives. Above all else we fear the unknown. Yet to thrive in transition we must find empowerment in uncertainty. Isaac will show you how to deconstruct fear’s oppressive tunnel. You’ll learn to embrace the expansive possibilities of the undefined and uncharted.

    Entrepreneurial Endeavor

    Effort without purpose is entropy. When we labor without a goal we are destined to fail. Using his 3 successful startups as examples—an internet advertising technology company in New York (sold for $230 million); a nonprofit to fund scientific research in Washington, DC ($0 to $5 million in 5 years); and a construction services business in Florida ($15 to $150 million in 5 years)—Isaac will show you how success is a matter of definition. You’ll learn to reinvent yourself and create the organization that expresses achievement as you see it.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Isaac Speak

    Rating Entries

    “We brought more than 700 of our worldwide managing directors together for a week of leadership development. Isaac Lidsky closed the program, teaching us to master our reality by embracing our potential and overcoming our perceived limitations. Our leaders were captivated and inspired by Isaac, and the session ended in a standing ovation… something that doesn’t happen too often around here! We would love to host Isaac again soon.”

    Bob Gerard, Senior Manager, Talent Research and Innovation

    “Isaac Lidsky vividly demonstrates how to live and lead well-empowered, aware and accountable. He is a beacon of true success and inner happiness, and his vision is worthy of careful study.”
    – Michelle Gielan,
    Best-Selling Author of Broadcasting Happiness and Founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research

    “Isaac captures the essence of exceptional living and leadership through the lenses of inner vision and aspiration. True perspective is an active pursuit. I learned much from him and will approach my life and my work with my eyes wider open!”

    – McKeel Hagerty
    International Chairman, Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO)

    “This year’s center stage at YPO’s Global Leadership Conference and Edge in Dubai was incredible. I loved Sting; his words and music were memorable. Being in the presence of Sheik Mohammad was remarkable. But the highlight of the experience was the inspirational talk by Isaac Lidsky. He shared powerful ideas on how to live and lead that I will always remember.”
    – Thayer Smith
    Managing Member, 1513 Group, LLC

    “Isaac is inspiring. He triumphs in the face of great challenges, with grace and humility. I have seen how Isaac meaningfully connects with and touches those around him, and each of us is better for it. Because of his exceptional experiences, Isaac has much to teach about his practical yet expansive approach to life.”
    — Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court (Ret.)

    “Few people have excelled in as many different ways as Isaac Lidsky has-and few have surmounted such hurdles. He has a fascinating, inspiring story to tell, and many practical, powerful insights to impart.”
    — Gretchen Rubin, Bestselling Author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before

    “Throughout his entire life, Isaac has proven time and time again that anything is possible, no matter the circumstance. His story is one of true strength, perseverance and hope – one that we can all learn something from. Isaac’s journey will encourage many to think with limitless boundaries, and go after their dreams, no matter how big.”
    — Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman, Quicken Loans Inc., Majority Owner, 2016 NBA ChampionCleveland Cavaliers

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    Books by Isaac Lidsky:

    Eyes Wide Open

    In Eyes Wide Open, Isaac Lidsky draws on his experience of achieving immense success, joy, and fulfillment while losing his sight to a blinding disease to show us that it isn’t external circumstances, but how we perceive and respond to them, that governs our reality.

    Fear has a tendency to give us tunnel vision—we fill the unknown with our worst imaginings and cling to what’s familiar. But when confronted with new challenges, we need to think more broadly and adapt. When Isaac Lidsky learned that he was beginning to go blind at age thirteen, eventually losing his sight entirely by the time he was twenty-five, he initially thought that blindness would mean an end to his early success and his hopes for the future. Paradoxically, losing his sight gave him the vision to take responsibility for his reality and thrive. Lidsky graduated from Harvard College at age nineteen, served as a Supreme Court law clerk, fathered four children, and turned a failing construction subcontractor into a highly profitable business.

    Whether we’re blind or not, our vision is limited by our past experiences, biases, and emotions. Lidsky shows us how we can overcome paralyzing fears, avoid falling prey to our own assumptions and faulty leaps of logic, silence our inner critic, harness our strength, and live with open hearts and minds. In sharing his hard-won insights, Lidsky shows us how we too can confront life’s trials with initiative, humor, and grace.

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