Ten Questions: Doug Kinnear has something to say

Public speaker Doug Kinnear was born and raised on military bases such as NAS Miramar and NAS North Island in the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Being the youngest of six and moving all the time made it a huge advantage to have a quick wit and be able to talk endlessly on a wide variety of topics.

Kinnear thoroughly loved San Diego before moving to Virginia to attend prep school and college, where he skateboarded to class, played guitar in a rock band and talked like he was from another country (faaaarrrr out dude!).

After 23 years of working in logistics, graphic arts and construction in Virginia, Hawaii and Florida, Kinnear moved to Solana Beach in 2003 to find paradise, his dream girl, his family and a meaningful career in public speaking. The last five years have been spent attending Del Mar Toastmasters and distilling a lifetime of research into a book called “The Handbook of How It Is.”

He calls himself a “progressive motivational speaker” because he is concerned with making progress as a human race by rapidly solving our biggest challenges and presenting healthful opportunities for young people to work hard, be creative and excel.

What brought you to Solana Beach?

When I used to visit Solana Beach and Del Mar as a kid, the people were always happy. My mother, Dusty, brothers Kevin and Kim and sisters Kandace and Holley all loved living in this town, plus every major motivational speaker is from this area, including Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Deepak Chopra, Denis Waitley and others.

What makes Solana Beach special to you?

The most special part of Solana Beach to me is the Fletcher Cove Beach Park that used to be just “Pill Box” - a parking lot with restrooms in the middle. This location has been transformed into a place were community meets, children play and mutual enjoyment occurs on a daily basis.

My mother (among several others) helped artist Betsy Shultz with the installation of her instructive oceanic tile work there, including a memorial for two of my brothers. The other part of Solana Beach that is amazing to me is the Belly Up Tavern, where national and upcoming musical acts come to play for an enthusiastic, intimate audience. What a treat!

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Solana Beach?

I would like to see the north part of Cedros Avenue fulfill its potential as a continuation of the eclectic and charming market and art place that is Cedros Avenue South. My brother Kim worked at the Trios Gallery for more than a decade, and now that they have moved to the north side of Cedros, I have noticed there is much opportunity for improvements in this area. People love to walk by attractive storefronts and visit interesting shops, so things done to facilitate this will get the business up there and really help Solana Beach.

Who or what inspires you?

Genetic engineers, astrophysicists and scholars inspire me for helping to figure out many remarkably important, yet elegantly simple ideas. Genetic engineers taught me that all life on planet Earth is related and that all human beings, no matter where they are “from,” are 99.9 percent genetically similar.

Carl Sagan (astrophysicist) taught me that we are all “star stuff” that has become aware of ourselves as such (all the chemical elements that make us up were originally formed on the inside of stars). Joseph Campbell taught me that the path to true happiness is to “follow your bliss” and do what you know inside that you are here to do.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Socrates, so I could ask him a few questions; Martin Luther King Jr., so I could meet a man of genuine courage; Gen. Smedley D. Butler, so I could meet a man who looked war deep in the eye and then worked hard to end it; my uncle, Sgt. Maj. Neil T. Kinnear Jr., who taught me to do the right thing, even when no one was looking; my father, Adm. George E.R. Kinnear, who showed me that leadership and a sense of humor could be mixed; my mother, Dusty Kinnear, who gave me life and showed me how to live (and who likes to be the only gal at the party!); David Gilmore (Pink Floyd), who taught me that you don’t have to be lightning fast on guitar to move people; and Noam Chomsky (50-year MIT professor), who taught me that the most important part of teaching is to tell the whole truth.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading “The Sorrows of Empire” by Chalmers Johnson, which is pretty illuminating. Having grown up on military bases, this book holds special relevance to my life experience. I see this as a hopeful book because it is only through seeing what is that we can formulate a thought of what could be and make meaningful changes.

What is your most prized possession?

Two months ago, I went to my brother Kevin’s newly opened, high-end, acoustic guitar store, Epic Guitars, in Carlsbad. I played this 1994 James Goodall acoustic, and it lifted me off the ground. I have never heard a guitar sound as beautiful as this one, so it has since become my most prized possession.

What do you do for fun?

When I really want to have a blast, I take my guitar down to the Fletcher Cove playground and play some music for all the kids and their parents. Children really know how to listen: They just keep doing their thing, and then they’ll “shake-a-leg” if a song catches them right. One time last summer, I had 10 kids rocking out to the Buddy Holly song “Not Fade Away,” and they were all looking at me for more when it was over. Now that was fun!

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment is growing up in an environment dedicated to the art of waging war and learning the importance of waging peace instead for the long-term well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

I tell people that my religion is physics and my credo is “be nice.” I contemplate the fact that all life on Earth originated from a single cell and continued to become more and more complex until it arrived at us, with 100 trillion cells and enough brain power to think about it all. I see wonder and spirituality in the physical world all around me, which is why I say, “My religion is physics and my credo is ‘be nice.’ ”

Kinnear’s next speaking event, titled “The Lighter Side of Saving Planet Earth,” is at 7:30 p.m. May 30 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. For more information, visit

  1. To watch his speeches, visit