The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Jan. 18, 2022

Nick Santonastasso Inspires The Hell Out of Me - Born Without Legs And One Arm

Nick Santonastasso Inspires The Hell Out of Me - Born Without Legs And One Arm

Nick Santonastasso (@nicksantonastasso) is an author, motivational speaker, bodybuilder, wrestler and coach born with a very rare condition called Hanhart Syndrome. Only 3 out of 12 others Born with this condition are alive . Although he survived, Nick was born without legs and with only a portion of one of his arms. Nick hasn't allowed any of those challenges to stand in his way of living the life of his dreams. During this conversation with Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios as the Wynn Las Vegas he talks about why the biggest disability is a bad mindset, why he believes he can accomplish anything, being an inspiration to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, learning from Tony Robbins, why he loves bodybuilding and more. This conversation with inspire the hell out of you like it did for me!


For more info on Justin Schenck's Growth Now Summit that Nick Santonastasso and I are speaking at visit:


I’ve been looking forward to this interview for such a long time! You inspire people by just being who you are, I love that we get to dig deep into your story.

“I’m in. Wherever you want to go, I’m down!”

If someone is finding out about you for the first time, what’s the cliff notes version?

“So yeah, I am Nick Santonastasso. I was born into this unicorn body with no legs and one arm and I help entrepreneurs unwire and rewire their brain through brain exercises. It could be removing traumas and limiting beliefs, things that can be holding you back. People look at me and go ‘Oh wow he’s disabled.’ But I believe the biggest disability you can have is a bad mindset, it is your software. We just help people break out of the box and break out of the matrix.”

I think a lot of people watching this will be going “That’s the guy I saw The Rock talking about.”   

“Yeah the guy crawling around WalMart when Vine was a thing. I’ve had a lot of identities.”

What is so great about you is all the things that you are doing. There’s nothing that you can’t do and a lot of people will be thinking “Well if Nick can do it then why can’t I do it too?”

“It’s funny you say that. When I started talking my thing was ‘If I can do it then you can too!’ But after studying psychology and the masters of psychology it’s about breaking it down and making people realize that they have been fooled by mindsets. The word mindset has been jaded and thrown around so much, but it’s not your fault, you hear it everywhere. When most people think of mindset, they think of motivation. But the truth is that mindset is training the body and mind with enough condition on repetition and intensity to change the biochemistry of your body. It changes your emotions, thoughts and the way that you think, so it’s deeper than just motivation. It’s about getting your mind and your body aligned so that you can get what you want in this world. I built this person over time, mindset is about repetition until you get what you want.”

I think people don’t realize that there are good mindsets and bad mindsets.

“So most of your beliefs and the way that you view the world are cultivated when you are between 0 and 7 years old. The reason why is because your brain was in theta state. What that means is that you are suggestible, because your mind is in unconscious mode. You can still get that as an adult through meditation and by dreaming. So if you heard between 0 and 7 ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’ Along the line, you pick up that unconscious thought and realize that money is hard to get.”

So who were you between 0 and 7 years old?

“So at an early age I didn’t realize that I was different. My parents have this great story. So I was born with this super rare genetic condition called Hanhart Syndrome, which will either leave the babies with underdeveloped limbs or underdeveloped organs. At the time of my birth in 1996, I was the 12th baby in medical history that this has ever happened to. Out of those 12, 8 have passed away due to underdeveloped organs. As a parent, what do you do? My parents made this massive decision, they were going to focus on the 30% chance of me living vs. 70% chance of me passing away, because you get more of what you focus on. So I was born, I survived, and the only thing that was affected was my limbs. I was born with no legs and one arm. But as I was saying, my parents bring me home all wrapped up like baby Jesus, and they never acknowledged or let my other siblings know that I was different. They bring me home, unravel me, and they see this kid with no legs and one arm, the first thing that they say is ‘Look at his hair. He’s so beautiful.’ They never put an emphasis on the disability, it was just acknowledged as normal.”        

So you didn’t realize that you were different when growing up. At what point did you start to feel different?

“By that time it was middle school and high school. I think that middle school and high school are some of the most judgemental times in your lives, and some people did let me know that was different. But there were a few ‘Aha’ moments where I was like ‘Hmm. I’m in a wheelchair.’ Or ‘Everyone is taller than me.’ But there were a few little moments where I realized that I am different. Specifically, I struggled with females. Boyfriends and girlfriends are a big deal in high school, I feel like I didn’t receive the same level of love as my buddies got. I saw people with boyfriends and girlfriends and I wanted it. There was a time on the bus where this girl was making fun of everyone and she said ‘Nick, I’m not going to even start with you, you’re already too messed up.’ In a moment like that, your mind starts to stack. You can either stack the thoughts in the negative way or the positive way.”

How did you come back from that?

“I had the realization that if someone doesn’t want to be with you or be friends with you because of the disability, then maybe the disability is working for you. Maybe this is filtering out the kind of people that you don’t want in your life anyway. Your body is a clear filter, it saves you time, if people don’t like you then there is the door!”   

How did you first get connected with Tony Robbins?

“I was 20 or 21 years old, and I moved to Tampa to pursue bodybuilding. Yeah a guy with no legs and one arm tries bodybuilding. My friend said ‘Hey, we are having a bunch of people over for a mastermind, come and meet some entrepreneurs.’ I went over there and people are asking me what is my story? After I shared my story, there was a Russian guy who said one day I would be on stage with Tony Robbins. I didn’t know who Tony was and he laughed. He then said that he would work with me for free, 50% real estate and 50% me. 4 or 5 years later I am on a world tour with Tony Robbins.”   

You have such a captivating presence on stage like you have been doing this for over 30 years.

“Thanks, it’s repetition. It’s one thing to have skill, but it’s another to do it again and again. I can give you tools and strategies, but will you do it until it becomes you? Think about the first time you learn how to drive, you are thinking about everything and freaking out. But after a few times you are slapping the wheel and singing, and now what can you do while you drive? Some things some people shouldn’t do though! But with enough repetition it is like autopilot, and you can do that with speaking. I’ve only been speaking for 4 years, and there have been moments where I have been uncertain, but it’s all about getting the reps in.”

I’ve heard you tell stories in other interviews where you have said that your parents did not raise you any differently. Do you think if you were raised differently you wouldn’t be the man who you are right now?

“For sure. My mom has a book called ‘How we raised an adaptive child in a handicapped world.’ You can have all your body parts but can be crippled, or you can be someone with no legs and one arm and do everything. It’s no one’s fault, it’s down to conditioning. My parents did not intentionally cast beliefs onto me, they were just doing their best, and as a kid you think that everything is your fault. If your parents get divorced, you think that it’s your fault. The other assumption we have is that the adults have their sh*t together, but we are actually all in Earth school trying to figure this out. But it’s your power to break the generational curse.”

So your parents would put clothes in front of you and say ‘Figure out how to dress yourself?’

“So when I got to a certain age, they would give me clothes and verbal suggestions. But clearly I figured it out, I got clothes on for this interview. I had an early relationship with failure too, people go ‘Don’t fall.’ But all the gold comes from the grit of falling down and looking at what you can do better by falling down. Failure is feedback, the more I fail, the more I can learn and succeed.”  

How often do people tell you how inadequate they make them feel?

“Yeah quite a lot, sorry [laughs]. A lot of my clients use me as the antidote to their bitch voice. ‘Oh my legs hurt, but Nick doesn’t have any legs.’ I may make people feel inadequate, but it makes people realize that they have more to give.”

Watching you lift weights is inspiring. You have mastered every exercise.

“Like I aid before, failure is feedback. I went into the gym and I couldn’t use all the machines. I had to be careful with my posture and the movements. But I didn’t quit, I figured out what worked for me and just keep tweaking and moving.”

So were you in the gym and The Rock was there too?

“Yeah, I’m a big believer of right place, right time and being guided. If you are dreaming of a car, you will focus on it and see it more. If you focus on the good, you will see the good. I am very focused and one of my goals was to meet The Rock. I was 10 weeks into a 12 week bodybuilding preparation, and I was pretty shredded. I flew to Vegas to do Mr. Olympia, I went to a gym and it was really crowded. My buddy says that The Rock is lifting upstairs but I was still ok to come in and lift. To give you context, I have blown up with his videos and he knows who I was. I looked at my friends and said ‘He knows who I am, he will come up to me if he wants to.’ I’m lifting and he is next to me curling. You know when you lock eyes and look away? We both did that and then kind of went away. His security guard came up to me and said ‘Hey, can Dwayne meet you?’ So he came up to me, dropped down to my level and got a picture with me.”     

If someone wants to make a change in their life, what do you think are 3 things they need to do today?

“The first one is vision, you need a compelling reason. Why do you go to work? Because you have to? That’s bullsh*t. You need to get clear on where you are and where you want to be. The more clarity you have, the easier it will be. Get some leverage, and that can cause pain to some people. Ask yourself ‘What’s going to happen if I don’t build this business?’ You miss out on joy and financial freedom. Get some leverage, because your brain is always going to try and pull you back. Next, find out who is pulling you down and who is building you up, evaluate your circle. The third thing is what you listen to and what you consume is what you become.”         

What does your morning routine look like?

“I have a few non-negotiables. If I get them done, I am good. My non-negotiables are I try not to look at my phone for the first 30 minutes, give myself the gift of being a human. I tell myself this is going to be an amazing day, and then I pray.”

I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are 3 things in your life that you are grateful for right now?

“To be able to see, hear and feel, my team and the opportunity to be here today and we are all alive at the same time.”

Image credits: Instagram