IN-Q on His Non-Linear Journey of Becoming a National Poetry Slam champion and the Lessons Learned Along the Way - Ep 034
Play • 1 hr 33 min

Today’s guest is somebody who inspires a lot of people with his words. His name is Adam Schmalholz, but you may be more familiar with his stage name, IN-Q, which stands for IN-Question. IN-Q is a National Poetry Slam champion, award-winning poet, multi-platinum songwriter, recent first-time author, and one of the most electric spoken word performers on the scene. 

In this episode, you’ll discover that his backstory is equally as fascinating as his poems. Listening to this conversation, you’ll find out how he first discovered his gift for poetry in school and how he went on to develop and refine his unique style. You’ll hear about the lean years, when IN-Q had no way of making money as a spoken word poet, when he had to pay for food with pocket change and work odd jobs to survive. 

You’ll also learn that, after putting in well over 10,000 hours in writing and performing, IN-Q finally had the opportunity to perform for people like Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton, and even President Barack Obama. He went on to win awards, get featured on Def Poetry Jam and Oprah's Super Soul 100 List. His spoken word videos have received nearly 100 million views and he has sold out as the largest one-man poetry show in Los Angeles history. 

Like most changemakers, IN-Q’s backstory was not linear. All of the ups and the downs played a crucial role in navigating him along his path, and that is what makes his story so compelling – it’s something that we can all relate to. Tune in today to find out more about IN-Q’s incredible journey.

Key Points From This Episode:

• IN-Q’s favorite toy as a child was a G.I. Joe Snake Eyes action figure, perhaps because mystery makes history.

• IN-Q talks about what it was like for him, not having his father around while he grew up.

• His natural attraction to subjects that dealt with storytelling in school – like English.

• When IN-Q was first introduced to hip-hop and the impact it had on him.

• From Will Smith to Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest – how IN-Q’s taste in hip-hop evolved.

• Practicing his freestyle, learning to focus his energy, and the mentor he had at a young age.

• What IN-Q’s idea of success was at that age and what he saw himself becoming.

• The problem with setting high expectations for yourself and manipulating your truth in order to achieve them.

• Freestyle versus written material and the incredible number of poems IN-Q has memorized.

• IN-Q’s first rap name, and how he became known as IN-Q thanks to his curious nature.

• Hear the story of when IN-Q met his father for the first time – Spoiler alert: It didn’t go well!

• How IN-Q was first introduced to Da Poetry Lounge and ended up staying for 14 years.

• The differences between music and spoken word poetry and what that shift was like for him.

• How IN-Q funded his dreams during the lean years and the obsession that drove him.

• Where IN-Q’s philosophical perspective on life came from – that he couldn’t control life, only go along for the ride.

• Learn about the incredible support IN-Q received from his community in the early days.

• IN-Q talks about his relationship with actor and poet, Omari Hardwick, and how Def Poetry Jam changed (or didn’t change) his life.

• What IN-Q has learned from performing for and connecting with strangers versus those who are already familiar with his work.

• The importance of setting clear boundaries and asking others to respect them.

• When IN-Q says he is still finding his voice, it means that he is ever-evolving and learning.

• Where the commentary starts and the poem begins – and why the story is key.

• Find out how IN-Q came up with the idea for the cover of his book, Inquire Within.

• How the collaborative project, Speakeasy Poetry, came to fruition and what it’s all about.

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