We all remember that one teacher who had a profound impact on our lives. Growing up, teachers are often the individuals who often inspire us to develop a voice, pursue a passion, and in the case of Will.iam, chase a dream.

The Grammy-winning singer, producer and visionary joins Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast, in partnership with iHeartRadio and Sleep Number, where he reflects on the school teacher who had the most meaningful impact on his future: his fourth grade anatomy teacher, Mr. Right.

Will.i.am tells Huffington that he grew up in a poor neighborhood, where the crime rate was high and drugs were prevalent. In school, he struggled with feeling like an outsider, until he was encouraged to embrace his creativity and commit to his dream. “[Mr. Right] said, ‘William, make sure that you write your dreams down,’” he remembers. “And when you do that and you master that, you’ll be able to think a lot clearer in the world.”

Will.i.am was only 12 years old when he got a keyboard for Christmas and started recording his own music, and he tells Huffington about the creativity and confidence he began to embrace at school. He recalls putting a cassette player inside a teddy bear, and bringing the bear into school to show his classmates. He remembers Mr. Right seeing his invention and saying, “He’s creative.”

“That’s what kept me cool in school,” Will.i.am explains. “[Eventually,] my dreams were just as real as my reality.” For Will.i.am, Mr. Right was the influence who taught him to encourage his unique quirks and become comfortable with himself. When he learned to use his creativity as currency, Will.i.am came into his own, and the rest is history. “Mr. Right stopped teaching,” he notes, “But I remember.”

To find out more, listen to the full conversation on iHeartRadio, here. You can also listen to the Thrive Global podcast internationally for free on iTunes.


  • Rebecca Muller Feintuch

    Senior Editor and Community Manager


    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.