The Guinness World Record Art Project
Where Thousands of Questions Get Answered

200 People in 200 Minutes Say “We Want the Book!”


2-Minute Overview of Wheel Questions


The Wheel Questions installation.

What if humanity were a person you could talk with? What if people, like bees, had a collective personality – could you write it a letter? Would it respond? The year before my startup sold for $160 million, I launched into an art project to find out. Through a kiosk touring festivals and sidewalks, I tried to collect and reply to 10,000 handwritten questions in a single summer. I pushed myself so hard that I fell homeless for a second time and was rushed to a hospital. And I set 5 world records, as some of the 500,000 visitors submitted soul burning questions like these:

Is my obsession hurting me?
Will I die alone?
Why can’t I exist on candy?
Why do I hate myself?
Will this love last?       (see more)

Am I so damaged I will not heal?
Does the death of a parent change who you are?
Why isn’t there an island called Monster Island!?!!?
Are my teddy bears alive??? (please say yes)
Will I ever find someone who loves me?

Studying how a single question could be phrased in hundreds of ways gave me insight into what people really wanted to know, and how to respond at a deeper level. So I wrote answers on the back of each card from a unique perspective: a practical, secular philosophy of turning action into power and using the head to outwit the heart when we love or cry too much. Then I posted the cards on a website and on the outdoor community kiosk, called the Wheel, for all to see.

In Soulburners: 10,000 Secret Questions and My Race to Answer Them All, I save a woman from rape, get hit by a car, climb MIT’s dome, get invited to a film set by a Hollywood producer, and set up the first hot tub on the Internet. My wife tries to kill me with a knife, the mayor of Boston and I dedicate Edgar Allan Poe Square, and a millionaire I’m suing is shot three times and then convicted of staging it to frame someone else. I play emergency band manager at a 10,000-seat venue, stuff an office to the top with balloons, lose 125 pounds, land a $3 million Microsoft deal, win a national robot contest, watch my father get locked out of the house by my mother and smash in the door, get attacked by the brother who shot a hole in the family television, and ask the meaning of life to a room of Nobel laureates.

I begin the art marathon in April 2009, penniless, unable to love myself and near suicidal from craving approval. In the October climax, having already fallen and broken my arm, I balance atop a ladder, securing the Wheel from being knocked over again in the wind. Set near a sidewalk curb, the Wheel is blown towards oncoming traffic. I start to tilt too and must choose between saving the project and saving myself. If I die right now, they’ll call me a hero. But having helped people all summer, I’ve learned to love myself. In a waking dream where I argue with my dead mother, I realize: It’s not my fault. She was just a difficult woman. I no longer need to find approval. I let the Wheel go. What humanity, the global personality, if it exists, has been telling me through thousands of question cards is that the problems I thought were mine alone are shared by everyone. I’m not a broken person. I’m just – a person. As though triggered by this catharsis, a corporate sponsorship rescues me from financial collapse. The count: 10,201 cards.

Soulburners offers inspiration and peace of mind to an audience that has created many bestsellers. With my MIT MBA, I am a marketing expert and award-winning public speaker who can reach 5,500,000 people a year, as detailed below. Sequel memoirs and companion art books of photographs can follow as the ongoing Wheel project continues year to year.

Book Proposal (7MB)
Powerpoint Book Presentation (11MB)
Question & Answer Photos
Newspaper articles  
Author lectures & radio appearances:
  • Letter from the Out with Joe Show:
    “For the past two years Johnny Monsarrat has been a regular weekly feature… Johnny’s professionalism is unsurpassed. He is always prepared, timely and intuitive to what it is our listeners are seeking. Johnny has been vital to our success and growth.”
  • Letter from the Dr. George show:
    “I have had many emails asking him to return…
    a rare gift of brains, communication skills,
    marketing genius, and a superior sense of humor.”
  • NPR’s Colin McEnroe Show
    (49 min, 23MB, from 29min 26secs to end)
  • Cambridge public lecture
    (20min, 20MB)

Monsarrat is the winner of the Brown University President’s Award for public speaking.

5 World Records Most written advice in a
month, &

Most videos made in a
day, &
Author resume monsarrat-resume.doc
The art project:
Comments from Book Expo America