Walk the Talk: Co-Founders Reflect on Creating Epic Shifts and Inspiring Others
Dec 03, 2018 06:30PM
By Jenn Willhite
Co-founders of the TED Talkinspired Walk the Talk (WTT) speaker series, Steve Ross and Richard Brendan, are local visionaries on a mission to inspire community consciousness.
Since the WTT launched the event series in June 2016, the pair has intentionally worked to incorporate the inspirational stories into their daily lives and build their “tribe”—a group encompassing the series’ speakers and anyone that attends such an event, Ross says.Recently, the two spoke about the origins and launch of WTT, how they’re inspired by the speakers, lessons learned, challenges encountered, their hopes for what audiences take away from the events and their hopes for the future of the initiative.
How and why did the idea of Walk the Talk come about?
“In 2013 Karen Golden and I began the discussion of creating a speaker series bringing in well-known professional speakers,” Ross says. “After discovering most of them want six figures for an hour, we went back to the drawing board. We came up with the idea of creating a TED Talk-style event, but focusing on topics based around spirituality, well-being and positive thinking, and auditioning local speakers. We met Richard, thanks to Cassie Stockamp, and we all had the same vision and feeling that this would be great for Indy. Karen left for her calling to Sedona while Richard and I continued with our WTT goal.”
How did you come up with the name?
“Steve came up with Walk the Talk I came up with the tagline ‘creating an epic shift,’” Brendan says.
Can you describe that first WTT event back in 2016? Did it exceed expectations?
“Our first event far exceeded our expectations,” Brendan says. “A full house and those attending loved it. The topic was Gratitude and it was launched from Steve’s club, The Vogue, in Broad Ripple.”
What makes your speaker series stand out from others?
“We add in live music, confetti, an emcee (Richard), a Motivational Balloon Drop and events based on specific topics,” Ross says. “We also film all of our talks and post them on our YouTube channel.”
How have previous speakers inspired you and what are some lessons you’ve learned from them?
“The biggest lesson for me is that the more speakers I hear, the more I am inspired to Walk the Talk of life in a positive and grateful way,” Ross says. “Our audiences always have lots of ah-ha moments and many are thankful to the speakers for the messages and lessons they share.”
What has been the most unique experience you’ve had with the series thus far?
“Well, I can’t tell you how many times during an event I’m overcome by goosebumps and a feeling of spirit,” Ross says. “It is such a beautiful and heart-warming feeling.”
How about you, Richard? What has been your most unique experience with the series?
“I’ve always believed that everyone has a story to tell. Most of our presenters are non-professional speakers, and hearing them speaking from their heart, sharing their inspiring stories, has been a huge blessing for me and for those who attend.”
What do you hope audiences take away from their experience at a Walk the Talk event?
“We hope that audiences are inspired to walk their talk on a daily basis,” Brendan says. “People have told us that a particular speaker or story was just the thing they needed to hear because they were struggling with fear or depression. Maybe they were losing hope. We remind our speakers of this and, that by being selected, they have an opportunity to change lives.”
In what way do you hope the series impacts the community as a whole?
“Our slogan is ‘Creating an Epic Shift,’” Ross says. “We want to create an epic shift in how people think and treat other people, including themselves, in a positive way.”
What do you enjoy most about the WTT series? Any challenges?
“Helping speakers share their stories, and the ah-ha learning moments that come from their stories,” Ross says. “Plus, I love co-producing events that help people smile, learn and grow. The biggest challenge is covering our expenses. We are working on that through local sponsorships by businesses that share the same mission.”
What are your hopes for the WTT series in the future?
“We hope to take this to a regional and national level someday,” Ross says. “Right now, we are focused on our home base in the beautiful and supportive city of Indianapolis.”