As an international rafting outfitter, social entrepreneur, and acclaimed author, I have studied cultures amid the deltas of Botswana, in small villages of Siberia, on the streets of China, and through deep conversations with luminaries and everyday heroes. Today, while still owning two businesses and teaching classes at a local charter high school, I love to impart to eager audiences what I have learned about community building. I would be honored to share with your group ideas and tools that can benefit your business, organization, or whatever community you would like to grow.
My life, yesterday, today, and hopefully tomorrow, is rich. I am blessed to be able to:
- Speak at TEDx Grand Forks about our ability to choose and build trusting versus fearful communities. My TED talk shares insights I have gleaned by working and traveling in over 40 countries, in trusting and fearful communities from small Siberian villages to San Bernardino, California. I am honored by those who have watched this presentation in person and on YouTube, as we all seek to build better places, places where hopes and dreams live and individuals and cultures flourish.
- Have written “The Gift of Courage,” that Meryl Streep calls “One of the good news stories that resonate within every life…that anyone can take to heart.” This book tells the stories of eight everyday heroes who embraced causes in the face of their personal fears and peril and, in doing so, positively changed the lives of thousands of people in their respective communities. As an example, I would love to share with you my positively jaw-dropping interactions with students and teachers at Thurgood Marshall Academy, an incredibly successful charter high school located in one of the most violent neighborhoods on earth. Every single senior at this school has graduated and gone on to college.
- Serve as a board member and facilitator of Opportunity Knocks, a leading support and mentoring organization for new and experienced entrepreneurs. Opportunity Knocks has helped Central Oregon become one of the leading tech start-up and ethically-driven business cultures in the U.S.
- Draw on thirty years of experience as an international adventure travel guide and outfitter, where I organized and led wilderness expeditions on five continents. My company, Destination Wilderness, was able to provide backcountry adventures for thousands of clients who rediscovered what mattered to them, in the peace of wild places. And, I was able to immerse myself in and study culture and community in over forty countries. Remind me to tell you about our surprise encounter with the terrified locals of “Reindeer Hunting Town,” in remote Siberia, as the first westerners to ever explore this part of the world. As we pulled our rafts ashore and walked into town, they initially hid behind their curtains in fear of our “invasion.”
- Provide inspiration and advice to the enthusiasts of Motivation.com, as a founding partner. I helped develop this leading web-platform, write stories and articles, and choreograph solicitations from industry leaders to share with people eager to recognize and live their goals and dreams.
- Serve as an advisor to Fortune 500 and other high net worth clients throughout the country. In this position I now advocate against hard-edged, unbridled profit-oriented positions and champion mutually beneficial, heart-to-heart approaches. Heart-to-heart relationships lift all involved, rather than destructive toe-to-toe business behaviors that diminish our full capacity for community growth and synergistic success. Of many memorable multi-million dollar transactions I facilitated, one stands out due to the yelling match I got into with another broker. We were arguing on behalf of our respective clients over a $20,000 difference in price on a $10,000,000 property. I represented a multi-billionaire and the other broker represented a multi-millionaire. Looking back at it and knowing what I now know, the posturing and this fight seems ludicrous.
- Teach “Ethics and Entrepreneurship” at Redmond Proficiency Academy (see the Atlantic Monthly article), here student achievement is measured by who they are and what they can do rather than the obscure information they can memorize. This class culminates in “Limitless,” an inspirational live event ”where TEDx meets teens,” produced by and for high school students. The first of its kind in the country, Limitless showcases the power, concerns, and talents of our next generation of leaders.
- Taught and worked in bush Alaska, in hamlets of 300 or less that are accessible only by boat or plane, where I marveled at communities made of people who truly care for one another and never behave at the expense of their neighbors. I’d be honored to share with you some Alaska stories, including the time I was transported from an isolated Arctic dirt and ice runway sitting in a dog mushing basket pulled by a snow machine, into a town of 150 connected souls.
- Be a partner of NAI Cascade, a leading commmercial real estate company that is reshaping the way investment real estate is practiced by focusing on community before commodity. Our company culture recognizes family as our first fortune and operates in an atmosphere of camaraderie rather than competition.
- Volunteer on the BendTEDx program and speaker selection committee, where I helped source, secure, and coach experts in their respective fields to speak to our town. The result has been a true lifting of spirit and cohesiveness in Central Oregon that empowers individual members of our community to live their dreams and make their town a magical place to live.
My wife, Danielle, and I have the great joy of raising our children — Dawson, Delaney, and Dari — just outside of Redmond, Oregon, amidst ranch lands with endless views of the nearby 10,000-feet tall Three Sisters Mountains. Starry skies filled with universal glory, forever Cascade panoramas, and traffic-free morning walks make our hometown heaven on earth. I passionately and proudly coach my kids’ teams, help them with projects like driving a go-cart in the Fourth of July parade or learning to dance the hula, tuck them in at night after doing the “jelly belly” dance, and then hold my wife as I blissfully have for twenty years.
In keeping with benevolence and the joys found in service, a portion of the book sale proceeds and all live events are donated to worthy organizations such as those described in The Gift of Courage and A Whole Heart Handbook. By purchasing these books or attending one of our programs you are helping richly deserving people. Thank you for taking time, by reading these pages and by joining us at a show or workshop to learn of the beauty of purpose, the value of heart-to-heart relationships, and the gift of courage. Thank you for becoming a part of this community.
Banner: Sitting on the fence: Dari, Ken, Delaney, Danielle and Dawson.
Top right: Clockwise: Danielle, Ken, Dawson, Delaney, and Dari in Glacier Bay, Alaska
Dawson, friend Otis, and Ken on the river
Dari and Delaney riding; Photo by Kevin Kubota
Bottom right: Limbs akimbo accidentally flipping at flood stage