Together Live Celebrates The Power Of Women's Stories To Create Positive Change
In this time of divisive politics and troubling news, a speaking tour devoted to community, inclusion, love and purpose sounds like the shot of positivity we all need. Launching in September, Together Live brings together a diverse group of powerhouse women for a 10-city event celebrating how sharing our stories can change in the world.
Bestselling authors Glennon Doyle and Luvvie Ajayi, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach will appear in each city, with guest speakers includingSophia Bush, Connie Britton, and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl.
The tour kicks off in Portland and will travel to Seattle, San Jose, Phoenix, Austin, Washington, D.C, Nashville, Minneapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia. Tickets start at $25, far below the cost of most events, to ensure a wide range of women are able to attend. Together also has an app featuring content and community around the ideas of the tour, and a podcast launching in August.
Now in its second year, Together Live was founded by Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, executive vice president and co-head of Worldwide Literary at William Morris Endeavor. She's the force behind bestsellers from dozens of authors including Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, and Arianna Huffington. In 2003 she became the first woman to serve on WME’s board of directors.
I spoke with Rudolph Walsh about how she defines purpose, the problem with self-help books, and talking about signs from the universe in the boardroom.
Susan Price: A lot of what I hear about purpose revolves around careers and entrepreneurship, but that seems too narrow to me.
Jennifer Rudolph Walsh: There is a lot of talk about purpose in leadership and the corporate arena, but that’s not my focus. You’re lucky if you have a job that aligns with your purpose, but it is not necessary. Talent isn’t necessarily the same, either. Someone’s walk of life doesn’t matter to me. I believe if you are alive you have a purpose.
SP: You’ve invited a wide range of women to speak at Together Live. What ties them together?
JRW: They’ve all used their life stories to find their purpose and gotten over the bridge of bravery to put it into action. They are all living their purpose out loud and impacting the world, whether it is Ibtihaj Muhammad’s becoming the first Muslim woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, or Elizabeth Lesser building a spiritual center [The Omega Institute].
SP: Some people say they don't know what their purpose is. Why is it so hard to know what will truly fulfill us?
JRW: One of the reasons is that we are not focusing enough on other people. I love self-help books, but we are too focused on self. We have all helped ourselves enough. The great thing about purpose is that by definition it involves others. Life is a service job, and the sooner you get that the sooner it will lead to your purpose.
SP: What are some of the ideas about finding our particular purpose the speakers share on stage?
JRW: Once we starting talk about purpose it opens people up. We talk about using your own life as a guide, following the ‘breadcrumbs’ in your past to help define it. That may begin with asking you to remember the first time someone other than your family told you that you were good at something, or looking at when you were in a difficult place, when something happened out of your control or blindsided you, and how you responded. We share the authentic stories about your life that lead you to purpose.
Then it’s a matter of acting on it. You begin applying it in your own life. People sense when you are authentic. Look, I know what it is like at meeting and in the boardroom. I might say ‘the universe is giving us a sign,’ something like that, and I’m sure some people have opinions about that. But I’m comfortable with myself. I could put on a suit of armor and only talk about budgets, but that is not who I am.
SP: A lot has changed since your first tour, which launched before the election. Has our heated political environment impacted the event?
JRW: Our stories may be affected in different ways by the environment around us, but they don’t have to be. We are committed to being open, inclusive, and inviting everyone in. We already had our vision in place—I’m not sure it would be as easy to launch it now.
SP: We may need these conversations even more now.
JRW: I think that’s true. Hearing other people’s stories can create the kind of change that has political fallout—it breaks down the walls we put up between us. Once I hear your story I cannot view you as ‘other’ ever again. As Glennon likes to say, “fear doesn’t survive proximity.”
This year Ancestry.com is one of our partners, and we’re exploring the idea that our identities are more complex than we usually know. If you do a DNA test and find that you have various racial or ethnic identities you didn’t know about, that you are a bit or this and a bit of that, it makes you step back and revaluate who you call other in the first place
SP: How do you define your own purpose, and has it changed over the years?
JRW: I have wanted to share people ‘s stories from when I was very young, not just hear them. I was obsessed with soap operas, mainly General Hospital. I was the person butting into conversations at the coffee shop about Luke and Laura’s wedding, and not just because I like to talk. I came to realize my purpose was sharing stories so people feel less alone, and to use them connect and heal people. In 2009 I dug deeper. It was not just using stories to fix the broken parts everyone has, but using stories to shine a light in the world.
SP: You’ve launched this while working full time at a demanding job—that’s a lot on your plate.
JRW: People say that all the time, but I don’t see it that way. I have an abundant life, and I’m grateful. I’ve got three kids and two dogs, too. I don’t feel busy, I feel full. I am also really able to prioritize, and I am comfortable accepting that things are where they are. It is all one flowing thing for me.