There is a jar on my desk that was given to me for my birthday that says “TOGETHER WE RISE.” It’s filled with slips of paper from my friends and colleagues, each holding some piece of wisdom I shared at a critical moment in their lives—words that made a difference and made them feel less alone. One says, “It’s not what happens, it’s what happens next.” Another says, “Try easier.” On days when I feel a little lost, I pull one out, and each time I read one it fills me with a sense of satisfaction. Not the “I’m important” kind of satisfaction, but the quiet kind that exists deep inside and reminds me I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
I wasn’t given this jar because I am a fountain of wisdom and knowledge. Quite the opposite: I’m no thought leader; I’m a thought follower. As the co-head of the Worldwide Literary Department at William Morris Endeavor, I have dedicated my life to working with authors and storytellers to help their words reach the largest audiences across the world. I’ve been blessed to work closely with people who have changed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in, from Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg to Sue Monk Kidd and Brené Brown.
Much of what’s in my birthday jar originates with these thought leaders, and the gratitude I pay to them is putting their wisdom deep in my heart and boiling it down to a good strong broth that I serve as my own brand of love, inspiration, support and community. I’ve come to understand that my purpose on earth is to shine light forward so people feel less alone. And it was out of my deepest desire to bring these storytellers’ magic and wisdom to the whole world that WME’s Live Events Division was born.
Like many of you, I grew up watching “The Oprah Winfrey Show” every afternoon. I learned just about everything that has made me who I am today from that show. It was a dream come true when I had the opportunity a few years ago to help create a multi-city speaking tour featuring Oprah and key thought leaders called “The Life You Want.”
Oprah called the tour “the largest open-hearted classroom in the world,” and it was. I met woman after woman who had been knocked down by life and stood up again or needed a hand to stand again. Regardless of where each of us was in our lives, we all needed a hand with something. I never wanted it to end, and it pained me each week when everyone inevitably had to pack up, part ways and go back to the chaos of juggling life. I wanted to create a tour where people had a way to continue to connect, inspire and get into action all year.
That’s how and why the Together tour was born.
This fall, the WME Live Events Division is kicking off a national tour to bring women together and create communities that stay together long after the tour ends. The Together tour is a community-minded, multi-generational movement where everyone is welcome. We’ll be traveling to six cities across the country including Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Denver. Each event will be an interactive night of sisterhood, spirited storytelling and inspired social action.
We hope to create an inclusive community of women across the country and to continue these conversations when the event is over through Together circles. We’ll offer opportunities to live our purpose through volunteering, mentoring and social action. Together we will keep the community connected and will continue to grow alongside each other.
When I met our Together co-creators, Glennon Doyle Melton, Seane Corn and Valarie Kaur, I knew I had found true partners who shared in the belief that we are all stronger together. Since then, our Together family has grown to include Jacqui Lewis, Abby Wambach, Gina Rodriguez, Geena Rocero, Sophia Bush and Ciara who will join us as special guests in each city. If you choose to join us for the night, you’ll quickly find that your story is just as important as the ones you’ll hear on stage.
I’m not a scientist, but being the professional thought-follower that I am, I can tell you that the antidote to being overwhelmed is shifting to purpose and finding a community that supports it. Our world is in critical need of coming together. And the great news is that there really is enough to go around— enough success, happiness, healing and love for every single one of us.
As the jar on my desk says, TOGETHER WE RISE. Please join us as we do just that.
Jennifer Rudolph Walsh serves as the head of WME’s Worldwide Literary, Lectures, and Conference Divisions. She spearheaded the launch of WME Live, most recently launching Together (www.togetherlive.com), a nationwide tour focused on purpose, community and action.