CLEVER TALKS

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS SORIANO.


A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Creative Mornings , a breakfast lecture series for communities across the country. It was here where I heard Chris Soriano, co-founder and CEO of Clever Talks , share the most interesting story.


Buried umpteen pages deep in a Google search, Soriano finally found what he was looking for: Mark Cuban's email address. He wanted him to come to a conference in San Diego to inspire troops with some business advice. After all, if you're in need of a speaker, who's a better catch than the richest shark in the sea? After many unanswered email attempts, Soriano sent him one final message: "Dear Mr. Cuban, I would like to know if you are in or you are out?". Thirty minutes later, he responded: "I'll be there". A few months passed, with Soriano and team still unsure if Cuban would show up, or if it was even his real email address to begin with. The day of the event, Mark Cuban arrived at the San Diego airport and gave our veterans an experience they soon shall not forget.


I asked Chris Soriano if I could feature his organization's story for this newsletter, and just like Mr. Cuban, he pulled through. So, what is Clever Talks ?


"Clever Talks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and platform for Veterans and Active Duty Service members to share ideas and stories to improve their lives. Our conferences feature veteran business owners, celebrities, and elite special forces. Our goal is to connect passionate minds to share stories and ideas - to provoke conversations with lasting impact," Soriano said.


Clever Talks and I share something in common - we both "believe the most powerful tool in the world is an idea and a story." According to Soriano, they then nourish and package these stories for maximum impact through their online library of "Talks", similar to TED Talks but targeted to a more specific audience. The Clever Talks crew even coined the term "Edutainment", the fusion of education and entertainment which they use to conduct powerful experiences. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?


Aside from Mark Cuban, other stand out speakers from their conferences include Robert O'Neill (the Navy SEAL who took down Osama Bin Laden) and David Hasselhoff. But our troops get a lot more out of these talks than simply seeing a celebrity on stage. Perry Yee, a Retired Navy SEAL, started his own non-profit called Active Valor after attending a Clever Talks event. His organization now helps children of Gold Star Families by pairing them with veteran mentors and giving a greater sense of purpose and partnership to all.


Throughout this endeavor, I really wanted to know what Clever Talks has taught Soriano about our military that he may not have realized before. "Clever Talks has shown me how versatile and tenacious our military is. Our service members pay the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for our freedom, and when they transition back into civilian life we should offer them every opportunity and resource to fulfill their dreams," Soriano said. By connecting them with successful veteran business owners and public figures with impactful stories, Soriano is certainly doing his part.


However, I'm most excited for what Clever Talks has in store for 2019. On March 30th, they'll present Women Warriors: Her Story - an extraordinary gathering for women service members (Active, Reserve, & Veteran) of all backgrounds, ages, and stories from coast to coast. As Soriano told me, "Women have been an integral and valuable part of our armed forces. From disguising as men to fight in the Revolutionary War, to the combat nurses that responded to injured and fallen soldiers in the World Wars, to post-2013 combat missions, and to all the women who serve past and present that are shattering ceilings - they struggle and overcome a lot of the same obstacles that men do when serving [but may not receive the same recognition]. We must continue to support and hear what they have to say." I couldn't agree more.


If you'd like to help Clever Talks in their mission, they ask that you simply support the veteran community by uplifting them, empowering them, and helping them make their stories and struggles more visible. And if you'd like to donate, you may do so here . Thanks Chris, Cuban & Clever Talks crew for all you do!



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© 1989 by Jenna Backus