2019 Keynote Speakers

Bill Walton

-RISING TO THE CHALLENGE-

Basketball legend Bill Walton is one of sports’ most recognizable and beloved figures. His success on the court is well-documented; the nation’s top college basketball star at UCLA under legendary coach John Wooden, he then played for two NBA Championship teams – the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics. But Bill’s nightmarish challenges off the court are less known. He stuttered so badly he couldn’t say a simple “thank you” until he was 28 years old. And a foot disorder led to 37 surgeries on his feet, legs, and back – keeping him sidelined over half of his NBA career. Armed with grit and a positive outlook, Bill improbably overcame it all. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and named to the “50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time” list. After his playing career, Bill pursued broadcasting; he is currently covering Pac-12 games on ESPN.

Bill Walton has led a life of humility in service of inspiring others. His autobiography, Back from the Dead, was a New York Times bestseller and he is perhaps the best-known Deadhead, having seen over 900 shows.

“Those not willing to risk going too far will never know how far they can go.” Those words from Bill Walton sum up his philosophy of life. At 6’ 11” in his Grateful Dead tie-dyed t-shirt, Bill Walton is one of the most recognizable and colorful sports legends ever. He also has one of the greatest can-do attitudes you’ll ever encounter. It’s a mindset he’s cultivated and he gives it credit for helping him adapt, persevere, and ultimately succeed in challenges on and off the court. Named one of “50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time,” Bill incredibly missed 9½ of his 14 NBA seasons due to injuries related to orthopedic problems. Despite that, his achievements on the court were enormous.

When his storied career ended with his 30th surgery, Bill’s dream was to pursue sports broadcasting. One problem: a severe lifelong stutter that prevented him from even saying a simple “thank you.” Undeterred, Bill set about the task of learning to speak. He conquered stuttering and found a place behind the mic – earning numerous awards and honors since. Bill’s greatest test came in 2007 when severe back pain confined him to the floor of his home for 2½ years. Finally relenting to surgery in 2009, the grueling rehab and recovery from that 37th surgery could well be Bill’s biggest achievement.

While Bill exclaims regularly, “I’m the luckiest guy on Earth,” it’s clear his outlook on life helped create that luck. Bill loves to inspire audiences to rise to the challenge of seeing just how far they can go.

Dave Mitchell

-The Power of Understanding Yourself-
      ›Click here to view PowerPoint

Since founding the Leadership Difference in 1995, over 300,000 people have attended Dave’s “enterTRAIN-ment” seminars on topics that include leadership, customer service, selling skills, and personal performance enhancement. His clients include Allstate Insurance, Bank of America, Universal Studios, Hilton Worldwide, Sub-Zero Wolf Appliances, Electrolux Appliances, Trek Bikes, Walt Disney World and the CIA. In July 2013, Meeting Professionals International selected as the Meeting Madness winner for Best Speaker of the Year at their World Education Congress in Las Vegas. In September 2015, Meetings and Conventions Magazine named Dave one of the Best Speakers of the Year.

He has a B.A. in Mass-Communications with an emphasis in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Global Human Resources Development. Dave has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois and designated as a Certified Advanced Wine Sommelier by the International Wine Guild. Having failed to achieve his dream of playing professional baseball, he went on to a successful coaching career at the tee ball level.

Dave is the author of the book Live and Learn or Die Stupid! The book focuses on personal contentment and performance excellence. His second book, The Power of Understanding People, was released in December 2013 and was immediately named Best Business Book of the Month by Amazon. He is also a founding owner of Pambrun Vineyards.

Dave lives in the Walla Walla Valley wine country with his wife of 30 years, Lori; has two adult children, Brooke and Slade; three horses and two dogs and two barn cats: Socks and Stinker bell.