Inspiring. Beautiful. Authentic.
Those words were the theme of this year’s 2019 Courage Summit. With heartfelt speeches from an all-star panel, the TEDx-style event brought people together to witness strength through storytelling Thursday morning. Attendees filled the Duesenberg Recital Hall on Valparaiso University’s campus to listen to stories of real people and their moments of courage and resilience.
“It is my hope that Courage Summit empowers people to see that sharing the truth of who we are - frees us up to be more of ourselves,” said Leslie Plesac, life coach and Courage Summit creator. “It takes courage to see our real selves, our vulnerability and our imperfections. If we are willing to do that, it gives us a place to start living a life that is more authentic.”
2019 marked the second year of the Courage Summit and featured an array of backgrounds and journeys from Sarah Tsagris, Sarah Curnoles, Natalie Krivas, Jeff Strack, Stacey Andon and Adrienne Enns.
“Courage Summit is an event that shares five brave stories and provides one courage filled experience for attendees,” Plesac said. “I hope that each person carries away a few nuggets of truth. Truths that can be applied in their own lives. And most importantly I hope that everyone leaves the event a little more courageous and that maybe, they do something that they were a little scared to do before.”
Taking a chance was something Jeff Strack had to do to save his 60-year-old business. After becoming President & CEO of Strack & Van Till in 2016, Strack found himself facing an uphill battle with ownership changes, declining sales, and almost losing the company his grandfather co-founded.
“When my grandfather, Ernie Strack, died, I left him a note telling him I’d never let him down. It broke my heart,” Strack said. “Then one day, I had the idea of buying back the company. At the time, it was a far stretch but I had to find that courage to risk everything my family and I had. I had to do it for the community, my family, and my employees.”
For Strack, giving up a family business was never an option. Once he found that courage, he also found his own identity through the process, which is something Stacey Andon says is part of the journey in life.
“Our biggest obstacles in life are our biggest truths,” said Andon. “We need to let things break because it allows room for us to breathe, grow as people, and become who we truly are.”
For more information on the Courage Summit and the speakers at the event, visit couragesummit.com.