This article was published in the Glenwood Post Independent. By John Stroud. 

Award-winning motivational speaker Mark Brown addresses attendees at the inaugural GlenX Success Summit, held at Glenwood Springs High School Saturday evening.

Award-winning motivational speaker Mark Brown addresses attendees at the inaugural GlenX Success Summit, held at Glenwood Springs High School Saturday evening.

Ellis Garaudy has a pretty lofty goal as he works to develop a new software company: To disrupt the education system.

That was what the budding entrepreneur wrote in the space provided on the back of his name tag, marked “My Success Goal,” at the inaugural GlenX Success Summit held at Glenwood Springs High School Saturday evening.

It’s not so much a criticism but a challenge to the conventional education system, he said.

“We need to be concentrating on how humans learn best, and what’s the best way to teach people,” Garaudy said. “We should give people the power to forge their own education.”

He and the 150 or so attendees at the GlenX event came seeking some inspiration to further their professional and personal goals.

That opportunity came through the words of successful education and business leaders like Colorado Mountain College President Carrie Hauser and Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan, plus award-winning motivational speaker Mark Brown.

Brown, an Emmy nominee and Toastmasters 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking recipient, talked about what it was like for him to win that award 20 years ago.

“Your best doesn’t have to the best … it just has to be your best,” he said. “And your best gets better over time, if you let it.”

Brown also encouraged the participants to “change the way you see others.”

“We all become better people when we help others become better,” he said.

Diane Carnoali of Glenwood Springs said she was drawn to the first-year event sponsored by the Roaring Fork Young Professionals by its theme of encouraging “growth, inspiration and goal-setting.”

“Those are things all of us need all the time,” Carnoali said. “And we could all use some inspiration from time to time.”

That was the main goal of founding organizer Altai Chuulun, president of the RFYP, an affiliate of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Chuulun said he would like to see the GlenX Summit grow as an annual event, modeled after the popular TEDx Program speaking events and possibly expanding into a full weekend.

“Like any first-time event there are always challenges, but I’m already finding myself inspired by the speakers we have this year,” he said. “I do think it embodies the values that we are looking for in our own success and what we are pursuing in life.”

Other speakers for the inaugural summit included Olympic and X Games snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler of Aspen and master of ceremonies Wade Newsom, who presented a powerful spoken-word piece titled “Participate.”

Noted Roaring Fork Valley philanthropist Jim Calaway was scheduled to speak, but was unable to when he ended up in the hospital after taking a fall earlier in the week. CMC’s Hauser reported Calaway was doing well, and had even offered to fulfill his speaking commitment from a wheelchair.

Meanwhile, noted folk musician Willy Tea Taylor entertained the audience to open the event, and talked about the inspiration he has gotten from creating music.

“The banjo is going to save the world … I’m pretty sure about that,” he said.

Prior to the speaking portion of the event, attendees learned about various businesses, non-profits and educational programs in the community in the “Experience Hall” outside the high school auditorium.

“It’s cool to come to these types of events and talk about my story and how this all happened,” said Matt Cudmore, founder and co-owner of Meier Skis in Glenwood Springs.

His business started six years ago in a garage where Cudmore began building skis from Colorado timber, including beetle-kill wood. It has grown into one of the most successful handmade ski manufacturing businesses in the region.

“People can look at what we’ve done developing our business and start to think about how they could do it too,” Cudmore said.

Mary Esbeck was one of a contingent of Yampah Mountain High School students attending the event to get some ideas about starting a leadership program at the school.

“I really like these kinds of talks, and it’s a good way to spend a Saturday,” she said.