JAY GOLDEN, CEO, CO-FOUNDER
Jay Golden has nearly 20 years of experience as storyteller, story coach and strategist. After selling his first business, a binocular rental venue at concerts, Jay spent three years traveling the world, from Kathmandu to Cusco to Marrakech. It was on the road that he became a storyteller, recounting tales of adventures to friends and in his writings in the SF Bay Guardian.
Jay’s storytelling skills proved useful when he landed in San Francisco in the mid-90’s, when he helped found the web’s first fun learning site, Learn2.com – which Yahoo! called “The Most Useful on the Internet.” Often pushing the edges of interactive media, Jay also produced some of the first major-label online music videos (Shockwave.com), and an array of Pre-YouTube-era viral web animations that were seen by millions (Freerange.com).
Jay continued on his work in web series and ebooks. Yet as the online media universe expanded, Jay began to see that the human tendency to shape and share stories was a vast media territory that was largely overlooked. So in 2009, along with Joel ben Izzy, Jay created Wakingstar Storyworks, with the vision of helping leaders shape the world through well-told stories. Today, Jay crafts stories, coaches leaders, and trains teams for a wide array of clients, and creates shows that inspires audiences far and wide.
JOEL BEN IZZY, CO-FOUNDER
Though Joel ben Izzy has been telling stories all his life, his professional career began in 1983 after he graduated from Stanford with a self-designed degree in storytelling. From there, Joel set off to travel the globe, gathering and telling stories from Tel Aviv to Tokyo and Paris to Petaluma.
Joel’s own career took a sharp twist when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Though usually a treatable form of the disease, in this case there was a strange complication. When he awoke from surgery he discovered he could no longer speak. At first the doctors thought the loss was temporary, but later they decided it was permanent. So it was Joel found himself living inside a story as strange as any he had ever told, filled with twists and turns including the last and strangest twist – the sudden return of his voice long after he had given up hope of being able to speak.
This led to his award-winning memoir, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness (Algonquin Books, 2003). Now in its fifth printing, it has been translated into fifteen languages around the world, has been optioned for film and is being developed for theater.
AHRI GOLDEN, VICE PRESIDENT, STORY CONSULTANT
With NPR-quality productions and creative business savvy, Ahri Golden brings top-notch storytelling skills and cross-platform delivery expertise to help Wakingstar seek and develop stories at the heart of the leaders and organizations we serve.
With over 15 years of experience, Ahri Golden has created award-winning public radio documentaries and nationwide storysharing events on the subjects of her media. She has produced on a diverse array of topics as Senior Producer of Public Radio International’s weekly show Beyond Computers (acquired by Salon.com) and as Co-Creator of the nationally-distributed public radio documentaries Shades of Gray, Birth and Born. Alongside the latter productions was The Birth Tour, a national community engagement event in over 75 cities and towns, which catalyzed stories and conversations about birth, as well as support networks for new mothers. Ahri was also Producer of the independent film Mitsein, and recently released an album of her own songs called Delve, which was community crowd-sourced through Kickstarter.
JILL WESLEY, PRESENTATION TRAINER, COMMUNICATIONS TRAINER
Jill Wesley has worked as a corporate trainer, coach, professional speaker, and educator for the past 22 years, with experience ranging from executive coaching to delivering presentations to groups of 1,000.
Jill has a genuine passion for helping others and an ability to relate to diverse groups of employees, having trained professionals from 70 different countries. Specializing in high-stakes presentation skills training and coaching, Jill develops employees and teaching practical strategies to increase productivity and increase our client’s bottom line. As a corporate consultant Jill has led over 2,000 professional development programs in communication, management, diversity, and cross-cultural training to over 85,000 mid- and executive-level managers and their employees. Jill is an experienced professional speaker and has delivered more than 250 keynote presentations at conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
Her area of expertise is intercultural communication and has worked in 25 countries for extended periods of time over the past 20 years. She has received my M.A. in Speech and Interpersonal Communication from New York University and my B.A. in Social Science from University of Southern California.