Andre Sólo, Heroism, Spotlight

If You’re Just Joining Us…

Photo via Hero Round Table

Photo via Hero Round Table

For those of you at the Hero Round Table, thanks for checking out Rogue Priest. Here are some of my favorite posts if you’d like to learn about my journey:

It Was the First of Many Deserts

A Report from the Journey to Meet the Gods

The Heroic Life

You might also enjoy my book, Lúnasa Days:

Lúnasa Days

It’s story of a young man on a bicycle, finding his purpose in life. Check it out here.

Andre Sólo, Heroism, The Heroic Life

My Hero Round Table Talk

Tomorrow I speak at the Hero Round Table, the world’s largest conference on heroism. I’ll be talking about how a journey teaches you to be heroic, and finding your purpose in life. I’ll also share a story from crossing the desert in Mexico.

If you’d like to watch, we stream my talk Friday 9/18 at 10:00 am Eastern/9:00 am Central. (That’s tomorrow.) Because it’s a live stream you’ll need to tune in on time to see me. You can do that here:

The Hero Round Table

The feed will appear Friday and Saturday during the talks. There are lots of other great speakers too, so consider sticking around.

You can also tweet me questions @rogue_priest with the hashtag #heroRT.

Regular updates will resume next week.

Heroism, Spotlight

The Next Generation of Heroes?

Photo via Hero Round Table

As longtime readers know, last year I spoke at the Hero Round Table, the world’s largest conference dedicated to real life heroism. This year I wasn’t able to attend, but my friend Ari Kohen was, and by all account it was every bit as wildly inspirational as last year. Ari has some observations and a question that I think is very important:

I’ve just returned to work after a weekend in Flint, Michigan at the second annual Hero Round Table conference. Roughly 800 people filled a beautiful auditorium to listen to and interact with a very impressive group of speakers over the course of two days.

Some of the speakers were honest-to-goodness celebrities, at least to this audience, like former Michigan State and NBA athletes Morris Peterson and Mateen Cleaves. Some were well-known academics, like Philip Zimbardo. And then there was Daniel Ellsberg, who blew the whistle on extensive governmental lying about the Vietnam War when he released the Pentagon Papers.

Looking at that list, I suspect you can guess who elicited the biggest reaction from the crowd.

It was Zimbardo, the 81 year old psychology professor.

If that wasn’t the person you would have guessed, then you are like me. I would have assumed that people at a heroism conference would have been standing in line to meet Ellsberg, an actual hero. But, at least in part, I think Ellsberg’s heroism is now too far removed from the public consciousness. Most of my parents’ generation (and — to a much lesser extent — my generation) would recognize Ellsberg’s heroism and would likely, if given the option, sit down to hear his thoughts on whistleblowing (especially considering how much whistleblowing has been in the news of late). But people who are younger than I am? Not so much.

So, the question is this: Who are the heroes of the next generation?

What do you think? On this blog I generally define a hero as someone who takes risk to help others. At the same time, it’s natural to think of anyone who inspires us as a hero. With those definitions in mind I would love to hear your take on who the big, memorable heroes of our time will be. Whose name, deeds or work comes to mind?

I need your help. I’m launching a 2,000 mile group bicycle ride across Mexico. More than a dozen adventurers are ready to join me, including men and women, 60 year olds and 20 year olds, experienced cyclists and total beginners. We’re asking for your help so that we can get the safety gear we need. In exchange we want to bring you with us every step of the way. Please check out the Fellowship of the Wheel campaign, contribute if you can, and tell your friends. Thank you.

Heroism, Spotlight

What Are You Doing in September?

Photo via Hero Round Table.

I don’t go to a lot of conferences. Of those I’ve attended, very few are what I would describe as life changing. In fact, I can only name two that had a major influence on me. One of them, the Hero Round Table, is happening again this September.

Last year was the Hero Round Table’s first year and I really didn’t know what to expect. It’s a conference on heroism, and specifically how to create heroism in today’s world. I was impressed not only by the high caliber of names on the speaker list (which made me a little nervous, since I was also on that list) but by the diversity of disciplines they represented: from psychologists and sports players to writers and public school teachers. None of them claimed to be heroes, but each one had learned something about heroism from seeing it up close.

Arriving in Flint, I was immediately struck by the lengths the Round Table went to to make sure attendees would have a blast. That’s no accident: organizer Matt Langdon is a veteran speaker himself, and has a veritable encyclopedia of conference horror stories to tell. He insisted on getting things right, from the venue to the perks for ticket holders to the mid-conference entertainment. Most importantly, he made sure the whole event, as sweeping as it was, focused like a laser on one issue: how people can take these lessons home and create change wherever they go.

In my opinion, it worked. I’ve never seen such a large crowd of people so engaged in heroism. People didn’t come there only to learn or hear cool stories, they came to understand what makes it possible for regular, everyday people to be heroic and then put it into action. I talked to everyone from a 17 year old figuring out her life to teachers fighting to reform our education system. In other words I think every attendee was trying to make a change either in the world or in themselves.

I’m sharing all this because this year promises to be even better and I really recommend going. A few highlights from the speaker list:

  • You’ve heard of Edward Snowden? Snowden can’t return to US soil, but his friend and fellow whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg will speak about the bravery and risk involved in stepping forward when someone’s doing something wrong—even if it’s your own government.
  • Edith Eger is one of the few remaining Auschwitz survivors. She speaks of “turning broken bones into dancing” and asks why some people become mired in adversity while others move past it. For her, forgiveness and letting go are the answer.
  • All world leaders need security, including the Dalai Lama. For years, Stephen K. Hayes served as His Holiness’ personal bodyguard, blending a variety of martial arts with authentic ninja training to keep the Lama safe.

That’s just a small part of a truly impressive lineup. The best part is that these speakers don’t just swoop in and swoop out—most of them will be hanging around the conference all weekend and, if last year is any indicator, happy to talk with anyone who comes up to them. To me, those conversations are the best part.

The Hero Round Table is happening in Flint, Michigan on September 19th and 20th, 2014. You can get more information and buy your ticket here. Tickets are going fast.

As always, I don’t run paid promotions on this blog. I just believe in what the Hero Round Table is doing. It was a great experience for me and, if you like what I write on this blog, it probably will be for you to. I hope you get a chance to go.


How might travelers give back to communities?

Photo by Garry Knight

“I’m not telling anyone to go out there and take a bullet,” Mike said. “I don’t want people to get hurt.”

Mike Dilbeck is the creator of the Hero Pledge (a pledge you can make yourself) and was our keynote speaker at the Hero Round Table. Like most real-life heroism advocates, he suggests starting with small steps.

He laughed and added: “Plus, I don’t want someone to sue me.”

I laughed too. “Well, I do tell people to do something dangerous,” I said. There’s no doubt that adventure carries risk. “Luckily, no one listens to me.”

That brought a chorus of guffaws from around the table.

“People listen to you,” Mike assured me.

I grinned. I knew what he meant—people do listen—but there’s a catch.

“Most people just want to here my stories,” I said. “Not very many people want to adventure themselves.”

That’s really the problem with adventure as a practice: it’s good for you, but it’s hard. People always have a reason not to do hard things.

But at the Round Table I was thrilled to meet small handfuls of people who do want to take the risk. A dozen of them responded to my call and walked outside into the cold to collaborate. Some already had adventures, some are planning them right now, and others don’t know where to begin. We talked honestly about how.

How do you make journey accessible? How do you give people the confidence to start? How do you fund a group? Can poor people travel too?

What I’d really like is for groups of travelers to head out together, traveling by foot or bike as simply and self-sufficiently as possible. I’d like the more experienced ones to help the newer ones, but with a high degree of freedom. I’d like people to experience their individual quests on a shared journey.

For the first time, I thought of stories as a potential asset. If so few people want to adventure, but everyone wants to hear the stories, then don’t the adventurers have something that’s in short supply and high demand?

What if these small groups of adventurers offered storytelling performances in the communities they visit? The stories would stand out because they’re not just exciting but true. And the tellers would stand out because they’re not actors. They’re exactly what everybody wishes for: real life heroes on the road.

If these events were offered in every town, would they raise enough funds to keep the travelers going?

Could the art of travel be sustainable?

Andre Sólo, Heroism, Spotlight

Hero Round Table Live Blog

Get ready to tune in for my talk at the Hero Round Table!

I start at 1:30 CST sharp today, and all you need to do is open this page to watch the complete talk, live, for free.

Note: I originally announced I would speak at 1:45. The time slot was changed.

Better yet, by commenting on this blog post you can ask questions about the talk. I encourage you to comment multiple times with different questions that come up as the talk goes on—ask anything you think of as soon as it comes up.

Since it will be a short while before I can answer (since I will, after all, be in the middle of a talk) I also encourage you to riff off each other’s questions and provide your own thoughts, answers and commentary. This will not only make the comments more fun for everyone, it will also be incredibly helpful for me.

The other speakers are great, too. Tune in now and check them out!

Please comment with your questions/reactions to my talk. Comment form is below.

Andre Sólo, Heroism, Spotlight

How Do Journeys Make Heroes? (Watch live)

Photo used with permission from Matt Langdon.

This weekend you can watch me live at the Hero Round Table, where I’ll present travel as a real-life tool for creating heroes.

This is probably my least popular idea. Most people don’t travel that much, and they think they could never afford to do so. That makes heroism sound awfully exclusive.

But I believe a journey is a powerful practice to rapidly develops heroic qualities. And I know firsthand that even people with very little money can go on a long journey. In my talk I hope to make this practice more accessible, so that even people with families, obligations and limited budgets can consider taking a journey of their own.

I’ll also offer my argument for exactly why I believe travel creates heroes, with parallels both in other types of training practices and in the heroic legends themselves.

I speak Saturday, November 9 at 1:30 CST / 2:30 EST. You can watch my complete talk for free at (It will be right there on the main page, which will have a live stream of all talks starting Saturday morning).

Note: I originally announced the time slot as 1:45. It was changed.

Since it’s live, you’ll need to catch it exactly at 1:30 CST. It’s a short 12 minutes. If you miss it, it will be available but not for several weeks. This is without a doubt the most important milestone of my career and I hope all of you will join me in whatever way you can.

I welcome questions and will create a Q&A blog post that goes live here when the talk starts.


Yes, I Will Be There In Person

I’ll be speaking at the first-ever Hero Round Table (or as I call it “The Hero Conference”) in early November. And to everyone’s surprise—including my own—that means I’ll be there in person.

Due to being in the middle of a multi-thousand mile bike expedition, originally I agreed to speak at the Round Table via video connection. But recently I’ve taken side trips by motorized vehicle, and the sky hasn’t fallen on my head just yet. So, even though I’m still pushing on toward Texas and Mexico, in November I will fly to Michigan to present in person.

This is actually very exciting for me, because the speakers include both longtime friends (some whom I’ve never met in person) and a number of people I really admire, whom I’d never get to meet otherwise—certainly not all in one place. Check out the speaker list to see what I mean.

While some of the speakers have impressive academic or professional credentials, I’ll be speaking on heroism purely from the perspective of my experiences traveling and pushing myself to my limits. My hope is that a front-lines perspective will challenge some of the more established ideas about heroism (you can see my abstract here).

If you’d like to see me talk, and get a chance to meet in person—not to mention meet some of the world’s greatest minds on the topic of heroism—I hope you’ll consider registering.

Of course, if you’re worried about the ticket price ($325, which includes three meals and a T-shirt) then you can also enter to win a free ticket.

To enter, you just have to take simple actions like tweeting about the conference or liking the Hero Round Table on Facebook. You can enter five different ways, for a pretty decent shot at a free ticket (yes, you enter all five ways if you want!). Enter here before 9/16!

Of course, you can also just go ahead and register.

If any Rogue Priest readers decide to go, let me know so we can meet up!