We don’t know about you but we find business and organization founding stories to be pretty fascinating! So we decided to begin a monthly blog post featuring the founding stories of small businesses who are beginning to experience rapid growth. To kick off this new feature we chose BigSpeak: a speakers bureau that has ranked on Inc.’s list of 5000 fastest growing central coast companies for the past two year. We spoke with founder and CEO, Jonathan Wygant to get the full scoop.
It all started back in 1995, when Jonathan Wygant attended a workshop at Esalen in Big Sur, California with Dr. Joan Borysenko the noted brain scientist.
The first evening of her workshop, Joan asked each of the attendees to state their intention for the weekend. Having recently sold his first business, Wygant says he wanted to gain greater clarity on what his new work or calling was to be. Wygant says, “I had been doing a lot of inner searching, but still hadn’t hit on the right fit for my next endeavor.”
At the end of the evening, Joan mentioned that there was wonderful early morning singing that took place at the New Camaldoli Hermitage along Hwy 1. At 5 a.m. Wygant headed to the seminary with the group and when they got there, the monks were singing beautiful acappella hymns in a small chapel with great acoustics. Jonathan says, “We joined in and felt the power of our voices in this resonant chamber. At one point, we stopped singing and a young monk read a passage from scripture that said, ‘Whenever you ask for something in life, ask for it in the name of Spirit or the Christ.’”
On the way back to Esalen after the service Wygant reveals that he said to himself, “‘Christ, would you please look in on the following things that I would like to take place?’ And I proceeded to list my intentions from the night before, including wanting clarification on my new calling.”
Having requested his intentions, little did I know what was in store for when he went to sleep that evening. That night Wygant had “an incredible dream”, one where he was providing the finest transformational educators to people, making it easy for anyone who wanted greater self understanding to find in one location all the resources they would need to better themselves. In this dream, “people were growing and healing, they were happier, relationships were joyful and meaningful, and I was providing a worthwhile and profound service. I woke up with this vision emblazoned on my mind. I felt like I had received a vision directly from God!”
When Jonathan shared his vision of this new service with Joan the next morning she loved the idea and said that she wanted to be the first person on his team. She even said that she would help him sign up other personal development experts she knew who also worked with integrity and heart. Wygant says he was overjoyed with the wonderful support he was receiving for this “divinely bestowed idea.”
After returning home from his weekend at Esalen, Wygant immediately set to work actualizing his vision. The company was originally called Consciousness Unlimited and was operated out of Wygant’s home garage for over five years. The aim for the company remained the same one that came from Wygant’s vision: to raise corporate consciousness of individuals both personally and professionally.
At the dawn of the new millennium the company re-branded and was renamed BigSpeak. Jonathan says the team now jokes that “no one could spell consciousness, and even fewer people wanted to buy it.”
Fast forward twenty years and BigSpeak is working with over two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 and many midsize corporations helping them deal with the critical issues of business, such as leadership, team building, managing change, communication, innovation and living lives of balance and contribution. Jonathan reflects, “Personally, I am extremely fulfilled and am in the process of writing about the various factors that lead to personal and professional growth, as well as organizational transformation. I am extremely grateful to Esalen for contributing an environment where I was able to receive such a profound vision.”
To this day, BigSpeak still operates on the same principles that came to Jonathan in his vision at Esalen: providing individuals with the tools to help them develop as leaders while transforming their organizations into places where the human spirit soars. “This gives me and our entire team the greatest satisfaction and joy,” remarks Wygant.