“Best event ever” – R U OK? speakers delight capacity crowd

Ru Ok Event 2

Something special happened on Friday May 5, 2017. R U OK? held its second CONVERSATIONAL LEADERSHIP: inspiring people, inspiring change – morning event – generously hosted by PwC in their new Barangaroo premises.

It was a sell-out event, and after the success of last year we were hopeful we would provide value to those attending. In some of the unprompted attendee feedback below, you will gain some insight into how it made people feel.

I was joined by 10 amazing speaker buddies – John Pastorelli, Glenn Capelli, Avril Henry, Kamal Sarma, Neryl East, Lisa McInnes-Smith, Phil Preston, Suzanne Waldron, and Peter Merrett. We were also privileged to have the articulate, compassionate and courageous presentation from Josie Larkin the daughter of R U OK? founder Gavin Larkin (who tragically passed away from cancer in 2011). Josie described what her dad meant to her and what R U OK? means to her now.

All of these speakers are outstanding in their own right, but some extraordinary synergy happened on that day which made it unforgettable in the eyes of attendees. I would like to acknowledge John Pastorelli who had the original idea for this event.

A huge thankyou to PwC for sponsoring the day and helping with AV, logistics and catering, and to the amazing R U OK? Event Manager Kristina Lawrence, and the rest of the R U OK? team.

You’ll see some pictures and direct testimonials from the day below.

A conversation could change a life. Who will you ask?

Who can partner with us to put on a TEDx RUOK? in 2018 so we can share this impact with a larger audience? Email me if you can help – graeme@graemecowan.com.au

Kind Regards


R U OK?’s Conversational Leadership: inspiring people inspiring change


At the start of the day we were reminded about the extraordinary vision and persistence that R U OK?’s founder Gavin Larkin showed to create this extraordinary movement. Even though the morning was designed to help us all have better and more supportive relationship at home and at work, R U OK? was originally started for a very serious reason.

The video below provides recognition that  R U OK? was started because Gavin and his family lost their father Barry to suicide. Warning – this video may trigger emotional responses in some people.

Gavin’s hope was that we would all build up better relationships around us to help “immunize” our self from emotional distress.

Below is some feedback from the day.

RU Ok event audience

Feedback to Brendon Maher, R U OK? CEO, via text

Hi Brendan
I wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you.
Today’s Conversational Leadership event was by far the best event I have ever been to. So often you go to things and people sit down and pull out their phones and start looking at emails, Facebook and so on. Today, the entire room was engaged and wanted to learn more. The selection of speakers was spot on and the cause is just amazing.
I am passionate about the R U Ok? cause and really want to thank you and the team for everything you do.


Megan Bowan – HR Business Partner, Medibank

Hi Graeme, Conversational Leadership was the most powerful session I have done in many many years and I took something away from every single speaker. It really moved me – I loved it!! And I’ve made a promise to myself not to leave it so long in between events and give myself permission to get out there amongst inspirational speakers more often.

RU Ok event audience 2

Louise Deboer Thomson Reuters

The best conference on conversational leadership I have attended. Thank you RU OK and all the speakers for your insights, energy and tips. I didn’t see one person check their phone which is a tremendous accolade in our switched on society. My takeaway is to listen actively not just with my with ears but with my eyes, mind, heart and soul, and to be fully present but above all to make others feel heard.

Lucy Pryor – Strategy Seed Advisor-Mentor-Coach (AMP)

So many insights, honest conversations & practical tips from an amazing line up including the founder’s daughter this morning at RUOK Conversational Leadership series. Highly recommend for ANY organisations wanting to take engagement and productivity to the next level!

RU Ok event audience 3

Kate Tones – Head of HR – Merivale Group

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending the R U OK? Conversational Leadership event. Hands down the best speakers and most thought-provoking content I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you Graeme Cowan for the amazing work you do and to all my contacts, get planning for R U OK Day 2017!

Jo Hart – General Manager, Client Services, Chandler and MacLeod

Totally agree Kate. It was a fantastic event with some brilliant speakers.

Sue Barnes – Special Counsel Workplace Relations, McPherson Kelly

Incredibly uplifting and meaningful. Thanks Graeme Cowan for your continued inspiration and thanks Kate Tones for sharing in the fun.

Paul Vittles – Customer & Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Ausgrid

Thanks to Phil Preston Glenn Capelli Suzanne Waldron, M.A. FAIM Peter Merrett & all the other great speakers plus RUOK, Gavin for his foundations, and Josie for building on them to continue the Larkin inspiration. Thanks too Graeme Cowan and Brendan Maher and PwC for making it such a fabulous uplifting environment and atmosphere in the room. The perfect mix of high energy learning and low energy reflection; education and entertainment.

RU Ok event audience 4

Feedback from Suzanne Waldron’s client

I walked into my client’s office Monday morning to do a day’s facilitation, and the minute she saw me she started crying. This beautiful woman attended the day and when I asked her what the expression of her tears were, she said this…

‘I have a massive permission within myself to be big. I’ve always played small and now I know I really can do anything, and I’ve not ever felt that before.’

She cried for most of the weekend and most of that day, and was extremely touched and shifted by the experience.

 I also got the chance to talk to friends who are totally sceptical about the whole question asking concept, and had really robust and deep conversations over the weekend, which gave us all food for thought. Ultimately, we all decided it was better to ask R U OK? than not.

 So meaningful.

Feedback to Avril Henry via text

“Thank you for the best work day EVER. I love every minute of it and learnt so much.”

Feedback from Phil Preston client

A huge thank you for inviting me to what was an absolutely fabulous morning. To say that I left inspired is an understatement. The calibre of speaker was fantastic, the key messages very simple, relevant and actually do’able.

RU Ok event audience 5

David Ploenges, People, Safety, and Culture Director SERCO

Some Serco colleagues and I were privileged to be able to attend the R U OK? Conversational Leadership event last Friday in Sydney.  A thoroughly engaging and unique mix of thought-provoking speakers really focussed the importance on psychological health and well-being, personally and in the modern workplace environment.  Thanks again Graeme Cowan and the team.  I would recommend future R U OK? Conversational Leadership events to those in business who want to make a difference through your people.

The American Express Manager

Avril and I were sitting beside a woman from American Express who confessed she didn’t know what she was turning up to – but had been offered a ticket through work. She was blown away by the day and kept on saying “I was meant to be there”. She then told us how she had lost her mother to suicide and had never really come to terms with it and wanted to do something but didn’t know what. She said that yesterday has inspired her to start telling her story and to be a champion of R U OK? at her workplace.

Andrew Kelty – Chief Finance & Operations Officer – Jamesons Strata Management

I am so very grateful for the opportunity to attend today. It was simply excellent. Lots of laughter in the room punctuated with very real, take home messages. The presenters, including you both of course, were second to none. They all brought something different which complimented the RUOK message. I also got to meet some great people in the crowd. Bravo!!

Jennifer Leone

Today I attended the conference, Are U Ok? I am so glad I went and witnessed other PSA members do their ‘thing’ on stage. That was inspirational! I watched in awe and left learning more and understanding on a deeper level. So, thank you for the opportunity.

 Elizabeth Gibson

Such a great day! thank you Graeme & everyone else.

Maryanne Larkin, wife of R U OK? founder Gavin Larkin

Hello all

Graeme thank you for sharing the positive feedback.

And thank you to all of you – those organising and those of you speaking at this hugely successful event.

Such an amazing day for everyone involved on both sides I would guess.

I know Josie and I felt very privileged to be present and witness the receptiveness of an audience moved and therefore so willing to take on the value of RUOK’s message in the workplace (and further afield no doubt).

Needless to say it fills us with pride for Gav and what he’s left us and the wider world. Incredible.

With warm regards


Who can partner with us to put on a TEDx RUOK? in 2018 so we can share this with a larger audience? Email me if you can help – graeme@graemecowan.com.au

RU Ok event finale

Share this great article

Other news

Download Speaker kit

Download iCare

Download The Care Crew Credo Poster

Download 7 Ritual Form

Book Graeme


Sub heading here


Share This

Select your desired option below to share a direct link to this page

Reach out