2nd Annual Original Thinkers Festival, October 3 – 6!

2nd Annual Original Thinkers Festival, October 3 – 6!

The 2nd annual Original Thinkers Festival is a highly curated event that melds speakers, films, and performance into a powerful four-day experience, most at the “Big Idea” (aka Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village), October 3 – October 6. Full schedule here. Tickets/passes here.

“It has been both exciting as hell but equally daunting to try to build a new cultural force here in Telluride in Original Thinkers. Of course, like all the other annual gatherings that came before us, we can only succeed if people from this generous and thoughtful community believe in what we are doing as well. So far we have been buoyed by the clear interest and tangible support, which makes an enormous difference. Naturally, so much of this starts with the program and this year’s definitely is even stronger than our inaugural year, which set a pretty high bar…,” said festival founder/director David Holbrooke.

It’s a bird.

It’s a plane.

It’s… Rich Roll.




Getting warmer.

In May 2010, at age 43, Rich Roll, a graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School, became one of the first two super men – the other was colleague Jason Lester – on the planet to complete what amounts to a super-sized triathlon, the EPICS5, a 703-mile adventure of, well, epic proportions that entailed completing five Ironman-distance triathlons on five separate Hawaiian Islands in under six days total.

But Rich did not always, ahem, roll that way. Learn the story of Rich Roll’s journey from overweight, alcohol-addicted entertainment attorney to ultra-endurance athlete, motivational speaker, plant-based wellness advocate, and bestselling author at founder/director David Holbrooke’s 2nd annual Original Thinkers Festival.

This is Roll’s second appearance in Telluride. His debut was in 2015 at the inaugural (now defunct) Telluride Wellness Summit where he spoke on the transformative impact of healthy living and how to model a lifestyle that boosts happiness and longevity.

At Original Thinkers, Rich Roll is a featured presenter on the “Tortoise Program, where he will once again share life lessons about personal empowerment gleaned from his #1 best-selling memoir, a cookbook, other speaking engagements, and the wildly popular “Rich Roll Podcast.”

Rich Roll

Roll shares the stage with  Ruthie Lindsey, who came out of the worst physical and emotional trauma to share a message of love. That program also features “Mr. Wash,” a film about an artist who was recently freed from life in prison after President Obama commuted his sentence.

Other Original Thinkers programs include “Humanity Endures, where the focus is on hope in the face of horrors across the globe; “Mother of All Issues,” which addresses the climate crisis, again through speakers and film.

In all, Original Thinkers features 10 unique shows. For more on the schedule, go here.

Other speakers and performers include:

Deborah and James Fallows, incisive authors who will look at the character of our country.

Sarfraz Manzoor, who will tell his story about how Bruce Springsteen changed his life:

Lauren Oakes and Tatiana Schlossberg, a scientist and journalist addressing the danger that we are facing with the climate crisis.

Broadway star Brandon Victor Dixon from “Hamilton.”

And rock stars: Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear; Orpheo McCord + Joel Shearer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros; Bhi Bhiman is a multi-talented musician and host; and Ramy Essam, an Egyptian revolutionary guitarist living in exile.

Rich Roll, more:

Rich Roll’s story began 11 years ago on the eve of his 40th birthday, when he was a very different kind of guy.

Focused on career and family, Rich had succumbed to middle-age malaise. A classic couch potato mainlining junk food, the former college swimmer was 50-pounds overweight, depressed, and on a crash course with a life-threatening disease. Three years ago, in a CNN interview, Roll elaborated:

“Very late on the eve of my 40th birthday, I was blessed with a precious moment of clarity. Face-to-face with an unforgiving mirror after a losing battle with a simple flight of stairs that left me buckled over and seeing stars, I was shocked out of a long-held denial and forced to confront an uncomfortable truth more painful than my heaving lungs – that I was woefully overweight, terribly unfit, and facing a certain future of heart disease – a trending topic in my genealogy. It was time for a change. A line-in-the-sand, life-altering change. Seizing the moment, I awoke the next day to formulate a plan and put it into action.”

The plan, which Roll  dubbed ‘The Experiment,” began when he decided to adopt a 100 percent plant-based whole food diet, a discipline that meant no animal products of any kind.

No chicken.

No fish.

No dairy.


Roll’s expectations were modest enough, drop a few pounds to feel better. Or perhaps watch the regimen blow up so he could return, guilt-free – because he tried so hard – to his beloved nachos, pizzas and cheeseburgers. But just 10 days into the program, Roll found his energy skyrocketing and he had returned to a modest exercise routine. Slowly, the pounds started coming off. Fitness was knocking at his front door.

A few years later, Roll found himself almost 50 pounds lighter with a 10-minute lead and a Day 1 stage victory in the three-day, double-Ironman distance triathlon known as the Ultraman Hawaii World Championships.

Think of the hero Dave in the movie “Breaking Away” or Rocky Balboa in “Rocky.”

Think of Rich Roll.

“Where there’s a will…”

A leitmotif of Holbrooke’s Original Thinkers.

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