Ryan Foland is a problem solver. He likes solving the following problems:
- A fear of public speaking, resulting in missed opportunities.
- The inability to explain your business or idea in a concise and powerful manner.
- The overwhelming complexities of building your personal brand online.
If you have one of these problems and want help fixing it, Ryan can help.
Ryan can be seen on stage as Master of Ceremonies at some of the largest startup events in Los Angeles including TechDay, Expert Dojo Investor Festival, IDEAS LA, Green Festival LA, Digital Hollywood, and more. He is a sought-after TEDx host, and has worked with TEDxUCIrvine, TEDxSantaMonica, and most recently TEDxLA. Well-versed in the Irvine and OC community – he is a radio show host for Get Notified on KUCI and in early 2015, helped organize and launched the Irvine chapter of 1 Million Cups, a weekly startup pitch event that has featured over 200 entrepreneurs to date.
When not onstage, Ryan coaches leaders worldwide on the art of simplifying spoken and written messaging for greater impact. Ryan has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as a Top Youth Marketer in 2016 and named by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Personal Branding Expert in 2017. Ryan’s company InfluenceTree, specializes in helping individuals discover, build and grow their personal brands.Ryan is a communication strategist who loves helping people convey their businesses and personal brands more efficiently.
Ryan is also the Communications Manager for the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Irvine. Ryan writes for Fortune, Influencive, TechDayNews, and Richtopia richtopia.com. He is the host of the World of Speakers podcast and of the Get Notified radio on KUCI. Ryan also enjoys helping startups learn to craft their value proposition more effectively using his unique 3-1-3 coaching system.
Ryan enjoys writing and speaking, and has been featured in publications such as Inc., Fortune, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Mashable, Huffington Post and more. He has advised as an expert in numerous entrepreneurial podcasts and has been asked to keynote for multiple events around the world.
Ryan is a well-decorated Toastmaster, having won numerous speech competitions for the following categories:
As a scholar who values education, Ryan has earned two BA’s from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from University of Phoenix.
Ryan has a love for people and a passion for innovation. He enjoys his work at the University of California, Irvine, where he serves as a liaison to Strategic Communication. Ryan also advises multiple units on campus with regards to social media and marketing.
Originally brought to UCI to run the Blackstone LaunchPad at UCI, he helped over 2,400 student startups through various stages of development.
Ryan looks forward to teaching you how to share stories that connect with others.
Every Super Hero Has A Back Story:
I grew up in Huntington Beach, California. I was the freckle-faced kid at school who got made fun of, not only because of my freckles and red hair but because I was the “nerd”. I was an eager student, which was great for teachers, but not so great for making friends. My neighbor hated me so much that he kicked me and bit me on many occasions. It was terribly painful!
I was always the outcast, the easy-target, the kid who never got picked for sports teams. My mom felt so bad for me that she bought me a basketball of my own, but it didn’t change the fact that I had no one to play with.
This taste of ridicule and harassment at such a young age only made me stronger… after I enrolled in TaeKwondo that is.
One day, after being hounded all the way home by a group of bullies, I locked myself in my room and cried nonstop, while Don’t Worry, Be Happy played in my room, over and over again. When my Dad came home and found me, he’d had enough. He looked at me with pity and declared, “Ryan, we’re going to enroll you into Karate.”
I will remember that moment forever when the tears stopped and I channeled my inner Ryan-San.
Martial Arts gave me confidence, and I loved it. I went on to earn my black belt, and have continued training on and off ever since.
I enjoyed teaching martial arts because it gave me the opportunity to teach and empower children with the same valuable lessons I had learned myself: to have the confidence to stand up and speak out against bullies.
In high school, I wrestled and was the meanest 119-pound ginger in town. I made the Varsity team as a freshman and became famous for body-slamming people three times my weight class. I channeled all of my anger from being bullied and turned it into match-winning motivation.
I also discovered a passion for pole vaulting, initially trying it out as a joke, but somehow made the team. I flew high, like a butterfly, as I curbed my body over the high bar. The mental and physical challenges that came with running as fast as you could with a 14-foot pole, followed by flinging yourself into the air to surpass the height of your previous jump thrilled me. All I wanted to do was fly higher.
I was a devoted Los Angeles Kings fan and played ice hockey my entire youth, and of all positions, I chose to be the goaltender. I might have been small for a goalie (as most covered the entire goal with their bodies), but I was the fastest goalie in town and had moves that put Mick Jagger to shame. Losing only fueled my fire to be an even better goalie. I ate pucks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a great time.
Funny full circle fact: I was eventually elected Senior Class President by the same kids who had bullied me in elementary school!
I attended college and got two degrees, with honors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and eventually got my MBA.
After dreaming of becoming a movie producer, I quickly changed paths when I found out it would take almost 30 years to move up the movie ranks. I transitioned to the mortgage industry, and found myself, like many other loan officers, out of a job when the market crashed in 2008.
At a low point in life, and not being able to make ends meet, I took on a variety of jobs from construction to teaching karate. With a mortgage, thousands in credit card debt, and not enough money to pay the bills, I hit rock bottom. With a heavy heart, I mailed in an application filing for Bankruptcy.
That was a tough pill to swallow.
Two weeks later, I found the application in my mailbox, returned to sender because the postage was .32 cents short. I knew that the world was speaking to me. Bankruptcy was NOT the right decision.
I will never forget that moment.
I stood there, bankruptcy paperwork in my hand… then tore it up, right there, in front of the mailbox.
I made a commitment at that moment to work my way out of the hole I was in.
During this time as I was trying to make ends meet, I made a decision that ultimately ended up being one of the worst decisions of my life, but more on that later.
I enjoy giving back to the community. In 2011, I turned my focus to my passion for helping kids who were being bullied. I started a program called Bully Buster USA®, wrote my first book, and traveled around Orange County, putting on Anti-Bullying workshops that I developed for middle school and high school students. The work was extremely rewarding and marked the beginning of my pursuit to improve my public speaking skills.
Recognizing the rise of cyberbullying, especially as the use of cellphones rapidly increased across all ages, I took to technology and helped create one of the first anti-cyberbullying apps called WordBully. The app prevented identified words from reaching targeted phones and notified parents if their children were either being bullied or were being bullies.
My involvement in bullying education, and the development of this app idea helped to connect me to an app development firm that focused on child safety apps, and I ended up working with them as Chief Operational Officer.
I gained extensive startup experience, as each app we developed in-house was treated like a small company. We also helped develop mobile applications for many other businesses, from mom and pop organizations, like Dana Point Whale Watching, to Fortune 500 companies, like Del Monte.
When my contract was completed with the app firm, I decided that I wanted to work more closely with entrepreneurs and startups to help them on their journey; leveraging my life experience to help them learn both what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.
In 2014, I was hired as the Assistant Director of a new entrepreneurship center called the Blackstone LaunchPad, at the University of California, Irvine. It was just the position I was looking for, as it gave me the opportunity to help students learn from the would-have, could-have, should-haves of my failures and mistakes.
One of my most costly mistakes also surfaced during this time, when I was served and dragged back into an FTC Investigation regarding the company I had left in 2011. This process was one of the most difficult things I have ever dealt with, both mentally and financially. I accepted a settlement with the FTC in 2015, and have since been focused on moving forward with my life.
I continue to try and turn this negative situation into one that has a positive outcome by focusing on teaching others to learn from what I have gone through. My story is one of highs and lows that I hope could serve as a cautionary tale of hard lessons learned. I am the person you see here today because of all my life experiences, both good and bad.
I wake up every day and love what I do. I live with my head high and know that my heart is in the right place. People who only judge me based on my past without knowing my story, don’t really know me, who I am, or what I stand for.
I am a passionate and creative person who loves helping people solve problems, especially in regards to public speaking and communication.
Another big part of what shapes who I am is where I spent my summers growing up. Every summer, my family would get on a boat and cross the channel to Catalina Island. We would spend months on a boat, enjoying the simplicity of nature, and creating things with what was available (mostly rocks and bamboo). Catalina is like my home away from home. I say that it is the closest furthest place I can get, and I am always appreciative when I can get there.
My time in Catalina has sparked a love for sailing. There is something amazing about harnessing natural energy into motion.
I see life and entrepreneurship as being similar to sailing. One of my favorite quotes is by Jimmy Dean; he says, “You can’t choose the direction of the wind, but you can change the direction of your sails.” Life and entrepreneurship, like sailing, it is all about using resources as best you can to try to reach your destination.
I love to sail just as much as I love to help people become more effective communicators. When it comes to communication, I have a passion for helping people keep it simple and make it powerful.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me.