The Ripples Guy


I enjoy helping a few dozen clients each year as they organize events ranging from small trainings and state-wide meetings to national conferences and stadium-sized rallies, adapting my content and style to craft memorable presentations.  Feel free to poke around here…when you’re ready to explore possibilities, you can head over to the contact me page and click the booking inquiry button there. You’ll see fee information and fill out some information that will jump start our conversation. [Fall 2020 Update: YES I’m taking on virtual presentations when possible! -ptw]



Paul earned a B.A. in psychology from McKendree College where he was a resident assistant, programming board chair, student government officer, and the school mascot. He completed his M.A. in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University while interning first at Heidelberg College as Assistant Director of Residential Life and then as Coordinator of BGSU’s Student Wellness Program. He also worked with Owens Corning Fiberglas to develop an outcomes assessment tool for their alcohol/drug treatment program and was honored by BGSU’s faculty and students as the 1991 CSP Graduate Student of the Year.

Paul ventured to Wisconsin to accept a position at Beloit College as Assistant Director of Residential Life & Assistant Director of Summer Conferences. His next stop was the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he worked as a Residence Life Coordinator. He also began volunteering at Madison’s AIDS Network as a source of emotional support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Paul was eventually recruited to join AIDS Network’s management team as Director of Volunteer Services where he developed a pool of several hundred active volunteers.

Since 1990, Paul has been presenting conference workshops and designing staff training for a variety of organizations in the private and public sector. He gradually began receiving requests to deliver keynote addresses and in 1997 transformed a part-time hobby into a full-time career as a leadership trainer and keynoter. He currently works with 40 clients a year around North America with audiences ranging in size from a dozen to several thousand.

In 1999, Paul created Ripples, an inspirational Monday morning email that transformed into The Ripples Project, an organization with over 30,000 members whose mission is to encourage small waves of kindness.

Here’s me in action:

Program Topics

If you are preparing an event, please remember that I often tweak the titles, descriptions, and content to ideally match the presentations to each group’s needs!

GREAT Work, GREAT Life: Five Essential Actions for Personal & Professional Growth

This engaging session filled with humor, music, motivation and plenty of practical strategies began as a college assignment to “develop a workshop for people who help people” and evolved into Paul’s life work. You will enjoy yourself while we develop specific attitudes and behaviors that can have a lasting impact back on campus and in life. We will explore each component of the acronym G.R.E.A.T.: goal setting, role modeling, esteem building, attitude adjusting, and time/stress managing.

Vegetables, Delusions, & Gifts, Oh My! Advanced Interpersonal Effectiveness

Remarkable interpersonal skills can deepen effectiveness with colleagues, supervisors, and others. This engaging workshop challenges participants to explore practical strategies that can help manage conflict, communicate feedback more effectively, and build strong relationships on the job.

Personal Leadership & the Art of Stone Soup: Full Day Retreat/Training

Could you handle a stress-reducing, energy-infusing day with your entire team and one of the warmest, wildest trainers you are likely to encounter? This full day includes a fantastic combination of discussion, activities, music, reflection and humor. It is highly engaging, interactive without being “too touchy feely” and explores TWO components of personal leadership designed to help us reach new levels of effectiveness in work, school and life: Reaching OUT to improve interpersonal interactions with practical tools for building and maintaining powerful relationships, enhancing our communication techniques, and dealing with conflict; and Reaching IN to explore five strategies for personal empowerment that can unleash personal potential while encouraging others to reach for theirs: goal setting, role modeling, esteem building, attitude adjusting, and time & stress managing.

Revving Up The Troops: Delegation & Motivation Skills for Leaders

You’ve got great ideas, and there are lots of things your group could be tackling…but no one is stepping up to do the work! Motivation doesn’t have to be manipulation, and delegation is NOT about being lazy and tricking someone else to do a boring job. When employed correctly, they create opportunities for emerging leaders, enhance group cohesion, and increase productivity!

Opportunities in Transformation: Exploring the Possibilities of CHANGE

Change used to be something we “went through” and “handled” and “managed.” Our current state of frequent transition mandates a high degree of flexibility and adaptability. This comprehensive, action-oriented workshop is designed to explore key actions you can take NOW to ensure your ability to survive and thrive amidst the constant evolution at work and in life.

Managing Compassion Fatigue: Building Boundaries to Prevent and Decrease Burnout

Many of us “helpers” are better at serving others than we are at taking care of ourselves. Isn’t it time to grab a little enhancement for us? If you have a little voice in your soul that says “you need to say no” but your mouth keeps opening and “YES, I’ll do it” keeps coming out of it, you need this session to help you explore practical ways to prevent and manage burnout. We are also going to discuss why we keep overworking ourselves to see if there are some better ways to accomplish things while we model self-care skills.

Strategies for Sanity: Preventing Burnout and Managing Stress

Even people who love their work can (and do!) burn out if their lives are not in balance. Of course, “in balance” means different things to different people and so we are going to approach stress and burnout management from a different perspective. Once we recognize that we all have limits on our time, energy and passion we can learn to set boundaries that help us maximize our resources. We will also explore a quick assessment to demonstrate our strengths and weaknesses in creating a balanced life.

Extreme Connections: Creating An Exceptional College Experience

This fast paced presentation allows new students to take the unique combination of FEAR and EXCITEMENT they experience during their first weeks at college and turn them into valuable tools to meet other people, increase academic performance, and develop an A+ attitude. Participants leave this high energy session equipped with specific skills to get more out of college AND life.

Too Many To-Dos: Time Management for Busy People

“If only I had more time, I could get everything done!” If you believe this, then you need to attend this strategy-filled, perspective-shifting session. Time is a more valuable commodity than money and it is VITAL for our success and sanity that we spend it well. In this fast-paced session we will explore some of the myths of time management and examine our weaknesses. You will leave this session with practical techniques for each of the four main skills of time management: motivation, organizing, priority setting, and scheduling.

Unit of One: Entrepreneurial Thinking in Small & Large Organizations

Whether your organization has hundreds of employees or is made up of just you, the evolving entrepreneurial mind set in the workplace suggests that if you cannot demonstrate your value to your employer and customers, you may not last long! This comprehensive, action-oriented workshop is designed to explore key actions you can take NOW to ensure your ability to survive and thrive amidst the constant evolution of corporate philosophies.

The Archaeology of Passion: Excavating Your Enthusiasm for Work & Life

In a world of competing priorities, multiple pressures from multiple sources and overwhelming societal challenges, many of us have buried our passion under years of stress, disappointment, and obstacles. And as we continue to become more exhausted, we struggle to find inspiration that will remind us why we pursued our goals in the first place! There is Hope! We are going to reach INSIDE and remember how and why we got here. We will also explore some proven strategies to rekindle our passion in ourselves so we can resume our life’s mission with renewed vigor!

Open Minds, Open Hearts: Making a Difference by Valuing Difference

(Alt Title #1) Higher Bridges, Lower Walls: Creating a Culture of Civility & Respect (Alt Title #2) Encouraging Inclusion: Leadership and the Art of Nurturing Diversity Each time one person feels less valued, the entire community suffers as that person withdraws her/his unique contributions. Whether we are thinking about our organization or considering the global community, leadership includes a responsibility to strengthen our individual and team potential. This dynamic session will explore the challenges and opportunities of working (and living) in a diverse environment.

Increase Your Networthiness: Techniques for Networking & Small Talk Skills

Alt. Title #1: Are You Networthy? How to Build and Maintain Effective Connections Alt. Title #2: Keen Eye On the Social Guy: Confessions of a Serial Networker “I know I am supposed to NETWORK, but I don’t have much time and I don’t even know what I am supposed to be doing!” If that sounds familiar, you are not alone! Many people secretly despise the idea of “schmoozing” yet worry they are limiting their career potential without it. If you can attend one more networking workshop, we promise it could forever alter your approach to professional networking. You will leave this presentation with specific tools you can use to increase your productivity WHILE you network! Paul has promised to share easy and fun tips on building and maintaining a useful network as well as how to make “chit chat” opportunities more relaxed and beneficial for everyone involved.

Straight Talk About Gay Issues: Challenging Homophobia In Your Organization, and In Yourself

Why do the majority of Americans think it is wrong to discriminate based on sexual orientation but are repulsed by the idea of same sex marriage? News of U.S. soldiers raping little girls in Japan draws little response from a society that is terrified of gay soldiers being in the showers with their peers. And why is violence against lesbians and gays at an all time high when other forms of violence are declining? Paul uses humor, anger, and tears to explore attitudes and behaviors around homosexuality. This workshop is NOT designed to change your opinion about homosexuality! Instead, we will create a safe environment to discuss YOUR thoughts/feelings about LGBT issues.

Crouching Trainer, Hidden Learner: Techniques for Engaging Participants & Advancing Training Objectives

What is the difference between your CURRENT training sessions and the IDEAL presentations you would like to give? If you are seeking simple, proven techniques for increasing audience involvement and decreasing boredom, then you will enjoy this motivating demonstration of pragmatic strategies you will be able to immediately apply to your next training.

Teaching Old Audiences New Tricks: Motivating Participants to Talk, Fetch Ideas, and Stop Playing Dead!

Paul Wesselmann, Stone Soup Seminars Involving participants is a core competency among presentation skills, but too often left up to the trainer’s personality or the presentation content. BUT WAIT! There are practical activities that you can add to almost any training to engage participants, encourage interaction, and make your job easier! We are going to explore a handful of specific activities and spend time adapting them to YOUR training needs.

Inquire About Booking!

Past Clients

Since 1990, I have had the privilege to work with hundreds of organizations to explore their individual and team potential. I try to keep this list up to date and accurate; please contact me about misspellings or omissions! I am also working on a Google Map that plots all the places I have presented.


Alliant Energy
Altra Federal CU
American Family Insurance
American Medical Security
Appleton Public Library
Badgerland Financial
Baxter Credit Union
Big Mike’s Super Subs (now Milio’s)
Brown County Aging & Disability Resource Ctr
Bulls Eye CU
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Citizens Bank of Mukwanago
Colonial Club
Community Financial CU
Culver’s Frozen Custard Restaurants
Dane County Credit Union
DH Community Credit Union
Digital Credit Union
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services
Dodge Central Credit Union
Duke Energy
Duke Realty
Educators Credit Union
Eli Lilly Fed Credit Union
Forward Service Corporation
Georgia Dept of Public Health
General Casualty Insurance
Iowa County Dept of Social Services
Kimberly Clark
Kohler Credit Union
Lacamas Credit Union
Lane County (OR) Head Start
Leader Nursing Care, Inc.
Leaders Credit Union
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Lutheren Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan
Madison Family Dental Associates
Madison Senior Center
Marion Co (OR) Commission on Families & Children
Meriter Hospital
Michael’s Frozen Custard
New Horizons Computer Learning Center
Nextel Communications
Novartis Animal Health
Oregon Commission on Families & Children
Organic Valley
Pawtucket Credit Union
Portal Industries
Procter & Gamble
Rockford AIDS Care Network
Royal Office Products
Second Harvest Food Bank of SW Wisconsin
Stevens Point School District
S.P. Richards, Inc.
St. Luke’s Medical Center
TDS Metrocom
TDS Telecom
TriEnda Corporation
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Link
U.S. Tennis Association
U.S. Tennis Association – Eastern Section
U.S. Tennis Association – Florida Section

U.S. Tennis Association – Intermountain Section
U.S. Tennis Association – Middle States Section
U.S. Tennis Association – Midwest Section
University of Alberta
University of Illinois – Champaign
University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics
University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation
University of Wisconsin CU
Virginia Technological University
West Bend Mutual Insurance
Wood County Dept of Mental Health
YMCA Professionals of Washington


Almond-Bancroft School District
Alverno College
Antigo Senior High School
Arizona State University
Beloit College
Bowling Green State University
Brillion School Disctrict
Bryan School of Nursing
Buffalo State College
California State University – Monterey Bay
California State University – San Bernadino
California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly)
Capital Area UniServ – South
Cardinal Stritch University
Carroll College
Central Michigan University
Central Missouri State University
Central Wisconsin AIDS Network
Centralia College
Chadron State College
Clark College
Colgate College
Dane County Multicultural Youth Leadership Project
DeKalb College (IL)
DePaul University (IL)
DePauw University (IN)
Dickinson College
Drake University
Drew University
East Carolina University
East Stroudsburg University

Edgewood College
Edinboro College
Elizabethtown College
Edmonds Community College (WA)
Erie Community College (NY)
Forest County Partnership
Fox Valley Technical College
Gateway Technical College
George Mason University
Georgetown University
Georgia Perimeter College
Georgia Southern University
Gettysburg College
Grand Valley State University
Greensboro College
Hillsborough (FL) School District
Hope College
Hurley High School
Illinois State University
Indiana University
Indiana University – Kokomo
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Iowa State University 
Ithaca College
Kalamazoo College
Kettering University
King’s College 
LaCrosse County Health Dept
Lakeland College
Lake Forest College
LaSalle University
Lawrence University 
Lincoln High School
Loyola University
Madison Area Technical College
Madison Metropolitan School District
Marian University
McKendree University
Menomonie (WI) School District
Michigan Technological University
Millersville University
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Mississippi University of Women
Montana State University – Bozeman
Montclair State University
Moraine Park Technical College
Mt. Horeb School District
Mt. Mary College
Nebraska Wesleyan University
New Mexico State University
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northern Illinois University
Ozaukee County Council on Alcoholism
Pius XI High School
Plymouth State University
Portland State University
Purdue University
Racine (WI) Unifid School District
Ramapo College
Ripon College
Rockford College
Rowan University
Rutgers University
Salisbury University
Salt Lake Community College
Sheboygan County School District
Slinger High School
Sonoma State University
Stevens Point School District
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
South Dakota State University
Southeast Missouri State University
Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
Southwest (WI) Technical College
St. Johns University
St. Louis University
St. Norbert College
State University of New York – Cobleskill
Sun Prairie High School
Tri-State University
Tulsa Community College
Union Grove School District
University of Cincinnati
University of Hartford
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of NC – Asheville
University of the Pacific
University of West Florida
University of Central Florida
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado – Boulder
University of Denver
University of Hartford
University of Idaho
University of Illinois – Chicago
University of Illinois – Champaign
University of Indianapolis
University of Maine
University of Nebraska
University of North Carolina – Asheville
University of North Carolina – Wilmington
University of Scranton
University of Southern Indiana
University of the Pacific
University of Texas – Austin
University of Texas – Pan American
University of Toledo
University of West Florida
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
University of Wisconsin – Madison
University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin – Platteville
University of Wisconsin – River Falls
University of Wisconsin – School of Pharmacy
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
University of Wisconsin – Stout
University of Wisconsin – Superior
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
University of Wisconsin Center – Waukesha
Ursinus College
Valencia Community College
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Wartburg College
Waterford (WI) School District
Waterford School District
Weber State University
Webb High School
Western Illinois University
Western Michigan University
Western Wyoming Community College
Wisconsin Technical College – New Richmond
Wisconsin Technical College – Rice Lake
Wrightsville School District
Xavier University
York College of Pennsylvania

Communities & Groups

American School Food Service Assoc
American Society for Training & Development*
American Society of Training & Development – Iowa Chapter
Assoc of College and University Residence Halls*

Assoc of College Unions-Intl*
Assoc of General Contractors*
Assoc of Information Technology Professionals*
Assoc of Worksite Health Promotion*
Athletic Business Conference
Atlanta AIDS Interfaith Network
Big Ten Alumni Associations
Central Indiana Diversity Conference
Collegiate Conferences, Inc.
Colorado Society of Assoc Executives
Community Coordinated Child Care
Cooperative Communicators Assoc
Credit Union National Assoc
CUNA Management School
CUNA Mutual Group
Dane County Committee on Aging
Dane County Administrators of Volunteer Services
Dane County Parents Council
Executive Assistants Group (WA)
Evergreen Wellness Conference (Seattle)
Faith in Action
Finding the Center (Idaho)
Fox Cities Chapter of Credit Unions
Fox Valley Management Info. Systems Trainers
Great Lakes Assoc of College & University Res Halls 
Help Desk Institute*
Huron Valley Chapter of Credit Unions
Illinois Credit Union League
Illinois Dept of Aging
Illinois Women’s Symposium
International Association of Administrative Professionals

Indiana School Food Service Association
Institute for Academic Excellence
Institute of Financial Education*
Iowa Assoc of School Boards
Iowa Credit Union League
John Muir Academy
Kansas School Food Service Association
Kettle Morraine Management Association
Lansing (MI) Chapter of Credit Unions
Lexington (KY) Chamber of Commerce
Mid-Atlantic Assoc of College and University Housing Officers

Midwest Assoc of College & University Housing Officers
Madison Area Data Instructors Consortium
Meals on Wheels Assoc of America
Meeting Professionals International*
Michigan Credit Union League
Midwest Assoc of Coll/ University Res Halls
Midwest Coop Network
Midwest Mtg of Graduate Students in Student Personnel
Minnesota School Nutrition Assoc
Missouri School Food Service Assoc
National Assoc of Campus Activities – Wisconsin
National Assoc of College and University Residence Halls
National Assoc of Purchasing Mgmt*
National College & University Food Service Assoc*
National Collegiate Athletic Association

National Industries for the Blind
National Intramural Recreational Sports Assoc
National Kidney Foundation*
New Jersey School Food Service Assoc
Northeast Wisconsin Helpdesk Institute
Northern IL/Southern WI Assoc of Vol Services
Ohio Recreational Sports Assoc
Oklahoma School Food Service Assoc
Oregon Festivals & Events Assoc
Oregon Recreation & Parks Assn
Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians & Gays-Fox Valley
Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians & Gays-Madison
Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians & Gays–Milwaukee
Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin
Recovery International
Rehabilitation for Wisconsin

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID)
Seaside Health Promotion Conference
School Nutrition Association
Society of Human Resources Management*
Student Alumni Assoc /Student Foundation Network
Student Alumni Assoc-District V
Southwest Assoc of College and University Housing Officers
United Way of Dane County
United Way of Marshfield
United Way of South Wood County
United Way of Wisconsin
United Way Suburban Chicago
Utah Leadership Academy
Utah League of Credit Unions
West Virginia School Food Service Assoc
Wisconsin National Community Service Board
Wisconsin 4H Clubs
Wisconsin Assoc of Insurance Trainers
Wisconsin Assoc of Mobile Meals
Wisconsin Assoc of School Boards
Wisconsin Assoc of School Councils
Wisconsin Athletic Directors Assoc
Wisconsin Bankers Assoc
Wisconsin College Personnel Assoc
Wisconsin Correctional Assoc
Wisconsin Credit Union League
Wisconsin Dept of Administration
Wisconsin Dept of Health & Family Services
Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Employment and Training Assoc
Wisconsin Foster Care Coordinaros
Wisconsin Health Information Management Assoc
Wisconsin Leadership Seminars
Wisconsin Lt. Governor’s Conference on LGBT Youth
Wisconsin Marketing and Management Assoc
Wisconsin Parks & Recreation Assoc
Wisconsin School Counselor Assoc
Wisconsin School Food Service Assoc
Wisconsin Social Services Assoc
Wisconsin Volunteer Training Institute