Speaking Information


Ray will entertain, inform and inspire your audience with an enlightening message and key takeaways from his book, Hangin’ with Winners. His themes of character, leadership, teamwork and citizenship are further punctuated by personal anecdotes involving “winners” from the worlds of television, sports, entertainment and politics.  He is a prolific storyteller who works hard to make his presentations come alive for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Topics include:

General Audience – 

  • Hangin’ with Winners: this popular presentation relies on warm, personal anecdotes to convey important life lessons; it is the perfect keynote to open a conference or close a dinner.

Business Audience – 

  • Lessons Learned: this presentation takes a deeper dive into the winning qualities and traits identified by the more than 80 ‘winners’ profiled in and/or interviewed for Ray’s book, “Hangin’ with Winners.” This presentation can usually be customized to a company’s mission statement or conference theme for maximum impact.

School-Age Audience – 

  • Hangin’ with Winners: the General Audience presentation outlined above is tailored for the appropriate grade level — elementary, middle school and/or high school students — with special emphasis on a “kindness, respect and empathy” message.

Ray’s previous speaking engagements include keynote addresses at events such as business, industry/association conferences and retreats, high school programs (including commencement addresses), college classes, Chamber of Commerce and similar business dinners, and a wide range of community-focused events.


Asked about the motivation behind the writing of his book, Hangin’ with Winners: A Lifetime of Connections, Anecdotes and Lessons Learned, Ray Cole said, “My life has been graced with a myriad of relationships forged over the course of a broadcasting career that now spans five decades. It is my sincere hope that the anecdotes shared – and the lessons they reveal – might enlighten and serve as inspiration to others in the same way that all those mentioned in the book have inspired me.”

In both the book and his speaking engagements, Ray asks the question: What makes a winner? It’s an essential question for highly driven and motivated individuals to ask, and one that can take a lifetime of experiences to answer. Cole and co-author Rob Gray interviewed titans in all kinds of industries and places – television, politics and philanthropy – and compiled their thoughts on “winning” and success. Read stories about, and advice from, acknowledged winners like Bob Iger, George Bodenheimer, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Dick Vitale, Jay Williams, Michael J. Fox, Jimmy Kimmel and many others. The book also profiles ‘Extraordinary Iowans’ like the late Governor Robert D. Ray, Governor Terry E. Branstad and Bill Knapp. The book is a must-read for anyone looking to ascend in their own careers and lives. And people who have the opportunity to hear Ray speak will come away inspired, ready to tackle any challenge and better prepared to chart their own path to becoming a “winner.”

The book has been featured on Good Morning America, The View, Tamron Hall, ESPN, the Jimmy Kimmel Book Club and the ESPN Chris Fowler Fowler, Who You Got? and The V Foundation Voices of Victory podcasts.


“Ray Cole is an ‘All-American.’ He’s the real deal: authentic, curious, generous, experienced and filled to the brim with integrity which is why people love to hear his stories.” ~Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and author of The Ride of a Lifetime

Reading Ray Cole’s delightful book — and/or hearing him speak — will put an instant smile on your face. He is the Ted Lasso of authors! He believes in the best of humanity and makes us all better just knowing him.” ~Martha Raddatz , Chief Global Correspondent and Co-Anchor of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC News

“Thank you for sharing your expertise at our annual Recruiting Awards Banquet and through your ‘Hanging With Winners’ book.  I have heard many positive comments from the Soldiers and Airmen in attendance. You possess an ability to get to know strangers quickly, and present a message that resonates with them. We genuinely appreciate your taking time to share your ‘lessons learned’ and experiences with senior and future leaders.” ~Stephanie Samenus, Brigadier General, Iowa Air National Guard

“Ray Cole brings forth leadership and life lessons through outstanding storytelling based on his wonderful book Hangin’ with Winners. Speaking at a large gathering of our team members, he kept the audience on the edge of their chairs with his stories and experiences with a Who’s Who in television, news, sports and entertainment. Touching, belly laughing and thoughtful. Thank you Ray, we loved it!”~Mike McCoy, CEO of NCMIC and 2023 Greater Des Moines Partnership Board Chair

“Ray Cole’s Hangin’ with Winners is an inspiration, and more. It is a kind of road map to success, real success, the kind of success that transcends our professional lives and encompasses much more. There is so much here to think about, to learn from, and to apply in our lives. So many people with so much to offer are featured herein, sharing their insights and stories – and only Ray could have brought them all together for such an invaluable project.” ~Jeremy Schaap, Emmy Award-winning host of ESPN’s E:60 and Outside the Lines

“Ray Cole is an outstanding man of character and his presentations inspire, uplift and motivate every audience. He is a gifted speaker with the unique ability to deliver a presentation that will positively impact the lives of others. I strongly encourage you to invite Ray to inform and enlighten your audience with a message sure to capture his tremendous life experiences. His stories are real, entertaining and with purpose. You won’t be disappointed.” ~Scott Raecker, Director of the Governor Robert D. & Billie Ray Center, Drake University

“Ray Cole was a keynote presenter at our 2023 “relEVENT” conference in Las Vegas with over 100 credit union leaders in attendance. He is a professional and truly engaging storyteller. Ray was able to find ways to connect with the audience and provide shared experiences in a manner that gave the attendees a lot to think about. Whatever the theme of your event, Ray’s experiences are transcendent and certain to leave an impact on attendees.” ~Jeff Klein, President & CEO, Choice Creative Solutions

“We invited Ray Cole — a Hall of Fame broadcast executive, longtime bank board member and author of Hangin’ with Winners — to be the opening speaker for our annual Relationship Managers training session. Ray did a fantastic job of kicking off the day as he seamlessly intertwined our Purpose, Vision and Values into his presentation. His message about the importance of building relationships with both existing clients and prospective clients to achieve success was well-received and impactful. Ray’s 30+ years of service on the board of directors of a community bank provided additional perspective and insights, and allowed him to connect with our team in a truly engaging manner. At the close of his presentation, we gifted each team member a personal copy of Hangin’ with Winners. They have found this to be a helpful and informative read, one in which Ray stresses the importance of becoming a servant-leader and finding the inspiration to use your relationships in ways that do good for others and the community at large. I highly recommend inviting Ray Cole to your next meeting or event! ~Jim Plagge, President and CEO, Bank Iowa

“Thank you so much for joining us … (we) appreciated what you had to share. Your insights and experiences bring to life the servant-leadership perspective we seek to instill in our students.” ~Alejandro Hernandez, Dean, College of Business and Public Administration, Drake University

“There isn’t one path that gets you to the final destination we define as success. Ray captures that perfectly with the unique stories in Hangin’ with Winners. If you’re looking for inspiration or want a little help with your own journey, this is the book for you.” ~Kevin Negandhi, ESPN SportsCenter anchor and college football studio host

“There are only a few people who have been around my career from the beginning, and Ray Cole is one of them. He’s always looking for an angle, and I mean that in the most positive context: leveraging a position in order to make something better.” ~Dan Houston, Chairman and CEO, Principal Financial Group

“Our staff is still raving about Ray Cole’s inspirational talk to our BizTown campers. The kids really liked the structure of his presentation and especially the closing point to be kind to others. A message of this nature to young people today is so important for their confidence and self-image, and helps give them a belief in themselves while gaining a sense of purpose. If they “hang with winners” like Ray Cole, this is much more likely to happen!” ~Ryan Osborn, President and Deb Schneider, Camp Director, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa

Sample Speeches:

Iowa Character Awards Keynote Speech, July 26, 2019 (Part 1)

Iowa Character Awards Keynote Speech, July 26, 2019 (Part 2)

Iowa Character Awards Keynote Speech, July 26, 2019 (Part 3)