John and Mark X. Cronin Deliver the Keynote Address for the Together We Can Conference
John and Mark X. Cronin, the father-son co-founders of John’s Crazy Socks, traveled to Longview, Washington to kick off the “Together We Can” conference sponsored by Life Works (The Arc of Cowlitz County). The pair then led two breakout sessions on increasing employment for people with differing abilities.
Wendy Keegan, one of the conference organizers, said, “John and Mark helped make this a wonderful event.”
Dave Hill, the Executive Director of Life Works, said, “What a great talk. What a way to kick off our conference.”
“I loved speaking at the Together We Can Conference,” said John. “We met so many great people and heard so many great stories about the work that Life Works is doing.”
A Keynote Address that Inspires and Motivates People
John and Mark started the conference with a speech that shared the journey that John took from facing life threatening medical challenges related to his Down syndrome to co-founding the world’s largest sock store. As one attendee told John, “I just loved hearing your story. You had me in tears and you had me laughing.”
They then turned to speaking about leading John’s Crazy Socks and how more than half their colleagues have a differing ability. “We make the business case for hiring people with differing abilities,” said Mark X. Cronin. “We show why its good business to employ people with differing abilities.”
Their talk shared how they work with local schools and social service agencies and offer tours and work groups so when they are ready to hire, John’s Crazy Socks has a ready pool of job applicants. They used their speech to encourage the self-advocates and their supporters and to push local employers to help their business by hiring people with differing abilities.
John closed out the talk by offering his advice, “Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Work hard. Show what you can do.”
Leading Breakout Sessions on Employment
When a speaker failed to show up for the conference, Dave Hill asked John and Mark if they would lead a breakout session on employment. Together with Jamie Stout, the Disability Program Manager for Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region, John and Mark led two breakout sessions designed to help people with differing abilities find employment. The sessions attracted self-advocates and family members as well as support staff.
The conversation offered encouragement as well as practical advice on how to find employment. One attendee came up to thank John and Mark afterwards saying, “It is hard sometimes to find work and sometimes I am depressed. This session gave me hope again and I can’t wait to go back out there to find a job.”
Keynote and Event Speakers
John and Mark X. Cronin are frequent speakers at conferences and corporate events. They share their entrepreneurial story of how a young man with Down syndrome together with his father created what is today the world’s largest sock store with a mission to spread happiness. Their speaking engagements bring laughter, tears and inspire people to see what is possible for each of us to achieve. They have spoken in person at events across Canada, the United States and Mexico and at virtual events around the world. They have spoken at events for Microsoft, EY, Bank of America, the Special Olympics, and the National Down Syndrome Society, among others.
Their advocacy work has seen the Cronins testify twice before Congress and speak at the United Nations on two occasions. Their work has been featured on many national news shows. They are winners of many awards including the EY Entrepreneurs of the Year. They serve on the CEO Commission for Disability Employment and the Neurodiversity at Work Business Roundtable.
John and Mark recently recorded their second TEDx Talk entitled, “Hiring People with People with Differing Abilities is Not Altruism, It Is Good Business.” That Talk is available on YouTube and the TED platform. Their first TEDx Talk entitled Differently Abled People Want to Help Us is also available on YouTube and the TED platform.
About Life Works of Longview, Washington
Since 1980, Life Works/The Arc of Cowlitz County has been serving children and adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities. They have grown from only providing residential services to also providing vocational, day and transition services.
Lifeworks/The Arc of Cowlitz County transforms lives one at a time, providing a valuable, sensible, practical, economical and superior alternative to institutionalized care – saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars annually for each of the 100 clients they serve. To learn more, visit their website or call 360-577-9093.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. With more than 4,000 socks, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. More than half their employees have a differing ability, and their Giving Back program has raised over $625,000 for charity partners like the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Autism Society of America. Most of all, they are Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account, TikTok or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at email@example.com.