The LifeHikes Story

From a pickup truck to a global brand

Rooted in humble beginnings and a passion for public service, Bill and Maria Hoogterp launched Own The Room to help leaders around the world realize their full potential. Since launching, Own The Room has grown exponentially, training nearly 250,000 people, counting 46 Coaches and 8 global offices, and partnering with some of the greatest companies on the planet.



Bill Hoogterp, still in his 20s, crisscrossed the country motivating college students to pursue community service. Bill traveled in a red Mazda B2000 pickup long-bed truck that he appropriately named Nomad; the covered cab had enough room for a twin mattress, a rack for clothes, and a basketball.

Despite sometimes doing multiple presentations a day, Bill realized he was not a good presenter, so he started teaching himself and trying new things. Bill improved quickly and started getting paid to speak, which he donated back to groups he was helping.



After helping to launch a few national volunteer programs, Bill received a grant to explore community organizing in Newark, NJ. There, he created a leadership program for youth and neighborhood leaders, including a segment on communication and public speaking — the first iteration of our trademarked methodology. Instead of having them read leadership books, they each had to present a chapter from the book to the class in a creative way.

professional development trainers


Bill and Maria met after she tried signing him up as a volunteer for his own program. It worked. Together, they developed a program helping underprivileged Newark teenagers build leadership and communication skills.


Seeing an opportunity to grow the program, Bill and Maria booked as many free demos as they could. Little by little, the methodology improved and corporate customers began to take notice. German-based Siemens signed on as the first major customer.


Drawing on our roots in public service, we launched our #GivesBack initiative. To date, we’ve offered no-cost trainings to hundreds of nonprofits around the world. That same year, we officially trademarked our communication workshop methodology.

Bill Book Sales Coach


Bill partnered with McGraw Hill to release Your Perfect Presentation, bringing our methodology to readers worldwide.


Own The Room goes virtual and mobile! We introduced over 45 virtual sessions and launched our proprietary mobile application, LifeHikes®!


Own The Room remains as the trusted communications training provider for LifeHikes®. LifeHikes® brings new offerings and new opportunities that are guided by a philosophy of lifelong learning.