Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin - Leadership Economy and Finance Geopolitics  speaker


About Geoff Colvin - Senior Editor-at-Large FORTUNE Magazine, Bestselling Author/Commentator on Business & Economic Issues:

Geoff Colvin is an award-winning thinker, author, broadcaster, and speaker on the most significant trends and issues impacting business and the economy. As Fortune magazine’s senior editor-at-large, Geoff has an insider’s perspective fueled by long-standing relationships with the world’s top leaders in business and government. He knows what they’re seeing, thinking, and planning and reveals how they’re leading, making choices, and responding to today’s challenges in ways that others can learn from.

Now in his fourth decade at Fortune, Geoff Colvin’s breadth of experience is impressive. He is one of business journalism’s sharpest and most respected commentators on leadership, management, globalization, regulation, corporate governance, competition, the economy, the InfoTech revolution, human performance and related issues. Geoff’s regular column and frequent cover stories in Fortune have earned him millions of loyal readers. His weekday Power Sheet newsletter, free through – provides a detailed look at how individual leaders are shaping today’s tumultuous world.

Geoff is also one of America’s preeminent business broadcasters. He is heard every day on the CBS Radio Network, where he has made over 10,000 broadcasts and reaches seven million listeners each week. He has appeared on Today, The O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Squawk Box, CBS This Morning, ABC’s World News Tonight, CNN, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, and dozens of other programs. He served as anchor of Wall $treet Week with Fortune on PBS, and spoke each week to the largest audience reached by any business television program in America.

As a keynote speaker, Geoff has a knack for bringing clarity to the most important and complex issues impacting business and the economy. He has spoken for scores of corporate and association conferences on six continents including dozens of high level Fortune conferences. His speeches pull together timely insights and strategies and are tailored to deliver relevant insights that help leaders understand what the future holds.

In addition to speaking Geoff is also a brilliant panel moderator, emcee and interviewer whose subjects have included Jack Welch, Henry Kissinger, Richard Branson, the Prince of Wales, Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan, Steve Case, Tony Blair, Michael Dell, Ted Turner, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and many others.

Geoff is a respected author whose groundbreaking international bestseller, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, has been published in a dozen languages. The Upside of the Downturn: Management Strategies for Difficult Times was named “Best Management Book of the Year” by Strategy + Business magazine. Geoff’s latest book (released August, 2015) is called Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will. It’s based on the idea in his wildly popular article in the 2014 Fortune 500 issue – “In The Future Will There Be Any Work Left for People to Do?” It looks at the trend of technology displacing more jobs than it creates and the ways humans will create value for their organizations and their careers in the changing economy. The ideas he shares have profound implications for every business and industry.

A native of Vermillion, South Dakota, Geoff Colvin is an honors graduate of Harvard with a degree in economics and has an M.B.A. from New York University.

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What Geoff Colvin Talks About:

Leading Ahead of What's Next
The whole world of business is changing in deep ways - competition, technology, government's role, and the balance of global economic power are shifting massively. These are historic and profound changes, and they're happening fast! Successfully navigating the tumult is every leader's great challenge today. Geoff Colvin helps leaders meet it by bringing a unique perspective based on long-standing relationships with the world's top leaders in business and government. He knows what they're seeing, thinking, and planning. In addition, his own work published in Fortune, the Harvard Business Review, and his bestselling books reveals what distinguishes the most successful leaders - how they lead organizations, make choices, and respond to today's challenges in ways that others can learn from. Colvin's presentation is as fresh as the day's headlines and at the same time rich with specific, profound lessons. To organizations facing extraordinary challenges; to compete and win will require extraordinary leadership at every level, Colvin explains what's important, what isn't, and what's next.

Political Chaos and Your Business
The main theme of the Trump administration is unpredictability. President Trump has said that his unpredictability is a deliberate strategy.   That makes the strategic planning a huge challenge for business leaders everywhere. Geoff Colvin helps unwind the impact of Washington in terms you won’t hear elsewhere. Economic growth, consumer demand, interest rates, taxes, employment costs – cable news doesn’t spend much time on those issues, but all of them are set to change, transforming the business environment in important ways. That’s why business people must keep the most significant issues in mind, even when the daily Washington chatter wanders away from them.

In the era of the gig economy, the Uberization of everything, advancing technology, and a large-scale global labor market, Washington is still in the 20th century on business policy. Business people need to remember that three giant, long-term issues – entitlement reform, comprehensive tax reform, and immigration reform – are the real keys to how Washington can turbocharge or hinder the overall U.S. economy in the years ahead. All those issues are in play, with chances of significant change greater than they’ve been in a generation. But what will actually happen?

Geoff explains why partisanship won’t decrease, so one thing most business people want from government – policy stability – will remain a dream. Yet we can’t afford to be paralyzed, and Geoff shows how the most successful business people are competing and winning in this uncertain environment. Calling on his deep relationships in the worlds of Washington and corporate America, Geoff brings a message of optimism that too often gets lost in the political rough and tumble.

The Economic Outlook
Even before the new alignment of power in Washington, it was the question on every business leader’s mind: Where is the economy going? Now it’s more urgent – and uncertain.

The economic environment is more volatile than ever. In opinion surveys, top CEOs and ordinary consumers say the same thing: There’s too much change, too fast; we can’t keep up. We all remember a time when it was easier to anticipate where things might be headed, when the consequences of misjudgment were less severe. Now a meltdown of financial markets in China can ripple globally and take down a trillion dollars in assets in a single day – and such volatility is becoming more common.

In this environment the stakes for decision makers are higher. Yet while the madness of crowds is now possible on a global scale, Colvin argues – counterintuitively – that deep inter-connectedness isn’t a bad thing. We live increasingly in one big capitalist world. The globe’s capital is more willing and able to go anywhere, moving as comfortably as Beyoncé on a concert tour. Capital’s ability to move freely is actually a strong buffer against the worldwide system falling flat, Geoff says. Much has changed, he argues, since the 2008 global financial crisis.

So what should you make of the economy right now? That’s the question Geoff answers in his talks. He shows audiences the economic forces that will drive their industry and business. Geoff’s presentations draw on the first-hand conversations he’s constantly having with top policy makers and business leaders around the world – people he knows personally and has covered for many of his 36 years at Fortune. Geoff explains what they’re seeing – and how they’re reacting and planning for the future.

Geoff reflects on the varied forces driving economic change and offers a glimpse of where each may take us. Governments are influencing the economic climate more than ever, through monetary policy and protectionist/isolationist policies that impact trade. Robots and artificial intelligence are eliminating more jobs than they create, at least for now. The EU and China are wild cards, each with widespread implications. Surging social and demographic changes are creating new challenges and opportunities. The economic picture changes by the day, and Geoff Colvin has a brilliant perch at Fortune to view it all – to get ahead of official statistics to uncover what’s going on. Engaging, energetic, and topical, Geoff helps audiences understand how they can compete and win in a fast changing economic future.

Talent Is Overrated - Real Truths of Great Performance
What if everything you know about raw talent, hard work, and great performance is wrong? Odds are that few if any of the people around you are truly great at what they do -awesomely, amazingly, world-class excellent. But why not? Why don't they manage businesses like Jack Welch or Andy Grove, or play tennis like Rafael Nadal, or play the violin like Itzhak Perlman? Scientific research on great performance exposes what most of us wrongly believe. Geoff Colvin, author of the groundbreaking national bestseller Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else, explains the findings and relates them to real life in real organizations. He shows how most organizations value the wrong things - how passion, honesty, and learning are more valuable than hours, IQ, or native ability. In an engaging, entertaining way, he demonstrates that world-class performance doesn't come from mysterious natural gifts but rather from very specific behaviors that every organization can adopt. People and organizations that learn from these principles gain a tremendous advantage, because most are still making costly errors. The same principles used by the greatest performers can be applied by all of us - and must be, if we're to meet the challenge of rising standards in today's global economy.

Humans Are Underrated – Building The New High-level Skills
It’s one of the largest questions facing organizations and individuals today: What will people do better than computers? As technology gallops ahead, taking over more skilled and highly paid work, how will people keep adding value? A leading economist says these issues are “the defining economic feature of our era.” Geoff Colvin explains the issues and answers the questions, showing how people can keep adding value – more than ever – by becoming excellent at the deepest, most essentially human skills.

Among the most important:

  • Empathy. It doesn’t just mean feeling someone else’s pain. It means discerning what another person is thinking or feeling – whether it’s pain, interest, confusion, fear, desire, or anything else – and responding in an appropriate way. An ability to do that in any setting is crucial to building powerful relationships and is the foundation of all the other high-value skills.
  • Creative problem-solving in groups. The problems that most organizations face today are too complex for anyone to solve alone. The work must be done by teams, and the key to team effectiveness isn’t what most people think. Rather than IQ, cohesion, or motivation, the critical factor is the members’ social sensitivity, their ability to “read” one another. That’s more important than all the other factors combined.
  • Storytelling. Organizations haven’t traditionally valued storytelling. Instead they value charts and graphs. Companies will always have to make decisions based on rational analysis of data – but that’s exactly what technology does so well, encompassing more data and stronger analysis every day. Human value is migrating elsewhere. And if you want to change people’s minds, if you want to inspire them to act, tell them a story.

While some think of these skills as traits (you’ve got them or you don’t), Colvin shows how they are trainable skills and how leading organizations are developing them right now. We can all get better at them, and we all will have to.

Based on his new book, Humans are Underated which The New York Times calls “profound,” Colvin’s talk is inspiring, entertaining, mind-opening, and highly practical.

Panel Moderator, Discussion Leader, Emcee/Host
Geoff Colvin is an event planner’s secret weapon. He can brilliantly moderate panels, lead conversations onstage and act as host/emcee for the entire conference proceedings. His talent for these roles is second nature and can transform ordinary events into something quite special.

Geoff’s honed his skills for three decades at Fortune magazine’s most prestigious conferences worldwide including the Fortune Global Forum, Brainstorm Tech, Brainstorm Energy|Tech|Sustainability and others. Top corporations, associations and organizations also regularly engage Geoff to play those roles because he has a gift for getting the most out of participants; asking the right questions, listening intently to what’s being said on stage and responding to that — keeping the discussion relevant and the energy high. He is so skilled that many top firms can’t imagine doing an important program without him. As an attendee at a recent conference told the event organizer, “Geoff Colvin literally made this conference.”

One of the premiere business journalists in America, Geoff brings a wealth of experience to the stage. He understands how public policy, global competition and the rapid pace of technological change combine to create a challenging business environment which has leaders struggling to adapt and innovate as fast as the world around them.

Geoff has interviewed a remarkable range of notable figures on stage at live events including Alan Greenspan, Rudy Giuliani, Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, The Prince of Whales, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Ben Bernanke, Russell Simmons, IBM Chairman & CEO Ginni Rometty, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Jamie Dimon, Hank Paulson, Mohamed El-Erian, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, AOL founder Steve Case and many more.

Playing the role of panel moderator and discussion leader is a unique talent. Geoff does his homework to prepare for each event and in order to draw out the best from those he’s speaking to. Colvin keeps the spotlight squarely on the topics and the guests – not himself. He keeps the conversation moving; making certain the audience is totally engaged. Given the breadth of Geoff’s expertise, he’s comfortable moderating and leading discussions on a wide range of topics impacting the business climate, competitiveness, the technological future, the economy, leadership challenges, and more.

The true testament of Geoff’s effectiveness in the role of interviewer, panel moderator and host/emcee is the impressive number of organizations who make it a habit to engage his talents for their most important events. One Fortune 100 firm has had Geoff speak at their annual high impact conference every year since 2002.

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