The Sweeney Agency will help you find the best Inspirational Speaker for your event by providing you with all the information you need to make the right decision. We take into account your event objectives, audience dynamics and expected outcomes. We provide you with top Inspirational Speaker bios, video clips, topic outlines, and independent perspectives on the best speakers on Inspiration available. Working closely with the Inspirational Speaker you choose, we will ensure he or she delivers a customized presentation that informs, inspires and entertains.
Former Major League Baseball Pitcher & Gold Medal Winner in the 1988 Olympics
Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott is a former MLB pitcher who led Team USA to a Gold Medal in the 1988 Olympics. He was an All-America hurler at Michigan and won the Sullivan Award in 1987. Jim threw a 4-0 no-hitter for the New York Yankees versus Cleveland on September 4, 1993. He played for 10 seasons on 4 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999.
Abbott has worked with The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities.
Today, in addition to often being a Guest Pitching Instructor during Spring Training for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker who shares his incredible story of overcoming adversity and achieving ultimate goal.
Inspiring Story of Leadership from Former Commander of USS Benfold
Real-life Leadership advice from the former captain of the best ship in the U.S. Navy—the U.S.S. Benfold
First book, It’s Your Ship, has sold over 1.1 million copies to date
Fresh ways to build trust, harness people’s passion and achieve extraordinary results; common-sense ideas to stay focused only on the things you can control/influence
Past clients include: Cox Communications, Disney, Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Starwood Hotels, Toyota
Mike Abrashoff has a personal tagline: “You can tell people what to do but you can’t order excellence.” When Mike was the most-junior officer in the Pacific Fleet he took command of the near-worst performing ship. Twelve months later, the USS Benfold was the best ship in the entire Navy -- using the same crew. The story of that stunning transformation has lessons for every organization: leadership matters -- and culture is everything. Mike’s written three books -- his first, It’s Your Ship, has sold over 1 million copies. His Leadership Roadmap offers clear, battle-tested, and actionable steps. Mike shows people at every level of the organization how to engage and take incremental steps toward change that can make a dramatic difference at work. Mike is clear, “I didn’t turn the ship around -- my crew did that. What I did was to create an environment where they felt safe, empowered and supported. When you do that, anything is possible.”
In many ways, what Mike was able to do with the USS Benfold was an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today. That’s why dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company have cited Mike’s story as an inspiring lesson for business. Leaders especially identify with Mike’s being accountable for the results in an environment where he couldn’t make the rules.
“When my crew came to me with a problem, I’d say ‘It’s your ship -- how would you fix it?’.” Mike focused on the one thing he could influence: his crew’s attitude, because culture is the ultimate competitive weapon for any organization.
Mike’s established a set of management principles that he calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers with conviction and humility. “The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew. The idea is to empower every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence.”
By every measure, these principles achieved breakthrough results: turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1%; the rate of promotions tripled; and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25%. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness. This remarkable turnaround was accomplished by the very same crew that had performed so poorly just months before.
Mike is author of three books. His first, It’s Your Ship, has a timeless message: don’t use outside forces that stand in your way as excuses -- control the things you can influence and amazing results will happen. His next books, It’s Our Ship and Get Your Ship Together, showed how these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their own organizations.
A popular keynote speaker for audiences looking to ramp up organizational performance, Mike has spoken to every industry and kind of audience -- from board retreats to front line personnel; from sales groups to universities; from Fortune 500s to startups. He inspires audiences to rethink their beliefs about leadership and organizational culture and tailors the message to focus on engagement, execution, change, safety, diversity, leadership, teamwork, innovation, accountability and more.
Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Mike served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the executive officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
Mike Abrashoff is the founder of Aegis Performance Group, a consulting firm that works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and performance challenges within their organizations. Mike and his team prompt leaders at all levels to re-imagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.
Talks about making and celebrating incredible moments comes from facing failure and adapting to change
Audiences are inspired by Jeff's story of becoming a Paralympian and entrepreneur despite facing numerous hurdles
Jeff is a gold medal winning Paralympian, as well as being the co-founder of design, engineering and manufacturing company focused on Category II medical devices, and most recently a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School.
Jeff is a member of the Order of Ontario, and has been inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Athletics Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame.
Jeff Adams is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, a Paralympian, and six-time world champion in wheelchair racing. After a distinguished athletic career that included winning three Paralympic gold medals, he retired from competition in 2008 and was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
In 2010, Jeff co-founded a design, engineering and manufacturing company focused on Category II medical devices. After seven years as President and CEO, and managing the acquisition of the intellectual property by a US company, Jeff decided to pursue a life-long dream of a career in law.
Jeff’s work experience includes serving as the Executive Director for the International Arts Games Foundation where he instructed counsel on the incorporation of a federal not-for-profit corporation, established an inaugural board of directors and created the charter and by-laws. He was also the President, CEO and Founding Partner of Icon Wheelchairs Inc. and President of Marvel Wheelchairs Inc.
At Osgoode Hall Law School, Jeff worked at the Business Clinic and interned at ARCH legal clinic.
Jeff is a member of the Order of Ontario, and has been inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Athletics Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame.
A Technology Visionary, Entrepreneur and Leading Speaker on Innovation & The Global Strengths Movement
Paul Allen is a mission-driven entrepreneur, tech visionary, and lecturer on entrepreneurship and innovation, technology, strengths psychology, workplace culture, and human potential. Paul has founded 8 companies in his 29-year career in tech.
He is best known for co-founding Ancestry.com in 1997. He was its original CEO and created the content subscription business model and marketing strategies. He served in many executive roles as Ancestry became the leading genealogy company in the world.
From 2012-2017 Paul was Global Strengths Evangelist for Gallup, helping lead a worldwide movement to bring strengths psychology into schools and workplaces. The StrengthsFinder 2.0 customer base grew from 7 million to 16 million during that time.
Paul taught entrepreneurship and marketing at the university level for 4 years. He serves on the National Advisory Board for the Utah Valley University School of Business. He is a director of the Human Justice Foundation, which aims to change the emphasis in the criminal justice system from punishment and retribution to compassion and rehabilitation.
Paul has travelled extensively and has spoken around the world about how to unlock potential in individuals and build positive, strengths-based cultures. From Canada to China, Hong Kong to Hawaii, and in Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia, Paul has spoken to CEOs, global HRDs, entrepreneurs, educators, managers, and students.
Paul was the keynote speaker for Gallup at the inaugural CliftonStrengths Summit in Omaha, Nebraska in July 2016. In 2017, he was a main stage presenter at the CliftonStrengths Summit, along with keynote speakers Deepak Chopra and best-selling author Tom Rath.
First American Woman to Climb Mt. Everest, Author and Inspirational Speaker.
Stacy Allison has climbed the world's most famous mountain. Now she's helping organizations across the globe scale their own monumental challenges. She combines her business acumen and her spirit for adventure to show her audiences how to thrive in their organizations through courage, leadership, vision, teamwork, risk taking, and personal accountability. Stacy's high content, tailored, dynamic presentations will encourage and inspire you to take a visionary look at opportunities and move beyond your limits. The future will never look the same!
Stacy brings a vast range of experiences and knowledge to her energetic and dynamic presentations. She is best known as the First American woman to summit Mt. Everest. She is also president of Stacy Allison General Contracting, a residential building company. She and her team of builders specialize in high end restorations, where they steadfastly preserve the charm and integrity of classic old homes, while achieving financial success.
At the age of 21, Stacy began major alpine climbing in earnest and achieved rapid success. Within a year, Stacy reached the top of Alaska's Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America, and was part of the first successful women's ascent of Ama Dablam, the 22,495 foot peak known as Nepal's Matterhorn. These accomplishments provided the groundwork for much greater accomplishments.
Stacy was the first American woman to top Pik Communism (now known as Ismoil Somoni Peak), at 24,600 feet, the tallest peak in the Russian Pamir Range. On her first attempt on Mt Everest, Stacy did not summit, but she returned to Mt. Everest with the Northwest American Everest Expedition. On September 29, 1988, after twenty-nine days on the mountain, Stacy became the first American woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain at 29,028 feet. Stacy then went on to become the leader of a successful K2 expedition, the world's second highest mountain, considered to be the most difficult peak on Earth to climb. Three of the team of seven made it to the top; after an accident to the third, in keeping with her view of teamwork and leadership, Stacy and the others descended. “In any endeavor, leaders should inspire members of the team with a passion for success,” Stacy says, “but within the framework of team effort. One of the most crucial things to realize, feel and remember is that when one team member succeeds, the entire team succeeds.”
Stacy's first book, Beyond the Limits: a Woman's Triumph on Everest, is a suspenseful, triumphant adventure story. Her second, Many Mountains to Climb: Reflections on Competence, Courage and Commitment, is an exciting anecdotal account of climbing challenges practically applied to help you plot your way more surely to professional and personal success. Stacy also contributed a chapter on Leadership in the book, Upward Bound.
Stacy serves on the Board of Trustees of National University and is the Chairperson for The American Lung Associations fundraiser - Climb for Clean Air. Remarkably, among all of her accomplishments, she proudly is a committed mother of two.
America’s First Black Female Combat Pilot, Former Marine & Cop, Author and Consultant to Business
America’s First Black Female Combat Pilot, Former Marine & Cop
Created a “Zero to Breakthrough Mentality” to ensure success in business and in life
Frequently featured on Oprah Winfrey, CNN, Tavis Smiley, and NPR among others
Motivates, inspires, and energizes audiences to see obstacles as opportunities and conquer them at full speed
Past clients include: Accenture, American Airlines, IBM, Lockheed Martin, NASCAR, Oracle, Walmart
Combat tests you. Being a beat cop tests you. Life tests you. Three brothers and being the only girl...tests you. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour has been tested her whole life. A gutsy trailblazer, her resume is an impressive collection of “firsts” including America’s first Black woman combat pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps. After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, and author of Zero to Breakthrough, The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. As a speaker, FlyGirl unleashes hard-hitting advice and amazing anecdotes from her adventures on the battlefield and in business. She helps individuals and organizations Get Gutsy and build a sustainable inner force and conviction, that results in accomplishing significant goals.
In 2007, FlyGirl launched VAI Consulting & Training, LLC. Through that work, she helps individuals and organizations make gutsy moves and create breakthrough results by applying her “Zero to BreakthroughTM” Success Model –a mindset that helped to propel her career and kept her safe in air combat. FlyGirl regularly takes her message to premier meetings and conferences worldwide and is a Gutsy Confidence Mentor for elite senior executive Women in Tech.
As her newest business venture, in 2020 FlyGirl started FlyGirl Construction, a General Contracting Firm in the Atlanta, GA area.
As a Black gay woman and single mom, FlyGirl brings vital experience to her role as a member of the Forbes School of Business & Technology Board of Advisors and COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council.
FlyGirl has two honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards as a pioneering pilot, including honors for her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s story has been featured in the media including on CNN, MSNBC, The View, FOX News, Oprah Winfrey and many more, along with being a running back for the San Diego Sunfire professional women’s football team and two-time title holder of Camp Pendleton’s Strongest Warrior Competition.
She is currently working on her next book, The Gutsy Move.
Best-selling Author & Inspiring Speaker on Leadership, Creativity and Diversity
John U. Bacon is the New York Times best-selling author of ten books on sports, business leadership, health, and history. He free-lances for The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, and others, appears often on TV, including HBO, ESPN, Fox Business, MSNBC, and the Big Ten Network, and delivers weekly essays for Michigan Radio and occasionally NPR, which awarded him the PRNDI prize for the Nation's Best Commentary in 2014.
His books include Walgreens: America’s Corner Store, Cirque du Soleil: The Spark, Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership, which hit the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal’s Business Best-Seller lists. He then researched and wrote a trio of books covering big time college football from the inside out: Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football, Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football. All three were New York Times best-sellers.
His book, Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope, co-authored with ESPN’s John Saunders, tells Saunders’ life story in dramatic detail.
John delivers speeches on the themes in his books -- including leadership, creativity, and diversity -- to corporations, universities and other groups around the country and the world. In 2011, the Michigan Chapter of Meeting Planners International (MMPI) named him “Speaker of the Year.” In addition to writing and speaking, he teaches at the University of Michigan, where students awarded him the Golden Apple in 2009.
John is also a decent Spanish speaker, an average hockey player, and a poor piano player, but he still enjoys all three! He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and son.
Inspiring adventure speaker, deep sea explorer who discovered the RMS Titanic.
Best known for his 1985 discovery of the TITANIC, Dr. Robert Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship BISMARCK, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier YORKTOWN (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and John F. Kennedy boat, PT-109.
While those discoveries have captured the imagination of the public, Dr. Ballard believes his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents and black smokers in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979 along with their exotic life forms living off the energy of the Earth through a process now called chemosynthesis.
In addition to being a National Geographic Society Explorer-In-Residence and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, Dr. Ballard is the president of the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET).
Ballard was born June 30, 1942, in Wichita, KS but moved to California at a very young age and grew up exploring the shore in San Diego. Dr. Ballard has a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island. He spent 30 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he helped develop telecommunications technology to create "tele-presence" for his education initiative, which allows hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to accompany him from afar on undersea explorations around the globe each year. In 2001, he returned to the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island where he is presently a tenured Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration.
Dr. Ballard has 21 honorary degrees and six military awards. He was also a Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving in the Navy from 1967 to 1997. He received the National Geographic Society's prestigious Hubbard Medal in 1996 for extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world's oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science. In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ballard has published numerous books, scientific papers, and a dozen articles in National Geographic magazine. Dr. Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including the record-breaking Secrets of the TITANIC.
His discoveries also include sunken remains of ships along ancient trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea; two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel, the oldest shipwrecks ever found in deep water; and four 1,500-year-old wooden ships, one almost perfectly preserved in the Black Sea. Dr. Ballard's Black Sea project seeks evidence of a great flood that may have struck the region thousands of years ago.
His 1997 best-selling book, Lost Liners, tells the story of the great transatlantic liners through memorable wrecks he has visited. Dr. Ballard was also a special advisor on Steven Spielberg's futuristic Sea Quest, DSV television show.
An explorer, discoverer and historian, Dr. Ballard's fascinating journeys can teach us a great deal about our past, and they have encouraged others to take tremendous strides in the survey of the undiscovered mysteries of the deep sea.
Chris Bashinelli, fondly known as “Bash” - was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After a decade long acting career, including an appearance on the HBO hit television show The Sopranos, Bash decided to follow his real passion - using media to build bridges between cultures. In his early 20's, he became the youngest Moderator for the United Nations and made his first documentary about his travels to Tanzania. He now traverses the globe from Uganda to Haiti, as Host of 'Bridge the Gap,' an inspirational television series featured on PBS and the National Geographic Channel - where he discovers what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
He has harvested buffalo with Native Americans in Pine Ridge, lived as a nomad in Mongolia, and Sumo wrestled with the heaviest Japanese human being in recorded history. He is a Moderator for the United Nations, an Eagle Scout, a National Geographic Explorer - and has interviewed some of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People on the Planet.
Bash speaks around the world, from TEDx, to Abu Dhabi, to Azerbaijan - at multi-million dollar corporations, Ivy League Universities, and in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. He has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Dr. Jane Goodall, and the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
Ever wonder why certain teams win consistently, whereas others come up short? Ross Bernstein explains why - in an engaging and visually entertaining style that's designed to improve your organization's productivity, morale and bottom-line profitability...
The best-selling author of nearly 50 sports books, Ross Bernstein is an award-winning business speaker who helps companies and organizations perform more like champions. Ross and his books have been featured on thousands of television and radio programs over the past 20 years, including CNN, MSNBC, CBS This Morning, FOX News, Bloomberg, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and the CBC, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, USA Today, and Maxim Magazine.
Ross' signature program,
The Champion's Code: Life Lessons of Ethics & Accountability from the Sports World to the Business World, is based on more than six years of research that resulted in two critically acclaimed series of sports-business books. The first examines how and why certain teams win world championships; while the other chronicles the unwritten and unspoken rules in the world of sports, or
codes as they are known, which explores the fine line between cheating and gamesmanship - and the consequences involved when that line is crossed.
Ross interviewed more than 1,000 professional athletes and coaches for the six books and along the way he saw some fascinating patterns, metrics and trends develop among certain individuals who possessed a very unique DNA. For these unique individuals, or
champions, it wasn't always about winning, it was about following their moral compass in order to play the game the right way - with respect and integrity - in order to achieve success. In his presentation, Ross identifies upwards of 100 unique characteristics and traits that are common among champions, which he then ties into poignant life lessons and inspirational stories that relate back to his client's event theme and desired learner outcomes.
Based largely on the
Good to Great ideology of how the best companies are able to separate them- selves from the rest of the pack through dynamic leadership and extraordinary customer service, Ross' program reinforces the concept that individuals win games, but TEAMS win championships. Momentum, roles, buy-in, motivation, consistency, sacrifice, trust, chemistry, work-ethic, innovation, karma, and being humble - they're all a part of what it takes to become the best of the best - a champion both on and off the field.
So... who are the champions in your organization? Ross speaks about 100 dates a year and he'd love to customize a keynote (from one to six hours) for your next annual conference, corporate event, or sales meeting - his passion and energy is contagious and he'd be honored to be a member of YOUR team for the day!
About Molly Bloom – Inspirational Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, and Bestselling Author
Inspirational Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur & Bestselling Author
Talks about: Molly's Game: The True Story of the Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World, Overcoming Setbacks & Building your Brand
Molly’s Game was adapted into an award-winning film of the same name by renowned director, Aaron Sorkin.
Appeared on numerous shows and in media outlets such as Ellen, Vice, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, Vulture, and has been asked to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, for companies like Blackrock Financial, SiriusXM Radio, and delivered the 2018 commencement speech at Colorado State University
Molly Bloom is an inspirational keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and bestselling author of Molly’s Game. She is best known for her memoir, Molly’s Game, which was adapted into an award-winning film of the same name by Aaron Sorkin. Bloom’s memoir chronicles her journey from college student to LA waitress to building and operating the largest and most notorious private poker game in the world. Her games featured hundreds of millions of dollars and players like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, A-Rod, and Ben Affleck.
Bloom began her career as a world-class skier. While training as a pre-teen she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and had to undergo surgery that the doctors said would end her athletic career. A year later, fully recovered, she was back on the slopes. She later joined the U.S. Ski Team and at 21 years old was ranked No. 3 in North America in moguls, but her Olympic dreams would go unrealized as she left the team to pursue other projects. This led her to what she thought would be a year sabbatical in LA.
Bloom was finishing her degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado – Boulder, and was in the process of applying to top tier Law Schools, when her assistant job turned her into an accidental entrepreneur, running one of the most exclusive, high-stakes underground poker games in the world, pulling in as much as $4 million per year. What happened next is where her story truly begins.
The film Molly’s Game, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, stars Jessica Chastain (as Molly), Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d’Arcy James, and Chris O’Dowd. Bloom has appeared on numerous shows and in media outlets such as Ellen, Vice, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, Vulture, and has been asked to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, for companies like Blackrock Financial, SiriusXM Radio, and delivered the 2018 commencement speech at Colorado State University.
Founder & CEO of Socially Conscious Fashion Brand Sseko Designs, Bestselling Author
Liz Bohannon is the Founder and CEO of socially conscious fashion brand Sseko Designs, which she founded in 2008 as a way to provide educational and economic opportunities for women in East Africa. Liz shares the lessons learned from her 10-year journey growing Sseko from three women under a mango tree, into a successful international fashion brand that provides employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities to thousands of women across the globe.
Her story is filled with lessons for success that are grounded in the principle of having a beginner’s mind, which Liz sums up in her new book, Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now. In it, as in her presentations, she shares uncommon ideas toward success like, Own Your Average, Stop Trying to Find Your Passion…Create It, and Dream Small so you can do big things. Liz continues to channel her inner beginner as she manages 100s of employees across multiple continents, and her mindset sets her apart as a courageous, creative and effective leader.
The Sseko story has been featured in dozens of publications including, Vogue Magazine, Redbook Magazine, O Magazine, Inc., Fortune and others. Sseko has appeared on national broadcasts including ABC's Shark Tank and Good Morning America.
Among other notable honors, Liz was named a Top Three Transformation Leader by John Maxwell, Forbes listed her as a top 20 public speaker in the U.S. and Bloomberg Businessweek named Sseko as a top social enterprise to watch.
Liz now splits her time between Uganda and Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Ben run Sseko Designs and raise their two young sons.
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As a renowned author, speaker, television and radio personality, Les Brown has risen to national prominence by inspiring others to shake off mediocrity and live up to their full potential. With no formal education beyond high school, Les has distinguished himself as an international authority on harnessing human potential.
Born a twin in low-income Liberty City in Miami, Florida, Les and his twin brother were adopted when they were six weeks old by Miss Mamie Brown. As a single woman with a big heart, Miss Brown had very little education or financial means. With young Les' inattention to school work, his restless energy, and the failure of his teachers to recognize his potential, Les was misdiagnosed as educable mentally retarded. Suffering for years by the label and the stigma, Les was nevertheless driven by his passion to learn and his hunger to achieve his goal as a radio disc jockey.
In a humorous twist of fate and cunning, Les rose from a hip-talkin' morning DJ to a broadcast manager; from voracious reader to author; from community activist to community leader; from political commentator to three-term state legislator; from a banquet and nightclub emcee to a premier keynote speaker for Fortune 100 companies.
In 1986, Les entered the public speaking arena on a full-time basis and formed his own company, Les Brown Enterprises Inc., aimed at individuals and organizations, the company provides motivational products, personal development programs, speaker development workshops, keynote presentations and interactive business trainings.
In 1989, Les received the National Speakers Association's highest honor: The Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE). In addition, he was selected one of the World's Top Five Speakers in 1992 by Toastmasters International and became the recipient of the Golden Gavel Award.
Commencing in 1990 and recording the first in a series of six PBS specials, Les launched You Deserve which was awarded a Chicago-area Emmy. It became the leading fundraiser for pledges to PBS stations nationwide.
In 1993, Les became the host of his own nationally syndicated daily television talk show, The Les Brown Show, in which he focused on solutions to the day's challenges rather than the problems.
Recognized internationally, Les is the author of three bestselling books: Up Thoughts for Down Times, Live Your Dreams, and It's Not Over Until You Win. With his Sunday morning radio talk show, Chicago Speaks with Les Brown, Les' outreach embraces the homeless and the world's most powerful leaders.
A leading authority in understanding and stimulating human potential, Les' electric and powerful delivery, stage presence and personal insights have built his international brand of "What's Possible". Les' customized presentation is driven by his approach to each unique audience. Before he gives a speech, he builds a speech. The end result is that Les teaches and inspires each audience to new levels of awareness and achievement.
Inspiring story of adventure from Captain of the Coast Guard ship that performed two dramatic rescues during the real Perfect Storm
Captain Larry Brudnicki is the Captain of the Coast Guard ship that performed two dramatic rescues during the real Perfect Storm. These unbelievable rescues are a small part of a thirty-year career assessing risks, making decisions and inspiring teamwork.
Captain Brudnicki retired from the Coast Guard in March 2002 after thirty years of active duty. He reported to his last assignment as the Chief of Operations, 11th Coast Guard District, Alameda, CA in August 1997 where he supervised more than 15,000 Search and Rescue cases, which saved 1,600 lives. He also supervised the search for survivors of the Alaska Air Flight #261 tragedy. He had tactical control of ships and aircraft that seized more than 150 tons of cocaine, including the ten largest cocaine seizures in the year 2000 and again in 2001.
Using experience gained from leading successful high-risk missions with international visibility to deliver messages of leadership, teamwork and risk management, Captain Brudnicki shows how to achieve success. Looking at what he learned investigating accidents of others who were not so successful, he also demonstrated how to avoid pitfalls.
Brudnicki has been featured as commentator on CNN and Fox Business News, and guest expert on ABC, the History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and a myriad of other programs. As a contributor to Real World Management Strategies That Work, he details the 7 Steps to Making the Right Decision Every Time.
Hearing-impaired Comedienne, Inspiring and Entertaining Speaker and author.
Kathy Buckley is a gifted comedienne, award-winning actress, accomplished author and renowned inspirational speaker - who is a force like no other. Billed as 'America's First Hearing Impaired Comedienne', Kathy is also a five-time American Comedy Award Nominee as Best Stand-Up Female Comedienne. As an actress, she is known for her guest starring roles on shows such as Touched by an Angel, and for her critically acclaimed one woman Off-Broadway show, Don't Buck with Me/Now Hear This!. As a motivational speaker, she inspires hundreds of thousands of people around the world, sharing her story of overcoming some of the most difficult obstacles one can imagine in life - and how she met those challenges with dignity, courage, and laughter.
Kathy's book If You Could Hear What I See will have you laughing and crying as you experience the amazing story of her life. She has received thousands of letters and emails of thanks and praise, regarding both her book and her original PBS special, No Labels, No Limits! She was awarded the CINE Golden Eagle Award as the writer and executive producer of the special, and the Media Access Award for Outstanding Television Special. Her highly acclaimed autobiographical theater play, Now Hear This! had its Off-Broadway premiere at New York's Lamb's Theater - and not only brought the comic actress a legion of faithful new fans, but a wealth of critical praise from New York media.
In record time, she became one of the most popular comediennes in the country with material based on, among others things, her hearing loss. That impairment, however, is only one of the many hurdles Kathy has encountered in her life. Her poor performance in second grade landed her in a school for mentally and physically impaired children. It took school administrators, psychologists, and audiologists nearly a year to discover it was just a hearing loss - and not a lack of mental acuity that was impeding her speech and language development. Today, Kathy shakes her head as she quips to amazed audiences, '... and they called me slow?'
She was featured in the HBO Television Special, 'Women of the Night', shot on location at the U.S. Comedy Festival in Aspen, Colorado. She was included in the E! Entertainment Television Special, The World's Most Intriguing Women. Kathy was also the focus of I Can Hear the Laughter, an Emmy award-winning documentary.
Internationally Recognized Researcher, Explorer, National Geographic Fellow, and New York Times Best-selling Author on Longevity
Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Fellow, an inspirational speaker, and multiple New York Times best-selling author. He has discovered, through multiple expeditions with teams of research scientists specializing in population studies, the five places in the world - dubbed Blue Zones - where people live the longest, and are healthiest and happiest. His New York Times Sunday Magazine article about these places, “The Island Where People Forget to Die,” was one of the Times’ most popular - as was his National Geographic cover story on longevity, “The Secrets of Living Longer.” A chord was struck, and thus subsequent books and a company which seeks to share the distilled wisdom of Blue Zones cultures with American cities and corporations were born.
Blue Zones, LLC, puts the world’s best practices of longevity and well-being to work in people’s lives at the community level. Buettner works in partnership with Healthways, municipal governments, and various insurance companies to implement the program in more than 20 cities so far - and has dramatically improved the health of more than 5 million Americans to date. Their strategy focuses on optimizing the local environment: walkability for citizens and kids, availability of healthy food options, social connectivity, pursuit of life purpose - and ongoing coaching and support for creating homes which effortlessly bring forth wellness and happiness.
Writing in Newsweek, Harvard University’s Walter Willet called the results “stunning.” In one project alone, Buettner and his then partner, AARP - applied principles of Blue Zones to Albert Lea, Minnesota, and lowered health care costs by 40%.
His books The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest and Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way - have remained best-sellers, along with The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. Be sure to mark 03-December on your calendars - the release date of Dan's latest book The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Reach 100. Likely to be his next best-seller, The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. It captures the way of eating that yielded the statistically longest-lived people - and explains, in some detail, why that food has enabled populations to elude the chronic disease scourge that has befallen Americans.
Dan has appeared on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, NPR, and Oprah. Voted a Top 50 Influencer in Aging by PBS, Dan also holds three Guinness Book of world records in distance cycling (and is possibly the only person to have cycled through the Sahara desert without sunscreen!) - and has won an Emmy Award for television production. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is particularly proud to be the father of three (nearly) grown children.
Uses his Powerful Success Formula: Vision, Mindset and Grit to Inspire and Motivate Audiences
Scott Burrows is a powerful, engaging and thought-provoking motivational keynote speaker who can set the tone for your entire conference and challenge your audience while adding takeaway value with high energy, humour and substance - or a closing speaker who can inspire and move your conference attendees into action.
Scott's story is the hero's journey. By the age of 19, he played college football at Florida State University as a walk-on wide receiver for legendary coach Bobby Bowden - and was a top-ranked kick-boxing Black Belt champion whose last fight was broadcast by ESPN. During that time, Scott's life changed dramatically on November 3, 1984, he survived a horrendous automobile accident as a passenger in a friend's car and broke cervical 6 and 7 vertebrae in his neck that left him paralyzed from the chest down - and diagnosed a quadriplegic. Told he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Scott realized his split-second decision to not wear a seat belt altered his course forever.
Despite his grim diagnosis, Scott refused to be sidelined. After graduating from college, Scott's first career was as a Financial Advisor in the Insurance and Financial Industry for Northwestern Mutual. He specialized in life and disability insurance planning - as well as retirement, estate and wealth planning. In his 5th year, he hit a huge goal and qualified for the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) - the Premiere Association of Financial Professionals, which is a 100% commission-driven sales production award that fewer than 8% of his peers qualify for annually from more than 500 companies in 70 countries.
At the pinnacle of that career, Scott experienced yet another setback - a second automobile accident. Although he was buckled in this time, new injuries forced him to RE-evaluate, RE-invent - and once again RE-ignite his life by practicing and executing what he preaches. During his recovery, Scott reminisced about the overcoming adversity speakers he heard at sales and leadership conferences. Their life-changing stories inspire you to chase your dreams regardless of obstacles or barriers. That's when Scott decided he would make the tough decision to leave an industry he had so much passion for to pursue a speaking career that has taken him around the world. He also took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help expand his brother's multimillion-dollar golf course fertilizer, chemical and equipment business into Southeast Asia.
Scott is also the author of Vision Mindset Grit! In the Foreword, Scott's father defined those three empowering words: Vision - refers to your goals and aspirations, the endpoint you are seeking. Mindset - is the continual mental preparation and adjustment needed to meet oncoming challenges. Grit - is the day-to-day determination to persevere when you are too tired, too sore or too beleaguered to continue on.
Scott has delivered his story in 45 states and in such countries as Australia, Spain, India, Thailand, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Czech Republic and Canada - as well as to our soldiers at the Minot Air Force Base.
A pioneer in the frontier of commercial space sector, former astronaut and International Space Station commander Leroy Chiao captivates audience with his amazing stories on space exploration and brings unparalleled insights on leadership, innovation and technology trends .
A veteran of four space missions and a fifteen-year career with NASA, Dr. Chiao most recently served as Commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space – over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). From June through September 2009, he served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council.
Leroy holds appointments at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, and is the special advisor for human spaceflight to the Space Foundation. He has worked extensively in both government and commercial space programs, and has held leadership positions in commercial ventures and NASA. Chiao has extensive experience as a NASA Astronaut and prior to that, as a Research Engineer. Dr. Chiao is a fellow of the Explorers Club, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and the Committee of 100. Chiao also serves in various capacities to further space education,
A native English speaker, Dr. Chiao also speaks Mandarin Chinese and Russian. He has flown space missions and worked closely with Russian, Japanese and European Astronauts and their affiliated space agencies. Dr. Chiao is uniquely qualified to speak about the United States, Russian, Japanese, European and Chinese Space Programs. A Space Station Commander and Space Shuttle Mission Specialist, Dr. Chiao was also a certified Co-Pilot of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He is an expert in all facets of U.S. and Russian EVA hardware and operations and is EVA certified in U.S. and Russian spacesuits, tools, and training programs. In September 2006, Chiao became the first American to visit the Astronaut Research and Training Center of China. There, he met the first two national Chinese astronauts, Yang Liwei and Fei Junlong.
Dr. Chiao studied Chemical Engineering, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. He continued his studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, earning his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in 1985 and 1987. Prior to joining NASA in 1990, he worked as a Research Engineer at Hexcel Corporation. and then at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Virtual Events can:
- Reach a wider audience
- Offer a great experience at a much lower cost
- Create long term impact with recorded elements that allow for content to be watched over a period of time
- Have an increased impact over time, as viewers re-watch, discuss and connect over social media and other channels
And, most importantly: offer the ability for inspiring and impactful presentations to connect in a one-on-one way, directly to the attendee.
WHO is your audience?
Who are your virtual event attendees? Are they across a specific group within your organization, or are you serving clients across a wide range of levels? Determining who you are speaking to will help you determine a format for your event that will captivate your audience.
WHAT is your key message?
Are you focusing on change? Innovation? Leadership?
Creating a single focus or mission will allow you to hone in on the type of speaker(s) you need to engage your audience and help event producers to format the event into a dynamic program that balances inspiration with information and audience interaction.
WHAT type of event suits your audience?
- Virtual Conference
- Hybrid Event
Virtual event technology has come a long way over the last few months, offering a huge range of different options from pre-recorded webinars, to multi-day virtual conferences, to hybrid events with some attendees in the audience while the event is live streamed.
A COMBINATION of live and pre-recorded elements will allow your virtual event to run smoothly and stay on time.
Many of our clients are also opting for multi-day virtual conferences with shorter segments spaced over a few days.
This allows some flexibility for attendees in different time zones and accommodates different teleworking situations for attendees, allowing them to tune in when it is convenient.
WHERE? It’s all about Tech.
Virtual meeting technology has exploded over the last few months as teleworking became the norm.
Consider your needs:
- Interactive elements like breakout rooms, polls & Q&A
- Seamless blend of live & pre-recorded elements
- Ability to replay segments
- Live tech support
If you plan for rain, it’s likely the sun will shine…
Tech isn’t perfect so don’t forget to test, rehearse and have a back up plan ready to go for your virtual event.
Pro Tip: Think of a virtual presentation like a podcast. Viewers can view the content multiple times and refer back to it.
WHEN? A Date… or Dates?
As we have all noticed, our attention spans for meeting in real life versus meeting online are a lot longer.
When deciding on a date, consider spreading your virtual event out over a few days, with a variety of speakers, interactive elements and information.
The benefits of a multi-day format:
- Viewers watch content fresh for a short period every day
- Allows attendees in different time zones to stay on top of the content
- Attendees can review & re-engage with content
Virtual Event Checklist:
Is your event?
- Able to be rewatched?
WHY? Pandemic 2020
Just because you are online instead of in person, it doesn’t mean you are missing out on connection.
Using the technology that we have become so accustomed to over the last few months, our keynote speakers have the ability to connect to your viewers one-on-one, in a way that was impossible in live events.
FIND YOUR WHY…
What do you want the audience to leave thinking at the end of the presentation?
Apply this question to all the presentations and segments in your event to create a cohesive, impactful virtual event.
HOW? Virtual Event Checklist
To wrap it all up
- TECH: Find the right tech platform & don’t forget to test drive before your event
- AGENDA: Use a mix of live and pre-recorded segments, mixed with interactive elements, to ensure a smooth flow of events & audience engagement
- ANTICIPATION: Build up your event with emails, teasers and sneak peeks into what content will be offered
- NETWORKING: Create and encourage online chat functions, an event specific hashtag or even a dedicated event page to allow attendees to network virtually. Maximize the networking opportunities offered by your tech platform.
- EXTEND YOUR IMPACT: A dedicated social media page is a great place for attendees to connect after an event to discuss ideas and implement some of the learnings from the event.
Offer a password protected, limited time recording of keynote presentations to continue the conversation long after the virtual event has ended.
Continue the conversation with post-event touch points like emails or questions based on the key presentations.
Iconic Winter Olympic goaltender, and inspirational speaker on Teamwork & Leadership
Jim Craig is best remembered for his outstanding goaltending in the 1980 winter Olympics where the United States team beat the heavily favored Russians and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in what’s has been labeled the greatest sports moment of the 20th century. The picture of Jim with the American flag on his shoulders looking for his father is one of the most iconic images of all time.
Currently president of Gold Medal Strategies, Jim is this Boston-area based motivational speaking and sales training company. Over the past 30 years, Jim has inspired, instructed, and provided strategic and winning direction for employees and associates from more than 500 organizations and some of the world’s most recognized brands in the country.
Jim is in demand from coast to coast and internationally as a motivational speaker, spokesperson, marketing and sales strategist, and master storyteller.
Jim’s unique life experiences as an All-American goalie and NCAA Champion at Boston University, Olympic gold medalist, professional athlete, actor and highly successful business consultant enables him to provide his audience with insightful real life experiences like no other.
Jim is the author of recent business book, Gold Medal Strategies, Business Lessons from Americas Miracle Team, which focuses on his Gold Medal Strategies for Success.
Mindful Leadership Expert, Motivational Speaker
Talks about: Creating a Mindful and Positive Workplace Culture
Author of the memoir, Urban Monk
Past clients include: Google, Citibank, IBM, State Farm, SAP, Intel, WeWork, Novartis, Comcast, JPMorgan Chase
Pandit Dasa is a former monk, mindfulness expert, author and international keynote speaker who speaks to Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. In his speeches, he emphasizes the concept that “self care is not selfish” and that we need to learn to “close the apps” in our mind otherwise we will feel drained and depleted. He provides practical tips on how we can become more resilient by better managing our emotional, mental and physical health so that we can be more focused and productive and be more present for our colleagues and family. Some essentials items of well-being that are covered in his talks are:
- Understanding the mind, thoughts and emotions
- Research on sleep and how to improve the quality of one’s sleep
- Creating healthy boundaries between work and home life
- The importance of maintaining positive relationships
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Having a personal hobby to nourish one’s self
- Research on mindfulness practice
Pandit’s extensive 25 years of personal mindfulness practices allows him to expertly guide audiences through a variety of mindfulness breathing and focusing exercises, that leaves them feeling refreshed, relaxed and recharged.
Some of the organizations he has spoken to are Google, NASA, London Stock Exchange, IBM, Citibank, World Government Summit, Kellogg, Cadillac, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Nationwide Insurance, Novartis, Pfizer, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, SHRM National Convention, Oracle and many others.
Anthropologist and adventurer, a powerful storyteller who takes audiences on inspiring journey.
Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 23 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the NGS. Davis, one of 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees, as well as the 2009 Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the 2011 Explorers Medal, the 2012 David Fairchild Medal for botanical exploration, the 2015 Centennial Medal of Harvard University, the 2017 Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s Distinguished Explorer Award, the 2017 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, and the 2018 Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams, will be published by Knopf in September, 2020.
Wade Davis is a writer and photographer whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at UBC. Author of 23 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams, will be published by Knopf in September, 2020.
Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, Wade Davis is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Author of 23 books, including One River, The Wayfinders and Into the Silence, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book, Magdalena: River of Dreams, will be published by Knopf in September.
Inspirational Speaker, Emergency Medicine Physician, New York Times Best-selling Author, and Frequent Medical Expert on TODAY and CNN
Dr. Sampson Davis spends his time practicing medicine and traveling the country delivering inspirational keynote speeches with timely messages. Dr. Davis believes that it's important to give education a sense of style and fashion - to glorify and glamorize education is the key. A face must be present, a concrete image - that all individuals across America can draw inspiration from. Dr. Davis considers his 3 D’s: Dedication, Determination and Discipline - the necessary ingredients to success.
Dr. Davis was raised as the fifth of six children in Newark, one of New Jersey’s poorest cities. As a child - Dr. Davis grew up in cramped living quarters, surrounded by fragmented families, crime, and drugs. Still, he was a good student, able to strike the fragile balance between being smart - yet socially acceptable on the streets. It was this combination of skills, Dr. Davis says - that were most critical to his survival.
While attending University High School in Newark, Dr. Davis met Dr. Rameck Hunt and Dr. George Jenkins - two fellow students who together made a promise to become doctors. Dr. Davis and his two childhood friends each successfully fulfilled their pact - and today Dr. Davis is a board certified Emergency Medicine Physician.
In February 2013, Dr. Davis released his book Living & Dying in Brick City - An E.R. Doctor Returns Home. The book was reprinted in 2014 under the title Living and Dying in Brick City: Stories from the Front Lines of an Inner-City E.R. In addition to discussing Dr. Davis’ riveting experiences as an ER physician - the books also offers preventative guidance as a means of supporting healthier communities.
Dr. Davis has appeared on numerous talk and radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Oz, The Today Show, The View, PBS News Hour, Tavis Smiley and NPR - as well as print publications including but not limited to Readers Digest, O Magazine, People, Washington Post, NY Times, USA Today, Vibe and Black Enterprise.
Ms. Winfrey also delivered the highest honour - naming Dr. Davis “One of The Premiere Role Models of the World.”
Dr. Davis was honoured in 2000 with the Essence Lifetime Achievement Award - and also named one of their forty most inspirational African Americans in the country. He is the youngest physician to receive the National Medical Association’s highest honour The Scroll of Merit - and was previously honoured on the 2009 BET Awards.
Graduating with honours, Dr. Davis received his Bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, his medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School - and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the same hospital where he was born, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
Today, Dr. Davis is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician at St. Michaels Medical Center in Newark NJ. He has been a weekly correspondent on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and a frequent guest on CNN - where he focusses on prevalent and life-changing medical topics. Dr. Davis has also co-authored New York Times best-selling books: The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers (2008); We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success (2006); The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream (2003).
In 2000 during his residency, Dr. Davis along with his best friends felt the burning need to give back to communities in need - and together created The Three Doctors Foundation. This non-profit organization offers a series of free public programs focussed upon health, education, leadership and mentoring.
About Daryl Davis – Musician, Author, Compelling Unifier, Klan Whisperer, and Award-winning Conflict Navigator
“How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” As the only Black Cub Scout marching in an otherwise all-White parade, Daryl Davis formed that simple yet powerful question after he was pelted by rocks, bottles and soda pop cans by a handful of White spectators. This was his first encounter with racism at age ten. Pursuit of an answer led this career performing musician on a surreal journey stemming from a chance encounter with a man who turned out to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Seeking to understand, not to change minds or judge, Daryl actually built bridges with leaders from a group that professed hatred for him. Some came to quit the Klan and gave Daryl their robes and hoods when they did. In the process he has unearthed truths about conflict, hate, intolerance, and communication that are valuable today. His extraordinary journey is chronicled in his first book, Klan-Destine Relationships and the documentary about his encounters, Accidental Courtesy. As a speaker, Daryl’s impact on audiences is profound –his TEDx talk has over 10 million views.
Daryl graduated from Howard University with his Bachelor of Music Degree. He has performed extensively with Chuck Berry, The Legendary Blues Band (formerly The Muddy Waters Blues Band), and many others. While music is his profession, improving race relations is his obsession. He is known to many as “The Rock'n'Roll Race Reconciliator.”
It started during a break between performances with a band at a bar one night. A man approached Daryl and remarked that this was the first time he had ever seen a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Daryl explained that both he and Lewis were influenced by Black Blues & Boogie-Woogie pianists, from which Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly evolved. The man did not believe in the Black origin of Daryl’s piano style even after he said that Lewis was a friend who had shared this news with him. The man then shared news with Daryl –he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
This meeting, and those that followed, would lead Daryl on a journey all over America, meeting and interviewing leaders and members from KKK, neo-Nazi and Alt-Right groups at both his and their homes as well as their rallies. With his highly acclaimed, nonfiction book, Klan-Destine Relationships, Daryl become the first Black author to write a book on the Klan from in-person interviews. The award-winning documentary, Accidental Courtesy, details his journey and has been shown frequently on PBS. Daryl, who has been to 57 countries on 6continents, is often selected by the U.S. State Department as a highly respected expert on race relations and conflict, to present programs in various countries around the world dealing with similar situations. His next book, The Klan Whisperer will be released in 2021.
Daryl has been doing this work since 1983 and has become the recipient of numerous Klan robes & hoods and other racist symbols, given to him by people who once hated him when they didn't even know him. Now many of them have become his friends and supporters of his work. On the other side of spectrum, for his work in bridging race relations he is the recipient of numerous awards such as the American Ethical Union's prestigious Elliott-Black Award, Carnegie-Mellon's Carl Sagan Award & Prize, Tribeca Disruption Innovation Award, MLK Award, Search for Common Ground Award, Washington Ethical Society Bridge-Builder Award, among many others. He is often sought for commentary by CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, People magazine, and many other media sources.
In Daryl’s words, “Ever since I graduated from college in 1980 with my degree in music, I’ve been a full-time musician, traveling and performing all over America and around the world. What I’ve come to find to be the greatest, most effective, and successful weapon we can use to combat ignorance, racism, hatred, and violence, is also the least expensive weapon –and the one that is least used by Americans. That weapon is called communication. We can communicate with people in space but many of us have difficulty talking to the person who lives next door because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their religion, their orientation, their politics, etc. We are living with 21stcentury technology in Space Age times, but there are still too many of us with Stone Age minds.”
Daryl has come in closer contact with more members of the Ku Klux Klan than most White people, and certainly most Blacks, short of being on the wrong end of a rope. What's more surprising? He intentionally continues to do so because as he says, “Ignorance breeds fear. If you do not keep that fear in check, that fear will breed hatred. Because we hate those things that frighten us.
If you do not keep that hatred in check, that hatred in turn will breed destruction because we want to destroy those things that we hate. Why? Because they frighten us.” When he speaks, Daryl Davis’s impact on an audience is sobering yet inspirational. More than a few members in every audience remember and ask him about the fictional character in Dave Chappelle’s comedic skit in which he plays a blind Klansman who didn't know he was Black and attends Klan rallies. Daryl shares stories that would be comical, if he weren’t putting his life on the line for a purpose. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction might ever be in Daryl’s case. People will also point out how courageous Daryl was to actually turn up at Klan rallies himself. Inevitably they bring up Spike Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman. That film depicts a Black police officer who infiltrated the KKK over the telephone and would send a White subordinate officer to Klan rallies in his place to gather damning intelligence against the Klan. The difference is not lost on the audience. Daryl had his feet on the ground in the lion's den and tells the story first-hand.
Through his work, Daryl has discovered a successful method of transforming enemies into friends. His stories of his encounters with –and transformations of –White supremacists have inspired people all over the U.S. and abroad. His audiences leave his presentations empowered to:
- Overcome Their Fears
- Confront Their Prejudices
- Recognize Similarities
- Appreciate Differences
- Navigate Diversity
- Improve Relationships with Others
- Better Their Lives While Creating a Positive Impact on Others
In addition to his career as a performing musician, Daryl is the owner of Lyrad Music, a music publishing and licensing business. He is also an actor of stage and screen and has appeared in HBO's highly acclaimed series The Wire.
Founder of the XPrize Foundation, Inspiring Speaker and Expert in Incentivized Innovation.
Talks about how to drive and incentivize breakthrough thinking within organizations in order to achieve clear, measurable and objective results.
Audiences leave with an understanding of how to create a culture of innovation and how to incentivize the outside world to help solve an organization's biggest challenges.
Dr. Diamandis is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, and with Dr. Ray Kurzweil, co-Founder of the Singularity University.
Past clients include: Google, Microsoft, the United Nations, Facebook, TED, PhRMAs CEO Conference, Autodesk and Activision-Blizzard.
Scientist, engineer, doctor, and inspiring
speaker Dr. Peter Diamandis is the world's foremost expert in incentivized innovation and the growth of expontential technologies. The art of incentivize smart and talented people within your company or those experts around the world to focus on solving your grand challenges. He has worked with Fortune 100 companies, government leaders and captains of industry over the past 15 years. In 2010 Diamandis is the winner of the Economist
No Boundaries award for
meta-innovation - driving innovation in the way people innovate. He is also the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Innovation, the Heinlein Award, the Lindbergh Award, the Wired RAVE Award, the Neil Armstrong Award, and the World Technology Award.
Diamandis inspires and moves audiences to action. His message is clear: there is no challenge that cannot be overcome. It is a matter of having a clear objective goal, clarity of what you are measuring and incentivizing the right community to solve your challenge. Using personal, in-depth and inspirational stories, Diamandis has been called
one of the best speakers ever by numerous CEO-level audiences. He has received accolades from an impressively diverse list of listeners: Google, Microsoft, the United Nations, Facebook, TED, PhRMAs CEO Conference, Autodesk and Activision-Blizzard to name a few. Diamandis is a frequent contributor to CNN, CNBC and MSNBC.
Dr. Diamandis is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, a non-profit focused on designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Best known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight, the Foundation is now launching prizes in four groups: Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education/Global Development. Today the X PRIZE has three active prizes: The $10M Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $1.4M Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. Diamandis and the X PRIZE have been hired by the following groups to create incentivized innovation: Google, Cisco, Shell, Progressive Insurance, NASA, US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Transportation to name a few.
In 2008, Diamandis co-Founded the Singularity University along with Dr. Ray Kurzweil, serving as the Chairman & Vice-Chancellor of SU. Diamandis speaks dynamically and passionately explaining how the rapid growth of key exponential technologies are empowering individuals and companies to do what only governments were able to achieve in past decades. The key exponential technologies include artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, synthetic biology, embedded networks, nanotechnology/materials and human machine interfaces have the potential to transform industries and society over the next twenty years. Such technologies will drive a period of significant disruption or opportunity depending on the company's mind-set. Diamandis' ultimate message is that companies cannot remain stagnant. They must evolve or they will die.
Diamandis is the leading international figure in the commercial space arena, having founded and run many of the leading entrepreneurial companies in this sector, including: Space Adventures, the only company to have brokered the launches of private citizens to the Int'l Space Station; Zero Gravity Corporation is the only commercial provider of weightless, zero-gravity flights to the public and to NASA; and the Rocket Racing League is a cross between NASCAR and pod-racing from Star Wars.
Dr. Diamandis attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he received his undergraduate degree in molecular genetics and graduate degree in aerospace engineering. After MIT he attended Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D. In 2005 he has was also awarded an honorary Doctorate from the International Space University.
Diamandis has founded over 15 companies since his first year at MIT. Many of these are non-profits dedicated to creating change in the world. Peter's mission is to guide and inspire the transformation of humanity both on and off the Earth. His personal motto is:
The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself! In 8th grade, while living in New York, Dr. Diamandis won first place in the Estes rocket design contest.
Diamandis' book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think focuses on how exponential technologies, coupled with the DIY movement and the on-line connectivity of the
rising billion will enable an age of global abundance providing water, energy, food, shelter, education and healthcare in unprecedented availability for humanity.
Sahara Desert Adventurer, Change Leadership and Engagement Expert
Change your narrative and you can change anything. That’s why Steve Donahue is in global demand as a speaker, consultant and thought leader. He has worked with over 500 organizations to accelerate change, transform culture and energize teams from the inside out.
Steve is a pioneer in the emerging field of Narrative Intelligence and its application for individual and organizational renaissance. He has delivered over 1,000 inspirational presentations on 4 continents. Some of his clients include AT&T, Boeing, Pepsico, UPS, Ford, Hilton Hotels and The World Bank.
Steve’s first book, Shifting Sands, has sold over 100,000 copies. An international best-seller, it uses his harrowing journey across the Sahara Desert as a metaphor for personal growth and corporate change. He also co-produced the highly acclaimed documentary film, Take My Advice, I Can’t. The film chronicles his 3-year/72,000 mile search for a new story and a reason to tell it. It was on this quest that Steve discovered how narratives drive change and revitalize engagement.
Donahue is known for insightful presentations that are both heart touching and hilarious. He is a spellbinding storyteller with a special gift for inspiring international audiences. All of Steve’s presentations are deeply researched to be industry specific, immediately relevant and packed with actionable content.
Motivating Speaker on Using Humor as a Sales Tool, to Improve Service, Communicate and Improve Management.
Scott Friedman speaks on a variety of topics including employee and customer engagement, branded customer service, and personal branding. He's an inspirational speaker who also specializes in humor as a tool in sales, improving service, public speaking techniques and change management.
Scott's varied experience has brought him success in many industries including: hospitality, meetings, real estate, insurance, health care, education, government and just about any Association. Scott's greatest strength is his ability to customize the perfect program to fit the needs of any particular group. His improvisational comedy training, quick wit, and engaging material make Scott's valuable programs a bunch of fun to listen to.
Author of three books and co-author of four others, Scott's latest book, The Celebration Factor, is a practical handbook on how to bring more celebration into both your organization and your life. Based on Scott's extensive global research, interviews, and years of speaking around the world, this book offers strategies and examples from leading organizations that are successfully creating cultures of celebration in their workplaces.
Scott's book, Punchlines, Pitfalls and Powerful Programs - Ten Surefire Ways of Adding Humor to Your Presentations, is the perfect resource for those looking to connect with their clients. Scott outlines effective methods for engaging and educating an audience through humor and story telling. His book Using Humor for a Change is chock-full of great ideas to lighten-up the workload. The book proves to be the perfect remedy for stress and burnout.
In addition to speaking all over North America, Scott spends 20% of his time speaking throughout Asia and other locations around the globe. His international clients include Singapore Airlines, the Singapore Government, Gold Fields of South Africa, Young President's Organization, Hyatt Asia, and many of the Fortune 1000 companies. He offers to all of his clients a global and culturally sensitive perspective on how to get more out of work and out of life. He is always sure to do his homework to ensure that all groups feel at home no matter where they might be.
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Speaker, and the inspiration for the film The Pursuit of Happyness
Chris Gardner is an Entrepreneur, Author, Philanthropist, and single parent whose work has been recognized by many esteemed organization.
Gardner is the author of the 2006 autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller that has been translated into over forty languages. Gardner is also the inspiration for the acclaimed movie The Pursuit of Happyness for which Will Smith, starring as Gardner, received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for his performance. Gardner’s second bestselling book, Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, was published in May 2009.
In the fall of 2010, Gardner was named the Ambassador of Pursuit and Happyness for AARP, which has nearly 40 million members worldwide. Always hard working and tenacious, a series of adverse circumstances in the early 1980’s left Gardner homeless in San Francisco and the sole guardian of his toddler son. Unwilling to give up Chris Jr. or his dreams of success, Gardner climbed the financial industry ladder from the very bottom. He worked at Dean Witter Reynolds and Bear Stearns & Co before founding the brokerage firm Gardner Rich in Chicago in 1987.
Chris Gardner’s aim, through his speaking engagements and media projects, is to help others achieve their full potential. He is a passionate philanthropist committed to organizations combating violence against women, homelessness, financial illiteracy and providing access to medical care and treatment; issues of the utmost importance to Gardner.
Chris Gardner resides in Chicago.