• Best-selling author on how leading organizations are upending business as usual

• Professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University

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David Burkus is a best-selling author, a sought after speaker, and associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University. His book, Friend of a Friend (May 2018), offers readers a new perspective on how to grow their networks and build key connections—one based on the science of human behavior, not rote networking advice. He’s delivered keynotes to the leaders of Fortune 500 companies and the future leaders of the United States Naval Academy. His TED talk has been viewed over 1.7 million times and he is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review. [📁 David's Press Kit]

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Speech topics

Under New Management: Full Transparency, Less Email, No Cubicles, and where the Future of Work is Headed

What’s the best way to build and lead teams? Do the best companies really put their employees’ welfare first, and their clients second? Do performance reviews actually improve performance?

Burkus challenges many of the long-established principles of management and leadership. Drawing on decades of research, Burkus has found that not only are many of our fundamental management practices wrong and misguided, but they can be downright counter-productive. These days, the best companies are already breaking the old rules. From sharing salaries openly, to abandoning performance reviews, to putting management in the hands of the whole company, the revolutionary insights Burkus reveals are convincing companies to leave behind decades-old management practices and to implement new ways to enhance productivity and morale. Audience members will walk away with evidence-based strategies and real world examples to drive performance and build stronger teams.

Innovation Is A Team Sport

Why do so many innovation efforts fail? Why do our best attempts at creative problem solving never seem to reach their full potential? The cause of both frustrations, it turns out, are actually the same. In this keynote, Burkus targets a common misconception about creativity and innovation efforts: that it has to do with changing how individuals think. Instead, research reveals that "lone creators" are historically rare and for most innovations, creativity is a team sport. By combining insights from social science research and practical takeaways from the most innovative companies and teams, Burkus outlines a prescription for any team or organization to work more creatively together, without silos, politics, or frustration. Burkus' insights are practical, applicable, and tailored to the audiences situation.

(This keynote is based on David's books Friend of a Friend and The Myths of Creativity)

Key Takeaways:

• How the more creative teams and companies really operative

• How to get around the most common barriers to innovation

• How to communicate and collaborate better together

• How the more creative teams and companies really operate.

Friend of a Friend: Understanding The Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life

What if the advice we’ve all heard about networking and developing relationships was wrong?

In this new and startling look at the art and science of networking, Burkus challenges many of our commonly shared beliefs about networking. Drawing on more than five decades of social science research into how networks work, Burkus has found that what the best networkers do looks a lot less like collecting business cards and making random introductions and a lot more like fostering authentic connections and seeking out diverse new voices. And he reveals how anyone can do the same. Audience members will leave with practical and proven strategies to grow their network and to make their current network work much harder for their success.

Key Takeaways:

· Which areas of your network provide the best source of new ideas and insights

· Where the potential blind spots and weak points in your network are

· How to foster authentic, collaborative relationships

· How to effectively grow and strengthen your network

How Great Teams Find A Purpose Worth Fighting For

Why are some people and teams more motivated, more innovative, and more successful than others? Why do some teams of talented and seemingly compatible people fall short against lesser teams with less suitable members?

More often than not, great teams become great when they tap into something more inspiring—and more visceral—than casting a visionary strategy or struggling to get buy-in on a mission statement.

They know what they’re fighting for.

They’re fighting to make change in their industry. They’re fighting to remove an injustice. They’re fighting to make their customer’s lives better. Sometimes, they’re even just fighting to survive. But, surprisingly, they’re rarely framing their fight as a battle for market share against the competition. People don’t want to join a company; they want to join a crusade.

In this persuasive and provocative keynote, David Burkus, argues that what a team is fighting for is a powerful and potent driver of performance and collaboration, but not just any fight will do. Drawing on decades of social science research and real-life examples from billion-dollar companies, French pirates, Olympic champion curling teams (you read that right), and more, Burkus weaves together a clear picture of how people are inspired, how movements are led, and how organizations win. Audience members will leave with a clear and concise way to frame what purpose they’re fighting for and the tools to communicate that purpose to their team.

(This talk is based on David’s forthcoming book Pick A Fight.)

Key Takeaways:

• How to distinguish between bland purpose and one worth fighting for.

• The three distinct types of “fights” to build a purpose around.

• How to build purpose into your company or team culture.


Pick a Fight: How Great Teams Find a Purpose Worth Rallying Around

Why are some people and teams more motivated, more innovative, and more successful than others?

David Burkus's new book is an audiobook exclusive from Audible.

Support local – buy on Bookshop.

Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career

What if the advice we've all heard about networking was wrong?

Support local – buy on Bookshop.

Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual

A provocative work that challenges the traditional and widely accepted principles of business management — and proves that they are outdated, outmoded, or simply don’t work.

Support local – buy on Bookshop.

The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas

How to get past the most common myths about creativity to design truly innovative strategies.

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