A Motivational Speaker for Leadership
On this page you’ll find:
» An overview of my style and approach
» Pioneering Leadership keynotes—A Quest Beckons & Into the Storm
» Motivation Design keynotes—Change the Game & Making Clever Happen
» Metamodern Philosophy keynotes—Useful Delusions & Self-Proclaimed Motivational Thought Leadership Expert Authority
» Beyond Speaking: event enhancements
» How to Book Dr Jason Fox
Yes: motivation & leadership—two fields fraught with naffness. And yet still: nothing—nothing—comes close to the catalysing effect of a well-designed event. To take the savviest people within an organisation or industry and immerse them within a compelling context to explore new ideas and better ways of working (together) is just—it’s magic.*
* And by ‘magic’ I’m referring to the emergent fractal phenomena that is collectively of an order of complexity (and magnificence) much too high to summarise succinctly.
My work often starts at such affairs. I speak (quite well*) within the domains of pioneering leadership, motivation design and metamodern philosophy. Not just to ‘motivate’ your people, but rather; to equip them with better ways to think and savvier ways to lead meaningful progress through uncertainty and change.
What is a ‘motivational speaker’ anyway?
Motivation is a most awkward concept. To evoke the ‘m-word’ word oft implies a lack, which is rarely the case. Most people actually want to do great work—but then friction, ambiguity, uncertainty, latency, complexity and/or distraction get in the way. To adapt, we find ourselves resorting to the default thinking, group-think and bandwagonism that brings us mediocre performance, incrementalism and a delusion of progress. What’s needed, ergo, is not ‘more motivation’ but rather—more cleverness, courage, wit, wisdom and savvy.
In fact, above a certain threshold, it is collar-adjustingly awkward to call oneself a motivational speaker. It really just isn’t a relevant topic for leaders and thinkers in a post-industrial world. Or rather: it is incredibly relevant—in the sense of influencing individual and collective behaviour—but not in the charmingly simplistic way many motivational speakers might purport.
Thus, I find I don’t quite fit the usual role of a ‘motivational speaker’.
Instead, I work particularly well with sceptical audiences and senior leaders who’ve ‘seen it all before’.
I serve to provide thoughtful provocations and a refreshing blend of philosophy, science and perspective to leadership teams. Use me if:
01 / You lead a successful and high performing team with a great track record*
02 / You lead smart people who are ‘too busy' for meaningful progress; and/or
03 / You lead sceptical people who are resistant to conventional approaches to leadership, motivation and change.
Events can be the catalysts of cleverness
An inflection point. The precursor to a veritable pivot in trajectory. The hinge of history for individuals and organisations. The galvanising of purpose, and so forth.
But of course, conferences and events can also be dry, stale, over-engineered hollow affairs drenched in safe predictability and devoid of magic. Just as they can be overblown cacophonies of buzzwords, mania and hype.
Getting the mix, magic, psychological flow and meaning en pointe is a delicate art. It is therefore essential to know the philosophy and perspective of any external speaker you bring into your mix, lest we derail things. I believe this website (along with the welcome letter to my services guidebook) illuminates my perspective on things. But to further elucidate:
I stand against:
- Stagnation and the blind perpetuation of the status-quo
- Ignorance and the mind closed to new knowledge
- Myopia and the narrow fixation on incrementalism
- Mediocrity and the banality of predictability
- Conviction and the collapse of possibility
I stand for:
- Progress and the infinite striving toward betterment
- Relevance and the lust for future coherence
- Curiosity and the antifragile pursuit of better questions
- Empathy and the emerging needs of peoples and ecologies
- Wonder and the awe inherent in the unprecedented
Essentially: I work in service to the pioneers*
Those who quest beyond convention. The seekers of new value and future relevance. The leaders who shine a light on the path for others to follow.
* Why? To create a world that’s more curious and kind.
Expertise (so to speak)
I offer distillations of wit, wisdom and insight from the following domains:
1. Pioneering Leadership
Useful for leaders seeking to make meaningful progress in the complex, ambiguous and oft-times counter-intuitive quest for new and future relevance (beyond the default).
Think: future of work, adaptive leadership, strategic thinking, creative innovation, transformation
2. Motivation Design
An intelligent approach to progress and change—useful for any who wish to influence and amplify the intrinsic motivation of people working toward complex goals.
Think: behaviour/culture change, high performance, motivation, ownership, productivity and progress
3. Metamodern Philosophy
Ideal for folk seeking to understand the emerging cultural and cognitive orientations of our post-industrial age, so that they may operate with more efficacy, equanimity and aplomb in our increasingly hyperconnected-yet-fragmented post-truth world.
Think: adult development, complexity theory, meta-rationality, sincere irony, post-industrial values, purpose, storytelling/myth-making
1. PIONEERING LEADERSHIP
A Quest Beckons
—Beyond the Default
#strategy #innovation #curiosity #possibility
This keynote is designed to disrupt default thinking, getting people out of operational work-mode (and its fixation on the immediate), and into a mode that is far more open, curious and courageous—so that we might contemplate new possibilities beyond the default.
In particular, this keynote has your people reflecting on their own thought patterns and behaviours, so that we are neither too complacent nor too cocksure (as can be the case amidst senior leaders and high performing teams).
It makes for the perfect opening for your event—have your people asking the right questions, and focusing on the activities that lead closer to future relevance.
DISCOVER: How default thinking may be creating a ‘delusion of progress’ (and what to do about it); how to cultivate the curiosity, empathy and quality thinking needed to stay relevant; and how to use a ‘Quest-Augmented Strategy’ to ensure meaningful progress.
TIMING: Ideal as an opening keynote, or early in your programme.
PERFECT FOR: Leaders who want to evoke fresher, bolder, braver and wiser thinking, so as to pioneer new progress (beyond mediocre incrementalism).
NOTE: This can be paired with my ‘Making Clever Happen’ closing keynote, to exquisite effect.
Into the Storm
—Pioneering in Paradox
#leadership #networks #values #complexity
Conventional leadership-folklore serves a complicated yet predictable world. But now the world is complex and hard to predict, and instantly accessible and shareable information is rewriting the future as quickly as it can be understood. We’re in the storm now.
The Industrial Age is long dead, and our Information Age is at dusk. As we stand at the cusp of a new Age, leaders must navigate new shifts in the dance: from hierarchies to networks, centralised control to distributed authority, robust planning to antifragile experimentation, bureaucracy to responsiveness, profit-obsessed to purpose-driven (and so on). Such change behooves a refreshed leadership philosophy and culture. One that’s fit for the storm, and a world less predictable.
One of the biggest opportunities an event provides is the (head)space to ponder such things. To explore the opportunities and threats on the horizon, and to genuinely consider the things we are pretending not to know. This keynote provides the provocations for such, and is designed to be both upbeat and unsettling.
DISCOVER: What pioneering leaders are doing to stay relevant today; how you can transition to a more agile and networked organisation; and How to enable more considered, responsive and timely decisions across your enterprise.
TIMING: This keynote evokes rich, new and somewhat dangerous questions and conversations—timing this before a break, drinks or dinner is ideal (though I wouldn’t recommend this as your closing keynote).
PERFECT FOR: Established and emerging leaders seeking to further gird themselves for the future of work.
2. MOTIVATION DESIGN
Change the Game
—Rethink Motivation & Work
#culture #motivation #purpose #performance
Charismatic fluff and fist-pumping rah-rah can be quite stirring. Rousing, even. But the longevity and actual impact of zealous motivational presentations—once we return to work—is oft questionable.
Smart people require more than just a motivational pep talk. If you want your people to be the champions of your culture—demonstrating the behaviours most aligned to your values and strategy—then they ought understand the science behind what drives motivation and performance.
In this keynote, we unpack the elements of Motivation Design—highlighting the most effective levers your leaders can use to influence individual and collective behaviour. Motivating and deeply practical.
DISCOVER: How to ignite (and sustain) motivation to do challenging and complex work; how to maintain motivation and performance amidst uncertainty and change; and how to establish work rituals that mitigate friction and serve to ensure meaningful progress.
TIMING: This keynote works well at any point during the event (though possibly not as the opening—its focus is a bit more pragmatic than it is contextual).
PERFECT FOR: Leaders, people managers and anyone seeking to shape motivation and shift behaviour.
NOTE: I’m sometimes booked to speak on the topic of ‘gamification’. While this concept has matured (somewhat) in recent years—beyond the hype and peak of inflated expectations—I contend that this is a mere subset of Motivation Design. A toolkit that works in certain contexts, and only a small part of the puzzle. Still—if you’d like me to hone the focus of this keynote on gamification specifically—it can be done.
Making Clever Happen
—Unlock Meaningful Progress
#progress #action #momentum #change
Just as an event begins, so it must end. In many ways, the final session is just as important as the opening session. Actually: more so, thanks to peak-end rule.* The final, closing keynote is what marks the beginning of the transition—from what is essentially an artificial yet wondrously curated experience (the event)—back to the world of work and life. This final keynote, if done well, can create resonance for your whole event. Much like how a large gong, when struck, can create a deep and lingering effect.
* Research by the arch-wizard Daniel Kahneman (the Nobel-prize laureate author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) found that we essentially remember an experience as an average of the (peak) highlight moment and the final (end) moment. Hence, the ‘peak-end’ rule.
Therefore, of course it must be inspiring. But it must also be useful in assisting folks with this transition.
For a closing keynote, my philosophy is: get people in conversation (with each other, during the keynote). This keynote has folk intuitively scanning through the event to identify the ideas and interactions that resonated most with them. Then we sharpen our focus on the steps required to translate these new ideas into meaningful progress.
Of all my keynotes this is the most interactive. It is perhaps the lightest in terms of content—but the most significant in terms of effect. If you want your people to think, feel and do things differently as a result of your event, this keynote will serve you thunderously well.
DISCOVER: What—out of all the ideas, inklings and insights generated at this event—is the most important and apt for you to action; how to translate this intent into specific behaviours and visible momentum (while avoiding the perils of self-sabotage); and how to find a path through the inevitable friction and conflict of values new change brings.
TIMING: Naturally, this is an ideal closing keynote for your event. The ‘locknote’, as some call it. Note: this can be paired with my Beyond the Default opening keynote, to compelling effect.
PERFECT FOR: All audiences—this keynote translates event inspiration into meaningful progress.
3. METAMODERN PHILOSOPHY
—Meta-Motivation & Myth-Making
#psychology #mythology #mindset #meaning
This eclectic and cross-paradigmatic keynote provides intelligent audiences the means to self-author their own narratives, so as to shape richer meaning and experience whilst bringing about better decisions and behaviour. By taking advantage of the natural flaws in our own thinking—narrative fallacy, cognitive dissonance and our near-inescapable willingness to make meaning (along with our many biases and distortions)—we can continue to grow and develop as human beings.
This is motivation and character development for the ‘quietly dissatisfied’ whose mostly meta-rational minds are much too sharp and clever for conventional approaches to work. In this keynote you’ll learn how to embrace useful delusions (malleable ‘mindsets’) to bring about greater productivity, performance, clarity, agility and focus in our otherwise complex and chaotic (always-already) post-truth world.
DISCOVER: How to cleverly play with the illusion of ‘self’ and ‘free will’ so as to craft more efficacious versions of your character; how to wield ‘fact as fiction’ and imbue ‘magical realism’ into the work you do; and how to navigate an increasingly complex and chaotic world with fluidity, antifragility, efficacy and aplomb.
TIMING: This keynote has a rather ‘wtf just happened?’ element to it, so it may require special consideration as to where it is placed in your programme.
PERFECT FOR: Curious, smart and sceptical audiences of postmodern (or metamodern) disposition.
Self-Proclaimed Motivational Thought Leadership Expert Authority
—Ironically Sincere Satire
#influence #authority #power #comedy
This insightful and comedic keynote performance is designed to give your audience a glimpse as to how influence, authority and power is (and can be) manifested in our now Internet/hearsay-enabled world.
Watch this hipster wizard dismantle the conventional meta-narratives of motivational thought leadership expert speakers and their kin (including himself) with but a few simple cantrips. Then, amidst the ashes and rubble, see how the fragments of ‘truth’ can be reforged into something new.
It’s a self-depreciating piss-take on the irony of expertise and the ‘motivational business thought leadership’ industry at large, yes. But amidst the ridiculousness and mirth this keynote offers profound insights as to how to think more rationally, how to trust in doubt, and how to synthesise your own antifragile approach to ‘truth’.
DISCOVER: Why the smartest people are usually full of doubt (and vice-versa); how to leverage the Imposter Syndrome; why there are no Secrets to Success; and how to wield narrative like an artist.
TIMING: Probably not a good idea to place this comedic keynote immediately before or after a motivational speaker, unless they have a great sense of humour.
PERFECT FOR: Folks who have seen their fair share of thought leaders and motivational speakers.
I’ve worked with jazz musicians to create interwoven atmospheric experiences,* conducted live podcast interviews (with audience interaction), created tailored & limited edition versions of my books (with book signing), hosted humorous yet insightful hypotheticals with diverse panels,° facilitated frank ‘ask anything’ sessions with senior leadership teams (I’ve also served as a dungeon master for live on-stage executive Dungeons & Dragons), integrated whisky tasting & mindfulness into our events,◊ served on several occasions as a theme-weaving emcee, hosted intercultural world cafés to globally-diverse audiences, coached senior leaders on their keynotes, and have created illustrated booklets for audiences as delightful conference keepsakes.‡
We’ve also directed, produced and hosted dozens of leadership events. I’ve paid for premium speakers out of my own pocket, and flown international talent in from the other side of the planet. We (Kim and I) understand your world, and all of the idiosyncrasies speakers can bring.*
Essentially, what I’m suggesting (beyond hinting that we might be nice to work with) is: keynotes are wondrous—quintessential, even—and... we can do more. If there’s time (and budget) to work on the overall experience: let’s explore what’s possible. At the very least, we may be able to connect you with some ace folk.
How to Book Dr Jason Fox
Firstly: chuffed you’re considering me.
* Do note: I am sometimes booked over a year in advance—but still: get in touch anyway, as luck might have it that I am available. The sooner we know when your event may be, the sooner we can place a tentative ‘hold’ in our calendar for you.
If the stars align—and if your program is at least somewhat diverse*—we’ll then send through a confirmation invoice to lock it in, and to allow preparations to commence. At this point, we'll schedule a briefing call and send you a link to a comprehensive pre-briefing call survey.
* I do not speak at nor contribute to all-male programs or all-male panels. Of course diversity encompasses so much more than gender—but we need to draw a line somewhere, and this is a good place to start. We can happily recommend female contributors in our stead.
This survey asks all the pertinent questions, so that I can get the best sense of your audience, the elephants in the room, sensitivities to navigate, the strategic context, the programme and cognitive flow, what you want people to think/feel/do differently as a result of your event, and how I can best serve to contribute meaningful value to this. Then, come our call, we’ll get into the nuances of it all.
And then, we’re set to make clever happen.
Shall we do this?
Would you like to become one of my happy clients? To get the proverbial rolling simply send my wonderful business partner Kim a short email, or use this form.