Keynote Speaker

One of the world’s leading business thinkers, David Burkus’ forward-thinking ideas and bestselling books are changing how companies approach innovation, collaboration, and productivity.

As a skilled researcher and inspiring communicator, Burkus is one of the foremost minds shaping the future of business. Provocative and persuasive—Burkus shares captivating stories and practical takeaways that give audiences compelling insights into how organizations and individuals can do their best work ever.

Take a look at his keynote speaking topics below and let us know how David can tailor these ideas to your needs.

What It’s Like To Work With David

Featured Topics

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 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.

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.

(This keynote is based on David’s book Under New Management.)

Key Takeaways:

  • How the nature of work has changed, and so must management
  • How to keep younger generations engaged and performing
  • How the most productive teams and organizations communicate and collaborate

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 most creative teams and companies really operative
  • How to get around the most common barriers to innovation
  • How to communicate and collaborate better together

To learn more about having David as a keynote speaker for your event, just drop us an email at or use the contact form below.

Watch David in Action

David’s TEDx Talk

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What Others Are Saying

“What I loved about his presentation was its intellectual underpinnings. That depth made his rise above the average motivational speech. And our Academy participants loved it.”

-Phi Theta Kappa

“David received very high ratings for providing useful and valuable information for attendees. Also his approach was well received and he was very engaging. He clearly had done his homework about the work the participants are involved in, and that allowed folks to make those direct connections to their own work.”

-The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

“David was fantastic!”

-American Chemical Society

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