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Charlene Li          

Expert on Social Media & Marketing; Author of Bestselling Books "Groundswell" & "Open Leadership"

For the past two decades, Charlene Li has been helping people see the future. She’s the New York Times bestselling author of six books, including her newest release, The Disruption Mindset: Why Some Businesses Transform While Others Fail, and Open Leadership as well as co-author of the critically-acclaimed book, Groundswell.

Charlene is an entrepreneur who founded and ran Altimeter Group, a disruptive industry analyst firm that was acquired by Prophet in 2015. She continues working at Prophet as a Senior Fellow. She was also a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, worked in online newspaper publishing, and was a consultant with Monitor Group.

With over 20 years of experience in tech and business, she has been a respected advisor to Fortune 500 companies on digital transformation and leadership. Charlene also serves on the regional board for YPO, a global network of CEOs.

Charlene is a sought after public speaker and has appeared at events ranging from TED and the World Business Forum to SxSW. She has appeared on 60 Minutes and PBS NewsHour, and is frequently quoted by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Associated Press.

Charlene was named one of the Top 50 Leadership Innovators by Inc., and one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company. Charlene graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received her MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in San Francisco.

Speech Topics

Future Trends in Business

Li addresses the future trends that will affect business and technology in the years to come – notably the intersection of technology, customers, and companies. The drive towards being social and sharing is only becoming more ingrained in business practices, and it will soon be commonplace to benefit from personalized experiences at companies in exchange for personal data. The new world order will be divided between digital haves and digital haves nots. New business models will also be based on how power shifts toward the consumer due to the democratization of information. Li helps organizations navigate these shifts and create a strategy that prepares them for the social age.

Open Leadership

Regarding social media, Li is often asked, “How authentic do you need to be?” “Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras – but companies often push back. Traditionally, business is based on the concept of control, and yet with social media, the new world order demands openness. In her presentation, Li shows leaders how to tap into the power of the social technology and use it to be “open” while maintaining the right balance of control. Openness requires more – not less – rigor and effort. Through illustrative case studies and examples from a wide-range of industries and countries, Li shows how to bring this new openness to both inside and outside an organization. She helps audiences determine an open strategy, weigh the benefits against the risks, and have a clear understanding of the implications of being open. She also discusses best practices for managing openness and ensuring that business objectives are first and foremost. With social media, companies can no longer be in complete control, but Li shows that by being open you can actually use social technologies to your best advantage.

Social Business Strategy

Business is all about relationships. Technology comes and goes, but what remains – what drives people’s decisions – are the relationships a company has with its consumers. Social media is here to stay, and in presentations, Li helps audiences learn how to align social media strategies with business objectives in order to deliver real results and ROI. She shares the six phases of social business maturity and the seven distinct traits that advanced social businesses share. Through her research, Li has learned that social media strategists face great challenges as they work to make their company truly social. The numbers are stacked against organizations – Only 34% of businesses feel that their social strategy is connected to business outcomes, and just 28% of companies feel that they have a holistic approach to social media. Li works with audience members to understand their goals and core strategy in order to create an effective strategy, and she outlines the seven steps to get her audience members there, sharing with them research-based case studies and pragmatic advice along the way.

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on YouTube. Theyre defining you on Wikipedia and ganging up on you in social networking sites like Facebook. These are all elements of a social phenomenonthe groundswellthat has created a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works. Most companies see it as a threat. In this presentation, Charlene Li discusses how to turn the force of customers connecting to your own advantage. Based on hard consumer data and experience with dozens of companies from Procter & Gamble to Ernst & Young to a tiny but wildly successful winery in South Africa, Charlene discusses how to take advantage of communities, blogs, wikis, Facebook and YouTube and turn this potential threat into opportunity.

Open Leadership: Transform the Way You Lead with Social Technologies

Talk with your customers. Listen to your employees. These are long-time, well tested truisms of business. But ask organizations to engage with people on Facebook or Twitter and a look of sheer terror crosses their faces. The long held concept of command-and-control leadership is being tested as organizations are experiencing the largest technological and sociological shift of our generation. In this presentation, Charlene helps audiences to feel in command in a world where theyre no longer in control. For example, how open, how transparent, how authentic and how real do you need to be? More importantly, how do you leverage and measure the impact of using social technologies in your organization? Charlene lays out a new approach that todays leaders must adopt for competitive advantage. In her presentation, you will learn:

  • Why being open and in control is possible

  • The characteristics, skills, and behaviors of todays open leaders

  • Best practices in creating a coherent and effective social media strategy

  • How to implement an open strategy


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Charlene Li speaking at TED (Photo courtesy Charlene Li) Charlene Li is the Founder of Altimeter Group, a research strategy consulting firm focused on trends  ...
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