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James Whittaker    

Distinguished Technical Evangelist, Bestselling Author & Sought-After Speaker

James Whittaker’s career spans academia, start-ups and top tech companies and starts in 1986 as the first computer science graduate hired by the FBI. After that, he freelanced his way through graduate school at the University of Tennessee working for IBM, Ericsson, SAP, and Cisco. Whittaker then joined the faculty at Florida Tech where he was promoted to full professor and built a research startup that was acquired by Raytheon.

Whittaker’s first stint at Microsoft was as an individual contributor on Windows and Visual Studio. He then joined Google to lead teams on Chrome, Maps, and Google+. In 2012 Whittaker rejoined Microsoft to lead ML efforts on Bing and Cortana; Whittaker’s storytelling gift landed him Microsoft’s first Distinguished Technical Evangelist title. In 2019, he retired to focus on in-person experiences through his brewery and taproom empire on the eastside of Seattle. He uses his remaining tech game collaborating with young founders and serving on boards of interesting companies.

Whittaker is known for being a creative and passionate leader and sought-after speaker and author. Of his eight books, two have been Jolt Award finalists and two are best-sellers. His beer taste tends toward complex and malty.

Speech Topics

Thinking Strategically About The Future of Technology

AI, ML, Blockchain, Crypto, IoT, Web 3, the Metaverse ... Technology changes are coming fast and companies need to understand what is ahead so they aren't hampered by bad adoption decisions. This masterclass in understanding the future is based on James' experience at Google and Microsoft and teaching this material at top-rated MBA programs on two continents. Let James entertain and educate you in this funny, story-rich jaunt through how tech ate the world and continues to do so. You'll gain a new understanding of these technologies even if you aren't technical. You'll see how business and society is likely to change in the near and long-term. You'll understand what technologies are likely fads and which ones you need to plan for. The world is changing and this class will help you get ahead of those changes.

Supercharging Individual and Team Creativity

Creativity is the one universal ingredient of success. Creatives report higher job satisfaction and lead more fulfilling lives than any other class of people. And yet our school curriculum focuses on rote learning and test taking at the expense of creativity, problem-solving and higher-order thinking. Former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer James Whittaker shows you how to develop your creative mind and use it as the fulcrum of a lifestyle where creativity doesn’t just happen, it becomes the default case for everything you do in work and life. Come to this session and learn to supercharge your creativity to make your work more interesting and your life more exciting. Learn:

  • How to learn faster and retain knowledge better.
  • How to merge your passions with your day job.
  • How to discover and nurture your creative biorhythms.
  • How to become an expert in your field.
  • How to turn your creativity on at will.

Public Speaking and the Art of Storytelling

Boredom. Nowhere does it manifest more aggressively than in corporate conference rooms where speakers struggle to get an idea across in an engaging way. That boredom is killing those ideas, sapping audience energy and slowing down progress. Former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer James Whittaker has decoded the solution to engaging stage presence and cast it as a set of spells to be woven into the fabric of a presentation. Like actual spells, these techniques are activated by 1) what you say, 2) how you say it and 3) what you do while you are saying it. James presents these concepts, not by lecturing them, but by demonstrating them. Expect to be thoroughly entertained with authentic stories while you learn how to command a stage and turn an audience into a room full of believers. Whether you want to improve the story of your company, product or yourself, this course will turn you into a storytelling wizard.


  • How to conceive and structure a presentation for proper flow and maximum impact.
  • How to prepare for your presentation to conquer stage fright and ensure recall.
  • How to make important points stick in the minds of your audience.
  • How to weave story, voice modulation and movement to spellbind your audience.
  • How to tell your own story to improve your career.

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