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Jennifer Aaker    

Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business & Author of "The Dragonfly Effect"

Dr. Jennifer Aaker is the General Atlantic Professor and Coulter Family Fellow 2021-2 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a leading expert on how purpose and meaning shape individual choices and how technology can positively impact both human well-being and company growth. Her work has been widely published in leading scientific journals and featured in The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Science. Dr. Aaker is the coauthor of several books including the award-winning book, The Dragonfly Effect, as well as Power of Story, which drew on behavioral science to provide a hands-on tool putting The Dragonfly Effect model to work. Her new book, Humor Seriously, is focused on why humor is a window into our humanity, and how it can be used as a secret weapon in business and life (with Naomi Bagdonas, Penguin, 2020). A recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award and the MBA Professor of the Year, Aaker counts winning a dance-off in the early 1980s among her greatest feats.

Speech Topics

Power of Story

Studies show that we are wired to remember stories much more than data, facts and figures. Stories galvanize They fuel stakeholder buy-in by painting a clear picture of what is and what could be for everyone - from employees, to investors, to customers. Further, when the stakeholder becomes part of the story, they are more likely to act. Story is equally important for leaders, whose signature stories – both business and personal - impact recruiting, retention, and growth of the company. Critically, your stories are written by your actions, not your words. In this talk, Dr. Aaker will demonstrate how signature stories can build brands, increase customer loyalty, strengthen high performing teams and fuel company growth.

Rethinking Purpose

Imagine a world where our leaders, teams, and institutions are driven by a higher purpose. To realize this world, Dr. Aaker examines meaning and purpose through an unexpected lens: the regrets of the dying. When we align what is personally meaningful with the higher purpose of our business, we are able to bring the full range of our humanity to our work, connect authentically to our values; and better able to navigate change and uncertainty. In the discussion, Dr. Aaker will dive into insights from leaders who do so by embracing authentic strengths and weaknesses, taking bolder risks, and seizing more moments of humor, joy, and, yes, love.

A New Type of Leader, Anchored on Purpose, Fueled by Humor

Imagine a world where our leaders, teams, and institutions are driven by a higher purpose, making them visionary, effective, inspired – and inspiring. In order to become this new type of leader, you must be anchored on purpose and be fueled by levity. This balance of purpose and levity equips you with the humility and emotional intelligence to connect deeply with your teams, partners, and customers, the vision to build loyalty and drive toward lofty goals, and the mental agility to tackle the complex problems in our changing world. In this talk, Dr. Aaker empowers you with tools to unlock higher purpose in yourself, your teams, and your organizations. Then, drawing on insights from leaders who cultivate levity in their organizations as well as professional comedians, you’ll learn how to use your sense of humor as a secret weapon in business and life to persuade, influence, and lead. The talk is rooted in the behavioral science of purpose and humor and is complemented by insights, anecdotes, and case studies from leaders who have fostered purpose and levity in their teams, organizations, and even families.

Humor: Serious Business

Clearly, business is a serious endeavor but perhaps it shouldn’t be. Research shows that humor is a multiplier and can actually improve our resilience and our ability to tackle the dark times. Humor helps us stay fast, competitive, and smart. Humor hones intelligence in a way that other positive emotions don’t. Humor is at the cornerstone of intelligence and fun. It makes us action oriented (not sedate). It is a tool to be more powerful and influential, so that we may make the change we want to see and be seen. It raises the stakes, and if you can perform at that level (and be guided by purpose), you can make change AND bring people along the way. This talk is founded on a deep and scientifically supported belief in the power of humor in business. We will illuminate this belief by first building a bridge between the behavioral science of humor and laughter, illuminating the positive (and negative) consequences of creating a culture of levity. Then we'll explore the bottom line impact of such cultures on business, by revealing research into what makes people laugh both in the living room and the board room, by providing tools to help participants harness humor safely and effectively in business, and finally, by exploring personal and cultural shifts for creating lasting systemic change.


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