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Josh Linkner        

Best-Selling Author, World-Class Entrepreneur & Founder and CEO of HelloWorld, a Digital Promotions Firm

To Josh Linkner, creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of all human progress. As such, he’s spent his career harnessing the power of creative disruption.

His journey has been non-traditional at every step. As the founder and CEO of four tech companies, Josh built his businesses from a blank page into a combined value of over $200 million. As a hyper-growth CEO of over 20 years, he’s used innovative approaches to topple competitors, fight through adversity, and achieve at the highest levels.

In addition to his own startups, Josh has been involved with the launch, growth, or financing of over 100 other companies. He’s helped raise over $150 million of venture capital, and has mentored leaders and entrepreneurs through the struggles of explosive growth. He is the founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners, investing in tech startups as a platform to help rebuild his beloved hometown of Detroit, Michigan.

As the founder and CEO of ePrize, Josh built the largest digital promotions agency in the world, serving 74 of the top 100 brands. Working with many of the most progressive CMO’s in the world, he is a pioneer in digital marketing, winning dozens of awards for groundbreaking innovation at the intersection of technology and advertising.

Josh is an internationally-recognized thought leader and top-rated keynote speaker on innovation, creativity, reinvention, and hyper-growth leadership. His keynotes are focused on not only inspiring audiences, but also sharing actionable strategies to drive meaningful outcomes. Josh has written two New York Times bestselling books – "Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity" and "The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation."

Beginning his career as a professional jazz guitarist, Josh brings the same love for improvisation and creative expression to everything he does. He is a weekly contributor to Inc. Magazine, Forbes, and the Detroit Free Press. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a President Obama Champion of Change Award recipient.

Josh is on a mission to help people and organizations unleash creativity to maximize full potential. And yes, he still plays a mean jazz guitar.

Speech Topics


Disciplined Dreaming: A Five Step System for Business Creativity

Competitive advantage in the marketplace used to be defended with complex supply chains, high cost of entry, and technological advances. Now, your business can be supplanted overnight by someone with a broadband connection and an idea. How are you re-tooling your organization for creativity? In this interactive talk, Josh shows participants how to jump-start their creativity for business advantage. Attendees will learn specific techniques to protect themselves from the competition, create new products, and expand market share.

Building a Creative Culture

Building a culture that fosters creativity and innovation is mission critical in todays ultra-competitive environment. In this high-energy and interactive keynote, you will learn how to tap your peoples hidden brainpower. Help your team get unstuck by breaking free from myths and barriers to unleash their true creative potential. Learn to establish an ongoing system to nurture and harvest your teams best ideas.

Is Innovation the Cure for the Economic Downturn?

Most innovations fail because they are not truly innovative they make an existing product slightly smaller, faster, or less expensive. Real innovations turn industries and marketplaces upside down like the cell phone or the iPod. Can your company innovate its way to success even during difficult economic times? In this talk, Josh offers a road map for organizations to get to successful, game-changing innovations. Takeaways include how to trap the competition, how to increase your rate of innovation, and how to invent new products that cannot easily be copied in the marketplace.

Leadership in the Age of Creativity

Leaders today need to be able to understand the needs and dreams of a wildly diverse employee population, each with its own particular ways of working, deriving motivation from very different parts of the work experience. On top of that, the marketplace can shift at bewildering speed as a college kid in a dorm room can invent a new business that renders yours irrelevant in a matter of a few months. How do you guide an organization into such an uncertain future with such a varied crew? Joshs talk explores the new rules of the road and shows leaders how to build a culture that enables maximum creative potential.

The Music of Business

Jazz musicians and business leaders are increasingly sharing more common ground. Both require spontaneous creativity and improvisation. Both require careful synchronization in group dynamics, while responding on the fly to changing market conditions. Both are real-time art forms that require high-quality performances under the bright lights of an audience. Adapted from the principles of jazz legends to the business world, youll learn how to use a specific framework and set of rules to maximize create output. Using the metaphor of a jazz combo, Josh helps audiences improve their creativity, risk tolerance, and adaptability in this highly engaging and unique presentation.

Executing Imagination: Turning Raw Ideas Into Powerful Results

As a five-time successful tech entrepreneur and investor in dozens of startups, Josh Linkner has seen thousands of companies loaded with creative buzz and big ideas. How is it that some harness their imagination to create game-changing drivers of growth and innovation while others miss the mark? The answer: the best companies have a systematic process to focus their team’s creativity into practical outputs – something Linkner discovered by founding and building companies that collectively sold for over $200 million. As a professional-level jazz guitarist, Linkner blends the improvisational qualities of a jazz ensemble with bleeding-edge business savvy to bring a completely fresh perspective on unleashing creativity in the organization. His inspiring presentation delivers practical tools that can be used immediately to increase creative output and deliver bottom-line results. You’ll learn to:

  • Use specific techniques to harness your most powerful ideas:

  • Apply creativity on a daily basis across all business activities and roles

  • Break free from the three biggest blockers of creativity

  • Apply best practices from the world’s most innovative companies

  • Avoid the five biggest creativity killers

  • Master the three most powerful brainstorming techniques that you’ve never even heard of

  • Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas

Gravity Defying Leadership: Unleashing Your Organization’s Creative Mojo

With disruptive forces assaulting business from every direction, creativity has been labeled the single-most important business attribute. To succeed, leaders must be focused on creating a resilient culture where everyone’s engaged; a torrent of fresh, creative ideas needs to flow from every level of the organization. Top leaders then employ a secret weapon: a systematic approach to selecting and launching the ideas that will best drive growth and innovation. Josh Linkner weighs in with a fresh perspective on this critical leadership challenge. A highly successful serial entrepreneur and now a tech investor, Linkner shows leaders how to employ his simple but effective framework to ramp up the creativity and identify/launch ideas that will break through and defy gravity. This presentation will help leaders:

  • Challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom

  • Build courage to foster responsible risk taking

  • Authentically express your own creativity and tap into the hidden creativity of your team members

  • Develop “everyday creativity” to attack business problems of all sizes

  • Deploy creativity beyond R&D to reimagine processes, drive efficiency, and improve operations

  • Uncover fresh approaches for reinvention and growth

Entrepreneurial Fire: Think and Act Like a Startup (Even if You’re Not)

Entrepreneurs look at the world differently. We celebrate them for their bold vision and courage - they drive game-changing innovation that creates enormous economic success while making a profound impact on the world. What is it about the entrepreneurial mindset that helps these mavericks seize opportunity that others miss? A five-time successful tech entrepreneur, Linkner shows leaders and organizations how to embrace the creativity, grit, and vision of a startup and then channel this approach to drive growth, innovation, efficiency, and customer delight. Josh Linkner decodes the entrepreneurial DNA to help leaders of any size company in any industry or profession:

  • Understand how an entrepreneur would attack their organization with the specific goal of dislodging it

  • Reimagine their role through the lens of an entrepreneur

  • Harness the ferocity of entrepreneurial thinking

  • Embrace “startup speed” to increase velocity in your own organization

  • Learn the five best approaches used by startups to create disruption

  • Avoid the weaknesses that plague entrepreneurs by exposing the four biggest startup death traps

HACKING INNOVATION - The New Growth Model From the Sinister World of Hackers

With intense competitive pressures and mind-numbing speed, leaders seek fresh approaches for growth and innovation. As old methods become commoditized, new creative problem-solving techniques are needed more than ever. Drawing inspiration from the unlikely world of hackers, NY Times bestselling author and 5-time tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner has discovered a new and powerful model for leadership and organizational success. The underworld of cybercriminals contains some of the most creative people on the planet, despite their illicit motives. In this thrilling and provocative talk, Linkner takes the audience on a mind-opening journey, showing how hacking techniques can be deployed to drive legitimate business outcomes. Learning how hackers would solve your most pressing challenges using unorthodox approaches will give you a new framework for creative problem solving, growth, and innovation.

Hacking Innovation: The New Business Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers

With intense competitive pressures and mind-numbing speed, leaders seek fresh approaches for growth and innovation. As old methods become commoditized, new creative problem solving techniques are needed more than ever. Drawing inspiration from the unlikely world of hackers, New York Times best-selling author and five-time tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner has discovered a new and powerful model for leadership and organizational success. The underworld of cybercriminals contains some of the most creative people on the planet, despite their illicit motives. In this thrilling and provocative talk, Linkner takes the audience on a mind-opening journey, showing how hacking techniques can be deployed to drive legitimate business outcomes. Learning how hackers would solve your most pressing challenges using unorthodox approaches will give you a new framework for creative problem solving, growth and innovation. • Specific tools and techniques from the Five Core Mindsets and Ten Primary Tactics of Hackers • Fresh approaches to complex problem solving • How a hacker would approach your work if he or she had your job • Why unorthodox moves can lead to the best business outcomes • How to protect yourself and your company from innovation hackers of all sizes and types

Harnessing Innovation: Turning Raw Ideas into Powerful Results

As a five-time successful tech entrepreneur and investor in dozens of startups, Josh Linkner has seen thousands of companies loaded with creative buzz and big ideas. How is it that some harness their imagination to create game-changing drivers of growth and innovation while others miss the mark? The answer: The best companies have a systematic process to focus their team’s creativity into practical outputs—something Linkner discovered by founding and building companies that sold collectively for over $200 million. As a professional-level jazz guitarist, Linkner blends the improvisational qualities of a jazz ensemble with bleeding-edge business savvy to bring a completely fresh perspective on unleashing creativity in the organization. His inspiring presentation delivers practical tools that can be used immediately to increase creative output and deliver bottom-line results. You’ll learn to: • Use specific techniques to harness your most powerful ideas • Apply creativity on a daily basis across all business activities and roles • Break free from the three biggest blockers of creativity • Apply best practices from the world’s most innovative companies • Avoid the five biggest creativity killers • Master the three most powerful brainstorming techniques that you’ve never heard of • Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas

The Gravity-Defying Leader: Innovative Approaches to Hyper-Growth Leadership

With disruptive forces assaulting business from every direction, creativity has been labeled the single most important business attribute. To succeed, leaders must be focused on creating a resilient culture where everyone’s engaged; a torrent of innovative ideas needs to flow from every level of the organization. Top leaders then employ a secret weapon: a systematic approach to selecting and launching the ideas that will best drive growth and innovation. Josh Linkner weighs in with a fresh perspective on this critical leadership challenge. A highly successful serial entrepreneur and now a tech investor, Linkner shows leaders how to employ his simple but effective framework to ramp up the creativity and identify/launch ideas that will break through and defy gravity. This presentation will help leaders: • Challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom • Build courage to foster responsible risk-taking • Authentically express your own creativity and tap into the hidden creativity of your team members • Develop “everyday creativity” to attack business problems of all sizes • Deploy creativity beyond R&D to reimagine processes, drive efficiency and improve operations • Uncover fresh approaches for reinvention and growth

Entrepreneurial Fire: Think and Act Like a Startup (Even If You’re Not)

Entrepreneurs look at the world differently. We celebrate them for their bold vision and courage—they drive game-changing innovation that creates enormous economic success while making a profound impact on the world. What is it about the entrepreneurial mindset that helps these mavericks seize opportunity that others miss? A five-time successful tech entrepreneur, Josh Linkner shows leaders and organizations how to embrace the creativity, grit and vision of a startup and then channel this approach to drive growth, innovation, efficiency and customer delight. Linkner decodes the entrepreneurial DNA to help leaders of any size company in any industry or profession: • Understand how an entrepreneur would attack their organization with the specific goal of dislodging it • Reimagine their role through the lens of an entrepreneur • Harness the ferocity of entrepreneurial thinking • Embrace “startup speed” to increase velocity in your own organization • Learn the five best approaches used by startups to create disruption • Avoid the weaknesses that plague entrepreneurs by exposing the four biggest startup death traps

The Music of Business: Translating Improvisational Thinking from The Jazz Stage to The Business World

Be prepared to be amazed. Josh Linkner, a jazz guitarist since age 13, credits a musical background for giving him a different way of looking at business. In this stunning interactive presentation, a live jazz performance by Linkner and his band is woven with stimulating dialogue. You’ll actually hear, through their music, fresh ways to unleash your organization’s creative mojo. In jazz, 99% of the notes are improvised and created in real time. Yet it’s the structure of a jazz combo—not the inherent talent of individual musicians—that allows for such breathtaking creative expression. In today’s business landscape of dizzying speed, exponential complexity and ruthless competition, we can no longer just play the notes on the written page. You will learn powerful lessons inspired by jazz musicians (aka “real-time innovators”) to help you: • Develop your own ability to improvise, no matter what job title you hold • Establish team dynamics that foster creative thinking and risk-taking • Uncover fresh approaches to previously unchallenged assumptions • Break free from traditional thinking and uncover vast new possibilities • Learn five secret techniques used by jazz musicians to foster creativity, which can easily be adapted to your own organization • Expand your ability to deal with ambiguity and recover from setbacks

A Street Fighter’s Guide to Reinvention – Lessons from The Front Lines of Detroit’s Rebirth

Detroit’s fight back from the brink is an inspiring tale of resilience told firsthand by Josh Linkner whose grit and passion are playing a critical role in the city’s revitalization. Linkner is a driving force in Detroit’s comeback; among his many honors—“Detroit Executive of the Year,” the region’s “CEO of the Year” and “Michiganian of the Year.” As the CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, he is helping the city he loves rise from the ashes and reconnect to its entrepreneurial and technological roots. Linkner’s heartfelt talk energizes audiences with the power of possibility. It’s also a cautionary tale of how Detroit, once a birthplace of innovation and a vibrant city, succumbed to the evil forces of protectionism, blame and bureaucracy. The lessons in this powerful comeback story—still in progress—help you: • Understand the four most common reasons organizations decay • Connect the dots between urban renewal and business reinvention, and learn how to apply the same approaches to your own organization • Embrace the five unexpected lessons of underdogs and learn to fight out of seemingly impossible situations • Gain inside perspective from the passionate leaders who are leading Detroit’s courageous turnaround • Uncover best practices from “street fighter” mentality—on scrappiness, determination, resilience and conquering adversity

News


Josh Linkner to keynote at Penton Technology's Channel Directions Live event

Penton Technology has announced Josh Linkner as the keynote speaker at Channel Directions Live, a three-day event designed to tackle the tough IT channel challenges of today and map out the future direction of the tech industry.

Josh Linkner - Speaker, Author, VC and Entrepreneur

Josh Linkner: Making the world more creative as an innovation speaker, author, figure in the business world, and musician. @joshlinkner.

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