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Richard Sheridan    

CEO of Chief Storyteller, Co-Founder of Menlo Innovations & Author of "Joy, Inc."

Rich Sheridan, CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations, is a successful entrepreneur and author of two best-selling books—Joy Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love and Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear. Sheridan’s passion for inspiring organizations to create their own joy-filled cultures has led him to address audiences across the world—through four continents and 18 countries (and counting) as well as throughout the United States.

What motivates Sheridan to meet with audiences around the world, speaking to tens of thousands of people in every setting imaginable, virtually or in-person? What does he share with his audiences that makes them jump to their feet with enthusiasm and return to their organizations on fire with inspiration? Simply this: joy. More specifically, that joy in your organization is not just possible but essential—essential to profitability, to productivity, to every measure of success.

Sheridan and his message of joyful leadership have been featured in press outlets ranging from Inc., Forbes and New York magazines to Bloomberg, U.S. News & World Report, NPR’s On Point podcast, NPR’s All Things Considered, and the Harvard Business Review. His videos for organizations such as Gemba Academy, VitalSmarts, and the Arbinger Institute continue to inspire audiences around the world. Sheridan was also inducted into the Shingo Academy in 2022 for his work supporting the principles of organizational excellence.

Sheridan doesn’t just talk about joy in the workplace. He lives it every day at Menlo, the custom software and consulting company he co-founded in 2001 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Since then, Menlo has received worldwide notice for its unique culture, including recognition by Denmark’s Chief Happiness Officer as one of the ten happiest places to work on the planet. Menlo has also been recognized by the Alfred P. Sloan award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility for 11 straight years and has received a lifetime achievement award for Freedom at Work from WorldBlu, as well as five revenue awards from Inc. magazine. Today people come to Menlo from all over the world, over 20,000 in the last decade, (and thousands visiting virtually since the pandemic began) — to learn about Menlo and how they can create a culture of joy in their own organizations.

Speech Topics

Lead With Joy and Watch Your Team Fly!

Change is hard. But to create a joyful workplace, you can’t continue to lead the way you’ve always led. In this talk, Rich explores his own journey to joy, focusing on how he had to learn to lead in a completely different way and, by doing so, witnessed results that exceeded his wildest expectations. In his talk, Rich applies the analogy of flight to the teams we lead. His message is simple: when we finally understand the relevant principles (in flight or in teams), we can fly to heights and distances that were previously unimaginable. But to get there, you, as a leader, will need to create change. Serious change. And you will need to undergo your own personal evolution as well.

Drawing from his book Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear, Rich will share the personal and professional journey he has taken as a leader and invite you to join him at the vanguard of understanding what it takes to unleash the potential of the people who work for you and around you. He will explain how the longstanding and appalling disengagement statistics represent a fundamental failure of leadership and how you can reverse that trajectory in your own organization.

Finally, Rich will discuss the simple, actionable things you can do to get your teams off the ground and flying. You will come away energized and inspired to start you own journey toward leading with joy tomorrow! And you will be firmly convinced that it is within your power to do so, no matter how big your organization or how longstanding its culture.

Audience members will learn how to:

  • Lead with joy
  • Take concrete steps to elevate the human energy in your organization
  • Change how you and your team see the role of a leader
  • Turn your organization around to one that embraces action instead of meetings

Fight Fear, Embrace Change: Run the Experiment

Is your week made up of endless meetings that lead nowhere? Has your team given up on bringing new ideas to the table? With this talk, learn how you can move your organization from one of “that won’t work here” to “let’s run the experiment.” Find out how this simple change can ignite a culture of action and learning like you’ve never seen before.

In his timeless book, The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge famously stated that “The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”

Great quote, but how do we do that? And how do we find time to learn when we are already having trouble just keeping up? When on earth would we find time to learn?

In this talk, Rich will describe the forces at work in your organization that prevent learning. He will discuss how to eliminate a fear-based leadership model and get to one that embraces change at every turn. He will explore with you the approaches he has seen work over and over to build the sustainable systems where learning is actually built into the work itself.

Once in the habit of learning, it is a difficult force to stop. A true learning organization takes on a life of its own, and it is exciting. Your organization needs to get into this mode or you risk obsolescence. Rich’s two decades of leading joyful teams, and his penchant for creating systems that sustain that joy will give you practical and simple takeaways for creating your own version of a joyful learning organization.

Audience members will learn how to:

  • Pump fear out of the room so innovation and learning can grow
  • Move from endless discussion to taking action and “running the experiment”
  • Create a culture that embraces change with excitement
  • Inspire your team to become a learning machine

Joy and HR - Lessons for Creating an Intentionally Joyful Culture

Any organization that is on a culture transformation journey (and who isn’t these days?) and is not looking at their people processes will fail. Slowly and painfully, fail.

Culture is a big topic and it seems every organization wants one. The truth is EVERY organization, young or old, big or small, has a culture. Many want to change the one they have to something better, more compelling, and more energizing.

In this talk, Rich will explore how to create and foster an intentionally joyful culture.

Most organizations are not intentional about their cultures and thus, those cultures are defined by personalities, often heroes, rather than by leadership intention. Hero-based cultures are often defined by questions like who did we hire?, what attitudes walked in the door this morning?, what behaviors do we tolerate?.

If a cultural intention is chosen, it must show up in every element of traditional HR:

Recruiting, interviewing, selection, onboarding, pay, feedback, promotion, and firing.

Rich will share experiences from his history as an executive at a tired public company, which transformed dramatically under Rich’s leadership. Rich will also share the story of Menlo Innovations, a company he co-founded in 2001 with the specific intention of a culture focused on The Business Value of Joy®.

He will explore different ways to recruit, the importance of storytelling, interview processes without questions, transparency in compensation systems run by the team itself, feedback systems designed by the team for the team, and the importance of being able to draw a short, straight line from all of the people processes back to joy!

Leadership Impact Through Storytelling

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” - Native American proverb

In this keynote talk, Menlo Innovations CEO, Rich Sheridan, will live up to one of the other titles on his business card: Chief Storyteller.

Business guru Peter Drucker once famously stated that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Rich believes that storytelling sets the table for that meal. Storytelling connects us from heart to mind, from spirit to body, from concept to reality. As a leader, learning to capture and curate important stories will help you build and maintain an intentionally joyful culture in ways that PowerPoint slides, mind-numbing spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and numbers could never do. Storytelling plays an important role in creating an intentional culture. It is a leadership tradition as old as human civilization.

Audience members will learn:

First and foremost, Rich will tell powerful stories. He will then explore why these stories and others like them matter and why the very structure of the stories themselves connect so deeply to the audience. Rich will explore how to create a storytelling culture within your company, so you don’t just end up with one Chief Storyteller, but a company of storytellers. He will teach you how to be alert to the stories as they are happening in order to capture the richness of the detail that make the story interesting. He will also offer some practical advice about developing your own storytelling voice.

The payoff? If you develop a rich storytelling tradition, you will find that even your customers tell your stories to others!

Build a Workplace People Love: Just Add Joy

Endless meetings. Disengagement and burnout. Poor results. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be that way.

Experience the classic talk Rich has delivered to audiences around the world about how Menlo Innovations builds joy into everything it does. Take away practical ideas to bring your organization to a better place. This talk incorporates essential lessons from Rich’s first book, Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love. With stories and examples from Menlo’s history, Rich will share how to replace the chaos and bureaucracy all too common in organizations with an approach that leads to joy—for your team and for those they serve.

Audience members will learn how to:

  • Re-energize your teams through the incredible power of shared purpose
  • Build a culture of action instead of meetings
  • Create consensus and get everyone on the same page
  • Turn “plan” from a noun into a verb
  • Replace electronic communication with something far more effective
  • Use observation to gain insights into those you serve and how to delight them

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