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Saj-Nicole Joni    

Business Strategist & Advisor

Saj-nicole Joni, PhD is an internationally acclaimed business strategist and confidential advisor to CEOs and their top executives. She is often called upon by executives to serve as a thinking partner focused on tough strategic choices that define their impact and legacy. Joni helps leaders think about context, judgment, complexity, and future possibilities. She is highly regarded in the business world as a trusted, unbiased third opinion. "Working with Saj-nicole," says one CEO, "is like having an entire brain trust of deep thinkers to help you work out your toughest issues."

A provocative sparring partner, Joni helps draw out leaders' strategic thinking to view all sides of a problem, test multiple possibilities, and look ahead at the consequences of potential paths of action. She never gives advice; instead, she challenges leaders to think more profoundly about the future in order to be ready to meet it.

Joni draws upon her senior leadership expertise as an executive at CSC Index and Microsoft, where she distinguished herself in global strategy, finance, and organizational leadership. She has served on a number of boards for both public and private companies. She currently serves as a trustee of the New England Conservatory and on the advisory board of the Simmons School of Management.

She authored the critically acclaimed book The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, and recently released The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value. A frequent speaker with a regular column featured on Forbes.com, Joni has appeared on NPR "Marketplace," and has appeared in publications including The Harvard Business Review, Strategy and Business, and Fast Company.

Joni earned her undergraduate degree and doctorate from the University of California-San Diego and has served on the faculties of MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, and Wellesley College. She is the founder and CEO of Cambridge International Group Ltd., serves as a Senior Fellow at Booz and Co., and has served as a Fellow at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership. Joni is also an accomplished pianist and an avid gardener.

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Speech Topics


Strategic Thinking

Leaders will be tested as never before in the months ahead, Joni argues in this talk, and success will demand the full engagement of a leader's head, heart, and guts. What is the role of strategic thinking in a world turned upside down? How do companies go forward in such uncertainty, and what are the opportunities that times of flux present?

The Three Hard Truths of Leadership

Have you ever lost perspective on a critical issue? Raised tensions within your team in order to get something done? Manipulated others when the whole truth about a situation can't be shared? Using thought-provoking case studies about these three dilemmas, Joni prepares the audience to rise to their best by taking them on a dynamic journey to the intersection of leadership and strategy that is at the heart of 21st-century success.

Authentic Leadership

Leadership of multinational organizations demands more from executives than ever before. The issues are more numerous, more complex, and more urgent. How can you retain your humanity, lead with integrity, and be fully present for your people when the stakes are so much higher than they have ever been? In this talk, Joni explores with the audience the dilemmas of leadership and how to work through them authentically.

The Third Opinion

The subject of Joni's first book, The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, this talk looks at how leaders at all levels develop their network of advice and counsel – in order to challenge and sustain their life-long leadership potential. Developing wide perspective and seeking unfettered exploration and unvarnished truth is essential when the leadership stakes are high. Joni shows how leaders through history have sought "third opinions" from outside counselors, balancing the need for inside knowledge with outside perspective. She helps audiences think about how to systematically create their own strategic insight networks, and how to enable those they mentor to do the same.

What It Takes to Win: The Right Fight

Drawn from Joni's book The Right Fight, this talk looks at what it really takes for leaders and teams to survive. The myth, deeply embedded in business thinking of the past, is that alignment is the most important goal for teams to be able to function and achieve results. But organizational alignment isn't enough to drive success. In fact, the dirty secret of leadership is that "productive dissent" is essential. In this groundbreaking keynote, Joni shares her practical approach to orchestrating—then harnessing—the "right fights" that unleash innovation, risk management, and leadership potential in any organization. It all begins with the critical question, "Are we fighting about the right things?"

When Uncertainty Rules: Three Keys to Performance

How do companies go forward in a volatile world of constant change? In this interactive talk, Joni unfolds rare insider's stories of how some of today's most influential executives have achieved their biggest wins—and avoided catastrophic losses. By the end, the audience will have learned about the three keys to performance that can be put to use on Monday morning, enabling them to better master their own risks and opportunities.

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