Keynote Address – Entrepreneur
I wrote this keynote speech for a business leader, who gave a presentation to Canadian university students on how to navigate the complexities of the changing professional world. This excerpt has identifying characteristics omitted.
Change is something I know a bit about. I specialize in something called “change management”. Essentially I help companies and entrepreneurs all around the world that are going through some major transformation in how they do business. My aim is to help think differently about their work from a new and fresh perspective, helping to empower their teams to achieve sustained results that can endure over the long run. I have worked with top executives, middle managers, and founders of very small businesses. Despite the differences in scale, they all face common challenges in navigating significant transformation. Change can come in a lot of forms. It might be a new IT system or a new location or a new market – or perhaps in your case, a new professional field. But ultimately embracing change comes down to the same factors – courage, flexibility, and vision.
I’m here today to speak with you about what I wish I had known when I first embarked out on my professional journey. I want to first give you some background on me – how I came to be standing on this stage today.
We all want to leave our mark during the fleeting time we have on Earth. That is what led me to ultimately start my own firm. I am very fortunate to do something that is all too rare in the world – do work that I love. I am afforded the opportunity to help a range of businesses, from large corporations to scrappy start-ups, as they tackle their challenges in reaching the next level. In my role as a consultant, I focus on business consulting and executive coaching. In short, I help leaders to reach their full potential.
The reality is that we are living in an increasingly changing world. We are living in an increasingly mobile work force. The average worker will have many employers throughout their career. It is hard just to keep up. Many of the top professions of 2025 have not been invented yet – after all, in 2005, how many of us knew that it was an option to become a data scientist or an app developer?
Always be willing to evolve. Many successful businesses have been born from the unexpected by-product of trying a new idea or a concept that failed, but that led them in another direction. If you never try, you’ll never open those doors.
Keynote Speech – Surgeon & Motivational Speaker
I wrote this keynote speech for a renowned thoracic surgeon and motivational speaker to promote his memoir. This excerpt has identifying characteristics omitted.
My job here today is to give you some useful, practical strategies that you can apply to be what I call a “super performer”. I hope the import of these strategies will have some significance for you. I want to help change your culture. Culture is the key to high performance – to setting the bar high for yourself and those around you. And it’s a waste of your time today if I’m not giving you specific strategies to change your culture and specific ways to implement those strategies.
Now I know that you already have that laundry list of accomplishments of mine. I know, I look great on paper. But let me tell you, I am nothing special. Don’t be fooled – I’m not the most modest person who ever walked the Earth either. But I’m not special. Anyone can do what I have done. Anyone can be a super performer.
When I was growing up, I played all types of sports. I was almost always smaller than the other kids. So I had to make up for that with confidence. Baseball, basketball, football, hockey - I decided to be incredibly confident on the lines of any playing field I stepped out onto. What I have learned over the years is how to turn all of life into a game, how to make every situation into a playing field. And how to achieve results on that playing field, even if I was starting from a different place than everyone around me. It’s that confidence and that determination that sets super performers apart from the rest. Hard work, dedication, and culture will eat undisciplined talent for lunch every single time.
Keynote Remarks – Family Business Advisor
I wrote this keynote speech for a family business and wealth advisor, who was promoting a book he had written how to build a lasting family enterprise. This excerpt has identifying characteristics omitted.
The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy opens his novel “Anna Karenina” with the following line: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I think the same can very much be said of family businesses. I am sure that many of you can relate all too well. I’m here today to tell you the story of my own family’s business, a business my father started from scratch – and I’m going to tell you right now that, in many ways, this is an unhappy story. This is the story of the rise and fall of our family’s enterprise.
I grew up working in every aspect of the business. A great thing about working with your family is that you often have the chance to try out a range of different roles and duties, so I effectively had a crash course in management even before I went on to earn my MBA. I worked in sales, operations, credit management, insurance administration. I helped write our company’s annual reports, I oversaw logistics when our office relocated – and I had my share of unpleasant tasks that went along with it all. But it was a wonderful way to learn the ins and outs of how a business really operates. Our company had holdings in oil, gas, and cement, and we even diversified to hold some interests in farming and real estate. These were some pretty good industries to be in, in a state with a lot of opportunity. And I was lucky because I got to do a bit of everything and learn the business from the ground up.
And yet despite being in a very lucrative industry in a very lucrative market, we still did not ultimately survive, for a variety of reasons I’m going to discuss today. Almost all of the reasons which led to the company’s collapse were related to human issues. So this is the story of the stunning impact that conflict can have on family relationships. This is in many ways a cautionary tale for any family that owns, controls, or manages an enterprise of any kind.
I know I said that this was an unhappy story, so I want to assure you that there is an upside to this tale. Oscar Wilde is credited with saying that “experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes.” That sounds exactly right to me. The silver lining in going through this experience and making a whole plethora of mistakes is that I have been afforded a degree of what I might humbly call wisdom – wisdom about what really matters in the long run when families go into business together. This is not something I’ve just taken a course on. This isn’t something I’ve picked up from perusing the Wall Street Journal or the Harvard Business Review. I have lived this story. And I know that making these types of mistakes can really hurt and leave scars that never really go away.
Prepared Remarks – Human Rights Activist
I wrote this keynote address for an activist invited to give remarks at a conference focused on human trafficking. This excerpt has identifying characteristics omitted.
And again, these stories are playing out in every corner of the world. Not just in Cambodia, in Africa, in Guatemala – it is happening here too. When I first started traveling and working on behalf of women in distant parts of the globe, I kept hearing that term from my friends, from acquaintances – “third world”. The truth is that we have to throw this title out. There is only one world, this one. And we all live in it, and we all have obligations to each other, even to those who we may never personally meet. These places can seem pretty far away but the fact is that we are all bound together. We all want the same things for our children. So in that sense we need to go even farther than “Not Here” and say “Not Anywhere”.
Working together, I believe that we can do things that sound impossible – things like finally eradicating human trafficking, sexual trafficking, rape, and tolerance of violence against women. The task is daunting – an accurate count is difficult to assess, but anywhere between 20 and 30 million people worldwide are living in a form of slavery today. Maybe we cannot end this in our lifetimes – but we can surely do our part during our lifetimes.