There’s no way to fully predict what’s in store for leaders in 2017 – how the marketplace will change, what trends will emerge or fade, how politics, wars, or natural disasters will reshape our world. But we can feel confident in this: There will be challenges.
How will we rise to meet them? One way, of course, is to lean into the insights and expertise of others. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of great speakers available who provide inspiration and practical advice we can apply to our organizations.
Here are the 12 speakers I believe are most worth listening to in the coming year. Some are well-known and have been speaking and consulting for years. Others are newer to the scene, practitioners who also lecture. All are well worth the time and money you might invest to soak in the wisdom of their messages:
1. Steve Farber – If you’ve read one of Steve’s three best-selling books (The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, and Greater Than Yourself), you know he takes a radical and somewhat extreme approach to leadership. He brings that message to life with amazing energy when you hear him in person, and he always customizes his presentation to the needs of his audience. In 2017, Steve is building on his ahead-of-the-curve message that “love” – that four-letter word most business leaders avoid – is critical to the cultural and financial health of every organization on the planet.
2. Elise Mitchell – Many leaders are destination driven, at times to their personal demise. Elise understands. She built a public relations agency from scratch and grew it so successfully that now is part of a global PR firm that she helps run. But she learned along the way that her destination focus needed the balance of a journey mindset. Her new book, Leading Through The Turn, lays out the practical ways leaders can drive business growth and still enjoy the ride. And her energetic personality brings that message to life when she delivers it on the stage.
3. Adam Markel – The unthinkable and impossible become logical and attainable when you listen to the inspirational messages Adam delivers. He’s a guy with big dreams for the world and the passionate personality to inspire to share in his dreams and to dream bigger themselves. If you want to transform the lives within your organization through personal development, Adam is a guy who can help make it happen.
4. Sally Hogshead – Lots of speakers have a fascinating story. Sally actually understands the science of fascination. And as a former star in the advertising industry, she has plenty of practical experience creating fascinating messages. Now she’s created a Fascination Personality Test that actually measures how people perceive your communication. Valuable stuff. And when she shares why it matters and how it works, you want to listen.
5. Roddy Chong – If you want another sage on the stage, then you don’t want Roddy. If you want someone with a fresh take on business and leadership and enough energy to rock auditoriums with tens of thousands of people, then look no further than this … violinist. That’s right, Roddy is a professional violinist. But he’s one of the best, playing with the likes of Shania Twain, Celine Dion, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His passion and beat-the-odds story inspires and motivates others to look for the best inside them and make amazing music for the world around them.
6. Rita McGrath – It’s one thing to understand relevant business theory, but Rita is that rare bird who can actually connect the theory to best practices that make a business better. She’s an academic expert on strategy, innovation, and growth who can help you connect the dots so that the research from the ivory towers provides something that will solve your business problems.
7. Tim Sanders – Very few speakers spend more time and energy before an event working to understand the needs, challenges, and inner workings of an organization than Tim. So when he provides his perspectives on topics like leadership, organizational culture, sales performance, or collaboration, it’s a perspective from an outsider who feels like an insider. He connects with the audience because his practical solutions connect directly to their needs.
8. Shep Hyken – We’ve all experienced the magic of great customer service and the misery of poor customer service. Shep understands both, and his entertaining style is engaging and fun. Yes, he does some magic tricks along the way, but there’s substance to what he teaches. And in the competitive landscape that we all face, earning customer loyalty has never been more important to the success of our businesses.
9. Susan O'Malley – The first female president of a professional sports franchise, as you might expect, knows a few things about leading in environments where the waves of tradition beat against you. She’s funny and genuine, with real solutions about turning around any business that’s losing on the court and/or on the balance sheet.
10. Jay Jay French – Twisted Sister once rocked the world with hits like We’re Not Gonna Take It, but Jay Jay wasn’t just the guy banging away on a guitar – he was the savvy businessman behind the onstage madness. Don’t expect the conventional from a guy who founded a band that cultivated a wilder-than-life persona while maintaining a no-drugs, no booze reality. Expect the unexpected. And enjoy it.
11. Cheryl Burgess - Co-founder, CEO and CMO of Blue Focus Marketing, she is responsible for helping clients transform their brands into social businesses by implementing strategic initiatives that empower social employee engagement and advocacy, and social executive leadership. She is the co-author of best selling book, The Social Employee, (McGraw-Hill, 2013) that includes success stories from IBM, AT&T, Dell, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, and more and hailed by management guru, Tom Peters, as his favorite #1 social business book.
12. Michael Brenner - The CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and co-author of The Content Formula, former Head of Strategy for NewsCred, and former VP of Content Marketing from SAP, Michael is recognized as a Top Business, Content, and Social Media Marketer. Michael is a passionate evangelist for customer-centric marketing that drives real business results. He is also an accomplished Marketing Speaker, and a frequent contributor on leading publications like Forbes, The Economist, The Guardian, and Entrepreneur.