Jul 24, 2024

NEW Keynote from JJ Birden

We're thrilled to announce the latest addition to JJ Birden's 2024 lineup: a brand-new keynote!                                                                                                         

from the field to the boardroom: building a winning team

unlocking your team's potential

Many organizations struggle with teamwork, causing role confusion and difficulty balancing individual and collective success. This leads to demotivation and disconnection from the bigger picture. Without a clear team strategy and commitment, organizations face communication breakdowns, trust issues, conflicting work styles, and lack of collaboration, leading to overall failure. Effective teamwork is crucial for success and progress.

In this keynote, JJ Birden leverages his contrasting NFL experiences to provide actionable insights and delivers powerful lessons on building successful teams. He compares the 1993 Kansas City Chiefs, who nearly reached the Super Bowl, with the 1989 Dallas Cowboys, who struggled through a 1-15 season. Through these experiences, he illustrates essential strategies for creating winning teams in any environment.

JJ aims to empower organizations to achieve their goals and cultivate a high-performance culture by translating the principles that made his teams great. This keynote inspires leaders and teams to embrace change, foster growth, and create environments where everyone can thrive.

Key Takeaways:

  • Growth: Audiences will learn strategies for personal and professional development through change, mentorship, and effective leadership. They will gain insights on how mentorship can transform team dynamics, inspired by NFL legend Joe Montana's experiences.
  • Retention: Attendees will understand how to create a winning culture that ensures long-term success. They will discover the importance of commitment and loyalty in fostering team cohesion and sustained performance, drawing parallels between professional sports and the corporate world.
  • Teamwork: Participants will know how to employ methods to foster a supportive team environment where dynamics are optimized for success. They will learn the significance of sharing and celebrating team achievements to ensure everyone feels valued and motivated.
Click here to see all JJ's keynotes!

Apr 18, 2024

NEW Interactive Keynote from Robyn Benincasa!
With the new year comes fresh ideas and perspectives. Hence, I'd like to share some new updates about leadership and teamwork speaker Robyn Benincasa.

Robyn Benincasa's NEW 2024 Interactive keynote

Get Ready to help YOUR Team Win THEIR Most Challenging Races... Add the Inspirational Force of Robyn Benincasa to YOUR Next Event!

Based on her best selling book, her new Interactive Keynote "How Winning Works" expands on the 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the toughest teams on earth! This is the only session that goes through all 8 in detail, and is the perfect fit for 90-120 minute sessions; Robyn's energy and thrilling stories will keep your whole team focused and energized.

"How Winning Works: The 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy"

In the competitive landscape of today's world, effective leadership is not just about guiding a team; it's about winning together. Inspired by Robyn Benincasa's groundbreaking book "How Winning Works", this interactive keynote offers a transformative experience for leaders aspiring to lead their teams to victory.

Robyn will walk attendees through an immersive journey into the world of extreme teamwork and leadership, where every decision and action can mean the difference between success and failure. Drawing from real-life experiences of elite teams in the most challenging environments, she'll dive into the essential principles that drive winning leadership.

Through interactive discussions, and hands-on activities, participants will gain these practical insights and actionable strategies they can apply immediately to lead their teams to victory in any environment.

  • Explore the power of synergy: Learn how to harness the collective strengths of your team to achieve extraordinary results.
  • Embrace a culture of resilience: Discover how to cultivate a mindset that thrives in the face of adversity and uncertainty.
  • Foster effective communication: Master the art of clear, concise communication that keeps the team aligned and focused on the goal.
  • Lead with authenticity: Understand the importance of leading by example and building trust through authenticity and integrity.
  • Adapt and innovate: Learn how to adapt to changing circumstances and inspire innovation even in the most challenging situations.
  • Cultivate a winning mindset: Develop strategies to overcome self-doubt and cultivate a mindset of relentless determination.
  • Empower and inspire: Discover how to empower team members to take ownership of their roles and inspire them to give their best effort.
  • Celebrate success: Learn the importance of acknowledging achievements and fostering a culture of celebration and camaraderie.

These 8 Essential Elements are the foundation of Robyn Benincasa's philosophy of winning leadership; offering a roadmap for leaders to inspire, empower, and unite their teams in pursuit of the finish line.

Click here to see all Robyn's keynotes!

Mar 21, 2024

JJ Birden's New Topic!

JJ Birden has been busy creating even more offerings for you. The latest addition to JJ's 2024 offerings is a brand new keynote Winning as an Underdog! Please see full description below. 


Winning as an Underdog

Being an underdog gives you a STEALTH opportunity to win

In today's fiercely competitive landscape, organizations often find themselves at a perceived disadvantage when pitted against industry giants with larger market shares, extensive budgets, and formidable resources. However, this perceived weakness can be transformed into a strategic advantage with the right guidance. Rather than limiting their growth potential, these organizations can harness their unique strengths to foster alignment, momentum, and ultimately, sustainable growth.

Drawing inspiration from his own journey as an underdog, JJ Birden, a former NFL player and successful business professional, shares invaluable insights in his compelling keynote, "Winning As an Underdog." Despite facing odds stacked against him--where the average NFL player towered over him by 43%--JJ mastered the "underdog mentality," leveraging his perceived shortcomings to fuel his success both on and off the field. Through over a decade of experience in the medical and fitness equipment industries, JJ continued to embody this mentality, defying expectations and achieving remarkable success.

In his captivating keynote, Winning As an UnderdogJJ empowers attendees to embrace their underdog status and capitalize on every opportunity. With a blend of undeniable truths, actionable strategies, and inspiring anecdotes, JJ guides participants through a collaborative experience, showcasing how underdogs can not only thrive but also revolutionize established business norms. Join JJ Birden as he reveals how underdogs are the true catalysts for innovation and change in the business world.

Attendees will walk away:

  • Recognizing the strategic benefits of embracing underdog status.
  • Knowing how to cultivate a mindset that thrives on challenges and adversity.
  • Implementing JJ's proven framework for narrowing the underdog disadvantage.
  • Maintaining unwavering determination and resilience on the journey from underdog to industry leader.
Click here to see all JJ's keynotes!

Aug 29, 2023

We are so excited to share the new 2023 sizzle reel for the Pease brothers!

Ready to take on the rest of 2023? The Pease brothers are as well!

Exciting news - we're thrilled to introduce Brent's and Kyle's new video reel! Get ready to experience a whirlwind of inspiration and charisma, all packed into a few captivating minutes.

The Pease Brothers aren't just speakers; they're a showcase of determination, they're champions igniting new perspectives. Join them on their journey of overcoming adversity and inspiration.

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Aug 10, 2023

Brant Menswar's New Keynote Topic

Brant Menswar has been busy creating even more offerings. The latest addition is a brand new keynote!

Influential Connection: How To Forge Deeper, More Meaningful Bonds With Clients And Co-Workers

In today's new work landscape, it's easy to feel disconnected and isolated. What if you could use the power of connection to create a stronger, more impactful network of relationships? In this high-energy, interactive keynote, you will learn the concept of "Influential Connection" and how to use it to create and receive more meaningful contributions while working with others. You will discover the importance of authentic communication, shared values, and deliberate intention in creating the optimum collaborative environment. You will walk away with practical tips and strategies for building and maintaining these relationships in your own life. Unleash the power of Influential Connection and create a more meaningful and fulfilling life at work and home.

Key takeaways include:

  • Understanding the 3 Drivers of Influence and how to improve them.
  • How to bridge the "Values Gap" for maximum impact.
  • How to go beyond "Trusted Advisor" to "Indispensable Partner."
Get ready for YOUR team to make influential connections. Add the inspirational force of Brant Menswar to YOUR next event!

Click here to see all Brant's keynotes!

Jul 10, 2023

You need to know about Risha Grant's New Book!
It's almost here!! Pre-orders for Risha Grant's newest book "Be Better Than Your BS" are open now and the official publish date is Aug 15th, 2023. As part of the final push Risha is offering the following gift to her clients, starting today. Any new booking will receive 50 Free copies of Risha's book, Be Better Than Your BS.

Be Better Than Your BS
Empower Authenticity, Confront Bias and Create a Culture of Inclusion through Radical Acceptance

book on DEI in the workplace that speaks not only to executives but to employees at all levels of a company, by award-winning diversity consultant Risha Grant

Risha Grant shares her practice of learning how to welcome and embrace people's full humanity, without BS, full stop. What's BS? It's bullshit for sure, but more specifically it's the powerful and often invisible belief systems we've been steeped in since birth--the judgment and bias we carry with us that impact our own lives and the many others we encounter every day. Risha teaches us about the inner work and the outer work we need to do to dismantle our "biasphere," and change how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. The more people are willing to acknowledge and address the biases inherent in their belief systems, the more those biases will dissipate and the better our work environments will become.

Takeaways include how to:

  • Recognize when your BS manifests as "isms" and phobias that follow you to work

  • Cure scarcity mentality, a damaging byproduct of fear

  • Validate other people's experiences

  • Become a real ally

  • Engage in micro efforts that can effect change on a macro level

  • Create an environment that fosters a sense of belonging for everybody; that is, "get in where you fit in"

  • Abolish groupthink and create space for diverse ideas

  • Design explicit feedback channels

  • Generate truly inclusive policies that people can trust

  • Spot and stop bullying (it doesn't always look the way you think it does)

  • Understand that equality isn't equity; the difference leads to everyone getting what they need

"We all win from diversity. Risha Grant makes it easy with her astonishing stories, inspiring conversations, and constant faith in our collective ability to come together and belong to one another. You can find the unexpected on every page because Risha doesn't miss a moment to teach us all how to 'do diversity right.' Be Better Than Your BS will change you, and you'll love it."
- Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Thinkers50 award-winning executive coach and New York Times best-selling author of The Earned Life, Triggers and What Got You Here Won't Get You There

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Jun 2, 2023

Brant Menswar's New Topics, Sizzle Reel, and Beyond the Keynote offerings!
Brant Menswar has been busy creating new assets and offerings for your events, as well as having completed his certification in the Psychology of Leadership from Cornell University.

For 2023, Brant is offering 2 new keynotes deeply rooted in the research and insights gleaned from his Cornell certification, plus the wisdom and secrets shared by the 10,000 members of the Black Sheep Foundry. This research, coupled with his experience helping top organizations like Microsoft, Netflix, and NASA improve employee satisfaction, has resulted in a robust new keynote on creating an Unbreakable Culture, plus another on Transforming Business from the Inside Out!

Also new for 2023 is the Workshop or Breakout program to follow the Unbreakable CULTURE keynote; as a way to impact audiences way beyond the keynote Brant has created an immersive session titled "Building Bridges"! Designed to quickly strengthen and unite teams around organizational purpose & values, this interactive learning journey is filled with "A-ha" moments, Ivy league proven processes, step-by-step instruction, peer-to-peer connection and research-driven action plans to forge attendees into an unbreakable leader and team mate.

Lastly, the completely redesigned Black Sheep Foundry; based on the Black Sheep Value® Assessment results, this fully online experience has been designed to assist organizations and individuals to develop their teams and leaders into Unbreakable contributors.

See below for more information on how Brant is helping clients transform their business from the inside out.

Brant Menswar encourages audiences to discover their Black Sheep Values® and move forward with deliberate intention.

Unbreakable CULTURE: Harnessing the Power of Connection

Renowned culture expert and bestselling author, Brant Menswar, has delved into the minds of over 10,000 employees to uncover the secrets of building a resilient, adaptable, values-based culture. His extensive research, coupled with his experience helping top organizations like Microsoft, Netflix, and NASA improve employee satisfaction, has resulted in a comprehensive keynote on creating an unbreakable culture.

​In this high-energy engaging presentation, Brant shares the insights gleaned from his research through real-life examples, powerful videos, and interactive exercises. Participants will discover the importance of knowing their non-negotiables in driving organizational performance and leave with actionable strategies for establishing an unbreakable culture within their own organization including:

  • The 5 Binding Values of an unbreakable culture.
  • How to discover your non-negotiables and use them to quickly pivot during times of change.
  • How to foster vulnerability and courage within your team
Get ready for YOUR team to discover THEIR core values... Add the inspirational force of Brant Menswar to YOUR next event! Click here to see both new keynote descriptions!

Connect with Shannyn to find out more about what impact Brant can make on your team!

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Mar 22, 2023

We are so excited to share the brand new 2023 sizzle reel for JJ Birden!
Ready to take on the rest of 2023? Look No Further!

There are many challenges businesses and organizations of all sizes need to deal with. Such as stress, low moral, decreased productivity, over worked employees, and many more. Supervisors, Managers, and Leaders are doing their best to keep their teams motivated on a day-to-day basis. Even though they're giving their best, they may need help of a pro from time-to-time. Here is where JJ Birden can step in.

JJ knows the key to success is seeing obstacles as opportunities. He learned it during his successful NFL career.

Seize Your Opportunities talk focuses on the individual and what one must do for success as part of a larger group--no matter the odds, and no matter how much hard work it requires.

In Spite Of... is an empowering message that helps viewers understand how to develop the habit of conquering the setback moments in their lives and seeing them for what they truly are: opportunities for growth.

As a former NFL wide receiver, JJ knows what it takes to reach the highest level of performance and have the capacity to maintain it. He shows you and your team how to approach adversity and how to reach your true potential. He provides tips on where to focus time and efforts, and how to plan a path to put yourself in a position to win.

Contact us to find out more about what JJ can bring to your events!

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Oct 20, 2022

Brant Menswar is now managed by 6 Degrees Speaker Management!

Brant Menswar is a best-selling author, award-winning musician, Top 200 podcast host, and creator of the fastest growing book discovery app in the world. His books and podcast expand on his ground-breaking work around values-based leadership described as "disarmingly simple and incredibly powerful."

His voice has been called "gritty and magnificent" by industry titans like Billboard and Sirius/XM Radio. Brant left his life as a bonafide rock star to help organizations find and develop them. He has helped to change what's possible for industry-leading companies like Netflix, Verizon, Anthem, Microsoft, ESPN, Hilton, and dozens more.

Make sure to check Brant out for your upcoming in-person, hybrid, or virtual events.

Brant Menswar encourages audiences to discover their Black Sheep Values® and move forward with deliberate intention.

Think back to your favorite concert. What made that night so special? At some point, you looked around at all the people watching and listening with you. They have different drives, passions, beliefs, and values. Yet everyone's totally...ENGAGED.

​The impact lingers. You could bump into someone 10 years later who says, "I was at that show!" and feel an instant connection. It was built on engagement. You've probably felt moments of it in your personal or professional life. But maybe it was fleeting.

If you wanted to create that kind of high-level rockstar engagement and build a high-performance culture based on core values in your company consistently, how would you go about doing it?

The answer lies in the following Keynote Performance options:

Rock Star ENGAGEMENT: How to Amp Up Connection, Courage and Contribution

Building BRIDGES: The Fastest Path to Happy Employees & High Performance

Hitting RESET: How to Re-Charge, Re-Focus and Re-Engage

Get ready for YOUR team to discover THEIR core values... Add the inspirational force of Brant Menswar to YOUR next event! 

Contact us to add the powerful drive of High Performance Culture and Leadership!

Sep 15, 2022

Let's talk about JJ Birden for your next NSM or SKO!

Have a look at JJ's recent motivational speech at a National Sales Meeting

This is what some of the attendees have to say about their experience with JJ Birden's exhilarating keynote:

"I've been to 25 to 30 National Sales Meetings in my career, I've heard lots of motivational speakers and JJ Birden was by far the best National Sales Meeting speaker that I've ever seen."
Director of Global Government Sales, Hershey

"I just had the wonderful opportunity to hear JJ's message at our company's recent National Sales Meeting. And wow, what an outstanding message it was! In fact, it was the most inspiring story I've heard during my 38 years here. His presentation captivated everyone, and he has an amazing way of connecting and it's like he's talking to everyone, one on one. JJ's message and tactics for success are simple and rooted in powerful concepts, his message will give you all the inspiration necessary to succeed both personally and professionally."
Vice President & General Manager, Hershey Small Format Sales Division 

Are You Ready to Get Inspired? Look No Further!
There are many challenges businesses and organizations of all sizes need to deal with. Such as stress, low moral, decreased productivity, over worked employees, and many more. Supervisors, Managers, and Leaders are doing their best to keep their teams motivated on a day-to-day basis. Even though they're giving their best, they may need help of a pro from time-to-time. Here is where JJ Birden can step in.

JJ knows the key to success is seeing obstacles as opportunities. He learned it during his successful NFL career. 

Seize Your Opportunities talk focuses on the individual and what one must do for success as part of a larger group--no matter the odds, and no matter how much hard work it requires.

In Spite Of... is an empowering message that helps viewers understand how to develop the habit of conquering the setback moments in their lives and seeing them for what they truly are: opportunities for growth.

As a former NFL wide receiver, JJ knows what it takes to reach the highest level of performance and have the capacity to maintain it. He shows you and your team how to approach adversity and how to reach your true potential. He provides tips on where to focus time and efforts, and how to plan a path to put yourself in a position to win.

Key Takeaways:
  • Developing championship focus and resolve
  • Determination and self-discipline in the face of failure
  • Doing more with less ("the 42% dilemma")
  • Doing whatever it takes to turn a "No" into a "Yes"
Did we make you curious or do you have a question? Contact us to find out more!

Aug 25, 2022

Risha Grant's New Speaking Topic, Online Course, and Upcoming Book!

We are very proud to announce Risha Grant's new topic Radical Acceptance: Be Better Than Your BS with full description shown below.

We are also proud to announce her Learn with Risha the 8 Keys To Be Better Than Your BS!" online course. As we return to the office this fall, find out how creating a connected culture can overcome bias, increase company cohesion and supercharge productivity.

Plus, Risha is keeping busy writing her next book which is to be released in the fall of 2023. Exciting times ahead!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Enjoy the rest of your Fall!

NEW TOPIC! Radical Acceptance: Be Better Than Your BS
Empower Authenticity, Confront Bias and Create a Culture of Inclusion through Radical Acceptance 
This speech was created to help audiences and individuals to understand Radical Acceptance and how their BiaSphere, Belief Systems, and BS stop them from welcoming and embracing all of humanity, including their own. Our BS shapes how we feel about ourselves, how we perceive the world, and how we interact with others. Radical acceptance teaches that through authenticity we can connect with others on a deeper level, and create a culture of acceptance and belonging. Mental health and psychological safety are more important now than ever before in the workplace, and companies who create an environment where everyone is allowed to be themselves without fear of rejection, are at the cutting edge of what it means to be an innovative and profitable place to work.

Risha's honest, memorable and practical presentation on Radical Acceptance: Be Better Than Your BiaSphere, Belief Systems, and BS blends together stories from her life experiences as a bisexual black woman, former division one athlete, and small business owner to teach audiences how their diversity can become their superpower! Audiences learn how their own behaviors can be shaped by their own BiaSphere, which includes all of the subconscious beliefs, thoughts, feelings and emotions they have about themselves and the rest of the world around them. Radical Acceptance: Be Better Than Your BS will provide all audience members with the awareness and education to help them become better leaders, employees, colleagues, and people.

Attendees will leave this keynote understanding:
  • The power of authenticity to shift company culture
  • How to use diversity as a competitive advantage
  • The psychological need for belonging
  • How our BiaSphere has shaped our view of the world
Connect with Shannyn to find out more about what Risha Grant can do for your event!

Mar 14, 2022

Top Benefits of Hiring a D&I Keynote Speaker

Let me ask you something, how diverse is your workforce? Do diversity and inclusion add value to your company? Let me answer that: CEOs with diverse workforces report an increase in profits.

So the answer is not just yes, but it's hell yes!

Although people understand the value of diversity and inclusion, it's not fully implemented. Why? It's complex to implement a diverse functional workforce.

Building a culture of diversity and inclusion requires consistency. Everyone has to be on board from leadership to middle management to those in low authority positions. But the struggle is transferring the DEI vision and values to the employees. So how do you do it?

You can hire a D&I keynote speaker to initiate conversations on diversity. Diversity and inclusion speakers couch your staff to relate better regardless of differences.

Keep reading to learn about diversity keynote speaker benefits.

What Is Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

A diverse and inclusive workplace brings different perspectives and experiences to your business. Surprise! Despite what many people think, this can be done without sacrificing quality or talent.

Diversity is about accepting our differences and searching for our similarities. Acceptance requires openness from each person. Each person has to be open enough to be real with themselves, and others. Equally important, is each person being open to other people's unique differences. When team members embrace each other's unique qualities, cohesion increases and innovation thrives. So diversity is about you. It's about being real with your uniqueness.

On the other hand, inclusion is about us. Meaning inclusion is how we ensure that each person's unique qualities are

Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic these days. It's one of the most pressing issues in the workforce. The statistics are pretty staggering:

  • 88% of women believe diversity is essential in the workplace
  • 67% of women feel underrepresented in the workplace overall
  • Women hold just under 20% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies
  • As of 2021, women held only 6% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies

The triggering statistics highlight the need to promote diversity and inclusion in workplaces. Having a D&I keynote speaker can be the beginning of your journey.

The Benefits of Hiring a D&I Keynote Speaker

We live in a diverse world, and it's time we start embracing that. Diversity & Inclusion, at every level; starting with executives.

With rising racial tension in America, companies are looking hard at their organizational structure. They are seeking ways to include people of all backgrounds better.

It's challenging to make diversity & inclusion a priority. It is a struggle, particularly when making hiring and promotion decisions because it feels like someone will lose. This is why messaging about diversity & inclusion initiatives early on is so important, and should be handled by someone with credentialed skills and experience.

Hiring a D&I keynote speaker helps with the following:

Promote a Diverse and Inclusive Work Environment

Hiring a diverse speaker for a conference or event promotes workplace diversity and inclusivity. D&I speakers share their personal experiences. They also provide tips to improve diversity in the workplace.

The speakers educate teams on the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion. Equipping your team with skills and knowledge on diversity prepares them to handle the issue. Your employees learn how to welcome differing opinions and identities

A diversity speaker creates valuable dialogue among your employees. This gets them thinking about different viewpoints. In the end, it encourages an open and welcoming culture.

Eradicate Workplace Discrimination

One valuable thing any business can do is prevent discrimination in the workplace. Many companies struggle to figure out identify how they end up with homogenous work cultures. Most companies aren't trying to only hire people who belong to dominant groups. But, they do make the mistake of hiring people who are "culture fits". Many companies prioritize candidates who they feel fit culture, without realizing that culture fit is a slippery slope that slides right into unconscious bias.

D&I speakers can help reduce unconscious bias in hiring and business operations. They dispel the culture fit myths embedded in many company hiring processes. In my work, I teach clients how to identify and integrate culture additions, so that diversity and innovation thrive.

Fostering an equitable and inclusive work environment increases job satisfaction among colleagues while simultaneously increasing work output.

To address the unconscious bias that causes workplace discrimination, we need to get to the root of the problem, which is our brains. Most of our brains function on autopilot causing us to make snap judgments about others that often are rooted in harmful stereotypes.

Speaking engagements are a great place to get a helpful first dose to begin combating discrimination. People who are exposed to different voices, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences have more accurate and healthy views of diverse groups. Hearing diverse stories helps them understand people are just people.

Increase Team Collaboration and Innovation

We all want diverse people working together to solve problems and create solutions. Diversity is a crucial driver of creativity and innovation. How do you make it happen?

A diversity speaker energizes your team to be more engaged and learn to work together more effectively. The speaker will lead your team to a place of respect and understanding.

In a globalized economy, it's no longer enough to be good at your job. You also need to be competent in working with people from diverse backgrounds. This will help you better understand the needs of your customers.

Studies show that diverse teams are more collaborative, open, and innovative. They produce better results and solve problems more quickly. They are less stressed and enjoy their jobs more too.

Enhance Employee Engagement

Diversity speakers are a great way to bring your team closer together. They help employees relate with each other better and broaden their horizons.

The inclusion speaker can change the way employees think about diversity and inclusion. They spark conversations in your office that otherwise wouldn't be had. This generates new ideas and encourages meaningful connections between your employees.

Team engagement is an essential topic for employers and employees. It affects productivity, profitability, and how people feel about their job.

As an employer, you need to make your workforce feels engaged. The employees want to feel like they have a voice.

Diversity speakers share their experience working with marginalized people in the workplace. Through storytelling, they can make what seems like a foreign uncomfortable topic, feel palatable and personal.

Employee Performance

How do diversity speakers improve productivity and individual performance? They help employees understand how to manage their behavior. By helping employees address their unconscious biases, speakers ignite the spark that can help create a safe environment for everyone, no matter their differences.

Speakers also show audiences how to recognize negative stereotypes they project onto others that can result in microaggressions. Employee self-awareness of biases helps prevent costly lawsuits and bad publicity. By the end of the presentation, employees can empathize with people different from them.

Employees who feel valued and included in the company culture are more productive. They are loyal and engaged in their overall work life. A speaking engagement by a diversity expert can help your employees work together to create an inclusive space.

After work, you can also host a workshop to introduce new ways to work together. This will build trust and rapport with your employees. It will improve the overall culture and productivity of your company.

Companies with diverse platforms are 25% more profitable.

Attract Diverse Talent

Many businesses struggle to attract a diverse pool of job candidates. Diversity speakers help attract diverse talent.

Diversity speakers are commonly people who have faced adversity or discrimination. They overcome it while remaining positive and inspiring others. Their presence at your events can be a crucial first step in reassuring employees that diversity is top-of-mind awareness at your company.

D&I keynote speakers provide insight into communicating with and hiring diverse talent. They show the best practices for building a diverse workforce.

A professional inclusion speaker offers a complete package. This includes speaking engagements, workshops, and coaching services.

Coaching services may include strategies to streamline hiring processes for hiring skilled diverse talent. It also features branding strategies that position your company as a diverse and inclusive workspace. Implementing the strategy offer an incentive to attract unique, diverse talent.

Diverse employees want to work in an environment that feels safe. Fostering that environment makes you're a priority employer in the job market.

Novelty of a New Speaker

A new speaker in work environments can be a novelty for employees. This leads to increased motivation, productivity, and overall satisfaction with the speaker.

The modern-day workplace is becoming more diverse and inclusive. Employers need to take another look at the effect of a new voice on their employees.

New voices can have a direct effect on an employee's work performance. There are also indirect benefits of being exposed to new ideas, cultures, and ways of thinking.

Many issues are being addressed in the workplace. You need to remain aware of how to accommodate employees' needs better.

Employees are more receptive to criticism from an external voice with such sensitive topics. If you handle it, it may appear as discrimination or bias. Introducing an expert in diversity makes employees more likely to respond positively.

For instance, a lecture on the effects of technology is more effective when delivered by Elon Musk. If delivered by the IT manager, it may hold a valuable message but with little impact.

Choose an expert leader in diversity to head your presentation. This will draw your staff's attention.

Promote Diversity in Your Workplace Today

Keynote speakers' benefits are limitless. When maximally capitalized, you can model your workforce to collaboration and productivity.

D&I in the workplace are critical issues. Unfortunately, they are discussed in a way that doesn't connect with audiences. This is why you need to hire a diversity keynote speaker for your next conference or event.

A D&I keynote speaker will bridge the gap between corporate leaders and the public. They will also help you meet your diversity goals.

Risha Grant facilitates diversity and inclusion training virtually and physically. She is an internationally renowned bias and diversity expert. Contact us today for leadership and executive coaching on diversity and inclusion.

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Mar 8, 2021

Why we do what we do............. a fearless female speaker who empowers others.
As a right hand and superfan of leadership and team work speaker Robyn Benincasa (and one of those she convinced to open their own company), I know first hand what Robyn is capable of, and the inner fuel and inspiration that she leaves audiences with. Day in and day out I talk with clients about the impacts she has, both as a person (and a woman) and as a speaker, but in all my years I have NEVER received a testimonial that takes my breath away like this one did.

From small powerful grassroots gatherings to large-scale conference and events - International Women's Day is celebrated everywhere. It's a big day for inspiration and change; and one of our valuable bureau partners help put together a global clients' virtual event and Robyn Benincasa. The impact of this collaboration left us speechless .............. Thank you, truly & deeply, thank you dear client for putting those feelings into writing, and sharing them with us. We know how blessed we are to work with not one, but TWO amazing female speakers and we will continue to be their biggest supporters for years to come. Days like this remind us of why we support the people we do, and why we operate in this amazing "speaking" world, and love every minute of it.


I'd like to personally thank you for being an inspiration... your athletic accomplishments, foundation work, and especially for being a role model of resilience, humor, and leadership. I'd also like to provide some specific feedback on why I thought yours was one of the best, if not the best, keynote session I've seen in over two decades at my company.

We've hosted many accomplished, inspiring, and galvanizing speakers in our physical and virtual halls over the years, but your message and delivery stands out to me as distinctly excellent. Why? Because:

  1. It's clear to me you did your homework on us and our event--intensive homework, way beyond just Googling us--and you incorporated that learning throughout your session. You spoke as an insider! You didn't just bring us into your world, you integrated both our worlds, and I found myself more and more impressed as the talk went on. The quantity and quality of your references was spot on. I can only imagine how much diligence this must take for each talk you give, another sign of your work ethic and desire to set a high bar.
  2. Your use of multi-media was effective. The videos did not become the central focus of the talk, but rather the icing to your content cake. They were used in the right way, for the right amount of time, and to emphasize the emotions and experience you were trying to create. It's difficult to do this kind of thing virtually to begin with and sometimes speakers rely on too many video clips, which distracts from their overall delivery, but you did it just right!
  3. Your examples were specific, but your message and lessons were universal. I am the furthest thing from being an athlete, yet I found myself drawn into your stories and cheering for your heroes (I want more Steve Gurneys on my team!). I also found myself learning a myriad of new and interesting things about a world I know very little of--which was intellectually engaging. You translated what you know into relevant and memorable lessons for us.
  4. Your authentic style--it's clear you're an extremely intelligent and eloquent speaker, but you were also funny and genuine, and courageous. Humor is desperately needed medicine in corporate America. Sometimes when you're working to find the cure to cancer or Alzheimer's, you forget to laugh or allow for levity, but you made me laugh out loud several times this morning, which will help me do a better job for my company and patients.
Thanks again for spending time with us today. I've never written an email like this to any other speaker, but you moved me so much I thought it was important that you know the impact you made. Have a great day and best wishes on whatever adventure you're chasing after next.

Vice President, Global Patient Outcomes and Real World Evidence (Pharmaceutical)

Dec 22, 2020

Well, that was crazy! Happy 2021!
Not to state the obvious, 2020 has brought forward a unique set of challenges for all of us, each set different than the last. As we close out this year and turn the page to a new one, we want to say "thank you" to all of our partners, clients, & speakers.

To our bureau partners and clients; thank you for persisting & collaborating through 2020, your capacity to adapt to the changing environment was a huge gift.

To our speakers; thank you for being a part of the 6 Degrees family, we are so blessed to work with each of you, and we appreciate everything you did this year in the most insane of times. No one wrote a playbook for this, and your resiliency is remarkable.

With much gratitude and big hugs, Happy Holidays to you & yours.

Jun 17, 2020

Alan O'Neill-Retailers preparing for return - but online a bigger challenge than ever
While every sector is significantly challenged right now, I want to focus today on the retail sector in particular. Along with hospitality and airlines, life for retailers has been really tough over recent weeks. The mandatory closure has put enormous strain on independent retailers, emotionally and economically.

I rang several retail friends to gauge their mood and to hear how they are coping. As you can imagine, I got a mixed response. But I was encouraged to hear that those who have now moved from reactive to proactive mode are now in a better place mentally. Of course they are concerned about their own people, stock levels, rent, rates and other cash-flow challenges, but they are also complimentary about the support mechanisms that have been and continue to be developed.

One of the major concerns, though, is the accelerating migration to online retail. Your destiny is in your own hands, and there is much you can influence and control.

Alan's O'Neill's tips for traditional retailers, post Covid-19:

  • If you have an e-commerce channel in your business, make the online shopping experience as effortless as possible.
  • If you don't have a web/chat facility, provide an easy-to-find telephone number to support the confused shopper - and make sure the telephone is manned at all times. Be more flexible with your delivery and returns policies. Don't give the shopper who wants to support local any reason to go to the international sites.
  • Many smaller retailers know their customers by name and buying preferences. Therefore, offer personalized services to them. This might be by showing that you know their size, color and taste preferences, and reacting accordingly.
  • Be clever with your social media posts. Don't be pushy with product and discounting. Steve Graham from Grahams Shoes told me he has been posting quotes of the day to customers and advice on care for kids' feet and shoes. "It's not all about selling right now," he said.
  • Get ready for reopening when the lock-down rules ease. Health will be your customers' and your teams' priority, so be seen to prioritize it.
  • What can you do to make the physical shopping experience in your store safe, accessible, efficient and even fun? The silly memes that we have all giggled at online over the last few weeks don't have to stop in the real world.
  • Remember, too, that parents of young kids are probably strung out balancing working from home with home-schooling. How can you relieve that stress for them?
There is no precedent to learn from with all of this. Even tips like these are more based on my concept of the future than past templates. For that reason, be sure to consult with your own teams regularly. Daily team meetings for 15 minutes before store opening will be an essential opportunity for you all to learn and train.

The last word

Many experts are predicting a drop in retail sales this year of between 25% and 50%. That's a tough projection and, therefore, survival will be more important than profit this year.

A prolonged lock-down enables further evolution of consumer behavior. So if you haven't yet embraced e-commerce, get on to it now; putting it off any longer is not an option.

Original article here.......

Apr 28, 2020

Alan O'Neill - Stop Silo Culture
In the newest article from Alan O'Neill, he uses U2 and Hospital Cleaning staff to illustrate where silo's don't work, especially in today's new work reality.

Silo thinking is a natural phenomenon that develops in almost every organisation. Once you have different departments executing their individual objectives, then invisible walls can develop. Alan doesn't believe that people set out to create such walls but it can happen with the everyday pressures of the job.

In today's COVID-19 reality, silo'd thinking might or MIGHT NOT become glaringly clear, and if not companies should look at a few of the following aspects to identify it, as outlined in a recent post by Alan O'Neill.

In workshops with his client, Alan asked them to think about a U2 concert in Slane Castle as the case study. Alan asked them to consider the following questions:

  1. What would a successful event would look like? - Factors to consider should include revenue, safety, impact on the local community and lands and reputation.
  2. Who are all the stakeholders that play a part in ensuring a successful event? This should include security personnel, stage crews, cleaners, ticket sellers, stewards, food and beverage crews and many more.
This led on to a discussion about the integral role that each played and the implications on the objective if any one of the roles was omitted. You see Bono and the boys may well get all the glory on stage and in the media after the event. But without all stakeholders playing a positive role, it would have been a failure.

By focusing on this example, it made each team stand back and think about a generic example first before moving on to reflect on their own behaviors.

• The Hospital Cleaners Connection

In a recent radio program, Alan was saddened to hear a hospital cleaner saying that it is only now during the crisis, that their role in the hospital is being truly regarded and respected. Not knowing anything about this particular interviewee or the hospital she works in, Alan points out that her comment raises two questions. Was the cleaning team being ignored or looked down on prior to this crisis? Or is it that they themselves feel less significant than the highly qualified medical staff? The reality is that hygiene plays such a critical part in the fight against Covid-19, cleaners have come to the fore. They are justifiably being hailed as heroes just as much as the doctors, nurses and porters.

It's the function of leaders to ensure that every department is valued and respected at all times, not just in a crisis. The current crisis has created a heart-warming community spirit, and because we're all in this together, there is a common bond that has respect and goodwill for all at its core. Alan's hope is that this refreshed culture will permeate into organisations and create stronger communities.
'We're in this together' is a mantra that should not wain, and company leaders should be the ones leading the charge.

Original full post here.....

Apr 17, 2020

Kyle & Brent Pease-Mile 8
2020 started out like most years for Kyle & Brent Pease, we laid out our plans for the year with some great exceptions and lofty speaking goals, everything was beginning to align nicely, like a well planned marathon.

January and most of February were like Miles 1-5 of the New York City Marathon; the starting gun cracks, everyone takes off, Brent & Kyle jostle for position among 50 thousand people, and as they starting moving along they begin to find their rhythm. By the end of February (Mile 5) they're in a groove, things are lining up, and the minutes per mile stats are bang on.
Mile 6-7 are uneventful, they have found their stride and everything is moving along smoothly, with no indication of what's to come, comparable to most of of us, the year was looking good.

Then Mile 8 happens.............March 13th the US declares a National Emergency and the world stops............

Brent recounts the moments in NYC; "We'd been waiting for this thing forever and so at mile eight, the chair starts to wobble. And I'm not really sure what's going on. And Kyle says, "Are you OK?" I'm like, "Yeah, I think everything's fine." And it just keeps getting worse and worse. And by mile 13, I'm really having to fight this chair. Kyle is about 115 pounds, the chairs about 17 pounds; so you're trying to push 130 thirty plus pounds down the road. It was like pushing it through the sand, and so I kind of peek through the wheel, there are three broken spokes. So one broken spoke is bad, three is catastrophic. And the next step we took the wheel crumbled under Kyle's weight. And he was basically laying on the side of the road."

Brent recently said "We think about the current situation in terms of racing, what we all experience when we are out on course together. There are moments for us all when we aren't sure if we can keep going, if we want to keep going or why we should even keep going, like Mile 13. We aren't deep on the run course right now ....... We really miss racing, we really miss the social interaction, and yes we even miss suffering on the back end of 140.6 miles of racing."

Mile 13 was transformational for the brothers, they finished the marathon by carrying the chair, and none of it was pretty, but they did it TOGETHER with new friends. Like most of us right now we're at mile 13 of 2020; life has gone sideways due to COVID-19, we're out on a course with no plan for THIS, what we do for the months and weeks going forward can define a new finish line for all of us. And remember, reach out to your friends, TOGETHER We Wheel, and will again.

Original transcript from The Beyond Speaking Podcast here...........

Apr 10, 2020

The Pease Brothers-Inclusivity, Competition, and Overcoming Adversity

Brent and Kyle Pease stopped by Premiere Speakers Bureau in Nashville to share their incredible story of racing KONA as a tandem team, handing out advice for disabled triathletes, the power of skittles in the middle of a race and how they are helping others with disabilities find their inner athlete.

The back story:

Upon witnessing Brent complete his first IRONMAN competition, Kyle asked Brent a life-changing question: 'Can people in wheelchairs do IRONMAN?' Brent never hesitated with his response; the answer was a resounding 'YES!'

Starting from scratch with no running chair, learning from others, and through trial and error and a ton of hard work, Kyle and Brent Pease have since completed more than 75 races together, including four IRONMAN triathlons and countless other endurance races. Finally, after years of hearing 'NO' from their KONA applications, they were awarded the opportunity to participate in the 2018 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. 

Brent and Kyle speak to audiences across the nation, sharing their message of inclusion and define what is truly possible. Their presentations interweave both their perspectives of PEASY life and their KONA quest, and Kyle and Brent recount the experiences that shaped the undying bond that has resonated between them since childhood; through their strength and tenacity audiences are inspired to stand up, face their own challenges and embrace change. Their motivational message and humble style can show audiences ways to continually challenge themselves and build the life they dream of.

Make sure to check out to see how you can support their foundation for disabled athletes.

Beyond Speaking is hosted by Brian Lord and produced by Eric Woodie, thank you very much for featuring them.

Apr 9, 2020

Dan Waldschmidt's points on How to Make a Way When There Isn't One
"Inveniam viam aut faciam."

That was supposedly Hannibal's response to his generals' advice that crossing the Alps by elephants is impossible. It means: "I shall find a way or I shall make one."

Call it hustle or the grind or doing whatever needs to be done -- it's up to you to figure things out. Rarely does life bring you a rescuer.

Deliberate practice creates a subconscious superpower. When things get tough, the body puts on auto-pilot what it has trained and prepared and planned to do.

Which is why it is so important that you develop the right muscles. The right automatic response.

How you practice and what you practice becomes your go-to move when you're under extreme pressure.

When things get tough, and you're backed into a corner, you're going to respond automatically.

Despite how self-aware you think you are or how intellectually agile you might be, when things get tough enough you will automatically revert back to muscle memory.


Like an elite performer, your default decision in the middle of trouble to hustle and grind is what determines your ultimate destiny.

"Inveniam viam aut faciam."

"I shall find a way or I shall make one."

Full blog post from Dan here.........

Dan Waldschmidt's speaking topics here.........

Apr 7, 2020

Risha Grant- It's time to unite, because we need each other now more than ever!
Now is the time to stand together and embrace a common goal with a mindset to help each other get through the fear, the uncertainty and the isolation. .... we are resilient, and we will come through this together.

"Humanity is interconnected and we need each other now more than ever" says our very own Risha Grant in her recent Tulsa World article.

"There is a real sense of loss in the world right now. Loss of jobs, loss of freedom, loss of health and ultimately loss of lives. Many, many lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to those directly dealing with the death of loved ones due to COVID-19, and my soul is stirred by the many small business owners affected.

Despite it all, most days, I have hope because there is one thing that we can currently do to slow it down and contain its wrath:

Unify......... help each other get through the fear, the uncertainty and the isolation."

Thank you Risha, you inspire us every day.

Full video post from Risha here....

Apr 3, 2020

Together We Wheel... AGAIN! - Brent & Kyle Pease
The recent state of events (or non-events) that is holding the world in its clutches weighs heavy on many of us.

Brent Pease wrote a recent blog post about the Kyle Pease Foundation, and some of the things that have weighed on his mind in regards to the MANY athletes it supports, but the one major takeaway is reflected so poignantly is these words.........

"I had enjoyed a front row seat to one of the greatest athletic accomplishments I may ever know. I watched a man confined to a wheelchair take on one of the hardest endurance challenges on the planet. So if its Boston in September or a 5K with us in Atlanta, TOGETHER WE WHEEL... and will do it AGAIN!"

Thanks Brent, we needed to hear that!

Original Article here...

Mar 25, 2020

Online Presentations available, more information coming soon!
ALL of our speakers are working hard to bring you valuable tools to help your teams and your clients teams persevere during this unprecedented time.

New topics, new pricing, new formats coming very soon, contact me at or 888-584-4177 for more information.

Read More  

Mar 17, 2020

Statement by 6 Degrees Speaker Management About Operations-COVID-19

Hello There,

A few months ago, 2020 was predicted to be the "year of remote work." But even the most optimistic advocates never anticipated the launch of the world's largest work-from-home experiment before the end of the first quarter. The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us. 

At 6 Degrees we are people first, and we do what we do with the belief that the way we work can be of benefit to our clients & customers; we will continue to be a valuable tool in a moment like this. 

We continue to stay up-to-date on the global effort , and I want to update you about the ways in which we are proceeding.

  1. Our Workforce
    There is a marked difference between being at home during work hours, and working remotely in a way that maintains (or enhances) business operations. As a company who has been doing work this way for years already, we are confident in our culture, digital working practices, and daily rituals that are required to support virtual collaboration. Our goal is truly to protect our workforce and your business from the impacts of coronavirus, and remote work is a valid strategy to maintain business continuity in times of crisis like the outbreak of COVID-19. In essence, it's business as usual for our daily operations, and we're here to support you in yours.

  2. For Our Clients & Partners
    How can we help you?
    No catch, honest. We want to be a valuable partner to our partners.

  3. Looking Ahead

    Restrictions will not impede day-to-day business and we will continue to monitor and adjust until things settle down.

Humanity must rely on each other by being of service, and we here at 6 Degrees are doing our part to consciously rise up, choosing hope over fear. By working together, we can become more resilient as a collective.

Thank you,

Shannyn Downey

Feb 4, 2020

Alan O'Neill-Executive Performance Coaching
Alan O'Neill's latest article for the Irish Independent focuses on the main points for why Emotional Intelligence should not be overlooked, it's a competency that, in its absence, can cause untold career failure for executives and catastrophic effects for the company they work for.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goal.

A highly successful executive can be brilliant in their IQ, but without EI they can have the reverse effect on others; the walls start to tumble down, sales can go backwards, margins slip and there could be an exodus of key people. One of the key differences between EI and IQ is that IQ will generally stay the same throughout a lifetime but EI can change and be improved, especially when an individual works with a coach. Some people may still view IQ as a superior type of intelligence but, in fact, IQ and EI complement each other. But in the long run, EI trumps IQ.

Enter the Executive Performance Coaching......

Performance coaching is a relatively new form of executive development and is representative of a very supportive and people-focused culture. It is a professional process whereby a qualified person supports and challenges a client to improve performance. It helps the client to gain self-awareness, clarify goals, achieve development objectives and unlock their potential.

Things to know:

• Regulation. This is an unregulated industry and there are many former athletes, lawyers, business academics and consultants putting themselves out there as professional coaches. There are a number of coaching models, psychometric tools and emotional intelligence surveys in the marketplace. Ask up front for details.

• Chemistry trumps accreditation. Although accreditation is important, what's even more important is the need to ensure good chemistry between you and your coach. You'll get a feeling very quickly about whether you can trust this person. After all, you're likely to share some of your innermost and private thoughts and concerns with them.

• Coaching versus mentoring. A mentor advises the individual on what they think is the best course of action. A coach will never tell the individual what to do, as their style is to facilitate thinking but be non-directive.

• Honesty is key. As you work through the process, there may be times when the coach should challenge your thinking and/or behaviours. Or they may have to call out that the process is not working. A good coach will, of course, put your needs ahead of their own need to earn fees.

• 4-6 sessions. There is no set time scale but typically, you can expect to meet your coach four to six times over the space of a few months.

Hiring smart people should not be limited to those that just have a high IQ. EI is now a fundamental part of many leadership framework programs. In fact, many organisations now have a culture of engaging coaches to work with their senior and high-potential executives. It's the new normal!

Original Article here....

Feb 3, 2020

JJ Birden - Breakthrough Moments Can Be Game Changers!
Words of wisdom from our very own JJ Birden as he sat waiting for kickoff in last night's epic SuperBowl LIV.....

"Life is full of opportunities for breakthroughs. I'm a firm believer the most powerful breakthroughs can occur when we're faced with F.A.S.C.O. (failures, adversities, setbacks, challenges obstacles). During those moments, we have a choice. A choice we control! Either those moments can take you down and out, or they can take you to bigger and better things.

I say, choose wisely and then show the work ethic, grit, and patience it takes to own that breakthrough. Then watch the unexpected opportunities that will arise."
- JJ Birden

Read the full post here...

Jan 23, 2020

JJ Birden - Leadership Lessons for the Superbowl
Last week our very own JJ BIrden posted a LinkedIn article outlining why he thought the Kansas City Chiefs would win the AFC Championship, and secure their ticket to the Superbowl.

JJ is not a betting man, but his 5 years playing with the Chiefs has given him some insight into the past coaching & playing history, and the lessons learned are still applicable to both life & business. 

"I like the #KansasCityChiefs this weekend to win it. Not because I played there but because they lost to the Tennessee Titans earlier this season 35-32, and I believe this gives them an edge. Not only from a mental standpoint but in preparation."

The routine we had in the NFL after a loss was:

  • Study the game film
  • Identify the mistakes
  • Correct them in the classroom
  • Walk through the correction on the field
  • Practice and train to do them the right way and learn how not to make those mistakes again
The point is you want to have some routine you follow to correct the mistakes you make. The ability to self-correct is a vital element to continuous growth.

Original post here...

Jan 21, 2020

Alan O'Neill - Navigating The Four Cultures of Leadership
As Trump continues to spear-head a culture change within America that is also being emulated across the world: one thing for our own Alan O'Neill that is certain, it puts the culture of leadership front and centre on the world stage.

Here is a less controversial story of culture: The Selfridges Group

The Selfridges Group is an iconic global department store retailer that owns the Holt Renfrew chain in Canada, the Brown Thomas Group in Ireland and the Selfridges stores in UK. To further maximize its reach and expertise in running profitable stores, it acquired de Bijenkorf, the Dutch department store retailer in 2011.
As the ink was drying on the contract, the Selfridges Group CEO started to immerse himself in the new business and was careful to not be imposing or directive. Within a few months, Alan O'Neill was brought in to delve in and get to grips with the culture, the strategy and the mechanics of how the organisation was run. This 'discovery' phase always entails asking lots of questions and listening.

Two issues came to the fore soon afterwards and it exposed strong messages about how cultural leadership can differ across countries:

  • Despite us treading lightly, the old leadership team saw us as interfering. Their expectation was that they would continue to operate forever as a standalone business, with simply the occasional update on progress to group.
  • Another issue is that the Dutch see themselves as very straight-talking. They like to tell it as is. Yet, when asked what they deemed to be probing questions (using all the protocols such as empathy and respect in the asking), it went down like a lead balloon.
The thing is, regardless of whether it's during an acquisition or even just with business as usual, doing business across different cultures is challenging. Here are Alan's tips on dealing with the four cultures of leadership:

  1. Hierarchical and top-down - Consider the two dimensions of leadership styles (Authority versus Decision-making), then consider the team involved, their preferred style and then adapt accordingly. Be clear on expectations and don't make flippant or off-the-cuff remarks, as they may be taken literally when used in the wrong group.
  2. Hierarchical and collaborative - This is where teams expect the boss to make decisions but will also expect to be consulted beforehand. The leader should therefore ask lots of questions but check for quality of input and reasoning behind opinions, before making a decision.
  3. Democratic and top-down - Regardless of your status in the team, speak up before the decision is made. But even if you don't agree with the final decision, support it as if it was your own. You've had your say and you didn't manage to convince the relevant person. So accept it and move on positively.
  4. Democratic and collaborative - This is where the team gets involved in making decisions and may get upset if the leader takes over. The leader's job is to facilitate the process. Accept that decision-making will take longer but the execution of the decisions will be swift. So avoid being directive.
Leaving geographic borders aside, this is intended to illustrate differences that can even exist within the same company, within the same building. Individuals bring different styles to the job based on their past experiences of other organisation cultures. Recognising and embracing difference is your challenge.

More on Alan O'Neill here....

Original Article...

Dec 18, 2019

Alan O'Neill - Returning calls is not just polite, it's good for business
It's surprising we have to state that in writing, but it's obvious; There's no excuse not to return phone calls in a world where companies have to fight for market share. Period.

Alan O'Neill's latest article notes why Alexander Graham Bell would turn in his grave, how the great ambassadors of customer service would be disgusted, and business owners and chief executives would be furious. We're referring here to the bizarre reality where so many firms do not return customer phone calls, and we've heard all the excuses.

The world has enjoyed this communication device since 1876 and while it has come through many iterations since first launched, every one of us has one, at our desks but also in our pockets. There should be no excuse, it's just lack of professional courtesy and poor manners. What does it say to a customer when they don't get a call back? Surely their expectation of a returned call is reasonable?

Not covering the basics of doing business, you are handing clients and money to your competition. Companies are spending millions on marketing, to encourage new and existing customers to make contact, and yet some can't respond to a simple phone call? This is not customer-centric by any stretch.

Alan suggests the following Tips on the Basics of Telephone Etiquette:

  • Refresh your culture: This is a culture issue and if it applies to you, then you need to refresh your culture. Put consequences in place for not complying.
  • Do a root-cause analysis; In the language of 'Lean Principles', this is a defect, get to the root of the problem and agree corrective actions.
  • Set rules and train everybody; Make this a priority, and communicate your expectation and minimum standards to everyone on your team.
  • Log all calls; Every time you make a call-back promise to a customer, log it somewhere, and then track it.
  • Fulfill promises; Recognize the negative impact of disappointing a customer, and only make promises that you know you can keep.
  • Leave a message; If you don't manage to reach the customer at the designated time, at the very least leave a message. Reach out.
It's a reality that we're living in an age where expectations for speedy responses have escalated. Don't get left behind....

Original article here....

Dec 11, 2019

Alan O'Neill-Retailers HAVE to be online to be relevant
Just a week after the annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail storm Alan O'Neill discusses Darwinism in retail, the Retail Apocalypse, and how organizations of all shapes and sizes need to increase their relevance to a customer whose buying habits are changing.

Full article link at the end of this blog post.

Alan's tips to support retailers in developing an online presence:

  1. Change your mindset. Stop saying you can't afford to develop an online trading presence. You simply cannot afford not to.
  2. Develop a website, not just a Facebook page. The cost of developing a site has come down greatly over the years.
  3. Show products online. If not your full product portfolio, at the very least show pictures of your best sellers online.
  4. Enable sales at some level. Make sure they can at least mail or call you to process their purchase.
  5. Remove blockages to selling. If you have a booking system, is it working? Check that everything is working as it should.
  6. Manage your time. Many SMEs say they don't have time to keep a website updated. Make the time.
  7. Seek training. There are SBDC Offices all over the country that provide very cost-effective training to get you up to speed. Think of it as hiring for your weaknesses.
We have countless independent retailers who have created a very successful niche in their local community; every one of them has changed their business model and has a traditional store and an online store.

There will be a laundry list of resisters left behind. They will become much less relevant and will be lucky to get even a lifestyle income from their business.

Which group will you be in?

Full article here.........

Dec 10, 2019

JJ Birden-How are you going to finish strong?
In his recent LinkedIn post, our very own JJ Birden asks "How are you going to finish strong???"

His last keynote of 2019 is this Thursday, and we can't wait. Birden say "It's been an exciting year of speaking and I appreciate the company's who brought me in to speak this year. Yet, there's something about that last one, you know. It's like coming off the final corner of a track race, and you see the finish line, so you begin your kick or perhaps the fourth quarter of any game. Either way, the message is prepared to give your best and don't take anything for granted. Whatever the routine you've been following to give your best, you stick with it."

JJ says that for him personally, with two days to go, it's all about the 5 P's: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

What are you doing to ensure you finish out 2019 on a high note?

More about JJ Birden here.......

#goals2020 #dothework #motivationalspeaker #nfl100 #leadershipdevelopment #successtips #keynotespeaker

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Nov 20, 2019

Alan O'Neill - Learning and development remains a valuable tool in battle for talent
In this week's post, Alan O'Neill has some helpful tips on how to fast-track learning within your workforce by developing a proactive and engaging L&D plan.

We found that there's a lot of research that suggests a significant reason for employees leaving their job is the lack of development opportunities. Consequently, learning and development (L&D) simply has to be part of short & long term planning for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In part of his research Alan sat with Nicola O'Neill (no relation), she is the Managing Director of Harvest Resources, the leaders in Ireland for bespoke learning solutions. Together they outlined some current trends in the world of L&D:

  • Personalized adaptive learning. - employees can proactively source content to build their competencies
  • Collaborative social learning - work peers use internal 'circles of learning' to fast-track their own L&D
  • Peer Learning - as above, peers teach each other, there are five generations in the workplace today, exploit that
  • Classroom - still the most commonly used, learning new skills should be experiential
Next they created steps for developing a Learning Plan for your Employees:

Context - The first thing to do is to consider the context for whatever development you are planning.
Training Needs Analysis (TNA) - List the new and existing competencies that are required to deliver on that strategy, compared to the existing competencies of the employees. Identify the identify development needs of each individual on that list.
Commonalities - If there are a number of employees that require the same learning, organize group training's.
Personalized Development - this is where outcomes and the TNA become useful, use them to your advantage as one size does not fit all
Regular Updates - Have regular update chats to ensure they are getting the opportunity to use the new skills.

Far too often, Alan has seen clients investing in L&D and then do next to nothing internally to enable or support the new skills. L&D is a key element in change. It's not necessarily the change in itself, so follow-up is essential.

More from Alan O'Neill here........
Original Article here.......

Nov 14, 2019

Exclusive Speaker Newsletter-Updates, new blogs, all the good stuff!
We're winding the year down by a few posts highlighting our speakers....

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Nov 13, 2019

Alan O'Neill - Performance Improvement meetings are nothing to fear
Over the past couple of weeks, our own Alan O'Neill has done a three part series, with Part I describing the actions and impacts of the disgruntled employee named "John" and the possible reasons for his toxic behavior, and 3 options or solutions for how to work with John to either shape up, or ship out.

Alan's next article delved into the other side of the equation and highlighted how the organization can also be the cause of performance issues. He offered up a simple simple framework called the willing-and-able table as a way to work through the issues. This is designed to discourage employers from making sweeping judgments about their people and to be specific about improvement plans.

In this final installment Alan expands further on how to conduct a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) meeting. The purpose of a PIP is to agree on improvements in an employee's performance or behavior. This is set against a two-way communication of expectations and issues that critically affect the organization's - and therefore the employee's - present and future performance. When conducted effectively, it should result in a high level of acceptance of the issue, and agreement for improvement.

Remind yourself that the purpose is to agree performance improvement and build the employee up, not to knock them down.

Alan's last words:

"Everywhere I go, I find people management is the single toughest skill that managers are challenged with. I can't tell you how many cups of coffee I've had with sincere managers who want to do the right thing by their people. Here are the five tips I have scribbled on more napkins than I can count":
  • tell me what you expect of me
  • give me the opportunity and the resources to perform
  • give me guidance when I need it
  • give me feedback on my effort
  • reward me for my contribution.
See this list as a great charter for good employer/employee relations. 

Full article here........... and Alan shares this and many more tips for workplace cultures in his keynote entitled "High-Performance Culture" - Fast-track your business results with a customer-centric, high-performance culture.

Nov 12, 2019

JJ Birden - Leaders Lead from the Front
Our very own JJ Birden posted a wonderful leadership post last week that sparked an amazing dialogue from friends and clients.

In his post, JJ says "I've always responded better from coaches, trainers, mentors who are leading by example. The ones who are "talking the talk and walking the walk. Don't just tell me what to do, show me."

JJ is exploring some of the leadership principles he's learned over the years in both sports & business, and he talks about this point and many others in his keynote "There Better Be An "I" In Team". In this engaging session JJ shares his lessons learned while playing on some of the toughest teams on earth.

"To lead a team, it's imperative you can lead yourself first. The team's success is dependent on your success!"

More from JJ Birden here.........

#leadershipdevelopment #managers #leadership

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Nov 7, 2019

Exclusive Speaker Newsletter-Updates, new blogs, all the good stuff!
We're winding the year down by a few posts highlighting our speakers....

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Oct 30, 2019

Alan O'Neill - 'Your corporate culture renewal is a journey, not a destination'
A couple weeks ago our very own Alan O'Neill wrote Part I of the DNA of Culture, he talked about the importance of culture in an organization.

It is the golden thread that weaves all aspects of an organization together. It binds the strategy, leadership style, structure, reward system, behaviors, and indeed the whole business model. But most people when asked to describe their company's culture seem to have difficulty answering;they cannot articulate or describe it. It just IS. If you and your colleagues cannot clearly articulate your desired culture, you might be missing a key success factor.

In 28 years of Alan's travels around Ireland and across the globe as a change agent and keynote speaker, he has found more companies are prioritizing this than ever before. As the world continues to change at an unprecedented pace, the ability to cope, be relevant and compete effectively is rooted in the corporate culture. Too much change too fast, and you get the proverbial "deer-in-the-headlights' reactions for many, too slow and you miss the opportunities you may have aimed for. Organizations of all sizes should take a moment to gather the troops and ensure that the whole team is playing as one.

Alan is a strong advocate of using a values-centric approach to culture, because values determine how one should behave in given situations. This is a positive way of 'calling out' behaviors that will support the vision or those that will hold the organization back.

Last article he used a German company that made a number of acquisitions and is now renewing its culture to have one group culture. This one culture will serve as a framework for how Alan believes people at all levels should behave, both internally and externally in the example.

Here are his Tips for Culture Renewal:

  • Discover - Establish the gap between the desired culture and the current culture
  • Design - Design a new set of values or guiding principles for the business, and plan for how they will be brought to life
  • Deliver - Roll out the new culture
  • Develop - by ongoing measurement and embedding it into a new way of working, make it the new WAY to describe work
The Last Word

Culture renewal is a significant piece of work that can't effectively be summarized in just 2 articles, Alan's aim is to show that culture renewal is not a project, as projects after all have start and end dates. It is in fact a journey, not a destination.

Alan's full article here............

Oct 24, 2019

Brent & Kyle Pease-40 Under 40 Award Honorees
Atlanta Business Chronicle has named their 2019 40 Under Forty honorees, and Kyle & Brent Pease are very proud to have been selected.

Here are our 2 favorite questions and answers from Kyle Pease, founder, and Brent Pease, executive director, The Kyle Pease Foundation:

Q: What do you do to create community and common purpose with people who are different (ex., in race, gender, beliefs, politics, etc.) from you?

Brent A: Our foundation is all about inclusion and making everyone feel a part of what we do is the most important part of what we do. Inclusion is at our core and we are proud to share that with so many.
Kyle A: I really thrive on diversification and learning about others' beliefs and inviting them into a community that makes them feel comfortable.

Q: Beyond material gains, credentials, titles, or etc., what gives you the greatest joy, why, and how do you share that joy with others?

Brent A: We have such joy in sharing with others and seeing them reach their finish lines. Endurance sports have been life-changing for Kyle and I since this all started. We want to share this with as many as we can for as long as we can.
Kyle A: I think my greatest joy is persevering and showing my community, my family, and my friends that anything is possible through working and inspiring others to see their fullest potential, helping them to persevere through their own obstacles.

To find out more about Kyle & Brent Pease and what they can bring to your audiences, click here........

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Oct 23, 2019

Alan O'Neill-The Retail Apocalypse, Fake News?
In today's economy we're repeatedly hearing so much doom and gloom about the Retail Apocalypse, but is it actually Fake News?

Alan O'Neill was recently brought in by Swedbank - the largest bank in Sweden - to deliver a customized keynote on this very topic. They invited 150 property and retail customers to London and Alan delivered a engaging keynote on the future of retail titled 'The Retail Apocalypse, Fake News'. It went over very well, we have received plenty of great feedback and Alan helped dispel many of the myths and misconceptions about the current state of retail.

If you're not a retailer, you may ask; what is the Retail Apocalypse?

According to Wikipedia, the definition is "the closing of numerous North American brick-and-mortar retail stores, especially those of large chains, starting in 2010 and continuing onward." Since then, the term "retail apocalypse" began gaining widespread usage in 2017 following multiple announcements from many major retailers of plans to either discontinue or greatly scale back a retail presence.

In his keynote to Swedbank, Alan dispelled some myths and misconceptions about the state of retail now, and really helped attendees focus on the Future of Retail, by focusing on Customer Experience, and drawing on his 20+ years of retail consulting, and Alan shared his insights on the Selfridges overhaul and how he supported them to achieve their ambitions.

More about Alan here........

Oct 22, 2019

JJ Birden-Takeaways From Playing with Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Montana
In this brief video clip, JJ Birden shares his story about playing in the NFL, and the first time he played with the legend called "Joe Montana".

They say "success leaves clues" and if that is the case, JJ made a plan to learn as much as he could from possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. During those two years with Joe, JJ watched him from afar, asked him questions and took advantage of every opportunity to learn from him. He witnessed that the attributes that made him great as a professional athlete are simple success principles which anyone can apply.

Here is one of JJ's most impactful takeaways from his time playing with Joe Montana.....

Humility - This is a good reminder for all. No matter what you've achieved, remember the golden rule; "treat others the way you would like to be treated."
If you're in a position of authority, your co-workers or business partners are more responsive to a humble leader rather than an arrogant one.  

To find out more about JJ's top takeaways learned while playing with Joe Montana, go to and sign up for the Birden Report!

Oct 21, 2019

Risha Grant-Standing Ovation for LWG!
This past weekend our very own Risha Grant received a standing ovation for her presentation in Nashville for the League of Women in Government.

The League's objective is to move the needle forward on the number of women serving at the most senior and executive levels in ALL areas of local government. This year for their annual conference in partnership with The International City/County Management Association, they brought in Risha Grant and numerous other speakers to help them learn more about the importance of gender balance and inclusion in local government.

Her lively keynote "Permission:Granted to Get Rid of Your BS" brought the house down; her personal stories and humorous way of showing examples of bias within her story helps attendees really understand how and when their own bias came to be. It resonates with audiences because they know she's not just up there saying words, she's relating her experiences, sharing her struggles, and showing them where they came from, and ways to move through and past them. It's personable, and relatable.
We know organizations know WHY diversity and inclusion is important, it's the HOW that gets them stuck. We get them unstuck. 

Let us help you! 

Oct 10, 2019

6 reasons why our speakers make your clients happy!
They capture and maintain the audiences' interest, they share great lessons, and they're gifted storytellers.

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Oct 9, 2019

Alan O'Neill - Why attitude is more important than strategy!
In this recent article from Alan O'Neill, he explores the points to consider in how & why the DNA of your company is what will make or break it in the marketplace - and he cautions that it's wise to take it seriously.

When one company buys another, it doesn't only take over its products, people, structure, customers, business model and its balance sheet. It also takes over its company culture, which inevitably has some good and not so good attributes. I laid out the following points in my keynote at the management conference for a German B2B services company; recently they had made a number of acquisitions and were in the process of consolidating and merging activities. I challenged the combined group to acknowledge this and to put organisational culture before strategy.

What is organisational culture?

Culture is often described as 'the way we do things around here'. It's a set of behaviors which can help or hinder effectiveness and progress. Every organisation of every size has a culture, whether it has ever been articulated or not.

In addition to the challenge of organisational culture is the added dimension of national culture. Given that the acquirer is a very process driven culture - it now has to respect that the acquired companies have variations in national culture.

In summary, if this reality is not attended to there is a big risk the synergies that were expected from the combined entities will not materialize. This makes a strong case for developing one culture that is consistent across all entities. Such a new culture can still respect the heritage and DNA of each entity and, indeed, national cultures.

The trick is to develop a culture which supports the new vision and is dynamic enough to be inspirational, inclusive and relevant - and that it sets the tone for an appropriate set of behaviors.

Tips for Culture Renewal

In Alan's full length article he delves into this in much more detail, but in this post we found these the most relevant. Alan states "There are then four phases involved in renewing the culture which include discovery, design, delivery and developing/embedding":

  1. Discover: Establish the gap between the desired culture and the current culture;
  2. Design: With input from the wider team, design a new set of values or guiding principles for the business. And plan for how they will be brought to life;
  3. Deliver: Roll out the new culture, which of course will take years to embed;
  4. Develop it further by embedding it into a new way of working.
The Last Word

This challenge of culture renewal doesn't just apply to mergers and acquisitions; it is also a challenge for organisations that have never actually defined their culture. 

Alan's next article he will share more detail on what is involved in the initial phases of discovery and design.

Oct 7, 2019

Risha Grant listed as one of the Top 100 Innovative Women!
There's a tremendous number of women out there who are phenomenal leaders, but recently Forbes seems to have forgotten that. In it's September 6th article it listed 99 men and only 1 woman as it's top 100 Innovative Leaders.

You read that right, ONE.....

In a thoughtful and insightful response, one of our Bureau Partners wrote her own version of the list, proudly titled 99 More Innovative Women in Business.

We are very proud to shout from the rooftops that our very own Risha Grant has been included in that list, and we can't even help but want to blast it all over the internet.

Can you tie a rocket ship to a blog post?? No, well we'll just run around shouting from roof tops then! To be included amongst such names as Robyn Benincasa, Carey Lohrenz, Shonda Rhimes, and Barb Stegemann is such an honor!

Thank you Jessica Welch and the entire team at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, your partnership & support has been amazing and we are so lucky to work with such a great teammate!

Oct 3, 2019

Brent & Kyle Pease-2 Inspiring Individuals, 1 Giant Impact!
Kyle and Brent Pease, two brothers with an indelible bond, tap into the soul of the individual, helping each person to believe that anything is possible; they show us all what the power of the human spirit is all about.

Follow their journey, start yours, and come away inspired. In this post we highlight just a little bit about what Kyle & Brent Pease love to do for their clients:

1. Why are you so able to mold to your audience?

 We can mold to our audience because we relate to them through some of our own journeys and challenges that we have faced relating that to how we then overcame those challenges together. We aim to leave them with questions of how they can overcome their own obstacles by looking within, examining their own lives and tackling those problems, always looking for improvement.

2. How are you easy to work with?
 We are very easy to work with because we adapt our speeches to the theme the business or school is looking for give everyone a personalized experience.

3. What content do you have that can engage audiences before and after the event?

 We have our new book "Beyond the Finish" which can be purchased in advance or at the event, we have numerous photographs and memes we promote via social media channels, and always direct them to our website for the Kyle Pease Foundation (which we founded & manage) to encourage the audience to volunteer or join some of the races we participate in.

4. Are you available to interact with attendees off the stage?

 We love interacting with the audience off stage. We both highly value talking to people before and after speaking events and some of the audience members know us personally or have read about us previously.

5. What would you say are your top 3 takeaways?

 Be inspired, be motivated, and to make a difference in their own lives by lending a helping hand to others.
6. What do you do to understand a client's goals and what can you do to help them accomplish them?

 We always ask clients if there is anything specific they would like us to talk about outside of our race journey. From there we tailor the topic to our journey through racing. We help them accomplish goals by having a good message empowering them and their company and understanding that they will face challenges but as a team they can conquer them.

For more information about Brent & Kyle Pease and what they can bring to your event, click here....

Oct 2, 2019

Alan O'Neill-Customization for Clients
We have had the most amazing 2019, and hope that you have as well!

Our speakers have all been busy researching, writing, and speaking, but somewhere along the journey they have had time to do just a little "more" with their clients! In this post we highlight just a little bit about what Alan O'Neill loves to do for his clients:

1. Why are you so able to mold to your audience?

 Because I take time to build real understanding of the business challenges beforehand, by interviewing attendees in advance. Also as a seasoned change agent for 28+ years, I have worked in almost every industry there is. So my empathy is high for any audience. Besides, being Irish - I just love to connect with people!! ☘️

2. How are you easy to work with?

 Well I know I'm not a diva!! More importantly, I understand that the event host is putting a lot on the line to deliver a successful event; I have a responsibility to help them to land key messages with relevant and inspiring content.

3. What content do you have that can engage audiences before and after the event?

 As a Change Agent, I am regularly engaged by the client afterwards to support them and their leaders with relevant issues. For example, a German recycling client invited me to speak on change and culture at their annual event; I did that and then they asked me to 'put my money where my mouth is' and come in as a consultant. That continues to be a very successful culture renewal project that gives me great pride.

4. Are you available to interact with attendees off the stage?

 Of course! I'd like nothing better as I live to share more detail and to swap stories.

5. What would you say are your top 3 takeaways?

 That depends on the topic that I'm speaking on. But I'm known for my practical tips and stories so that attendees leave with ideas that they can implement literally the next day.

6. What do you do to understand a client's goals and what can you do to help them accomplish them?

 I believe in 'measuring twice and cutting once'. In other words, preparation is everything. I never give the same presentation twice. In other words I tailor each presentation for the audience. And that requires preparation which I believe is the mark of a great speaker.

For more information on Alan O'Neill and what his specialty topics are, click here....

Sep 30, 2019

JJ Birden-Why he's so easy to work with!
We have had the most amazing 2019, and hope that you have as well!

Our speakers have all been busy researching, writing, and speaking, but somewhere along the journey they have had time to do just a little "more" with their clients! In this post we highlight just a little bit about what JJ Birden loves to do for his clients:

1. Why are you so able to mold to your audience?

 From the variety of experiences I've had throughout my life; I was raised by a single parent in the inner cities of NE Portland Oregon. We didn't have much growing up. I was involved in the busing program where the goal was to integrate the all-white, affluent suburban schools in Lake Oswego OR. 
 I've now been married 29 years, father of 8, former NFL player, and entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, I've been the owner, co-owner, and employee of various businesses. I've worked with and connected with so many people over the years that I have a good feel for people and know how to connect and relate to them. These experiences provide me access to tons of content to ensure the audience gets value from my presentations by taking action steps they can implement immediately.  

2. How are you easy to work with?
 Once you've been a professional athlete, you aim to do everything at the highest level; I don't take opportunities for granted. I'm very passionate about speaking and see it as an honor and privilege when companies hire me. So when working with them, I want to do my part to ensure the experience is positive, by being reliable, dependable, kind and a professional.

3. What content do you have that can engage audiences before and after the event?

 Monthly motivational newsletter on my website called the "The Birden Report." (a blog as well on my site)
 YouTube channel
 Constantly creating and sharing content on social media

4. Are you available to interact with attendees off the stage?


5. What would you say are your top 3 takeaways?

 Understanding the importance of knowing and how to find out your "Why." Finding your "Why" is an essential part of success; it's your seed of motivation for doing anything. It will carry you through difficult times.  
 The underdog concept! You don't make it to the NFL at 5'10 157 lbs. as one of the smallest and lightest players by accident; you make it because you earn it and continue to earn it daily. Therefore I help one understand you can achieve anything in life in spite of the odds or obstacles you may face. Success is not going to be given to you. There's no entitlement in life. You have to be willing to put in the work over a period of time to achieve what you want. If it doesn't happen when you expect, trust the process. Success is an endurance race.
6. What do you do to understand a client's goals and what can you do to help them accomplish them?

 Pre-event call with client, with a list of questions I make sure are covered
 My own research via the internet.
 Pre-event mingling with attendees to see what else I can learn.
 If possible, sitting through parts at the event prior to when I speak in order to learn more about the company and event.

To see more about JJ Birden and what he can bring to your event, click here.....

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Sep 24, 2019

New Speaker Alert! JJ Birden now represented by 6 Degrees!
Former NFL Wide Receiver and Keynote Speaker!

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Sep 6, 2019

New Speaker Alert! Kyle & Brent Pease now represented by 6 Degrees!
KONA Ironman Champion Push-Assist Triathletes

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Aug 15, 2019

Alan O'Neill-Repositioning and Changing Perceptions of your Brand

Our very own Alan O'Neill's latest article for Irish Independent has his discussing the dramatic changes that we have experienced in the last thirty years, and how they have prompted many organisations across all industries to re-invent themselves. 

Whatever the reasons for a company to change, be it by accident or design, the challenge for all facing such transformation is how to successfully reposition so that their core base of customers is not lost.  And how to extend their reach to a new, wider audience!

Changing brand perception isn't all about advertising and messaging; the starting point is about refining your proposition in the first place, before you try to shout about it.
Alan's Tips for Changing Brand Position and Perception:

  • Strategy. Take time to look outside at how the market is changing, but don't shift too far from your core. How have customer's behaviours and preferences changed? How have your suppliers and competitors reacted to that?
  • Test. Before investing time or money, go and test your thinking by talking to customers and front-line staff. Are the changes that you're considering appropriate for your customer base? If you make changes, will you alienate your current customers, and does that matter? Do you need to find a new customer base? And if so, how will you do that?
  • Product. Consider what other product categories might be a natural fit in your range. If you'd like to go more upscale with higher priced items, remember how retailers classify their ranges using the 'good, better and best' framework. Rather than try to jump from 'good' (i.e. lower prices) to 'best', should your transition include some 'better' ranges in between? If your strategy is to move more downscale, the same thinking applies.
  • Place. After re-considering your product mix and price architecture, consider what changes should be made to presentation. For retailers and hospitality businesses, that includes shop-fit, standards, merchandising and signage. For a B2B company selling services, that might include your logo, website, brochures and other collateral.
  • People. Engage your people in the change and consult them on their views. Then make sure they know about the change that you've decided on. Train them and give them the context for the change and the product knowledge required to sell the new products.
  • Marketing. Developing the right message and how to communicate that is a study in itself. These short few words are not enough on their own, but they should at least ensure you put messaging on your agenda. If you don't have budget for TV advertising, press and social media are very effective.
The ideas outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg, so tread carefully. Full article here....

Aug 5, 2019

Risha Grant selected as a Top 100 Human Resources Influencer of 2019
Wow!!!!! Congratulations are in order!

What an amazing honor it is for our very own Risha Grant to be awarded a spot in the Top 100 Influencers for Engagedly's yearly list of HR rock stars.

This list includes some of the who's who in the speaking industry as well, notable figures such as Ryan Estis, Katty Kay, Nichole Malachowski, Josh Linkner, Chester Elton, Liz Wiseman, Geoff Colvin, Marcus Buckingham, Ram Charan, and Mel Robbins.  

Influencers in the category of Total Rewards are recognized for their outstanding advocacy for employee rights and ensuring fair treatment, compensation, and benefits. This is befitting of Risha's beliefs and work within the Diversity & Inclusion sector, and she couldn't be more thrilled to be included amongst such an exhilarating group of individuals and the organizations they represent!

Original List here........

Jul 31, 2019

Alan O'Neill-Effective Team Meetings are the ideal way to achieve goals
If your products, systems, assets and controls are the 'hardware' of your business, your people and culture are the software. Are you updating them the best way?

Alan O'Neill gives us his top 4 tips on how to have effective Team Meetings that are a tried and tested circular approach to formal communications. It ensures the management message is cascaded quickly to the front line, and in turn their feedback loops back.

Most leaders & managers who host meetings they will often say that they don't have enough to say, or that people don't talk, or that loud-mouths run the agenda. All that is true of a disorganized and unstructured approach.

Here are Alan's top tips on how to plan & execute a short and effective meeting:

Content: The 4Ps is an effective checklist to prompt you to consider what to include.

  • People... what news do you have that is relevant to this audience?
  • Policy and Process... are there any changes to policies or processes to note?
  • Progress... what relevant updates can you give regarding the performance of the business?
  • Points for Action... consider here any issues you want your people to give special attention to, between this meeting and the next one.
Structure: A good structure will introduce order, discipline and consistency to your initiative.

Frequency, timing and location: Decide whether you plan to do this monthly or otherwise, and stick to that. The first couple of meetings may seem strange and stilted but over time you will establish a rhythm.

The meeting itself: Start the meeting with an overview and finish with a summary of the agreed 'points for action'. As for the flow: present each agenda item one at a time. After each one, ask for comments and feedback, before moving on to the next one.

To read the full article click here...

Jul 10, 2019

Risha Grant: When your intent causes a negative impact, apologize
In a recent article for Tulsa World Risha Grant shares her opinions and thoughts on what to do when you offend someone.

In a complex world where we all are allowed to publicly express our thoughts and feelings, at some time on any given day we will make a mistake. We may say something that was intended to be positive, but it will affect someone negatively. For that reason alone, we need to give each other grace.

As an international keynote speaker, Risha is often in front of audiences of all types of make-ups and differences, her intent is to always share her perspective(s) to create a positive experience that would make those who are not marginalized see the a different side, and perhaps the error of their own ways. It's why she gets brought in, to bring in other perspectives.
However, the impacts created for segments of people we most want to give a voice to can sometimes have a negative experience for some people.
The verdict for this? It doesn't matter what a person's intent was if their impact was negative.

Issues like this one are what can be difficult for a speaker in this sector of work, or genre. You have to be cognizant of every single thing you say, or risk people shutting down immediately, completely. As a person who has been working very hard to initiate open conversations and shift audience perspectives for many years, Risha Grant suggests we need to give each other grace. Ultimately, we are not allowing people to be human! We are flawed and imperfect, and as sure as you are reading this, you too will make a mistake. And that is OK!

It's what you do after that is the most impactful, admit your error and apologize for messing up. And keep learning....

Jul 8, 2019

Alan O'Neill: Five behaviors hold the key to high performance
From the creation of a safe environment to giving work meaning, team-building is all about the right balance....

The Holy Grail of organisational behavior is to understand the characteristics that make up a high-performing team. Since the study of modern management theory began, many concepts have come to the fore. One of the more popular and profound studies is by Dr. Meredith Belbin, who in 1969 defined the traits where team members have 'a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way'.

With almost 100,000 employees to select from, a dedicated research team and a truck load of dollars, Google embarked on a two-year study of 180 internal teams. Having initially defined how success is measured, they were curious to establish if there were meaningful patterns that stood out as being more successful than others. They called this massive endeavor Project Aristotle; a tribute to Aristotle's quote "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" - the goal was to answer the question: "What makes a team effective at Google?"

With this as their mantra, here are the behavioral norms and key characteristics that the Google research team highlighted as being most prominent in the more successful teams.

  1. Psychological Safety. When a team leader creates a positive dynamic where everyone feels safe to speak up, then debate and decision-making improves. 
  2. Dependability. Once expectations are set and agreed at team and individual level, team members can be relied upon for taking ownership and getting things done on time.
  3. Structure and clarity. High-performing teams have clearly defined SMART goals and each member has a specific role to play in the team.
  4. Meaning. The work itself has personal significance to each member.
  5. Impact. The group believes that their collective work will make a positive impact on the wider organisation and possibly even, the greater good.
In summary, beyond the obvious need to select team members that can add value through experience, skills or qualifications, you also need to think about the interpersonal behaviors of members and how they will work together in that team. People are often thrown together for convenience or because their role determines their presence on a team. The Google research team could find no meaningful patterns in this approach that made a positive difference in the best performing teams. In other words, team membership did not imply team success. Instead they discovered that success was determined more by a set of behavioral norms that when lived daily, they ensure that team members give their best and achieve optimum results.

Whenever and wherever teams operate, the leader should take time out now and then - to reflect on the team dynamic and consider how the traits above can be embraced. The lessons from the Aristotle research highlight the need to give at least some consideration to team behaviors.

Original Article......

Jun 27, 2019

New speakers coming, new industries, and more in-depth views!
Our speakers have so many things to help your clients!

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Jun 25, 2019

Alan O'Neill - Hell's Kitchen is poor recipe for talent retention
Hell's Kitchen is not a good role model for successful talent retention.

In a case where art imitates life and life imitates art; these dreadful TV bosses are being seen as role models for an industry where teamwork is essential; but conflict between the kitchen and front-of-house is often the unfortunate norm. This behavior has been often excused because chefs are 'artists' or because they are in such short supply. 'We don't want to rock the boat, or they might leave' said one General Manager.

We argue though; What if They Stay?

The ambitious individuals they are training that get seduced by an industry they love, and over time come to believe that this is the way to treat others, and to get promoted. After all, if the boss has become the boss by behaving like this, then that becomes the benchmark.


Stop and think for a minute the impact on the people, and the business, which inevitably loses out in missed opportunities. Human nature being what it is, those people on the receiving end will feel bruised, shocked, afraid to make choices. They will not or cannot be as productive as expected out of fear; innovation dissipates as team members become afraid to make mistakes. Morale dips and employee turnover increases as individuals seek solace elsewhere. And as for the impact on customer experience.... well customers are not blind. Or deaf.

Alan O'Neill shares his insights and tips for eradicating these poor management behaviors:

  1. Define & evaluate your culture
  2. Check that the values are being exemplified and "lived"
  3. Clearly articulate what IS NOT acceptable
  4. Communicate the value of what IS acceptable
  5. Call it out, and apply corrective behavior. No change-perhaps it's time to part ways?
  6. Hire people that share the same values
Read the full article here.... plus Alan offers many of his popular topics as both a Keynote and a Masterclass, Email Us for more information and availability!  

Jun 10, 2019

Alan O'Neill - When should a leader know it's time to go?
CEO's and business leaders can often stay too long, but how do you recognize it's the right time to walk away?

After years of trying to navigate her party, the government and the country through the Brexit fiasco, Theresa May's time has come to an end. We know of the shenanigans behind the scenes but on the face of it, it seems to have been her own decision. The alternative would have been an embarrassing no-confidence motion to oust her.

She's not the first leader to have faced that reality ; but how does a business leader know when the time is right to hang up their hat and to step down gracefully from the role of CEO? Today's and tomorrow's CEO's need to recognize when they're at the peak of the 'deliver and develop' phase to prevent entering the 'decline' trough, so Alan proposes they plan for this before they start!

The Phases of Senior Leadership (CEO):

  • Discovery and Design - This is the initial phase where the newly appointed CEO takes time to get their feet under the table to learn the business.
  • Deliver and Develop - In this phase, the new CEO executes the new strategies and makes changes.
  • Decline - This is when the CEO no longer impacts the business in the same positive way as they did in earlier phases.
In some future time-frame, a leader will inevitably move on from their new role, but do any of them think ahead on what they would like the future history books to say about their tenure? Focusing on that in advance would guide a new leader through the years and ensure their desired legacy comes to pass.
If you stay too long and enter the 'decline' phase, you risk building a legacy that focuses only on that phase. What a shame that would be. However, with proper planning and open dialogue, you can build a positive legacy during the 'delivery and develop' phases. That has to be a more attractive proposition!

Alan offers many of his popular topics as both a Keynote and a Masterclass, Email Us for more information and availability!  

May 29, 2019

Calling all retailers - Alan O'Neill shares tips about competing effectively against Amazon!
Today there is a lot of talk about store closures and the death of bricks and mortar retailing. That is simply not true. There is however a decline in 'poor retailing'. That is, where retailers have not moved with the times and embraced the new reality of giving great customer experiences in store. For example, in Alan's time at Selfridges, they talked about 'edutainment' and 'intertainment'. In other words, they recognized that having great product on display - even when well merchandised - was not enough anymore. Instead, they created experiences around in-store events that would engage customers and continued with the iconic "window" retailing that British stores were famous for.

Today, a high percentage of shoppers are migrating to on-line method, but the vast majority still go in-store either before they buy (with a phone in their hand to compare prices etc) and they also go into store after buying on line, due to the growth in click-and-collect. Both of those present opportunities and challenges for bricks-and-mortar retailers to up their game in-store. And the sales associates role is therefore critical; they need to engage with customers in a non-pushy but delightful way.

Small retailers also have a unique opportunity to give great advice and add personality in a way that Amazon never will. We all agree that Amazon is a ferocious competitor; but while a typed narrative under a product works for Amazon, SMEs can add so much more passion, advice and character to the live interaction.

With all of this change going on, it's comforting to know that some basic principles have NOT changed. The main drivers of sales in store are footfall, conversion and average spend. Alan has many stories that challenge all types of retailers to get back to basics of product mix (price architecture, category killers, ownership...) people (their selling skills and their behaviors) and place (the housekeeping and merchandising standards.. theater and use of the senses).

Throughout all of his presentations Alan offers offers hope, he challenges attendees to rise to the occasion, and shares stories of other SMEs that HAVE taken the best of what the big guys are doing and adapted them locally.

Read more about Alan O'Neill's topics here... and let him help your SME retailers refresh their thinking.


May 20, 2019

Who Moved Your Cheese: Alan O'Neill demonstrates how a motivational fable of mice and men can help your business better manage change.
Alan O'Neill's most recent article on the book "Who Moved My Cheese?, a book by Dr Spencer Johnson, who also co-wrote The One-Minute Manager with Kenneth Blanchard. Who Moved My Cheese" for Irish Independent demonstrates how a motivational fable of mice and men can help your business better manage change.

Alan's article is a well thought out and brief re-examination of a classic business book that summarizes the flaws and foibles of 4 main characters named Sniffy, Scurry, Hem, and Haw. His easily applied lessons are summarized in a quick and pointed format that readers (and audiences) can take away, with the ever-evolving question of "which character you relate to the most"?

The tale central to Who Moved My Cheese? goes like this:

Once upon a time there lived two mice named 'Sniffy' and 'Scurry', who shared their world with two small humans named 'Hem' and 'Haw'. Their world was a maze, full of complex twists and turns - and piles of cheese.

For the mice with uncomplicated brains, the cheese simply represented a way of satisfying their hunger. For Hem and Haw, the cheese represented all that humans desire such as health, wealth, relationships, career, position, material things, lifestyle or whatever they believed would make them happy.

One day, they all set out to find new cheese. Having found a big pile, Sniffy and Scurry in particular never took it for granted. They dashed out of their homes early each day and followed their instincts to sniff out the route and scurry to it without delay.

Hem and Haw, on the other hand, having discovered the same pile of cheese, soon settled into a routine. As the days rolled on, they woke up a little later each day and moved a bit more slowly. They developed new norms and habits, becoming quite comfortable and complacent. They never doubted that the cheese would be where it was the day before, assuming it would always be there.

One day when Sniffy and Scurry arrived, the cheese was all gone. They weren't surprised, as in previous days they had noticed the pile getting old, moldy and reducing in size. They reacted immediately, and went searching for more cheese.

Hem and Haw arrived later that morning and were shocked to find no cheese. They were furious, as all their plans were built around having an endless supply. But rather than go and search for new cheese, they continued to hem and haw and instead focused their energy on a useless quest to get to the bottom of 'who moved my cheese'. They wouldn't look elsewhere for new cheese as they were afraid of change.

They also had a sense of entitlement and developed a victim mentality which spiralled negatively downwards, causing them stress and ill-health. They started to work longer hours trying to figure out what happened. They were doing the same thing over and over, yet they expected a different result. Although it was difficult, Haw eventually came around and laughed at his own silliness. He tried to encourage Hem to join him in following the mice and searching for new cheese. But Hem was steadfast and his resistance held them both back at first.

When Haw realized this, he recognized that for his own welfare, he needed to break away from Hem and move on without him.

On this new journey, Haw encountered many obstacles along the way but built his confidence as he learned to overcome them. He realized that he could actually cope better than he expected. It wasn't that bad after all. At first he came across scraps of new cheese and then he found the most wonderful pile of new cheese, with Sniffy and Scruffy already enjoying it. He went back and managed to convince a very distraught Haw to join him.

As time went on and having learned a significant lesson, Haw checked the new pile of cheese every day. He knew that change was inevitable and coping with that was up to him alone.

  • Change happens, they keep moving the cheese! We're living in a world where the pace, volume and complexity of change is increasing exponentially and there's no going back to the way it once was.
  • Change can be tough but imagine what you could do if you weren't afraid of change?
  • When you stop being afraid, you start to feel good. Reach out and seek help in understanding why the cheese is moving and will continue to do so.
  • When you change what you believe you change what you do. Change readiness requires a positive mindset. Negativity and resistance is futile.
  • Smell the cheese often, monitor it so you'll know in good time when it's getting old and reducing in size. Anticipate change and get ready for the cheese to move.
  • When you imagine yourself enjoying the new cheese, it will lead you to it.
  • Adapt to change quickly. The quicker you let go of the old cheese the sooner you'll enjoy the new one. A prolonged post-mortem for what was good about the past will prevent you from embracing the new.
  • Enjoy change. Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of the new cheese.
  • Even after embracing the new cheese, be ready for even more change. They will never stop moving the cheese.
The Last Word:

Just like Alan points out, each time you re-read this story of Hem and Haw , you'll spot something new. We also bet that as you read this, some of your friends or colleagues will come to mind. But stand back and consider which character you relate most to. Are you a Sniffy or Scurry that just gets on with a new reality of continuous change? Or are you more like Hem or Haw that chooses not to see the writing on the wall?

May 15, 2019

New topics, new platforms, and more insights for you!
Our speakers are working hard to serve their clients!

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Apr 29, 2019

Risha Grant on the road!
Wow, what a hectic April and now we're headed into May with a wonderful tour of speaking engagements for all of our speakers!

This week Risha Grant is headed to Virginia for 2 back to back clients: 

First stop is the International Association of Exhibitions and Events' "Women's Leadership Forum". This premiere event is designed specifically for women in the exhibitions and events industry, and Risha will be helping them Get Rid of Their BS and Promote Inclusion. See more on Risha's topic here...

Next up is the United States Air Force; Risha has been invited to speak to over 400 of the most senior enlisted leaders, all of whom are Command Chief to more than 300,000 airman across the globe. This amazing event is held annually for Airmen and Airwomen across the globe to come together to discuss policy and training, collaborate on issues and be inspired. A special keynote was customized by Risha titled "The Leaders We Need" and she'll be focusing on the recognition, acknowledgement, and how to move through Unconscious Bias.
Congrats Risha, we're so pleased to see you help them GO FURTHER, GROW FASTER AND GET MORE!

Apr 24, 2019

New Topic Description from Alan O'Neill
"Get Ready for the New World of Retail"
Retail is changing rapidly and becoming even more complex. As an industry, it has probably seen more disruption than almost every other sector. The advancing perfect storm of ferocious on-line competition; changing customer expectations and the infiltration of digital into traditional stores - is a new dynamic. For traditional retailers, coping with that is an ongoing challenge.

From food to fashion, luxury to mass, big box to multiple site, and travel retail to the high street, Alan has supported many iconic retailers over 20 years. He will reveal to you the secrets of their success in a way that you can learn from and adapt for your business.

Three times winner of the award for being the best department store in the world... and one of the most profitable (per m²), Selfridges in particular is an amazing success story. Alan was the lead consultant that navigated Selfridges through significant change from 'bricks only' to 'clicks and bricks'. Alan can share his insights and how he supported them to achieve their ambition.

And even if you're not a retailer, it's a sector that every business can relate to and learn from because of their sense of urgency, their focus on the customer and of course their commercial savvy.

*This program is offered as both a Keynote and a Masterclass, Email Us for more information and availability!

Apr 16, 2019

Risha Grant leads a new format of multi-media platforms to lead an important discussion about diversity....
2 Works for You (NBC KJRH) has teamed up with internationally renowned diversity, inclusion and bias expert Risha Grant for a new initiative called JustUs.

JustUs is a bi-weekly series of stories will touch on topics like inequality, privilege, and bullying. Risha is joining the team as a community correspondent that will chime in on all things diversity-related.

The first segment on Equality vs. Equity airs on Monday, April 22nd 2019. Congratulations Risha!
Stay tuned... #JustUs #RishaTalks #ThatsBS #CommunityCorrespondent #Diversity #Inclusion #UnconsciousBias #SoBlessed #LivingMyBestLife

Original Press Release:

Mar 28, 2019

Personal Interview from Risha Grant!

Game Changers & Change Makers - The 2019 Version

We asked these 6 short personal questions with each of our speakers to help you choose which keynote speaker will wow your audience members in the moment and give them something to act on when they get home. Today we're featuring Risha Grant as we get ready to head off to Vancouver, BC for the 2019 IASB Convention.

Read More about Risha Grant and what she brings to audiences here...

Questions? Want to know more about what Risha can do for your client, or what she can bring to their event?
E-mail Us!
Or call 888-584-4177!

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Mar 8, 2019

Risha Grant and International Women's Day
International Women's Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

6 Degrees Speaker Management is immensely proud and honored to represent International Keynote Speaker Risha Grant, and support her in her mission to reduce bias and further the understanding of Diversity & Inclusion. We're especially proud to see her speaking in Vancouver, BC Canada (our home country!) as part of the 2019 International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB) Annual Convention, coming up in just 4 weeks!

#IWD2019 #BalanceforBetter #IASBTalks2019 #IASB2019 #Engage #ThatsBS #RishaTalks #speakers #BlackSpeakers #Business #Innovation #meetings #competitiveadvantage #femalespeaker #6egreespeakers #keynote #speaker #publicspeaking #teamwork #publicspeaker #success #speaking #keynotespeaker #entrepreneur #leadership #effective #presentation #successful #motivationalspeaker #diversity #inclusion

Mar 7, 2019

New Speaker Alert! Alan O'Neill is now represented by 6 Degrees!
Alan is The Change Agent, let us help you on your next event!

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Mar 1, 2019

New Speaker Alert!

Alan O'Neill - The Change Agent

With over 30 years of experience from the board room to the front line, Alan O'Neill - The Change Agent - has led & supported iconic brands to achieve amazing results.

Alan's topics and areas of expertise cover the following:

  • Dare to Change - How to overcome resistance to change and embrace it as a new norm.
  • Premium is the New Black - Excellence in Customer Service and Experience is the new battle-ground.
  • High-Performance Culture - Fast-track your business results with a customer-centric, high-performance culture.
Full topic Overviews here.........

About Alan O'Neill:
Alan O'Neill is an international business speaker & consultant, and non-exec board director working with blue-chip organisations across the spectrum of industry. In a dynamic world, he knows what it takes to drive change in a business - from top to bottom... and back to front. It's about having a Customer-centric Culture, Engaged People, and a Supercharged Sales effort.

Change is all about people and culture and one sector in particular that has probably seen more disruption than any other is retail. Alan's expertise & involvement in the Selfridges story is one that resonates across all industries. Alan was the lead consultant that navigated Selfridges through the significant change of 'bricks only' to 'clicks and bricks'. Up to 2004, Selfridges was a sleeping giant - but is now officially the best department store in the world... and one of the most profitable.

It is this unrivaled business acumen that has seen Alan chair and speak at conferences around the world and conduct master-classes with C-Level executives. He asks hard and uncomfortable questions, e.g. Should you refresh your culture to prepare for emerging global challenges? How will you overcome cynicism and resistance to change? How do you overcome complacency and lack of accountability? How will you differentiate with a customer-experience culture? How do you retain the best talent? How do you increase sales in a challenging and disruptive global market?

Alan will adapt his countless stories, business models and real-life case studies in his specialist topics...and with every engagement, Alan takes time to understand the brief, the objectives, the challenges... and builds empathy before meeting his audience.
Energetic, passionate and engaging... he will leave your audience with thoughts & ideas that are guaranteed to provoke, inspire and give hope.

Feb 13, 2019

Our speakers make your events memorable!
They capture and maintain the audiences' interest, they share great lessons, and they're gifted storytellers.

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Dec 21, 2018

Wishing you all the best for 2019! Happy Holidays!????????????????
Thank you for everything in 2018..............

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Jun 1, 2018

Official IASB Member
It's a VERY VERY proud day here at 6 Degrees, we have our official approval for membership in the International Association of Speakers Bureaus; the BEST association for those whose primary business is booking, representing and/or managing speakers or presenters.

With hundreds of members whose expertise come from across the globe, they unite in the joy of connecting professional speakers to audiences and making impacts that lasts far beyond the applause. These are the members of our tribe!

This has been a huge goal of ours and we can't even begin to express how excited we are! Thank you IASB!