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....

Read More  

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

Read More  

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....

Read More  

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........

Read More  

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.

Read More  

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.....

Read More  

Sep 24, 2019

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

Read More  

Sep 6, 2019

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

Read More  

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!

Read More  

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!

Read More  

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!

#amazing #bestoftheday #motivation #quotes #keynotespeakers #speakers #entrepreneur #keynote #motivationalspeakers #publicspeaking #publicspeakers #leadership #business #inspiration #speakerlife #success #eventprofs #entrepreneurs #marketing #professionalspeakers #conference #sales #authors #entrepreneurship #networking #event #mindset #events #meetingprofs #6degreespeakers #speakermanagement

Read More  

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!

Read More  

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.

Read More  

Dec 21, 2018

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

Read More  

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!