Ozan Varol
Ozan Varol's Speaking Fee Under $25,000

Ozan Varol

A renowned professor, author, and speaker, Varol is one of the world’s foremost experts in creativity and critical thinking.

Rocket Scientist turned Professor, Bestselling Author, and Expert on Creativity and Critical Thinking

When the stakes are high, the unknowns are threatening, and the problems seem insurmountable, you need a superhero — which means you need Ozan Varol.

Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author

Expertise In:

  • Innovation
  • Professional Achievement
  • Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Business
  • Creativity

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Corporations
  • Senior Management Groups
  • The Professional Services Industry

A renowned professor, author, and speaker, Varol is one of the world’s foremost experts in creativity and critical thinking.

Ozan Varol is a rocket scientist turned award-winning professor and author. A native of Istanbul, Varol grew up in a family of no English speakers. He learned English as a second language and moved to the United States by himself at 17 to study astrophysics at Cornell University.

While there, he served on the operations team for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers project that sent two rovers to Mars. He built stuff that went to the red planet and wrote code that snaps photos of the Martian surface.

Varol then pivoted and became a law professor to influence others to make interplanetary leaps on Earth. He graduated first in his class from law school, earning the highest grade point average in his law school’s history.

He’s currently a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. He has been featured in various domestic and foreign media, including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, BBC, TIME, CNN, and the Washington Post.

Ozan Varol is the bestselling author of Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life. The book is:

  • One of Inc.com’s “6 Business Books You Need to Read in 2020 (according to Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, and Adam Grant)"
  • An Amazon Best Book of April 2020
  • Adam Grant’s # 1 pick of his top 20 leadership books of 2020
  • One of 6 Groundbreaking Books of Spring 2020 (according to Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant).

Varol’s diverse personal background and experience allow him to connect with wide-ranging audiences. He’s delivered keynote speeches to small and large crowds at conferences, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies across numerous industries. Audiences love his blend of big ideas, witty stories, and down-to-earth humor. He’s a master at simplifying complex topics and delivering numerous “a ha!” moments. Attendees walk away with practical insights they can implement right away to level up in work and life.

Featured Videos

Ozan Varol's Speech Topics

How To Think Like A Rocket Scientist

Rocket science is often celebrated as the ultimate triumph of technology. But it's not. Rather, it's the apex of a certain thought process—a way to imagine the unimaginable and solve the unsolvable. It's the same thought process that enabled Neil Armstrong to take his giant leap for mankind, that allows spacecraft to travel millions of miles through outer space and land on a precise spot, and that brings us closer to colonizing other planets.

Today, thinking like a rocket scientist is a necessity. We all encounter complex and unfamiliar problems in our lives. Those who can tackle these problems— without clear guidelines and with the clock ticking—enjoy an extraordinary advantage.

In this keynote, Ozan will reveal nine simple strategies from rocket science that you can use to make your own giant leaps. You’ll learn the ingredient behind every revolutionary innovation; what sets apart top performers when it comes to solving complex problems; how to reframe questions to generate better answers; and how to nail your next product launch using an astronaut training strategy.

You won’t be a rocket scientist by the end of this keynote. But you'll learn how to think like one.

The Power of Contrarian Thinking

We’re genetically programmed to follow the herd. Thousands of years ago, conformity to our tribe was essential to our survival. Not anymore. The ability to disrupt established methods and find new ways of looking at old ideas is one of the most sought-after qualifications in all fields. It’s a superpower that allows you to see things that others miss.

Yet this super power is becoming increasingly rare. Businesses plant their lightning rod where lightning struck last and wait for it to strike again. This worked once, so let’s do it again. And again. And again. This strategy can work in the short term, but it’s a recipe for long-term disaster. The winds of fashion are fickle, and trends are transitory. Over time, imitation makes the original obsolete.

This keynote focuses on the power of contrarian thinking—the ability to question and redefine conventional wisdom. I’ll share strategies on how to grow comfortable with the uncertainty of reimagining the status quo; how you can identify the assumptions and processes that hold you back; and how you can use contrarian thinking to escape the shackles of your past and enhance your creative powers.

Why Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

We’re wired to fear failure. To ward off the bogeyman of failure, we keep a safe distance from it. We stay off the edges, avoid healthy risks, and play it safe.

This natural tendency to avoid failure is a recipe for failing. Behind every canvas unpainted, every goal unattempted, every business unlaunched, and every book unwritten, is the looming fear of failure.

On his iTunes top 25 podcast, Famous Failures, Ozan has interviewed titans from all walks of life about the failures they’ve had in life and in business. In this talk, he’ll share this wealth of knowledge and inspiration with the audience. You’ll learn why most of us think about failure the wrong way and how we can redefine our relationship with it; why companies pay lip service to learning from failure, but don’t follow through in practice; and what strategies elite institutions use to build failure into their business model and create an environment where employees willingly reveal their mistakes, instead of concealing them. You’ll walk away with science-backed strategies for failing gracefully and creating the right conditions for learning from failure.

Think Different: The Power of Cognitive Diversity

Many businesses strive to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace. But an often-overlooked aspect of the issue is cognitive diversity—which is based on differences in viewpoint or perspective. According to cutting-edge research, cognitive diversity can promote problem-solving and increase innovation by bringing a wide variety of perspectives to the table.

Most businesses stifle cognitive diversity. As a result, groupthink and conformity pop up even in institutions whose lifeblood is creativity. Employees hide their best selves rather than go against the grain.

In this keynote, Ozan will share a lively, anecdote-filled roadmap that business leaders can use to promote a thriving corporate culture that harnesses cognitive diversity. You’ll learn the two reasons why most modern workplaces stifle cognitive diversity and undermine creativity; how conformity led to the biggest disasters in rocket-science history (and what businesses can learn from these disasters); why the best ideas come from great teams, not great individuals; how to harness the power of diversity while maintaining team unity; how businesses can promote psychological safety where employees feel free to speak up; and how to use a principle called “combinatory play” to generate breakthroughs.

Works by Ozan Varol