Todd Kashdan Profile Photo

Todd Kashdan

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Todd Kashdan, Professor of Psychology at George Mason University

Named one of the top 58 people who are changing people’s lives by Psychologies magazine, Todd Kashdan is among the world’s top experts on the psychology of well-being, strengths, social relationships, stress and coping. He has been using this work to help leaders and organizations instill a healthy culture that is curious, productive, creative, and resilient.  

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Todd Kashdan Profile Photo

The area where leaders are most likely to stumble is in managing their psychology. Loss aversion. Preference for the status quo. Prejudice against experiencing certain emotions. Difficulties reading other people’s emotions and motivations. Blindspots about one’s weaknesses and strengths. Taking things too personally. Negotiating agreement without giving in. Exceptional leadership is not taught in school. Nearly everyone learns how to lead by the most inefficient strategy available—trial-and-error. For this reason, the data-driven insights from psychological research are invaluable to the health and success of leaders and organizations. For 20 years, Todd Kashdan has been conducting cutting edge science on the conditions that lead to optimal psychological functioning in social relationships and the workplace. Kashdan has detailed bold and insightful scientific contributions in his two books, Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life and The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why being your whole self – not just your “good” self – drives success and fulfillment. In Kashdan’s talks and workshops, he has provided tools to government intelligence and the United States Armed Forces to become mentally and socially agile, trained business executives to be more curious, creative, and courageous, and transformed organizations into strengths-based cultures. Kashdan is a professor of psychology and senior scientist of the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University. His books have been translated into 15 languages and he has won four early career awards for his scientific research. He says the things that other people want to but are afraid to.

Todd Kashdan’s Speech Topics

  • The Science of Work Well-Being

    What does the research say about the science of happiness at work? How can we measure well-being in the workplace? What can you do to increase vitality, productivity, commitment, courage, and creativity in the workplace? What can you do to better handle transitions from work to home? Why is it important to invest in well-being from a business perspective? The answer to these questions will be provided. This includes learning and practicing practical strategies for great leadership inside and outside of the workplace.

  • Executive Education Workshop: Agile Leadership – Building a Stronger Work Culture with the Science of Emotion, Motivation, and Personality

    Comfort is a byproduct of success but the pursuit of success and comfort are incompatible. By trying to feel comfortable, we worry about being liked instead of being effective. If the goal is to feel comfortable, instead of taking chances and seizing opportunities, we stick to safe goals. Exceptional leadership requires an understanding of how to tolerate, accept, and even harness uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. 

    In this workshop, you’ll learn what cutting-edge affective science teaches us about how to embrace the value of anxiety, anger, self-doubt, and other negative thoughts and feelings. You will learn how certain responses to uncertainty, tension, and conflict build vitality, trust, creativity, and resilience in relationships. We will explore the implications of this work for becoming a strong, agile leader both inside and outside of the workplace.

    This is not going to be a lecture. This is a workshop. The ideas that will be shared are based on the best scientific evidence. There will be opportunities for you to experiment with new skills. You will walk away with a new view of yourself, new skills, and a springboard to exceptional leadership, a greater quality of life, and a stronger organization.

    • Learn leadership strategies for creating a more energizing and healthy climate – that leads to greater engagement, productivity, and creativity
    • Learn new methods for how to be more accepting of unwanted thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to reduce their intensity or frequency
    • Understand the best way to express negative emotions to get the best possible response in a situation
    • Discover how describing and labeling emotions is a source of resilience in terms of coping with the stress of everyday life
    • Explore the seven emotional beliefs that get in the way of understanding, appreciating, and harnessing the value of negative emotions
    • Develop better strategies to deal with the distress and conflict that inevitably occurs when working with other people


  • Emotional Agility

    While mindfulness, kindness, and positivity can take us far, they cannot take us all the way. Sometimes, they can even hold us back. Fortunately, there is a solution: emotional and social agility. Emotionally agile people are highly attuned to the fact that success is about using the correct emotional resources in each unique situation. Socially agile people know what part of their personality is ideal to get the best possible outcome when interacting with others.

    Companies that push for positivity unwittingly create a culture in which workers don’t have an outlet for the very real negative feelings that bubble up from time to time. This results in office backstabbing, water cooler gossip, disengagement, and turnover. Scientists have also discovered that instead of being a buzz-kill skeptics are crucial to vetting bold ideas that actually translate to market success.

    We make a grave mistake in prematurely discarding parts of our personality that feel uncomfortable or are not socially desirable to talk about in public. Kashdan will teach you how to appreciate and harness each side of your personality and in turn, become whole. Join him for a rich, lively, and wildly entertaining dialogue. You will learn practical strategies to attain greater success, meaning in life, vitality, and healthy relationships.

  • The Art and Science of Resilience

    What is it that underpins a person’s ability to bounce back from life’s most challenging moments? How we can we train people to be more resilient? Based on the latest science, how people respond to bad things is neither random nor the same for everyone. You will learn about the psychological and social influences on resilience. Kashdan will guide you through techniques that are essential for healthy adjustment in response to uncertainty, change, and other difficult events.

  • Optimizing Social Relationships

    Nothing has a greater impact on quality of life than the presence of significant, meaningful relationships. Recent decades have seen a remarkable growth in research on how relationships at work can promote greater work engagement, productivity, and creativity. Kashdan will discuss several strategies for cultivating healthy relationships including net positive energizers, how pain serves as social glue, the power of curiosity when socializing, how to negotiate conflict, harnessing strengths in work teams, the Michelangelo phenomenon, the chameleon effect, and more. Kashdan will teach you how to effectively engage in tough conversations, and how to best influence and persuade other people. With this informative, entertaining, and interactive talk, set yourself up for long-term success at work and home.

  • Leadership Requires a Maverick Mindset

    In this interactive talk, Kashdan will critically evaluate common practices in the discussion, study, and implementation of psychological interventions in organizations. The biggest problem is that researchers and consultants ignore how organizations operates. Yes, there are various strategies that can be used to improve the lives of individuals. However, these strategies cannot be blindly applied to teams and cultures. Attention must be given to a firm fact of organizations—“the machine has to run”. In the second phase of this talk, the shift is from problem to solutions. The focus is on the pragmatics of cultivating creativity in the real-world—where uncertainty, complexity, and volatility is a given because we cannot control what other people do or how the market behaves. The solutions center on the reversal of popular proverbs such as the power of negative thinking and the need to sweat the small stuff. Expect several deviations from best-selling leadership books.

  • Unlocking the Power to Think Differently: Where Can Your Curiosity Take You?

    Asking questions and being curious every day can fuel both personal and professional growth and propel us to success. In his keynotes and interactive sessions, Kashdan discusses how curiosity and relentless questioning will lead you down a path of discovery, creativity, innovation and growth.  Participants will take a curiosity self-assessment and learn how curious they are and how curiosity and the power of inquisitive thinking impacts their overall well-being. The session will include open discussion, audience participation, and concrete take-aways.

  • Relentless: The Science of Strength Use and Development

    Based on cutting-edge research, it has become clear that detecting and harnessing psychological strengths is an overlooked and powerful tool for successful work and relationships. Dr. Kashdan will lead an interactive, skills-building workshop exploring how to assess, use, appreciate, and develop strengths in the workplace.


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