- Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges
- Change Management
- Corporate Culture
- Workforce Effectiveness
Audience & Industry
- Senior Management Groups
- Board Meetings and Executive Briefings
- Sales Professionals
- The Technology Industry
Bill Taylor has a passion for the ideas and practices that are reshaping how organizations compete, innovate and win. As co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company, he shook up the business-magazine world and the world of business. His new book shows how to unleash breakthrough creativity and cutting-edge performance in even the most traditional fields.
Bill Taylor is a best-selling author, celebrated entrepreneur and groundbreaking thinker. He made his name as co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company, one of the most influential magazines of the last two decades. Fast Company has won countless awards, from “Startup of the Year” in its early days to 2014’s “Magazine of the Year,” the highest honor in its field, and has earned a passionate following among executives and entrepreneurs around the world. Its editorial success led to great business success. A company that began in borrowed office space in Harvard Square eventually sold for $340 million—the second-highest price for a single magazine is U.S. history. Fast Company recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary and continues to shape the global conversation about business.
Since starting Fast Company, Taylor has written three books on growth, leadership and change. His new book is Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways (2016). Simply Brilliant offers a set of messages and a collection of case studies on how to unleash breakthrough creativity and cutting-edge performance in even the most traditional, hard-to-change fields. His last book, Practically Radical, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller. His previous book, Mavericks at Work, was a New York Times bestseller and was named a “Business Book of the Year” by The Economist and the Financial Times.
Taylor speaks with authority and experience, with energy and a commitment to utility, on how to stand for something extraordinary in a world of hyper-competition and nonstop change, the connection between who you are in the marketplace and how you lead in the workplace, and the importance of making sure that what you know about your field doesn’t limit what you can imagine about the future. Provocative and inspiring, Taylor offers firsthand accounts of how game changers are transforming their companies and shaking up their industries—and insights into how you can do the same in your own organization.
Average Is Not An Option
Leadership in an Age of Disruption - Don’t Let What You Know Limit What You Can Imagine
In a world being remade before our eyes, leaders who make a difference are the ones who can reimagine what’s possible at their organization and in their field, and who can turn bold strategies into relentless execution. And they’re not just CEOs; they’re executives running business units, managers in charge of key departments, engineers or marketers running project teams, entrepreneurs building a company from scratch. Regardless of their formal role or title in the organization, high-impact leaders exude both originality and utility—provocative thinking that energizes their colleagues, a roll-up-the-sleeves approach to work and culture that shapes how everyone shares ideas and solves problems. Put simply, the best leaders are the most insatiable learners and the most effective communicators. In this inspiring and instructive keynote, Bill Taylor offers hands-on thinking gleaned from the most extraordinary leaders he’s studied over the last 25 years. These leaders have many different personalities and styles, they’ve built very different kinds of companies and organizations, but they’ve all wrestled with the defining questions that face leaders everywhere—questions whose answers amount to a new agenda for leadership. The challenge for leaders today is to help their organizations see things that other organizations don’t see, and do things that other organizations can’t or won’t do. Bill’s insights, stories, and takeaways prepare leaders at every level to master that challenge.
Here are some of the questions Bill asks and answers:
Are you prepared to rethink the conventions of success in your field and the logic of your success as a leader? The “paradox of expertise” is one of the most dangerous occupational hazards for leaders. Often, the more closely you’ve looked at a field, the longer you’ve been working and succeeding in a field, the more difficult it can be to see new patterns, new prospects, new possibilities. Without intending it, accomplished leaders can let what they know limit what they can imagine.
Are you learning, as an organization and as a leader, as fast as the world is changing? That’s how you overcome the paradox of expertise. Plenty of leaders work hard to make themselves and their organizations more interesting; that’s how you stand out from the crowd. The best leaders work to keep themselves interested—interested in big ideas, interested in small innovations, interested in the enduring mission of the enterprise and all-new ways to bring that mission to life. The best leaders are the most insatiable leaders.
Do you know how to “talk the walk”? Leadership isn’t just about out-thinking the competition, it’s about out-executing the competition as well. That’s why the best leaders work hard to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win. A leader’s ideas are only as powerful as the organization’s capacity to bring those ideas to life.
Are you as humble as you are hungry? In businesses built on new ideas, generating and evaluating ideas has to be everybody’s business. That’s why the best leaders are both ambitious for their organizations and humble about their ability to do everything that matters. Indeed, humility in the service of ambition is the most effective mindset for leaders who aspire to do big things in a world with huge unknowns. The best leaders create the conditions that allow ordinary people to make extraordinary contributions.
New Rules For Entrepreneurs - Succeeding in a World Where the Smart Take from the Strong
There has never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur, whether it’s building a company from a blank sheet of paper, launching or investing in a franchise, or starting something new inside an established organization. In the old world of business, the strong took from the weak. If you had the deepest pockets, the biggest factories or labs, the best-known brands, you won by virtue of your power. In the new world of business, the smart take from the strong. The most successful entrepreneurs don’t try to out-compete their bigger rivals; they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking. Thanks to the revolutions in computing, communications, and social media, along with an explosion of new business models and new sources of financing, smaller and smaller groups of people can do bigger and bigger things. In this provocative and pragmatic keynote targeted to entrepreneurs, small-business leaders, and franchise owners and operators, Bill Taylor offers a set of principles and a collection of case studies drawn from some of the world’s most successful company-builders: founders of small banks, restaurants, retailers, consumer-product companies, software firms, franchises, even a parking garage. These hard-charging entrepreneurial leaders are winning big by changing the game in their fields. Bill offers a new business plan for entrepreneurial growth, and hands-on advice for turning goals into results.
Among the themes he emphasizes:
Originality is the litmus test of entrepreneurial strategy. The best entrepreneurs figure out how their products and services can stand out from the crowd—even as the crowd gets bigger, better, and noisier all the time. They have a definition of success for their business that allows them to stand for something special and inspires customers to stand with them.
The best entrepreneurial companies work as distinctively as they compete. You can’t create something special and compelling in the marketplace unless you also create something special and compelling in the workplace. For entrepreneurial companies, “who we are” as an energetic and nimble organizations is as important as “what we sell.” They don’t just think differently from everyone else, they can care more than everyone else—about customers, about partners, about the community.
Small gestures can send big signals—and create huge value. One of the virtues or being small, nimble, and agile, is that it allows entrepreneurial companies to be more than just efficient or reliable. It allows them to be memorable to encounter, to create emotional and psychological relationships with their customers that separate them from bigger, more bureaucratic rivals. That’s why entrepreneurs who aspire to do big things don’t lose sight of the small things that make such a huge impression inside and outside the organization.
The smartest entrepreneurs get the best contributions from the most people. It may be lonely at the top, but entrepreneurship is not a game best played by loners. These days, the most powerful contributions often come from the most unexpected places—the hidden genius inside your company, the quiet genius of colleagues who are easy to overlook. That’s why real entrepreneurial geniuses don’t pretend to know everything. They understand that their job is to get the best ideas from the most people—whomever and wherever those people may be.
Prescription for Change - Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare
Relentless pressures on cost… An ever-escalating pace of technology advancement and disruption…Customers who are both delighted and confused by the services they receive… Public policies that seem to gyrate between vast extremes. Yes, hospital leaders, healthcare professionals, and executives from the pharmaceutical, insurance, and medical-device fields face unique challenges, and the US healthcare system may be one of the most complex and turbulent environments in which to unleash enduring, positive change. In this specially designed keynote, Bill Taylor offers provocative insights and hands-on advice about leadership, innovation and change, rooted in the special demands of the healthcare sector. His case studies include a collection of inspiring and creative hospitals, high-performing companies that deliver a range healthcare services, and innovators from outside the world of healthcare whose experiences have much to teach healthcare executives and professionals.
Here are some of the lessons Bill offers:
For healthcare leaders, a renewed sense of imagination is just as vital as greater access to information. The “paradox of expertise” is one of the most dangerous occupational hazards for all leaders, but especially healthcare leaders: Often, the more closely you’ve looked at a field, the longer you’ve been working and succeeding in a field, the more difficult it can be to see new patterns, new prospects, new possibilities. Without intending it, accomplished leaders can let what they know limit what they can imagine. Hospitals and healthcare companies that break new ground are the ones that can reimagine what’s possible in their field.
The best healthcare leaders and organizations are determined to keep learning as fast as the world is changing. That’s how you overcome the paradox of expertise. Plenty of leaders work hard to make themselves and their organizations more interesting; that’s how you stand out from the crowd. The best leaders work to keep themselves interested—interested in big ideas, interested in small innovations, interested in the enduring mission of the enterprise and all-new ways to bring that mission to life. In healthcare, the most effective leaders are the most insatiable leaders.
Healthcare leaders can’t be serious about changing unless they’re also serious about failing. One big reason so many organizations are slow to change is that they are reluctant to fail. That’s understandable, especially in the life-and-death world of healthcare. But reimagining how you do business means working with dramatically new technologies, experimenting with different business models, rethinking how you engage with customers—all of which are bound to involve setbacks and disappointments. When it comes to change, failure is an option—because if you’re not failing, you’re not really changing.
Healthcare leaders who want to achieve important things understand the power of small gestures to send big signals. Success in healthcare is about more than just price, cost, quality—making organizations more efficient. It is about passion, emotion, identity—making organizations more memorable to encounter. Whether it’s reimagining the patient experience, redesigning hospital rooms, or creating interactions between patients and providers that are as authentic and welcoming as they are technically proficient, in healthcare, more so than in most fields, it’s just as important to be kind as it is to be clever.
Talent, Culture, And The New World Of Work - How to Unleash and Sustain Fierce Execution and Nonstop Innovation
Business today is about distinctive competitive strategies, game-changing technologies, and creative social media and marketing. But the most successful organizations, those built on fierce executive and nonstop innovation, work as distinctively as they compete. The first question great organizations can answer is: What separates us from our rivals in the marketplace? But the next question is: What holds us together as colleagues in the workplace? In an era of brash ideas and disruptive business models, organizations that create the most extraordinary value are the ones that generate the most widely shared sense of commitment, connection, and compassion among colleagues. Whether you’re in a fast-moving technology field or a more traditional, slow-to-change industry, your organization can’t be exceptional in the marketplace unless it creates something exceptional in the workplace. In a keynote that is at once highly strategic and deeply human, Bill Taylor draws on his access to some of the world’s most high-performing and creative workplaces to explore how organizations can unleash and sustain a culture of fierce execution and nonstop innovation. His ideas, lessons, diagnostics, and case studies are a pragmatic guide to the new world of work and a cutting-edge agenda for recruiting, evaluating, organizing, and retaining talent.
Among the questions he helps organizations and their leaders answer are:
Why should great people join your organization? The best leaders understand that the best rank-and-file performers aren’t motivated primarily by money. Great people want to work on exciting projects. Great people want to feel like impact players inside their organizations. Great people want to be surrounded with and challenged by other great people. Put simply, great people want to feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves.
Do you know a great person when you see one? In the most high-performing organizations, character counts for as much as credentials. In other words, at organizations that are serious about competing on talent, who you are as a person is as important as what you know at a moment in time. There’s a hard-headed business logic to this soft-hearted mindset. Companies with a distinctive set of ideas about how to create value in the marketplace need people whose values are in sync with that strategy. So the challenges becomes designing ways to figure out what makes people tick, not just how smart they are.
Are you great at teaching great people how your organization works and wins? Even the most highly focused specialists (programmers, designers, marketers) are at their best when they appreciate how the whole business operates and what determines whether it wins or loses in the marketplace. That’s partly a matter of sharing financial statements: Can every person learn how to think like a businessperson? But it’s mainly a matter of shared understanding: Can smart people work on making everyone else in the organization smarter about the business?
Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes? It’s a simple question with huge implications for productivity and performance. Leaders who are determined to elevate the people factor in business understand that the real work begins once talented people walk through the door. As you fill your organization with stars, it’s up to you to keep them aligned—to master the interaction between stars and systems that defines what it means to be a member of your organization and the sorts of promises and commitment colleagues make to one another.
The Hard Work of Big Change - Rules for Transforming Your Organization and Challenging Yourself
In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the most urgent work for organizations everywhere is the work of making meaningful, deep-seated change. When customers have higher expectations than ever, digital technologies and new business models create more choices than ever, and political and social trends create more turmoil than ever, then familiar strategies and established ways of working are less effective than ever. That means even the most successful companies have to rethink and reimagine every aspect of how they do business and deliver results—building on their past success, as they build out a new perspective on the future. But how do you break new ground when there is so much pressure to avoid mistakes? How do you keep people focused and confident in a world that seems so uncertain? In short, how do you unleash long-lasting, positive change in turbulent, fast-moving times? These are the questions Bill Taylor addresses in his provocative and energizing keynote. His message is designed to help leaders from all walks of life transform their organizations, shake up their industries, and challenge themselves. He brings his message to life with colorful stories of organizations that are unleashing innovations and driving transformations in all sorts of fields—from retail to software, automobiles to financial services, hotels to hospitals. Ultimately, Bill’s message, lessons, and stories amount to a manifesto for change and a manual for achieving it—at a moment when change is the name of the game.
Here are some of the themes he emphasizes:
In a fast-changing world, the most successful organizations embrace strategies that allow them to stand for something special and inspire others to stand with them. Competition is no longer about being the best at what lots of others already do. It’s about being the only one who does what you do. What do you promise that only you can promise? What do you deliver that no one else can deliver? In a ferociously competitive world, ordinary is not an option.
The more things change, the more the worries about change remain the same. That’s why the first job of leaders who are serious about making change is convincing their colleagues (and themselves) that playing it safe is the riskiest course of all. Change beings when individuals and organizations conclude that the risk of trying something new is less than the cost of clinging to the status quo. That a huge shift in mindset, but it’s the mindset that makes a difference.
In a world disrupted by technology, change is about recognizing the power of emotion and psychology. Success is no longer just about price, features, quality—pure economic value. It’s also about passion, emotion, identity—sharing your values. The best organizations don’t just make everything they do more efficient and reliable. They strive to become more memorable to encounter. For change agents and their organizations, it’s just as important to be kind as it is to be clever.
You can’t be serious about changing unless you’re also serious about failing. One big reason so many organizations are slow to change is that they are reluctant to fail. But reimagining how you do business means working with dramatically new technologies, experimenting with different business models, rethinking how you engage with customers—all of which are bound to involve setbacks and disappointments. When it comes to change, failure is an option—because if you’re not failing, you’re not really changing.
Bill Taylor’s attention-getting, audience-grabbing style and message really worked with our team. He was enjoyed by the entire audience.Philips Healthcare
Bill Taylor's presentation was excellent! I was sitting next to one of our senior officers who was VERY impressed with his message. So impressed that we may be considering him for another event. I did get a lot of positive feedback from the attendees on his presentation. He was a pleasure to work with.LIMRA
Bill was wonderful. Such a great human being! He closed our conference with an on-target message bringing together all the points of the conference. Cannot say anything else but perfection! Thank you. WSB has been a great partner!CO-OP Financial
Simply Brilliant is just that--real examples of the journey from ordinary to extraordinary. Bill Taylor challenges us to think differently about elevating our organizations to be truly distinctive in what we do and how we do it. His book inspires us to accept that challenge.Sandra L. Fenwick President and CEO, Boston Children's Hospital
Bill Taylor did a fantastic job. He inspired and made us think.Panera Bread
A fascinating look inside companies that are rewriting the rules of success. If you’ve ever wondered whether imagination trumps knowledge and passion beats ambition, drop what you’re doing and read this book.Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
We loved having Bill with us for our event — he did a great job! We’ve heard nothing but positive reviews from people who attended the event. Thank you for everything.Scoppechio
Bill Taylor is back—and he's better than ever! Simply Brilliant describes how to make your organization truly extraordinary by focusing on the values that set you apart from the pack. Brimming with fascinating case studies,Simply Brilliant is essential reading for leaders in every industry.Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of DRIVE and TO SELL IS HUMAN
Bill Taylor has done it again. This book is going to change your business forever—when you read it, you'll understand.Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
Practically Radical inspires leaders to produce lasting change by advancing deeply held values. The ideas are fresh, the advice is stuff you can actually use, and the results will be tangible.Arianna Huffington, Cofounder and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post
Simply Brilliant is, well, simply brilliant! Bill Taylor empowers us with a set of basic, first-order principles in action—on the virtues of kindness, humility, and empathy—that turbocharge, and often trump, all of the more complex ideas we teach in business schools. A must read!Len Schlesinger Baker Foundation Professor, Harvard Business School, and President Emeritus, Babson College
The standing room only crowd was a testament to both Bill Taylor’s content and style and the incredible interest our participants had in his material.Jewish Federations of North America
Bill Taylor knocked it out of the park! He had a great style and delivery, and the message was bang-on what we were looking for. He also did the best job I've ever seen of tying his message back to comments and examples from internal speakers that spoke before him. We really enjoyed having him.General Mills
Bill Taylor was outstanding. He was an entertaining storyteller who did a great job of connecting the dots between our business and his knowledge of client experience and innovation.Shook, Hardy and Bacon
I love this book so much. Greatness(!) from real people (!) in the most un-Silicon Valley(!) markets and locations imaginable. Wow!Tom Peters, coauthor of In Search of Excellence