William Taylor Profile Photo

William Taylor

WSB Exclusive Speaker

Cofounder, Fast Company; Best-Selling Author, Simply Brilliant

William Taylor has a passion for ideas and practices that reshape how organizations compete, innovate and win—in good times and times of crisis. As co-founder of Fast Company, he shook up the business-magazine world and the world of business. His latest book shows how to unleash breakthrough creativity and cutting-edge performance in even the most traditional fields.

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William Taylor Profile Photo

Bill Taylor is a best-selling author, celebrated entrepreneur, and groundbreaking thinker who shows organizations and their leaders how to compete, innovate, and win—during times of growth as well as times of crisis. 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 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 twenty-fifth anniversary and continues to shape the global conversation about business.

Since starting Fast Company, Bill has written three books on creativity, leadership and change. His most recent book is Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways. The book offers a set of messages and a collection of case studies on how to unleash breakthrough innovation and cutting-edge performance in even the most traditional, hard-to-change fields. His previous book, Practically Radical, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller. His first 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. Bill has published numerous essays and CEO interviews in the Harvard Business Review, and his column, “Under New Management,” ran in the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. He now writes regularly for HBR.org.

A graduate of Princeton University and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Bill speaks with intellectual authority and real-world experience 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, he 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.

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William Taylor

Average Is Not An Option

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William Taylor’s Speech Topics

  • Performing While Transforming—How to Meet the Leadership Challenge of Our Time

    These days, leaders face two relentless sources of pressure. The first is the intense demand to perform— to deliver excellent short-term results despite radical shifts in what customers need, where and how people work, and whether supply chains function at all. The second is the urgent need to transform—to reimagine the future of your marketplace and your workplace, given all these radical shifts, and to reinvent your organization’s strategy and culture to win that future. Dealing with either source of pressure is tough. But meeting both of them, at the same time, can feel genuinely daunting. The challenge of performing while transforming has become the leadership challenge of our time.

    So how do leaders meet that challenge? How do they deliver for today even as they disrupt for tomorrow? In this timely and practical keynote, Bill Taylor offers a set of lessons, case studies, and grounded takeaways to help executives and organizations in all sorts of fields resolve the four tensions that make it so hard to perform and transform, especially in a period of such confusion and uncertainty.

    The first tension is about managing time: How can leaders avoid getting overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks that feel so urgent, at the expense of game-changing initiatives that are truly important?

    The second tension is about managing stress: How do CEOs, business-unit heads, or team leaders solve problems that their organizations have never encountered before, because they have never faced this kind of economic and social environment before, without burning out or breaking down?

    The third tension is about managing failure: How do leaders encourage people to face big problems, and experiment with major innovations, when the stakes are so high and success is not guaranteed?

    The fourth tension is about managing morale: How do leaders help their colleagues to stay upbeat, energetic, and confident, when it is so easy to feel beaten down, exhausted, and anxious? 

  • Out of the Crisis—Lessons on Leadership and Change in the Shadow of Covid-19

    A crisis, the old bromide goes, is a terrible thing to waste. One way not to waste the brutal crisis of the past year is to reflect on all it has taught us about leadership and change, and try to do better. What do we understand today, that we didn’t understand a year ago, about the most powerful ways to engage customers, the best ways to motivate colleagues, the smartest ways to innovate?

    This past year, executives, entrepreneurs, and change agents have wrestled more than ever with the worries and stresses that “keep us up at night.” Now at last, we have a chance to focus on “what gets us up in the morning”—the opportunities and possibilities that can remake our organizations and make progress on the work that matters most.

    In this topical and timely keynote, filled with lessons about competition, work, creativity, and change, Bill Taylor draws on case studies of leaders who have inspired colleagues to unprecedented levels of performance, organizations that have won big in tough times, workplaces that have generated exceptional enthusiasm and commitment.

    He emphasizes seven lessons can help leaders and organizations create a more hopeful and prosperous future.

    Optimism matters—everybody needs a reason to believe.

    Tough times can bring out the best in people.

    To solve big problems, focus on small wins.

    Don’t just champion new ideas, strengthen personal relationships.

    Don’t pretend you have all the answers.

    Give everyone a reason to feel proud of what they do.

    To overcome bad news, revel in good news.

  • The Hard Work of Big Change – Rules for Transforming Your Organization and Challenging Yourself

    Breakthrough technologies. Radical business models. New customer preferences. Remote work. In an era of hyper-competition and unpredictable crises, even the most successful companies have to rethink and reimagine every aspect of how they do business and deliver results. 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 risky and 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. Bill offers 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. 
    • The more things change, the more the worries about change remain the same. 
    • In a world reshaped by technology, change leaders embrace the power of emotion and psychology. 
    • You can’t be serious about changing unless you’re also serious about failing. 

  • Talent, Culture, and the Future Of Work – How to Unleash Fierce Execution and Nonstop Innovation in Good Times and Bad

    Everything about talent and culture is ripe for reinvention—which is why great organizations and their leaders work as distinctively as they compete. In an era of brash ideas and urgent crises, 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 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 future 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? 
    • How do you know a great person when you see one? 
    • Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes? 
    • Do you offer the small gestures that send big signals about what really matters at work? 

What other organizations say about William Taylor

The event was a big success, great interaction and great energy. Bill was wonderful. He was fully engaged with the audience throughout the event and into the evening. We really appreciated having his full time and energy.  His talk was great, the message he wove tied back to our earlier speakers, which was totally on the ‘fly’ and greatly appreciated.

YPO/WPO/Young Entrepreneurs

What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

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!

Universities & Colleges

What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.

Health Care

What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

Bill Taylor did a fantastic job. He inspired and made us think.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

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.


What other organizations say about William Taylor

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!

Financial Services

What other organizations say about William Taylor

Bill Taylor’s attention-getting, audience-grabbing style and message really worked with our team. He was enjoyed by the entire audience.

Health Care

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