Mike Erwin

Speech Topics

Gallup research from 2013 uncovered an alarming statistic: 70% of American workers are disengaged on the job. When asked why, disengaged employees cite the number one reason is they believe their manager does not appreciate nor leverage their strengths. Through his experiences as a U.S. Army officer and the Founder of Team Red, White & Blue, Mike understands that leadership is a relationship. In this dynamic presentation, Mike will help leaders understand what character strengths they can leverage to better understand and appreciate their employees – and improve the quality of each interaction.

In his forthcoming book, LEAD YOURSELF FIRST – Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude (Bloomsbury Press, May 2017), Mike explores the counterintuitive notion that one of the most impactful actions a leader can take is to create time for solitude. This message is exceptionally timely because, courtesy of technology, people are more distracted than ever before – and the ability for leaders to engage in solitude has been eroding underneath our feet. In a thought-provoking juxtaposition to his other two presentations, Mike explains how great leaders throughout history have used solitude to fortify their character and enhance their clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and moral courage.

When we hear the words, “mass behavior,” most people’s immediate response is negative because it is commonly associated with harmful events. However, mass behavior (i.e. building a self-sustaining movement), can be a very positive thing. And while it often happens unintentionally, those who understand the process can generate large-scale change in a deliberate way. Through Mike’s unique experience as the Founder and Chairman of the Board of both Team Red, White & Blue and The Positivity Project, he has learned a lot about building a sustainable and positive movement. In this presentation, Mike will explain how you can harness technology, symbols, and human interactions to positively steer the complex dynamics of mass behavioral change.


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MIKE ERWIN is the CEO of the Character & Leadership Center—and the Co-Founder & President of the Positivity Project, a non-profit organization with the mission to empower America’s youth to build stronger relationships by seeing the character strengths in themselves and others. He is the co-author of LEAD YOURSELF FIRST (June 2017), the book focuses on how solitude strengthens people’s character—and their ability to lead with conviction, clarity and balance. He is also a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves, assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in Leadership and Psychology.

Mike graduated from West Point in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. He was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer, serving in three combat tours with the First Cavalry Division and 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). His service includes deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005—that involved the Battles of Fallujah and Najaf. Mike also deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2006-2007 and 2009. On those tours, he worked with NATO forces, to include serving as a lead intelligence planner for the largest NATO-led combat operation in history. Mike earned two Bronze Star Medals from these tours.

Following his third deployment, Mike attended the University of Michigan from 2009-2011, where he studied positive psychology and leadership under the tutelage of the co-founder of positive psychology, Dr. Chris Peterson. He went on to serve as an Assistant Professor in Psychology & Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy from 2011-2014. While assigned to West Point as a Major, Mike served as a lead planner for the Bob McDonald Global Leadership Conference and was the aide-de-camp to the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership, held by Jim Collins and then Tom Tierney.

While in graduate school in 2010, Mike founded a non-profit organization named Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB). Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity. He volunteered as the Executive Director for 3 years and continues to serve as Chairman of the Board. Team RWB has 118,000 members and 198 chapters across the world and counts NIKE, Starbucks, Walmart, Microsoft, the Bernie Marcus Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Ron Conway Family Foundation and Sean Parker Foundation as some of its strategic partners.

Mike lives in the Village of Pinehurst, NC, with his wife Genevieve, who earned a B.A. from the University of Texas-Austin and they have four young children. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Mike is also an endurance runner, who has completed a dozen ultra-marathons.

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