Todd Henry

Speech Topics

A practical guide for every new manager charged with leading teams to creative brilliance, from the author of The Accidental Creative and Die Empty.


Managers in creative fields often got the job because they were good at being makers–and learned to strategize their time, relationships, and mindset to produce the best creative work possible on their own. But when they’re put in charge, the rules change, and they must unlearn their hard-won working habits in favor of new ones, and navigate a minefield of complex relational dynamics with colleagues and bosses.

Successful leaders of creative teams have mastered the difficult transition from doing the work to leading the work, and this talk  shows how. Todd Henry picks up where The Accidental Creative left off, and provides an indispensable look at on-the-ground, tactical advice for managers of creative people. He draws from interviews with brilliant leaders and his experience consulting in creative organizations to share a wealth of practical advice, including:

· How to provide stability and challenge, the two primary things creative people need to thrive.

· Why conflict can be a good thing, and how to manage it in a healthy way. · How to build time and attention buffers to protect your team’s ability to do its best work.

· How to deal with the imbalance of power on your team, and manage inevitable struggles that arise.

· How to create “hunting trails” that will keep your team inspired and motivated to deliver brilliant work.

· Why you should still “get your hands dirty”, even as you strive to remove yourself from the work.

· Why you should fight to measure value, not time, when evaluating your team’s work.

This talk is your tactical playbook for helping your team thrive in the face of uncertainty.

Your work tells tales. It speaks about you, your values, your hopes, your ambitions, and ultimately what you deem worthy of your energy and attention. The key to making your work speak loudly and resonate with others is to uncover, develop, and then bravely use a voice rooted in authenticity.

In this talk you’ll discover how to develop the core drivers of an authentic, resonant voice (authentic, uniqueness, precision, consonance, empathy, timing), and why some voices connect deeply while others simply miss the mark. You’ll also learn why your most resonant work results when you are mindful of three key factors: what you care about, what your audience cares about, and ideas already gaining momentum.

Those people and teams who are brave enough to cultivate an authentic voice are impervious to cultural noise. They are the ones who change the game and resonate deeply with their intended audience.

You will learn how to develop the “markers of resonance” to help you connect more effectively and consistently:

• Authenticity: Uncover the narratives that are at the core of your personal and professional identity.
• Uniqueness: Identify what makes your work distinct from that of others, and learn to creatively package and present it.
• Precision: Hone your work so it is well-targeted and consistent.
• Empathy: Understand your audience’s aspirations and struggles to make your message resonate.
• Timing: Learn how to coordinate your work with ideas that already have cultural momentum.

Are you building a body of work you can be proud of? When you channel a passion for work into something useful to others, the world around you changes. In this Opening Plenary, you will learn a practical process for identifying personal and organizational passion areas, and a framework for applying them to the work you are already doing. Additionally, you’ll come to understand why so many people and teams get stuck in a place of mediocrity, and how to avoid these common ruts and pitfalls so that you can unleash your best work every day.

Learning Objectives

* Identify three kinds of work and why it is important to engage in all three each day

* Define your through-line and center your work around your most effective activities

* Determine how to remain curious and surround problems for better insights

* Consider methods for preventing ego, both individual and collective, from causing stasis

* Discuss practical ways to forge relationships that keep you engaged, aligned, and inspired

Can you improve your odds of having great ideas when you need them most? Yes! While creative ideas can be elusive, with a few purposeful practices you can set yourself up to have great ideas, even under pressure. Learn the basics of life and work rhythm, and how to build an infrastructure that supports your personal and team creative process. (This talk is based on invaluable insights from Todd’s book The Accidental Creative.)

Lack of effective collaboration kills teams, but it’s easier to default to old habits and familiar systems when the pressure is on. If you want to do brilliant work, you must understand why collaboration breaks down, and what to do about it. In this talk, you’ll learn how to effectively engage in conversation about process, gain a better understanding of your co-workers’ motivations and goals, and how to set yourself up for long-term success in the marketplace of ideas.

There are certain core attributes that brilliant, effective leaders share, especially in the face of uncertainty. In this talk, you’ll learn how to deal with the uncertainty inherent in our ever-changing marketplace, how to set your team and co-workers up for success, and what great creative leaders do consistently to unleash their best work every day.


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Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of four books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words and Herding Tigers) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

His book Die Empty was named by as one of the best books of 2013. His book, Louder Than Words, is about how to develop an authentic voice that resonates and creates impact. Bestselling author Tom Rath called it “…one of the best guides to living a meaningful life I have ever read.”

Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Need (2018) has been called an “urgently needed manual for managers doing important work” by Seth Godin.


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