Jeff Leitner

Social Innovation Pioneer & High-Stakes Strategist

The Big Idea–the kind that fundamentally changes our lives–comes along so rarely that our head snaps back when we hear it.  Jeff Leitner’s insights into Unwritten Rules is one of those ideas.  His work unlocks the hidden code that shapes how we behave, what we believe, and how our organizations work.

The Unwritten Rules pulls open the curtain, showing how work really gets done, how communities actually operate, and how our culture truly functions.  It gives us a new lens to understand what we can do to lead successful change, game-changing innovation, and real social impact.

Why book Jeff? Warm and funny, Jeff Leitner’s presentations provide a profound “Ah-Ha” moment for audiences, with a smile of recognition on their faces. He weaves stories, science, and insights together to help us all break through and get the real work done. Also:

  • Architect of the Unwritten Rules
  • Strategic problem-solver to corporations & governments
  • Designer of the first doctorate in social innovation
  • Founder of Insight Labs, the first philanthropic think tank
  • Fellow at New America, a think tank for American renewal
  • Author of: See Think Solve: A Simple Way to Tackle Tough Problems
  • Creator and Producer of the “Goodniks” podcast


For more Jeff Leitner videos on “The Unwritten Rules”, he has an entire page dedicated to them, literally 66 different bites on unwritten rules – whether you are in the Yoga Studio, at the Poker Table, or wondering what the boss really means when the boss says “The door is always open”… contact us here for how to find more of his amazing unwritten rules.  (Spoiler alert: If the boss says the door is always open, that means you must always check with your other colleagues to see what that actually means!).

Here’s a quick video about “The Goodniks” podcast:


Leitner spent years in the trenches working on some of the world’s biggest problems, then deep in the latest research, where he developed a groundbreaking approach for identifying and changing social dynamics. The inaugural Innovator in Residence at the University of Southern California, the founder of Insight Labs, and the co-founder of the international award-winning UX for Good, Jeff and his approach have helped solve some of the biggest and most interesting challenges, including:

  • Starbucks:  As the company prepared to redesign all of its stores around the world, Leitner brought together design leaders from some of the world’s most influential brands to develop a strategy for Starbucks to increase its creative capacity.
  • U.S. Department of State:  Faced with the lingering structural challenges of institutions like the United Nations, the State Department engaged Leitner to develop a new model for international organizations.
  • Professional Convention and Management Association (PCMA):  With more and more of our personal and professional lives moving online, PCMA engaged Leitner to develop and publicly present a strategy for them and their hundreds of organizational members to remain relevant in the digital age.
  • Allsteel:  As part of the company’s effort to bring the latest social science insights to bear on office design and worker productivity, Allsteel partnered with Leitner to integrate his work on unwritten rules with workplace strategy. Leitner and Allsteel are now on a year-long, national tour presenting the product of their work to thousands of executives at hundreds of companies.
  • Law 2023:  A partnership of national law firms and legal industry vendors engaged Leitner to project the future of the legal service sector. He enlisted experts in economics, sociology, and technology to partner to produce important insights, which are the foundation of recommendations for the industry.
  • United Nations:  In partnership with the OECD in Paris, Leitner developed the first-ever sequence for solving the world’s biggest problems, based on a year-long, international survey of economists, political scientists, and social scientists.

Warm and funny, Jeff Leitner’s presentations provide a profound “Ah-Ha” moment for audiences, with a smile of recognition on their faces. He weaves stories, science, and insights together to help us all break through and get the real work done.

Jeff has a number of different projects on the go right now, as of mid 2022. He just finished producing “The Goodniks” podcast (a sleeper hit with over 30k downloads), that follows the journeys of 10 people who do good in very different ways — both locally and globally, by disrupting, organizing, teaching, healing, restoring, and much more. He is currently in the midst of writing his next book, which should be released some time in 2023.


The Rules That Matter Most

You will see what shapes people’s behavior and beliefs, and will be provided a set of tools to tackle your most important challenges. This talk is ideal for audiences seeking impactful change, profitable growth, disruptive innovation, and the ability to solve the nearly unsolvable issues.

Jeff Leitner provides a rare insight into how people and organizations really work — namely that they’re complying with hundreds of unwritten, unspoken rules. Armed with social science, real-world experience, and humor, he tells leaders how these rules work, about the relationship between unwritten rules and official policies, and how to leverage these mysterious rules to greatly improve outcomes and change behavior in companies, markets, and society.

  • The Rules That Matter Most for Change and Innovation – Jeff Leitner turns the tables on the dismal success rate of organizational change and market innovation, explaining the all-important role that unwritten rules play in crippling our best efforts. Then he walks the audience through what they can do immediately to begin to shift conditions and set themselves up for success.
  • The Rules that Matter Most for Social Impact –  Explore the biggest obstacle to real social impact: unwritten, unspoken rules that shape our behavior and doom our best efforts to solve big problems. Jeff Leitner will guide the audience through new insights — the foundation of the nation’s first doctorate in social innovation, which he designed — that will prepare them to make significant and lasting impact.

See Think Solve:

A Simple Way to Tackle Tough Problems

The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving. That’s the bad news. But there’s good news too. The mystery of human behavior also helps us see problems in new ways. By paying attention to people, we can discover new aspects of problems that help us solve them more effectively.

The nine steps in See Think Solve are designed to do just that. They will help you make sense of the mystery of human behavior that surrounds all tough problems.

  • The first six steps are about seeing — each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.
  • The next two steps are about thinking — each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.
  • The last step is about solving — it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.”

Moderator / Facilitator / Idea Engineer

Jeff Leitner has led groups in unpacking and solving difficult challenges around the world — both on and off stage. Asked about his moderating style, he said: “I try to push beyond what people usually say to help find new, more productive ground that even they didn’t know about before. If there’s a panel, I look to produce big, new ideas where everybody’s work overlaps. In short, I want the kind of combustion that comes when expertise meets expertise.”

Leitner was the founder of Insight Labs, the first-ever philanthropic think tank. There, he engaged more than 700 scientists, artists, executives, and academics in designing original strategies to help more than 40 governments, institutions, and corporations. He was also founder of UX for Good, the first international initiative to engage user experience design in solving big problems. He is at home on stage or in boardrooms with big thinkers seeking to explore new ideas.