Business leader, NY Times bestselling author, tech entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and keynote speaker on a mission to drive creativity, innovation, and reinvention.
Josh Linkner is a business leader, venture capitalist, tech entrepreneur, top-rated keynote speaker, and author of two New York Times bestsellers: Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention. As CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, he helps startups disrupt the old guard while helping to rebuild his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
Josh is on a mission to drive creativity, innovation, and reinvention. And he also plays a mean jazz guitar.
To Josh Linkner, creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of all human progress, and as such, he’s spent his career harnessing the spirit of creative disruption. The four-time successful tech entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and CEO delivers a clear call to action — it’s better to innovate and disrupt your organization before your competition does. The riskiest move companies can make today is hugging the status quo — believing the future will be like the past is the fast road to obsolescence.
To get to know Josh, one can explore the six interconnected aspects of his work:
- Entrepreneur & CEO. Josh was the founder and CEO of four successful technology companies over the last 20 years. Josh is Founder and former CEO of ePrize, the world’s largest interactive promotion agency that provides digital marketing services for 74 of the top 100 brands. Prior to ePrize, he was founder/CEO of three other successful technology companies. Each of his four startups enjoyed successful exits with a combined value of over $200 million. He’s been involved in the launch and growth of over 100 businesses, raised over $150 million of venture capital, employed thousands of people and fought through the dot-com crash, 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown. His extraordinary business accomplishments led him to be honored twice as the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a President Barack Obama “Champion of Change” Award recipient.
- Author & Thought Leader. Josh’s first book, Disciplined Dreaming – A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity was a New York Times bestseller and named one of 2011’s top ten business titles by Amazon.com. It is now available in 13 languages. He second book, The Road to Reinvention – How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation, was also named a NY Times Bestseller in its first week on bookshelves. He is a regular columnist for Forbes, The Detroit Free Press, and Inc. Magazine. His work has been featured consistently in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, and The New York Times.
- Venture Capital Investor. As CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, Josh remains at the cutting edge of technology and entrepreneurship. He currently oversees a $60 million venture fund investing in tech startups with the goal of revitalizing his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
- Keynote Speaker. Consistently ranked one of the top speakers on innovation, creativity, and reinvention, Josh brings an artistic flair while delivering powerful, inspiring, and practical keynotes and workshops. His presentations are customized for every event, ensuring a highly relevant and valuable outcome. Josh has inspired over 100,000 people across four continents.
- 5. Jazz Musician. Beginning at age eight, Josh became a dedicated musician. He began performing professionally at age 13, and later attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Still a professional-level jazz guitarist, Josh often injects live musical performances into his keynote presentations in a unique and memorable fashion. He brings a jazz musician’s commitment to creativity and improvisation to the business world, offering a distinctive perspective to growth and leadership.
- 6. Detroiter. Deeply passionate about his hometown, Josh is playing a key role in the much-publicized turnaround of Detroit, Michigan. A multi-generational Detroiter, he is working on the front lines to reinvent his troubled city.
Bottom line: Josh Linkner brings a unique and diverse set of experiences to any project, and helps organizations drive creativity, innovation, and performance.
EXECUTING IMAGINATION: TURNING RAW IDEAS INTO POWERFUL RESULTS
As a five-time successful tech entrepreneur and investor in dozens of startups, Josh Linkner has seen thousands of companies loaded with creative buzz and big ideas. How is it that some harness their imagination to create game-changing drivers of growth and innovation while others miss the mark? The answer: the best companies have a systematic process to focus their team’s creativity into practical outputs – something Linkner discovered by founding and building companies that collectively sold for over $200 million. As a professional-level jazz guitarist, Linkner blends the improvisational qualities of a jazz ensemble with bleeding-edge business savvy to bring a completely fresh perspective on unleashing creativity in the organization. His inspiring presentation delivers practical tools that can be used immediately to increase creative output and deliver bottom-line results. You’ll learn to:
- Use specific techniques to harness your most powerful ideas
- Apply creativity on a daily basis across all business activities and roles
- Break free from the three biggest blockers of creativity
- Apply best practices from the world’s most innovative companies
- Avoid the five biggest creativity killers
- Master the three most powerful brainstorming techniques that you’ve never even heard of
- Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas
GRAVITY DEFYING LEADERSHIP: UNLEASHING YOUR ORGANIZATION’S CREATIVE MOJO
With disruptive forces assaulting business from every direction, creativity has been labeled the single-most important business attribute. To succeed, leaders must be focused on creating a resilient culture where everyone’s engaged; a torrent of fresh, creative ideas needs to flow from every level of the organization. Top leaders then employ a secret weapon: a systematic approach to selecting and launching the ideas that will best drive growth and innovation. Josh Linkner weighs in with a fresh perspective on this critical leadership challenge. A highly successful serial entrepreneur and now a tech investor, Linkner shows leaders how to employ his simple but effective framework to ramp up the creativity and identify/launch ideas that will break through and defy gravity. This presentation will help leaders:
- Challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom
- Build courage to foster responsible risk taking
- Authentically express your own creativity and tap into the hidden creativity of your team members
- Develop “everyday creativity” to attack business problems of all sizes
- Deploy creativity beyond R&D to reimagine processes, drive efficiency, and improve operations
- Uncover fresh approaches for reinvention and growth
ENTREPRENEURIAL FIRE: THINK AND ACT LIKE A STARTUP (EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT)
Entrepreneurs look at the world differently. We celebrate them for their bold vision and courage – they drive game-changing innovation that creates enormous economic success while making a profound impact on the world. What is it about the entrepreneurial mindset that helps these mavericks seize opportunity that others miss? A five-time successful tech entrepreneur, Linkner shows leaders and organizations how to embrace the creativity, grit, and vision of a startup and then channel this approach to drive growth, innovation, efficiency, and customer delight. Josh Linkner decodes the entrepreneurial DNA to help leaders of any size company in any industry or profession:
- Understand how an entrepreneur would attack their organization with the specific goal of dislodging it
- Reimagine their role through the lens of an entrepreneur
- Harness the ferocity of entrepreneurial thinking
- Embrace “startup speed” to increase velocity in your own organization
- Learn the five best approaches used by startups to create disruption
- Avoid the weaknesses that plague entrepreneurs by exposing the four biggest startup death traps
THE MUSIC OF BUSINESS: TRANSLATING IMPROVISATIONAL THINKING FROM THE JAZZ STAGE TO THE BUSINESS WORLD.
Be prepared to be amazed. Josh Linkner, a jazz guitarist since age 14, credits a musical background for giving him a different way of looking at business. In this stunning interactive presentation, a live jazz performance by Josh and his band is woven with stimulating dialogue. You’ll actually hear, through their music, fresh ways to unleash your organization’s creative mojo. In jazz, 99% of the notes are improvised; created in real-time. Yet it’s the structure of a jazz combo – not the inherent talent of individual musicians – that allows for such breathtaking creative expression. In today’s business landscape of dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and ruthless competition, we can no longer just play the notes on the written page. You will learn powerful lessons inspired by jazz musicians (a/k/a “real-time innovators”) to help you:
- Develop your own ability to improvise, no matter what job title you hold
- Establish team dynamics that foster creative thinking and risk taking
- Uncover fresh approaches to previously unchallenged assumptions
- Break free from traditional thinking and uncover vast new possibilities
- Learn 5 secret techniques used by jazz musicians to foster creativity, which can easily be adapted to your own organization
- Expand your ability to deal with ambiguity and recover from setbacks
A STREETFIGHTER’S GUIDE TO REINVENTION – LESSONS FROM THE FRONT LINES OF DETROIT’S REBIRTH
Detroit’s fight back from the brink is an inspiring tale of resilience told first-hand by Josh Linkner whose grit and passion are playing a critical role in the city’s revitalization. Linkner is a driving force in Detroit’s comeback; among his many honors – “Detroit Executive of the Year”, the region’s “CEO of the Year” and “Michiganian of the Year.” As the CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, he is helping the city he loves rise from the ashes and reconnect to its entrepreneurial and technological roots. Linkner’s heartfelt talk energizes audiences with the power of possibility. It’s also a cautionary tale of how Detroit, once a birthplace of innovation and a vibrant city, succumbed to the evil forces of protectionism, blame, and bureaucracy. The lessons in this powerful comeback story – still in progress – help you:
- Understand the 4 most common reasons organizations decay
- Connect the dots between urban renewal and business reinvention, and learn how to apply the same approaches to your own organization
- Embrace the 5 unexpected lessons of underdogs and learn to fight out of seemingly impossible situations
- Gain inside perspective from the passionate leaders who are leading Detroit’s courageous turnaround
- Uncover best practices from ‘streetfigher’ mentality – on scrappiness, determination, resilience and conquering adversity
You were amazing!”
~Sandra E. Pierce, CEO, Charter One Bank, RBS Citizens, N.A.
“In today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace, the most important resource any business has is the creative thinking of its people. Josh Linkner lays out a road map that will guide individuals, teams, and companies to higher levels of creativity. It is a journey that will lead to better ideas and breakthrough thinking—and those who take it will also have a lot of fun along the way.”
~Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
“Josh, thank you again for presenting today at the CMO Summit. You were fabulous and we have received wonderful fedback! ”
~Katherine Twells, Group Director, The Coca-Cola Company
“Linkner hit the ball out of the park!”
~Marco Forte, Vice President, ABC Television Network
“Josh’s presentation was perfect. The content was spot on and you could tell he really prepped. I would highly recommend Josh to other clients if they are looking to unlock the power of creativity across their organization.”
~Stuart Beck, Frito-Lay North America
“Josh, everyone had nothing but great things to say about your presentation. You did a wonderful job at entertaining and enlightening the crowd with your message. Thank you so much!”
~Julian Hua, Visa
“I felt compelled to send you on a short email to let you know quite how blown away I was by your presentation to us yesterday in London. It was quite literally one of the most motivating and thought-provoking two hours of my professional career.”
~Robert Cunningham, Heineken
“Josh brought a great source of refreshing content about creativity in business that was just what our Inc. GrowCo Conference needed. His energy and enthusiasm about the topic inspired attendees and gave them takeaways to implement in their own companies. Josh has a strong stage presence and was extremely easy to work with.”
~Karlie Krieger, Director of Events, Inc. Magazine
“On a dreary winter afternoon, Josh raised the energy level at our quarterly team meeting with thought-provoking discussion on creativity and leadership. His passion is contagious. The concepts discussed were supported with both qualitative and quantitative data so it appealed to both left and right-brained colleagues. We were engaged throughout and left the meeting fired up!”
~Lauren Rosinski, Deloitte Consulting