Josh Linkner

  • 4-time tech entrepreneur
  • Hyper-growth CEO & Venture capitalist
  • NY Times bestselling author

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 five-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:

1. Entrepreneur & CEO. Josh was the founder and CEO of five successful technology companies over the last 26 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. Each of his five 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.

2. 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. His 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 and was named the 2014 Best Leadership/Management Book by 800-CEO-READ. His most recent book, Hacking Innovation: The New Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers, is a powerful look into redirecting the techniques of cybercriminals to drive meaningful outcomes in our companies, careers and communities. 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. 

3. Venture Capital Investor. As Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, Josh remains at the cutting edge of technology and entrepreneurship. He oversees a $60 million venture fund investing in tech startups with the goal of revitalizing his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. 

4. 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. Through his talks, Josh has inspired over 500,000 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 multigenerational 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. 

 

Call Executive Speakers Bureau to book innovation speaker Josh Linkner 901-754-9404

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    CEO's, Creativity, Creativity & Innovation, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Teambuilding

  • Travels From:

    Michigan

  • Price:

    $30,000 - $50,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
  • News

Josh Linkner Innovation Keynote Speaker 2016-2017 Speaking Video

Josh Linkner - Full Length Speaker Video

Josh Linkner - Highlight Reel

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 five-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:

1. Entrepreneur & CEO. Josh was the founder and CEO of five successful technology companies over the last 26 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. Each of his five 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.

2. 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. His 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 and was named the 2014 Best Leadership/Management Book by 800-CEO-READ. His most recent book, Hacking Innovation: The New Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers, is a powerful look into redirecting the techniques of cybercriminals to drive meaningful outcomes in our companies, careers and communities. 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. 

3. Venture Capital Investor. As Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, Josh remains at the cutting edge of technology and entrepreneurship. He oversees a $60 million venture fund investing in tech startups with the goal of revitalizing his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. 

4. 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. Through his talks, Josh has inspired over 500,000 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 multigenerational 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. 

 

Call Executive Speakers Bureau to book innovation speaker Josh Linkner 901-754-9404

Hacking Innovation: The New Business Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers

With intense competitive pressures and mind-numbing speed, leaders seek fresh approaches for growth and innovation. As old methods become commoditized, new creative problem solving techniques are needed more than ever. Drawing inspiration from the unlikely world of hackers, New York Times best-selling author and five-time tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner has discovered a new and powerful model for leadership and organizational success. The underworld of cybercriminals contains some of the most creative people on the planet, despite their illicit motives.

In this thrilling and provocative talk, Linkner takes the audience on a mind-opening journey, showing how hacking techniques can be deployed to drive legitimate business outcomes. Learning how hackers would solve your most pressing challenges using unorthodox approaches will give you a new framework for creative problem solving, growth and innovation.

  • Specific tools and techniques from the Five Core Mindsets and Ten
  • Primary Tactics of Hackers
  • Fresh approaches to complex problem solving
  • How a hacker would approach your work if he or she had your job
  • Why unorthodox moves can lead to the best business outcomes
  • How to protect yourself and your company from innovation hackers of all
  • sizes and types

 

Harnessing Innovation: 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 sold collectively 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
  • heard of
  • Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas

 

The Gravity-Defying Leader: Innovative Approaches to Hyper-Growth Leadership

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 innovative 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, Josh 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. 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 13, credits a musical background for giving him a different way of looking at business. In this stunning interactive presentation, a live jazz performance by Linkner 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 and 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 (aka “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 five 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 Street Fighter’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 firsthand 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 four 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 five 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 “street fighter” mentality—on scrappiness, determination, resilience and conquering adversity

CEO, Cox Automotive

“Josh, Thanks for a simply magnificent job yesterday with our Cox Automotive leadership team. You hit it outta the park. Folks were still talking about you lastnight. This was dynamic for all.”

CEO, Groupon

“Josh Linkner is a truly special entrepreneur; Part of a rare breed.”

Vice President Customer Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company

“Josh, as always you are amazing. It is quite obvious that you took the time to prepare to bring everything you have. Thank you for your coaching and support throughout. I am sending you so much gratitude. You amaze me...always!”

Director Public Affairs, American Express

“Thank you a million times over—you nailed it with the presentation yesterday and it was spot on for our team! You sparked so many follow-on discussions yesterday and were a continued theme throughout our meeting—people are already brainstorming great new ideas about how to implement small innovations and use your tips to break down barriers on our teams."

Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company

“A journey that will lead to better ideas and breakthrough thinking.”

CEO, Groupon

“Josh Linkner is a truly special entrepreneur; Part of a rare breed.”

Earvin “Magic” Johnson

“When Josh speaks, business improves.”

Co-Founder, AOL

"Powerful"

Detroit Free Press: What we can learn about problem solving from an American Ninja Warrior
Saturday, December 3, 2016

Detroit Free Press: Josh Linkner is a successful tech entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker. He writes a weekly column for the Sunday Business section of the Detroit Free Press. He says, "Creators are innately curious, refusing to accept conventional approaches as the only routes to success. They believe that any barrier or obstacle can be tackled with unorthodox approaches that balk established practices. In Kevin’s case, he knew a completely different method would be his only chance."

Read More »

The Mindset of High Achievement
Monday, August 8, 2016

In an effort to get ahead in our careers, we test out new leadership tactics like we change our clothes. Whatever the current fad - from Lean Processes, to Management by Objective, to Agile Leadership - it's easy to get sucked into the next promise of get-successful-quick.

 

Read More »

The Disruptive Innovation Behind Pokémon Go
Monday, July 18, 2016

In an explosive combination of creativity, cutting-edge technology, and brilliant marketing, Pokémon GO has become a global craze in less than a week. The new portable game from Nintendo uses a technology called Augmented Reality, which allows a player to interact with the real world instead of just their screen. Game play involves discovering and interactive far away from the basement - in parks, museums, airports, and public squares. The software interacts with actual, physical things to take game playing to a completely different level.

Read More »

Trend Hunting
Monday, November 23, 2015

Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft, are getting a lot of attention in the media these days for the role they play in fighting terrorism.  They're certainly top of mind for those who enjoy learning (and dreaming) about the future. 

The emerging trend has expanded far beyond the military. Ambulatory drones are being used to deliver emergency medical supplies for trauma patients in hard to reach locations. 

Read More »

Seeding Your Future
Monday, November 16, 2015

Innovation speaker Josh Linkner discusses the importance of generosity and how it can positively impact you in the future.

How do you know if you’ve accomplished something today? What should you measure if you didn’t deliver something measurable? In an era of dashboards, metrics, and key performance indicators, should every ounce of your energy be directed at hitting near term deliverables?

In studying the behavior of the most successful people, I’ve noticed that they spend a good deal of time planting seeds. Yes, top performers deliver short-range tangible results, but they also constantly invest in the future.

Read More »

How Small Choices Help You Conquer Big Temptation
Monday, November 2, 2015

When Darth Vader tried to persuade young Luke Skywalker to join the dark side, it wasn’t a very compelling proposition.

Who wants to wear a creepy outfit, talk weird, and live like a monster? If the dark side were that unappealing, it would be easy to say no.

But that’s not what modern-day darkness looks like at all. Instead it is shiny, juicy, and tempting. It comes perfectly packaged and marketed directly to our soft spots. That delicious candy bar or cheeseburger that poisons your body and robs your vitality. The expensive handbag that you have to have, but only drives you deeper into debt after momentary pleasure. That relationship that’s all surface and no substance.

Read More »

The Past is Dead
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Most of us face incredible challenges in our lives. Difficult people. Ruthless competition. Time constraints. But so many of us succumb to an imaginary and impotent demon that strangles our potential and restricts our progress. This fictitious monster is called simply ... the past.
 
While the past can be a great teacher, it can also shackle our imagination and relegate us to thinking small. Imagine carrying around a backpack full of rocks; each piece of stone representing some past injustice or setback. As that weight increases, playing your best and highest game becomes impossible unless you're able to release the burden and liberate yourself.
 

Read More »

The 5 Myths of Creativity
Monday, October 19, 2015

Mention the word creativity, and people begin to squirm in their chairs. The very thought can prompt anxiety, fear, and doubt — even in the most accomplished professionals. Let’s explore some common myths, and uncover the truth behind this fuzzy topic.

Read More »

Your Fired!
Monday, July 27, 2015

Your boss walks into your office and quietly shuts the door behind her. She sits down at your desk in a most somber manner. After taking a deep breath, she coldly releases the words you dreaded all your life: "You're fired." 

Think of the emotional tornado now racing through your mind. Fear. Regret. Sadness. Shame. And then your internal chatter goes into overdrive with repetitive messages blasting in your head: "If I'd only done more. Why didn't I take my job seriously? I wish I shared my big, creative ideas instead of held them back. I know I could do better if I only had a second chance. I'd do anything for the opportunity to prove that I can truly be a top performer. I just know I can transform. I'll put in the extra time; I'll over-deliver." 

Read More »

LEARNING AND UNLEARNING
Monday, April 13, 2015

When you study the best-of-the-best, they share a common trait across industries, age, geography, gender, and skill set. Top performers are lifetime learners. Instead of hanging up their studies upon completion of formal education, they embrace a love of learning for the long run. They devour books, lectures, and workshops to improve their game.

This isn’t a groundbreaking concept. “Duh,” you may proclaim. “Earners are Learners. I get it. I’ve heard that a thousand times.”

But here’s the twist… While you may have a plan for ongoing learning, have you ever plotted out what you want to unlearn?

Read More »

RISING FROM REJECTION
Monday, March 2, 2015

Jack Ma is China’s richest man. He’s also the 12th-wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $29.7 billion, according to Forbes. Ma is the founder of Alibaba, an e-commerce company that’s the equivalent of Amazon.com in China.

He launched a multibillion-dollar company and became one of the most financially successful people alive, so you might imagine he was always a superstar. Not by a long shot. As a young man, Ma failed the college entrance exam three times in a row. He applied for 30 different jobs, getting turned down for all of them.

“I went for a job with the police; they said, ‘You’re no good,’ ” Ma told Charlie Rose in an interview. “I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy… .” Ma was also rejected by numerous banks for loans and didn’t turn a profit for his first three years in business.

Read More »

REINVENTING THE WHEEL
Monday, June 23, 2014

"Stop trying to reinvent the wheel," Bob says in a snarky tone. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" 

Tell that to the researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who designed the Copenhagen Wheel. Quite literally, they reinvented the wheel, the very device we've all been admonished not to disrupt. The Copenhagen Wheel fits on most bicycles delivering a giant leap forward to the rider.

Read More »

4 Lessons from a 15 Year-Old Entreprenuer
Monday, April 21, 2014

The Define Fruit-Infused Water Bottle is all the rage. 

It is a fresh product idea that has already sold more than 150,000 units. The founder has been featured on Shark Tank, recommended by former President Bill Clinton, honored by Entrepreneur Magazine for creating one of the most brilliant companies of 2013, and celebrated by first lady Michelle Obama. What's even more remarkable: the founder of this hot new concept is 15-year-old Carter Kostler from Virginia Beach, Va. 

Read More »

WHY THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD IS FOR ROAD KILL
Monday, December 9, 2013

The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California is consistently ranked among the top five restaurants in the country.  Celebrity chef Thomas Keller spares no expense in making the food and dining experience pure perfection.  Even with a price tag of up to $500 per person, this premier bistro is sold out every single night. 

The restaurant accepts reservations exactly 60 days in advance. The phone lines open at 10:00 am, and by 10:03 every seat is reserved.  There's a cottage industry around these high-demand seats, with scalpers reselling reservations on eBay and even French Laundry Reservation Consultants emerging to help you snag a table -- for a fee, of course. 

Read More »

The Power of Smoke Detectors
Monday, October 28, 2013

David Lee Roth, the legendary lead singer for the band Van Halen, was the poster child for 1980s excess.

Read More »

UNPACK YOUR CHALLENGES TO SOLVE THEM
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"I could never do that."

"This is impossible."

"There are a million obstacles." 

When facing a serious challenge, it's easy to amplify the hurdles in our minds, which in turn makes the problems seem insurmountable.

Read More »

STOP APOLOGIZING: Everyone has flaws.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Steve Jobs was flawed.   Serena Williams has soft spots in her tennis game.  Even Brad Pitt has bad hair days.  No matter how successful, powerful, or good-looking, all of the people we admire most have at least some deficiencies.

Read More »

How to Botch Your Career
Monday, October 22, 2012

Your parents probably gave you loving advice on how to land a job and work your way up the ladder.  Unfortunately, that advice is likely dead wrong.  While their intentions were probably noble, the world has changed so dramatically in the last few years that the golden nuggets of the past have become the anchors of the present.

Read More »

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