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Jonathan Tilley keynote speaker

Jonathan Tilley

    • Brand Strategist who Helps Creative People Transition Into Successful Creative Freelancers and Entrepreneurs
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TEDx TALK: What Creativity Is Trying To Tell You

TEDx TALK: What Creativity Is Trying To Tell You

Jonathan Tilley Speaker Biography

Jonathan Tilley is a brand strategist who helps creative people transition into successful creative freelancers and entrepreneurs. 

Besides his many accomplishments as a voice actor and ex-dancer, Jonathan is proud to have rolled around on the floor as a cat in his viral TEDx Talk, "What Creativity Is Trying To Tell You". His online course, League of List Builders has taught thousands of professional creatives how to build a business around their art and share their talent with the world. 

He is the author of the self-published ebook Voice Over Garden, winner of the 2013 Small Business Book Award for Start-Ups, which has been called “a standing ovation” and “quite brilliant” by the voice over industry. 

Since 2002, Jonathan also freelances as a voice actor having voiced thousands of corporate narrations and business presentations for companies like Mercedes-Benz, FujiFilm, Porsche, IBM, Siemens, KIA, Philips, BASF and also voiced commercials for Red Bull, Nivea for Men, Google, Sprite, and Coca-Cola. 

From 1999 - 2007, Jonathan could be seen in the blockbuster musicals “A Chorus Line”, "Mamma Mia!”, "Cats”, “Dance of the Vampires”, and “42nd Street”. He was Assistant Associate Choreographer for the German and Russian productions of “Mamma Mia!” and choreographed runway shows throughout Europe for L’Oreal, Wella, and Intercoiffure. He can also be seen in the movie “Center Stage” filmed in New York City’s Lincoln Center.

Seven random things Jonathan is interested in nowadays: walking his French bulldog Dexter, getting lost in old bookstores while simultaneously being lost in a new city, analyzing the price of precious metals, understanding the multi-layered resiliency of spirit, collecting fake leather biker jackets, building his tribe of creative lunatics, and finding the next big design craze on the internet.

To book Jonathan Tilley call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.


Glamorized success can be seen everywhere from celebrity magazines to award shows. But hardly ever do we see the hard work, persistence, and multiple failures that happen behind the scenes as creative freelancers and entrepreneurs. Even our definition of failure has become equaled to that of disgust and shame.  But what if we took a look at failure from another angle and embraced it instead of shunned it? We get comfortable with the uncomfortable, learn how to roll with the punches, and get to success quicker and easier.  This talk is an interactive, push/pull, give and take dialog with Jonathan and the audience where they have a learning experience on a cellular level. The audience is put into playful situations in a safe environment where they learn how to

  1. ask for help
  2. act upon what they want
  3. adjust in the face of obstacles to reach their goal and succeed. 

The audience maps out their personal feelings of success and failure, gets comfortable with embracing their own failure, and learns more empathy for themselves and others. 


  • Laugh out loud stories of failure
  • Get to know your feelings associated with success and failure
  • Re-define your definition of success and failure
  • How to embrace failure
  • Live experimentation in a safe environment on how to ask, act, and adjust to achieve success
  • Have more compassion for yourself and others


Where you work should be defended with your life. It’s sacred. It’s yours. It’s where your creative genius thrives. Yet distractions like Facebook and unhealthy relationships permeate our environment and hinder us from creating our best work. Based on Dunbar’s Number, Jonathan organizes the blurred lines of social distraction into four clear zones, giving you a model to decide who to let in and who to leave out.

The Heart Zone: the 15 people who’s opinions matter most, the ones who, if they lost everything would stay with you, in your bed if need be, until they got back on their feet. 

The Close Friend Zone: the 50 people who are great to be around, the ones who, if they lost everything would stay on your couch or guestroom until they got back on their feet.

The Acquaintance Zone: the 100 people who are the extras if your life were a film – the yoga instructor, the mechanic, the school teacher, the cashier, the client. 

The Danger Zone: where all the emotions, bad memories, and people are placed far away where they can no longer harm you.

Now, in your newly cultivated Sacred Space, you’re freed up to create your best work yet.


As creative freelancers, it’s not cool to ask future clients to opt into your newsletter because you’re rad. Rather to get work, we need to hustle and reach out to future clients with our creative materials and make a positive first impression. But putting in all that legwork (research, cover letter writing, and follow up) can cause anxiety, fear, and paralysis.  Based off of his very own system of research, writing, and reaching out to multiple creative careers, Jonathan shares his 5 smart insider tips on how to build your client list without causing panic attacks.

  1. Harness Time Management: Find out how you can make time work for you, instead of against you.
  2. The +1 Theory: Ask where are you now? Then addbyone.
  3. The 80/20 Rule: 80%of the cause comes from 20%of the effect. Learn how to use it as a creative.
  4. Grow Locally: Leverage your location to work in your favor.  
  5. Write Better Cover Letters: Make the reader feel seen and heard. (It’s easier than you think.) 

In this interactive learning experience Jonathan literally keeps you on your toes while freeing yourself of List Shame. A talk that has the participants buzzing and the event managers beaming, List Building The Right Way is a high-octane yet heartwarming journey that will inspire you to share your talent with the world. 


  • Boring business tools transformed into enlightened, fun-loving calls to action
  • Inspiration to reach out and share your talent with the world
  • Free workbooks to fill out during the talk and use when you get home
  • An open and inviting environment to learn, grow, and be vulnerable in
  • A new time management system that can be instantly integrated into the busiest of schedules  
  • Rules of Nature that parallel how to run an organic creative business
  • Cover Letter Writing Skills that make excellent first impressions


Ask anyone on the street if they consider themselves to be creative and they usually come back with “I’m no Picasso” or “I wish I was” or I don’t have a creative bone in my body”. But when you ask them if they cooked a meal within the past few days, rearranged their furniture recently, or put together their outfit for the day they all say “yes, of course”.  Our three basic needs (food, shelter, and clothing) all require us to be creative, otherwise we would die. We may not be the next Picasso but we all use The Creative Process in our daily lives. We just haven’t given ourselves permission to take it further than the bare necessities.

Through research and self-exploration, Jonathan guides the audience through The Creative Process. Starting with the beginning stages of finding sacred space to allow your creative muse to thrive, progressing to the middle phase of making mistakes, falling down and getting back up, to the final stage of sharing your talent with the world, this talk converts the skeptics to believers and the believers to creative visionaries.  Creativity is trying to tell us that it is as individual as it is universal. The more we give ourselves permission to create, the more opportunities we have to experience the magic of The Creative Process in all aspects of life. 


  • Structured breakdown of The Creative Process
  • Humorous real-life stories of creative people
  • How to create sacred space  
  • How to embrace failure
  • How to share your talent with the world
  • A new perspective on creativity
  • Re-connecting with your Inner Artist

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