- Dr Jason Fox is a motivational speaker, bestselling author, leadership advisor & wizard/philosopher of ace repute.
- He shows forward-thinking leaders around the world how to unlock new progress and pioneer deeper into uncharted territory.
- Jason is the bestselling author of The Game Changer and How to Lead a Quest: a handbook for pioneering leaders.
- His clients include Fortune 500 companies around the world including Microsoft, HP, Cisco, Oracle and Salesforce, to other multinationals such as Toyota, Beam Suntory, Vodafone, Honda, Sony, Tableau, Gartner, Johnson & Johnson, Xero, HP, Bupa, Red Cross, Bulgari, Pandora, Arup, Aon, PWC, KPMG, The World Tourism Forum and The International Institute of Research.
- A Quest Beckons
Beyond the Default
This keynote is designed to disrupt default thinking, getting people out of operational work-mode (and its fixation on the immediate), and into a mode that is far more open, curious and courageous - so that we might contemplate new possibilities beyond the default.
In particular, this keynote has your people reflecting on their own thought patterns and behaviours, so that we are neither too complacent nor too cocksure (as can be the case amidst senior leaders and high performing teams).
It makes for the perfect opening for your event - have your people asking the right questions, and focusing on the activities that lead closer to future relevance.
- Into the Storm
Pioneering in Paradox
Conventional leadership-folklore serves a complicated yet predictable world. But now the world is complex and hard to predict, and instantly accessible and shareable information is rewriting the future as quickly as it can be understood. We’re in the storm now.
The Industrial Age is long dead, and our Information Age is at dusk. As we stand at the cusp of a new Age, leaders must navigate new shifts in the dance: from hierarchies to networks, centralised control to distributed authority, robust planning to antifragile experimentation, bureaucracy to responsiveness, profit-obsessed to purpose-driven (and so on). Such change behooves a refreshed leadership philosophy and culture. One that’s fit for the storm, and a world less predictable.
One of the biggest opportunities an event provides is the (head)space to ponder such things. To explore the opportunities and threats on the horizon, and to genuinely consider the things we are pretending not to know. This keynote provides the provocations for such, and is designed to be both upbeat and unsettling.
- Change the Game
Rethink Motivation & Work
Charismatic fluff and fist-pumping rah-rah can be quite stirring. Rousing, even. But the longevity and actual impact of zealous motivational presentations - once we return to work - is oft questionable.
Smart people require more than just a motivational pep talk. If you want your people to be the champions of your culture - demonstrating the behaviours most aligned to your values and strategy—then they ought understand the science behind what drives motivation and performance.
In this keynote, we unpack the elements of Motivation Design - highlighting the most effective levers your leaders can use to influence individual and collective behaviour. Motivating and deeply practical.
- Making Clever Happen
Unlock Meaningful Progress
Just as an event begins, so it must end. In many ways, the final session is just as important as the opening session. Actually: more so, thanks to peak-end rule.* The final, closing keynote is what marks the beginning of the transition - from what is essentially an artificial yet wondrously curated experience (the event) - back to the world of work and life. This final keynote, if done well, can create resonance for your whole event. Much like how a large gong, when struck, can create a deep and lingering effect.
* Research by the arch-wizard Daniel Kahneman (the Nobel-prize laureate author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) found that we essentially remember an experience as an average of the (peak) highlight moment and the final (end) moment. Hence, the ‘peak-end’ rule. Therefore, of course it must be inspiring. But it must also be useful in assisting folks with this transition.
For a closing keynote, my philosophy is: get people in conversation (with each other, during the keynote). This keynote has folk intuitively scanning through the event to identify the ideas and interactions that resonated most with them. Then we sharpen our focus on the steps required to translate these new ideas into meaningful progress.
Of all Jason's keynotes this is the most interactive. It is perhaps the lightest in terms of content - but the most significant in terms of effect. If you want your people to think, feel and do things differently as a result of your event, this keynote will serve you thunderously well.
- Useful Delusions
Meta-Motivation & Myth-Making
This eclectic and cross-paradigmatic keynote provides intelligent audiences the means to self-author their own narratives, so as to shape richer meaning and experience whilst bringing about better decisions and behaviour. By taking advantage of the natural flaws in our own thinking - narrative fallacy, cognitive dissonance and our near-inescapable willingness to make meaning (along with our many biases and distortions) - we can continue to grow and develop as human beings.
This is motivation and character development for the ‘quietly dissatisfied’ whose mostly meta-rational minds are much too sharp and clever for conventional approaches to work. In this keynote you’ll learn how to embrace useful delusions (malleable ‘mindsets’) to bring about greater productivity, performance, clarity, agility and focus in our otherwise complex and chaotic (always-already) post-truth world.
- Self-Proclaimed Motivational Thought Leadership Expert Authority
Ironically Sincere Satire
This insightful and comedic keynote performance is designed to give your audience a glimpse as to how influence, authority and power is (and can be) manifested in our now Internet/hearsay-enabled world.
Watch this hipster wizard dismantle the conventional meta-narratives of motivational thought leadership expert speakers and their kin (including himself) with but a few simple cantrips. Then, amidst the ashes and rubble, see how the fragments of ‘truth’ can be reforged into something new.
It’s a self-depreciating piss-take on the irony of expertise and the ‘motivational business thought leadership’ industry at large, yes. But amidst the ridiculousness and mirth this keynote offers profound insights as to how to think more rationally, how to trust in doubt, and how to synthesise your own antifragile approach to ‘truth’.
Workshops and Masterclasses
- The Pioneering Leadership Masterclass
Preamble: all leaderships teams ought to have a healthy level of focus on operational excellence. It is vital. This is the leadership that brings us efficiency, reliability and continuous improvement—wondrous things for a stable and predictable world. Alas: our world is anything but.
And so, while operational leadership is essential if we are to survive - pioneering leadership is what we need if we are to thrive. And this means having a leadership team willing and able to venture beyond their own (safe, familiar, comfortable, predictable) defaults—and deeper into a storm of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
In this provocative and positively unsettling masterclass, we will review and refresh:
- Your team’s sense of The Emerging Context, and the new tensions that must be navigated for organisations to remain agile and adaptive in our now (mostly) hyperconnected postindustrial world.
- Your Enterprise Operating Model, so as to see the how and why of your work (and to diagnose opportunities for leadership growth).
- Your Leadership Values & Philosophy, wherein we move beyond the safe drudgery of word-smithing neat and pithy purpose and vision statements, so as to evoke differentiated leadership values that are relevant, compelling, real and relatable.
- Your Capacity for Complexity, so that you can make braver, smarter and wiser decisions whilst navigating into the unknown.
- Your Leadership Principles & Keystone Behaviours - wherein we ask: how does this leadership team respond to ambiguity? What does this leadership team want to be known for? What does this mean in terms of our shared principles? What does this look like in terms of everyday behaviours? An awkward, revealing and ultimately satisfying translation of shared intent into something tangible and mighty.
- The Quest-Leadership Masterclass
Jason has come to realise that many folks have never really been shown how to develop strategy - it’s something they’ve haphazardly absorbed. Or if they have been taught, their version of strategy is more akin to ‘planning’, or some sort of meek blend of incrementalism and bandwagonism. This might be fine for a stable, complicated and predictable world - but it’s woefully limited for pioneering in our volatile, complex and unpredictable world.
He also realises (and loves) that some of the more progressive leaders positively relish the opportunity to have their team’s thinking challenged, and to court new and refreshing ways of doing things.
Either way, The Quest-Leading Masterclass is most apt. Together, he will unpack and investigate:
- How to Augment Existing Strategic Efforts with Quests (the search for viable alternative options to the default).
- How to work The Ethos of Antifragility into strategy by maximising upside (optionality) while minimising downside.
- How to Explore Complex and Infinite Possible Futures to find strategic advantage and differentiation.
- How to proactively Intuit and Monitor Potential Incoherencies between your current business model and multiple possible future contexts.
- How to Develop and Maintain a Quiver of Options - potential strategic initiatives that may be enacted should the ideal future context manifest.
- How to Conduct Safe, Modest and Effective Experiments to test the validity of strategic options.
- How to Bake Curiosity, Exploration and Experimentation into your operating rhythms and work culture.
- The Motivation Design Masterclass
Conventional motivational folklore is fine for formulaic work with predictable outcomes. If you're looking to improve within existing paradigms, or just feel like a bit of a temporary boost - go nuts. But if you’re looking to do something new and complex, if your goal is inherently ambiguous, or if your team is due for a refreshed approach to work - then... well. You'll need to tap into something more contemporary. Especially if you're looking to sustain motivation, beyond the initial inspiration.
Motivation design is a contemporary science wherein we influence behaviour by working on the external factors that amplify intrinsic motivation.
Importantly, motivation design is not about working on attitudes, values, beliefs or other internal factors. Therefore: it’s psychologically safe, and free from fluff or hokey hucksterism. This also means that motivation is less dependent on you. You don’t have to motivate yourself, or your team - the motivation design does the heavy lifting.
It’s the cornerstone of my expertise, and is the most universally applicable and immediately actionable masterclass I offer. Here's an overview of motivation design. This video is nearly half a decade old now—and is slightly embarrassing and outdated (Jason cringes to watch it)—but it’s still somewhat apt. Motivation Design, great! But... isn’t it manipulative? Jason prefers the word ‘influence’, but yes - it is. But then: what isn’t?* Work and life is already saturated with factors that influence our attention, motivation, focus and behaviour. Some, we are conscious of - the overt goals, key performance indicators, incentives, project structures (and so forth) clearly influence our effort at work.
Most factors, however, we are not conscious of at all.° And so, we find ourselves steered off-track, distracted and unable to sustain the motivation for the things that matter most (which are often much more complex and ambiguous in nature).
Likewise we observe - with frustration - that the motivation of our teams and of our clients is patchy. People are quite motivated to do this thing—but not that thing. Why is this so?
In this masterclass, you’ll learn why. And - more importantly - you’ll learn how to influence and shape motivation, through the clever design of the work itself.
Jason offers this masterclass in two formats:
- 01 - Motivation Design for Engagement, which is ideal for anyone looking to influence motivation and behaviour (without having to rely on incentives or inspiration).
- 02 - Motivation Design for Your Team, which is ideal for new teams, or for established teams seeking a refresh on how you work. Together we make teamwork work better.
The Motivation Design Masterclass will show you:
- The important distinctions between Motivation, Inspiration and Aspiration - along with intrinsic, internal, inherent, and extrinsic motivation - and where each are needed.
- When to use Goals, KPIs and Incentives - and when to avoid them like the plague.
- How to use the narrative framing of Constructive Discontent as a motivational and persuasive device.
- How to use The Progress Principle to generate more sustainable forms of intrinsic motivation.
- How to avoid The Delusion of Progress - where habituation and default thinking may be distract from meaningful progress.
- How to differentiate between Principles, Traits and Behaviours - and why we need to.
- How to identify the Keystone Behaviours that matter - and design the right triggers for them.
- How to use The BJ Fogg Behaviour Model as a quick environmental diagnosis for motivation.
- How to create and maintain the right Sequence of Triggers to bring about the desired behaviours.
- How to Remove Unnecessary Friction between our intention and our desired behaviour manifesting.
- How to recognise and mitigate Self -Sabotaging Behaviours.
- How to do Recognition and Rewards in a way that is inexpensive, authentic and far more effective.
- How to integrate New Work Rituals into your practice, to ensure ongoing progress and change (so as to serve meaningful progress).
- The (Reluctantly Offered) Gamification Masterclass
Gamification - the application of ‘game-like dynamics’ in ‘non-game contexts’ - is not a concept Jason particularly endorses. It reeks of shallow, linear, ‘quick fix’ thinking.
Having said that, as much as he has tried to shake the reputation of being a ‘gamification guru’ (what a horrid concept), hisy first book, The Game Changer, was launched at a time that the concept of ‘gamification’ was still nascent. It sat alongside similar (yet distinct) concepts like ‘serious play’ and ‘games-based learning’ and (somewhat incorrectly) ‘game theory’. As such, people started to associate Jason with gamification. They ask him to come in and help them ‘gamify’ their work, or to ‘add gamification’ to their product or service offering. That might have been nice, had gamification not turned into the (mostly) perverted mess it is today.
Jason's stance thus far has been to educate such folks on the limitations of gamification (in the hopes they might widen their gaze and approach their challenges with more curiosity, empathy and cognitive complexity). This, though, is rather dampening to the spirits and not altogether encouraging or commercially effective. He doesn’t mind the latter, but he does wish to offer folks something better.
Thus! The (Reluctantly Offered) Gamification Masterclass provides those with the intention and enthusiasm to ‘gamify’ an opportunity to avoid the myriad pitfalls associated with the notion, so as to do something good. You’ll learn most of the concepts included in The Motivation Design Masterclass (above), but with a specific focus on:
- How to use principles from Design Thinking, Human-Centred Design (and other disciplines) to ensure you are solving the ‘right’ problems.
- How and when to craft contexts for Ludic (Spontaneous/Emergent) Play.
- How and when to craft contexts for Ludus (Controlled/Dependent) Play.
- How to Make Gamification Redundant by scaffolding desired behaviours to the point at which norms are formed (and such scaffolding is no longer needed - like on-boarding).
- How to use Dark Patterns in a way that is ethical, mindful and transparent (see the Designing Mindfulness Manifesto).
- How and when to use Game Mechanics that encourage competitive and/or cooperative behaviour (and when to avoid them).
- How to use Semiotics, Mythology and Narrative to imbue experiences with depth and meaning.
We first engaged Jason to facilitate an important strategic offsite with our senior leadership team. The opportunity for such off sites is rare, and the time senior leaders have together at such off sites is very precious. It was essential we engaged someone who could not only cover the agenda, but also provide space to explore new possibilities. Jason did this and more. He immediately built rapport with the team, and was able to challenge us to think beyond our defaults. The result was a strategy that was refreshing, courageous and differentiated, and a leadership team that was inspired to make it happen. We couldn't have predicated this, but Jason's unique approach allowed it to happen. We have since then engaged Jason to help us build momentum with our people. He delivered a keynote to our business in support of the strategy, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We loved that he was able to tailor it serve the strategy. Then, recently, we engaged Jason again to facilitate further strategic development. And it just gets better and better! We look forward to such experiences, and will be working with Jason again in the near future.
Executive General Manager of Personal Insurance Distribution
It was great spending time with you last week at our event in Chicago. You captured the conference themes and highlights in such a unique and special way that exceeded our conference attendees’ expectations. I wish all my speakers could be as smart, talented and delightful to work with as you are. Thank you for raising the bar even higher than we dreamed possible! It was an absolute pleasure working with you on this event. On behalf of the entire IIR team, thank you again for making the main stage legendary (and memorable and FUN)!
Senior Conference Producer
The Institute for International Research, New York
We were facing some serious challenges across the CSIRO, and as a result we were forced to make some tough decisions about what programs and positions could continue. This, coupled with redundancies and a climate of uncertainty meant that the morale of our researchers and staff wasn’t at its highest. The leadership team organised an important event to present our vision and strategy for progress to over 400 of our people. We wanted to solicit input from them to shape the strategy—but it was critical that the day was facilitated delicately, with good thinking and deliberate design. And so we hired Dr Jason Fox to ensure this important event was a success. Serving as our facilitator and closing keynote speaker, Jason maintained a buoyant and practically optimistic tone throughout the day. His use of humour and intelligence was masterful—he had everyone constructively contributing to our strategy, connecting and collaborating at a level we rarely see. And finally, his expertise in motivation design was exactly the pragmatic yet strategic perspective our people needed to move forward. I recommend Dr Jason Fox for any organisation wanting to progress important strategy in challenging times—his work is magic.
Director of Advanced Manufacturing
We had the goal of bringing together key stakeholders and leaders from our industry to focus on prioritising long-term research for future innovation. Anyone who has attempted this will know that it can be a challenge, as the tendency is to focus on existing priorities or at least those which we can see more clearly. To get people truly thinking to the future requires a different approach, and we are very fortunate to have engaged Dr Jason Fox for this. He has a unique and refreshing approach that just works. His expertise and experience were invaluable. Jason partnered with us from the start, working and mentoring us through concept development, communication design and progress management. This all lead to an inaugural ‘Futures Forum’ event that facilitated real breakthrough thinking, and left us with a refined set of priorities and areas to focus on. Jason’s involvement allowed us to make great progress in this new area of investment, and it really motivated people to get excited about the possibilities and future of the industry. If you’re serious about exploring new opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage, you can't go past Jason Fox.
General Manager of R&D Investment
Cotton Research & Development Corporation
We at FIBS invited Jason as a keynote speaker to RATKAISUN PAIKKA, the leading Corporate Responsibility event in Finland, in May 2015. In total 700 business and sustainability professionals participated in the event, and Jason was our star speaker. Jason couldn't be there in person, so we arranged a video-connection for his presentation. Even via Skype and limited time Jason was an inspiration and captured the audience with his talent, wit and authentic style, sharing much needed, to-the-point and out-of-the-box insights and tips on how to truly get people motivated and engaged at work. Working with Jason and his team was a pleasure from the beginning till the end, and we’re very much looking forward to future collaboration with him. Thank you!
Manager of Operations & Programs
FIBS CR Network (Finland)
Our Commercial Claims team spent time reviewing our strategy and needed a way to share the work we had done with our teams. We were originally going to bring Dr Jason Fox in to contribute his expertise in progress design (he came highly recommended), but after our initial discussion we realised we could go a whole lot deeper and Jason could help us deliver the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’. Jason not only helped us to understand how we could translate our strategic intent into the behaviours and work culture that would make it happen—he worked with his partner Kim to produce a hand-drawn ‘visual narrative’ video to communicate the story behind our strategy to the wider business. Instead of producing another PDF report that lives buried away in the intranet, this approach has been a hit and everyone knows what we’re working towards, and why. I highly recommend Jason’s input for any organisation looking for a fresh approach to strategic development. Jason was really easy to work with. His input was thoughtful, practical and progressive—he really helped us to rethink the way we communicate strategy.
Senior Leader of Performance, Strategy & Optimisation Commercial Claims
We made two great decisions when we were choosing keynote speakers for our annual Australasian Research Administrators Association Conference this year. The first was to have Jason Fox open the conference, and the second was for him to close it! Jason’s relevant, engaging, and (occasionally) irreverent presentation incorporated pop culture, motivation science, mixed media and had our delegates engaged and keen to hear more from the outset. Most importantly, his closing keynote provided a visual summary of key ideas from our meeting, and his illustrations continue to be a memorable and humorous keepsake for delegates well after the event. Jason offered our delegates unique insights into our profession, a mirror to assess our motivations, tools for reflection on our professional practices, and easy strategies for making things happen after the event ... not to mention being seriously funny. Highly recommended for conference organisers who want to keep delegates engaged and finish their event with an hilarious bang!
The Australasian Research Administrators Association
I initially approached Jason to deliver a keynote to our business for our annual conference so that he could, in his own persuasive, inimitable way, hold a mirror up to some of our less-than-helpful work practices, and create a case for thinking differently about making progress and working on things that matter. Given Jason’s experience in workshop facilitation, his role quickly expanded beyond the keynote to facilitating an entire day of our conference where he played the role of consultant, mentor, guide and contributor. Jason helped us navigate our way through thought-provoking activities that challenged our people during the event, and delivered practical tools and constructs for continuing the analysis and experimentation process afterwards. Jason is a leader in the field of motivation science, but crucially he understands the importance to businesses of linking theory to practice so that thinking differently becomes part of one’s daily toolkit, rather than something we do only once per year at an event. I look forward to learning more from Jason in the years to come.
Group Manager of Enterprise Digital & Social
We had Jason speak at our 925 festival in Helsinki—an event designed to empower Finland business leaders to think bravely and work smarter. The Finnish audience is very discerning, and we’ve worked with some of the best thought leaders from around the world—and I can honestly say Jason is world-class. He provided insight that was fresh, bold and very pragmatic.The audience loved his wit, passion and highly original style, including hand-drawn slides. As a bonus, he was a pleasure to work with.
Creative Director & Founder
Idealist Group, Finland