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    Few people have had the influence on the field of manage ment and motivation as Dr. Bob Nelson. He is president of Nelson Motivation, Inc., a management training and consulting company located in San Diego, California that specializes in helping organizations improve their manage ment practices, programs and systems.

    He is a co founder of the National Association for Employee Recognition and previously worked closely with Dr. Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager) as his principal writer, co author, chief of staff and vice president of The Ken Blanchard Companies for ten years.

    Only a few professional speakers can claim to have sold as many books as Dr. Nelson: some 3 million books on man agement and motivation, translated into over 25 languages, including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 2nd edition and 52nd printing), The 1001 Rewards & Recogni tion Fieldbook, 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work, Managing For Dummies and The Management Bible.

    Dr. Nelson appears frequently in the national media includ ing (within the last six months) twice in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Money magazine, NPR and a dedicated box feature in BusinessWeek. He has also appeared numerous times on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS and has been featured in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Fortune and INC. magazines and numerous other publications to discuss how to best motivate today′s employees.

    Bob has been speaking for more than 20 years and has spoken thousands of times to over 800 companies (many on a yearly basis). He has also performed hundreds of public seminars with American City Business Journals, Lumacore, Get Motivated Seminars and Wyncom′s “Lessons in Leader ship” to live audiences in excess of 80,000 people. He has worked with or consulted for almost two thirds of the companies on the Fortune 500 list.

    He holds an MBA in organizational behavior from UC Berkeley and received his PhD in management from The Peter F. Drucker Graduate Management School at Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles, where he worked closely with the late Dr. Peter Drucker on his doctoral studies.


Dr. Bob Nelson Speaker Videos Back to top

Keynote Speech



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Motivating the Millennials
Understanding and Getting High Performance from the Newest Generation

As recently featured in a CBS 60-Minutes interview with Morley Safer—Dr. Bob Nelson, “The Guru of Thank You” shares his insights on the latest generation to enter the workforce, the Millennials, and how members of that generation differ in their outlook, values and expectations from previous generations in the workplace today. This generation is the largest generation since the Baby-Boomers and will soon dominate the workforce in both numbers and attitude. Get in on the front row of learning to (1) see how they see the world of work, (2) get the results you need from them today, and (3) meet their needs along the way in a way that leads to longer term retention and attraction of their like-minded peers. Topics covered will include:

  • Profile of the Millennials & What Makes Them Tick?
  • Key Personal & Cultural Influences
  • Events That Shaped the Millennial Perspective
  • Millennials vs. GenXers: How Do They Differ?
  • Millennial Work Attributes
  • Management Techniques for Motivating & Retaining Millennials

The Road to Recovery: Keeping Up in a Down Economy
How to Create a More Engaged Workforce in Challenging Times

Most employees today feel overworked and underappreciated. During times of change when we are asking them to do more with less, they report feeling less valued and more stressed for their efforts than ever before. Bob Nelson, Ph.D., best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 55th printing), will expand your thinking of how best to leverage the potential of your staff -- even with little time, resources or budget. This session will focus on core researched-based elements found in strong cultures of engagement that inspire employees to new levels of performance and help to create an exciting, positive work environment and competitive people advantage for the organization even in tough, challenging and recessionary times. Based on Dr. Nelson’s research, six dimensions emerged that any manager/organization can implement to create a more motivating work environment for their employees today:

  • Create a Clear and Compelling Direction
  • Direct, Open and Honest Communication
  • Involve Employees and Encourage Initiative
  • Increase Employee Autonomy, Flexibility and Support
  • Continued Focus on Career Growth and Development
  • Recognize and Reward High Performance

Taking Initiative: Inspiring Exceptional Performance
Tap into the Energy and Ideas of Every Employee, Spark Employee Initiative and Innovation, Make Everyone′s Job More Fulfilling

Do you want to inspire exceptional performance? In this talk, Dr. Nelson will share his research and strategies for getting all employees to take initiative and be more innovative in the workplace today. Dr. Nelson shows how to overcome obstacles that employees are likely to encounter when pursuing new ideas and persevere with those ideas they most believe in. He will focus on the small things that can be done to start to make a BIG difference in your workplace as well as strategies employees can use for "keeping commitment to their commitment.” Attendees will leave this session with a practical plan and techniques for immediate implementation back on the job. Dr. Nelson shows how organizations today can create a competitive advantage through its employees by tapping into the energy, ideas and creativity of every member of the organization. In this session you’ll learn:

  • The Benefits of Increased Initiative to Employees and the Organization
  • The Ultimate Expectation: Getting Employees to Focus on What Needs to Be Done
  • The 4 Ps of Initiative: Positive Accountability, Preparation, Presentation & Persistence
  • Overcoming Obstacles to Taking Initiative at Work
  • I-Power: A Proven System for Harnessing the Power of Employee Suggestions
  • Creating an Action Plan to Make a Difference Back at Work

Far from being “fuzzy notion,” Dr. Nelson will show how these elements can be brought to bear through specific techniques and applications, drawing upon his own research and doctoral work as well as experience in working with hundreds of organizations on the topic. He will show how the best companies take a focused and long-term strategic view of their employee resource that systematically integrates the engagement practices into the daily work practices of its managers, identifying and acting on opportunities in timely and specific ways. This session will be filled with specific real-life examples and techniques that can be immediately applied back on the job by attendees to systematically leverage, build and sustain a culture of engagement in their workplace.

Creating a Culture of Recognition
Build Recognition into the Strategies, Programs and Behaviors of the Organization, Transform Your Workplace, Become an Employer of Choice

The primary reason why managers don’t use recognition is because they report “they don’t know how to do it well.” Dr. Bob Nelson closes this gap and shows you how to create a culture of recognition. Far from being a “fuzzy notion,” Dr. Nelson shows how recognition represents the single most validated principle for driving desired behavior and performance in today’s work environments. Compared to the average company, employees in a recognition-focused company are 5 times more likely to feel valued, 11 times more likely to feel completely satisfied, 7 times more likely to stay, and 6 times more likely to invest in the company.

This talk will expand your thinking of what recognition really means and what you can do to build it into your culture. Dr. Nelson will help your organization create an exciting, positive work environment that produces more focused, competitive employees that better serve the strategies of the firm. When you invest in educating your managers about the power of recognition and how best to harness that power, you are investing in your company’s greatest asset: its people. Attendees will learn:

  • How to create a “motivation baseline” as to what’s most important to your employees
  • What recognition really means to your people and how you can do more of those things
  • How to maximize the effectiveness of recognition – even with little time or resources
  • How to get managers on board in supporting and doing more recognition
  • The seven core elements found in strong cultures of recognition

The Rewards of Recognition: Motivating Today′s Employees
Keys to Top Performance, Recognition & Motivation Tactics

The Number One reason why employees leave their jobs today is that they don′t receive praise or recognition for the work they′ve done well. Most managers think their employees are only motivated by money even though employees themselves typically report other items as being more significant in their jobs. This session overviews what really motivates today′s workers and how any manager can get their employees coming to work, giving their best effort and saying things like: "Thank God it′s Monday!"

With the belief that every employee has the potential to be great, Dr. Nelson reveals the secrets for taking the breaks off your organization and unleashing the potential within every employee. Creating motivated employees not only minimizes turnover, and positively impacts the bottom line, but will also move the organization closer to being an "employer of choice." This lecture focuses on how today′s companies can obtain a competitive advantage through its ROP (Return on People). All attendees are guaranteed to leave the presentation with specific techniques for immediate implementation back on the job – and the motivation to want to do so!

Recognition Initiative Program Launch or Awards Ceremony Keynote
Dr. Nelson Will Help Provide a Context and Motivation to Make Your Event a Success

This keynote provides the perfect context for launching a new or revised recognition program or celebrating the results and success of an existing program in your organization. Let Dr. Nelson help provide a meaningful context for your next employee or sales banquet or company celebration that extends its impact to every person present and charges the event with excitement. Can also be adapted for school, social and community groups and award ceremonies with an author book signing!



Dr. Bob Nelson Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    “I have received feedback from new and seasoned managers, all found value and were inspired by Dr. Nelson′s practical nuts and bolts ideas. Managers who missed it are calling and emailing asking for the books. Two managers who were scheduled for the morning and missed the session, drove to Palm Beach after hearing about the morning session. He was clear, concise, used great examples, and was interactive. And, Dr. Nelson takes statistics, theory and research and translates them into simple, doable, effective action items. The tools he provides do not need a formal corporate infrastructure to implement.”
    BankUnited, Miami, FL

    “Bob Nelson was fantastic! Excellent choice for a speaker! He’s both informative and motivational…. The information was very valuable and critical in planning the 2007 R&R strategy for our group.”
    Bank of America, Charlotte, NC

    “An excellent presentation, truly outstanding!”
    Foundation for Enterprise Development, Washington DC

    “Dr. Nelson is engaging, his pace is brisk, and his information is both interesting and relevant. As the opening speaker for our company′s meeting, he got everyone′s energy going and mind engaged. The varied presentation styles—activities, lecture and media—proved to be a great mix and kept the presentation interesting.”
    Kravco Simon Company, King of Prussia, PA Construction

    “Your message was very well received. All the folks grasped the enormous value of your work. Your message is so powerful, yet remarkably simple, and the results so impressive. “Frankly, Bob. You are one of my heroes. You get it and see the trees from the forest. We are in the people and human performance business. Your message is especially needed right now. Thank you for your efforts. I sincerely believe that the tools you provided will have a significant impact upon our Association and the FAA. The positive effects of your ‘inoculation’ will be long-lasting in people′s personal and professional lives.”
    FAA Managers Association, Washington, D.C.

    “Thank you again for your fantastic presentation last month. We had an all-time record turnout of nearly 500 managers! I’ve heard a lot of great feedback on your presentations from our management staff.”
    Health Alliance, Cincinnati, OH

    “We’re implementing quite a few ideas from the program—everything from movie tickets on their birthdays and employee of the month parking spaces to implementing a quarterly profit sharing program. And, as a result, we are seeing some improvement in overall morale. The things we’re doing don’t cost the company a lot, but are building trust among the employees and showing them that we care. Any time you attend a program such as this, if you come away with one or two ideas, it’s well worth the time and money invested, and I came away with many!”
    Scott B. Rupprecht, CFO


    Partial Client List:
    • American Airlines
    • American President′s Line
    • Fedex Leadership Institute
    • Fedex Millennium Marketing
    • McLane Distribution
    • National Railway "Directions 2006" (Canada)
    • Richard E. Jacobs Group
    • SP Group, Inc.
    • Turner Construction Co
    • AT&T Universal Card Services
    • Bank Administration Institute
    • Bank Investment Sales Rep Association
    • Bank of America Leasing & Capital Group
    • Aerospace Corporation
    • Army Recreation Machine Program
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs
    • California Public Employer’s Labor Relations Assn
    • California State Personnel Employee Retirement System (CalPERS)
    • Internal Revenue Service Procurement Conference
    • Merck Pharmaceuticals
    • Merck Sharp & Dohome Scandinavia (Norway)
    • Meridian Health (NJ)
    • Miami Children′s Hospital (pending)
    • Miami Valley Hospital (Miami, OH)
    • Michigan Health & Hospital Association
    • National Association for Senior Living Industries
    • Full Client List Available Upon Request




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    “I have received feedback from new and seasoned managers, all found value and were inspired by Dr. Nelson′s practical nuts and bolts ideas. Managers who missed it are calling and emailing asking for the books. Two managers who were scheduled for the morning and missed the session, drove to Palm Beach after hearing about the morning session. He was clear, concise, used great examples, and was interactive. And, Dr. Nelson takes statistics, theory and research and translates them into simple, doable, effective action items. The tools he provides do not need a formal corporate infrastructure to implement.”
    BankUnited, Miami, FL

    “Bob Nelson was fantastic! Excellent choice for a speaker! He’s both informative and motivational…. The information was very valuable and critical in planning the 2007 R&R strategy for our group.”
    Bank of America, Charlotte, NC

    “An excellent presentation, truly outstanding!”
    Foundation for Enterprise Development, Washington DC

    “Dr. Nelson is engaging, his pace is brisk, and his information is both interesting and relevant. As the opening speaker for our company′s meeting, he got everyone′s energy going and mind engaged. The varied presentation styles—activities, lecture and media—proved to be a great mix and kept the presentation interesting.”
    Kravco Simon Company, King of Prussia, PA Construction

    “Your message was very well received. All the folks grasped the enormous value of your work. Your message is so powerful, yet remarkably simple, and the results so impressive. “Frankly, Bob. You are one of my heroes. You get it and see the trees from the forest. We are in the people and human performance business. Your message is especially needed right now. Thank you for your efforts. I sincerely believe that the tools you provided will have a significant impact upon our Association and the FAA. The positive effects of your ‘inoculation’ will be long-lasting in people′s personal and professional lives.”
    FAA Managers Association, Washington, D.C.

    “Thank you again for your fantastic presentation last month. We had an all-time record turnout of nearly 500 managers! I’ve heard a lot of great feedback on your presentations from our management staff.”
    Health Alliance, Cincinnati, OH

    “We’re implementing quite a few ideas from the program—everything from movie tickets on their birthdays and employee of the month parking spaces to implementing a quarterly profit sharing program. And, as a result, we are seeing some improvement in overall morale. The things we’re doing don’t cost the company a lot, but are building trust among the employees and showing them that we care. Any time you attend a program such as this, if you come away with one or two ideas, it’s well worth the time and money invested, and I came away with many!”
    Scott B. Rupprecht, CFO


    Partial Client List:
    • American Airlines
    • American President′s Line
    • Fedex Leadership Institute
    • Fedex Millennium Marketing
    • McLane Distribution
    • National Railway "Directions 2006" (Canada)
    • Richard E. Jacobs Group
    • SP Group, Inc.
    • Turner Construction Co
    • AT&T Universal Card Services
    • Bank Administration Institute
    • Bank Investment Sales Rep Association
    • Bank of America Leasing & Capital Group
    • Aerospace Corporation
    • Army Recreation Machine Program
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs
    • California Public Employer’s Labor Relations Assn
    • California State Personnel Employee Retirement System (CalPERS)
    • Internal Revenue Service Procurement Conference
    • Merck Pharmaceuticals
    • Merck Sharp & Dohome Scandinavia (Norway)
    • Meridian Health (NJ)
    • Miami Children′s Hospital (pending)
    • Miami Valley Hospital (Miami, OH)
    • Michigan Health & Hospital Association
    • National Association for Senior Living Industries
    • Full Client List Available Upon Request


    Ubuntu: An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Cooperation (Nook Book)
    A powerful story about the African philosophy of teamwork and collaboration that has the power to reshape our workplaces, our relationships with our coworkers, and our personal lives, written by the bestselling coauthor of Fish! and the bestselling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

    John Peterson, a new manager in the credit department at a major big-box retailer, is struggling in his job. The people under him are not working as well or effectively as they need to, and his department is falling behind in meeting its goals. His only solution is to take on more work himself, burning the midnight oil and coming in most weekends to pick up the slack and keep his department above water.

    When one of the employees stays behind to help him—a young man who came to America from a small village in Africa—he learns of the ancient wisdom and hidden power of the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Before long, it begins to change the way he thinks about the people he works with, about himself, and about how he runs his department and his life.

    In an engaging and completely fresh narrative that holds a unique message for today’s business world, Ubuntu! shows us a way to overcome our fears, insecurities, and the “me-ism” that so often permeates our workplaces, and replace it with a culture of genuine respect and collaboration. It promises to take its place alongside Fish! and other business parables as the next bestselling classic in the business category.
    Order Here




    1001 Ways to Reward Employees
    Bob Nelson′s best-selling book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 47th printing with 1.5 million copies sold), is now available in an updated, revised edition. It features a reorganized and expanded contents (100 pages longer), based on what employees most report they want today based on Bob′s on-going and doctoral research at The Peter F. Drucker Graduate Management School, his work with over 1000 organizations, and new, never-before-published examples from over 300 organizations. It is a "must have" resource for every manager, small business owner, and human resources practitioner! Softback, 381 pages

    Order Here


    1001 Ways to Energize Employees
    Take the brakes off your business. In the perfect follow-up to 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, the innovative book that has sold over one million copies, Bob Nelson reveals what real companies across America are doing to get the very best out of their employees-and why it′s the key to their success.

    Energizing is listening-AT&T′s Universal Card Service′s employee suggestion system yields 1,200 ideas a month and millions of dollars in savings. Energizing is encouraging risk-taking-Hershey Foods gives out The Exalted Order of the Extended Neck Award. Energizing is Starbuck′s making employees partners, Saturn creating teams that function as independent small businesses, Springfield Remanufacturing′s opening its books to all employees.

    With case studies, examples, techniques, research highlights, and quotes from business leaders, 1001 WAYS TO ENERGIZE EMPLOYEES is invaluable for managers seeking to increase employee enthusiasm and involvement.

    Order Here


Motivating the Millennials
Understanding and Getting High Performance from the Newest Generation

As recently featured in a CBS 60-Minutes interview with Morley Safer—Dr. Bob Nelson, “The Guru of Thank You” shares his insights on the latest generation to enter the workforce, the Millennials, and how members of that generation differ in their outlook, values and expectations from previous generations in the workplace today. This generation is the largest generation since the Baby-Boomers and will soon dominate the workforce in both numbers and attitude. Get in on the front row of learning to (1) see how they see the world of work, (2) get the results you need from them today, and (3) meet their needs along the way in a way that leads to longer term retention and attraction of their like-minded peers. Topics covered will include:

  • Profile of the Millennials & What Makes Them Tick?
  • Key Personal & Cultural Influences
  • Events That Shaped the Millennial Perspective
  • Millennials vs. GenXers: How Do They Differ?
  • Millennial Work Attributes
  • Management Techniques for Motivating & Retaining Millennials

The Road to Recovery: Keeping Up in a Down Economy
How to Create a More Engaged Workforce in Challenging Times

Most employees today feel overworked and underappreciated. During times of change when we are asking them to do more with less, they report feeling less valued and more stressed for their efforts than ever before. Bob Nelson, Ph.D., best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 55th printing), will expand your thinking of how best to leverage the potential of your staff -- even with little time, resources or budget. This session will focus on core researched-based elements found in strong cultures of engagement that inspire employees to new levels of performance and help to create an exciting, positive work environment and competitive people advantage for the organization even in tough, challenging and recessionary times. Based on Dr. Nelson’s research, six dimensions emerged that any manager/organization can implement to create a more motivating work environment for their employees today:

  • Create a Clear and Compelling Direction
  • Direct, Open and Honest Communication
  • Involve Employees and Encourage Initiative
  • Increase Employee Autonomy, Flexibility and Support
  • Continued Focus on Career Growth and Development
  • Recognize and Reward High Performance

Taking Initiative: Inspiring Exceptional Performance
Tap into the Energy and Ideas of Every Employee, Spark Employee Initiative and Innovation, Make Everyone′s Job More Fulfilling

Do you want to inspire exceptional performance? In this talk, Dr. Nelson will share his research and strategies for getting all employees to take initiative and be more innovative in the workplace today. Dr. Nelson shows how to overcome obstacles that employees are likely to encounter when pursuing new ideas and persevere with those ideas they most believe in. He will focus on the small things that can be done to start to make a BIG difference in your workplace as well as strategies employees can use for "keeping commitment to their commitment.” Attendees will leave this session with a practical plan and techniques for immediate implementation back on the job. Dr. Nelson shows how organizations today can create a competitive advantage through its employees by tapping into the energy, ideas and creativity of every member of the organization. In this session you’ll learn:

  • The Benefits of Increased Initiative to Employees and the Organization
  • The Ultimate Expectation: Getting Employees to Focus on What Needs to Be Done
  • The 4 Ps of Initiative: Positive Accountability, Preparation, Presentation & Persistence
  • Overcoming Obstacles to Taking Initiative at Work
  • I-Power: A Proven System for Harnessing the Power of Employee Suggestions
  • Creating an Action Plan to Make a Difference Back at Work

Far from being “fuzzy notion,” Dr. Nelson will show how these elements can be brought to bear through specific techniques and applications, drawing upon his own research and doctoral work as well as experience in working with hundreds of organizations on the topic. He will show how the best companies take a focused and long-term strategic view of their employee resource that systematically integrates the engagement practices into the daily work practices of its managers, identifying and acting on opportunities in timely and specific ways. This session will be filled with specific real-life examples and techniques that can be immediately applied back on the job by attendees to systematically leverage, build and sustain a culture of engagement in their workplace.

Creating a Culture of Recognition
Build Recognition into the Strategies, Programs and Behaviors of the Organization, Transform Your Workplace, Become an Employer of Choice

The primary reason why managers don’t use recognition is because they report “they don’t know how to do it well.” Dr. Bob Nelson closes this gap and shows you how to create a culture of recognition. Far from being a “fuzzy notion,” Dr. Nelson shows how recognition represents the single most validated principle for driving desired behavior and performance in today’s work environments. Compared to the average company, employees in a recognition-focused company are 5 times more likely to feel valued, 11 times more likely to feel completely satisfied, 7 times more likely to stay, and 6 times more likely to invest in the company.

This talk will expand your thinking of what recognition really means and what you can do to build it into your culture. Dr. Nelson will help your organization create an exciting, positive work environment that produces more focused, competitive employees that better serve the strategies of the firm. When you invest in educating your managers about the power of recognition and how best to harness that power, you are investing in your company’s greatest asset: its people. Attendees will learn:

  • How to create a “motivation baseline” as to what’s most important to your employees
  • What recognition really means to your people and how you can do more of those things
  • How to maximize the effectiveness of recognition – even with little time or resources
  • How to get managers on board in supporting and doing more recognition
  • The seven core elements found in strong cultures of recognition

The Rewards of Recognition: Motivating Today′s Employees
Keys to Top Performance, Recognition & Motivation Tactics

The Number One reason why employees leave their jobs today is that they don′t receive praise or recognition for the work they′ve done well. Most managers think their employees are only motivated by money even though employees themselves typically report other items as being more significant in their jobs. This session overviews what really motivates today′s workers and how any manager can get their employees coming to work, giving their best effort and saying things like: "Thank God it′s Monday!"

With the belief that every employee has the potential to be great, Dr. Nelson reveals the secrets for taking the breaks off your organization and unleashing the potential within every employee. Creating motivated employees not only minimizes turnover, and positively impacts the bottom line, but will also move the organization closer to being an "employer of choice." This lecture focuses on how today′s companies can obtain a competitive advantage through its ROP (Return on People). All attendees are guaranteed to leave the presentation with specific techniques for immediate implementation back on the job – and the motivation to want to do so!

Recognition Initiative Program Launch or Awards Ceremony Keynote
Dr. Nelson Will Help Provide a Context and Motivation to Make Your Event a Success

This keynote provides the perfect context for launching a new or revised recognition program or celebrating the results and success of an existing program in your organization. Let Dr. Nelson help provide a meaningful context for your next employee or sales banquet or company celebration that extends its impact to every person present and charges the event with excitement. Can also be adapted for school, social and community groups and award ceremonies with an author book signing!


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