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Bestowed with the task of Xeroxing his study group’s research paper, Paul Orfalea discovered a hopelessly long line of people at his local copy center. The experience gave him an idea for what became a multi-billion dollar business.

Orfalea founded Kinko’s in 1970 with one tiny shop near the University of California Santa Barbara campus. Today the company has 1,200 stores across four continents and averages $2 billion in annual revenue. Orfalea points to Kinko’s democratic culture as the pillar of its success. Diagnosed with both ADD and dyslexia, he could barely read at a fifth grade level, so rather than running and growing his business based on reports, Orfalea frequently visited his stores in-person to get input from his employees firsthand. Fortune named Kinkos to its list of “100 best companies to work for” four years in a row.

Orfalea has incorporated philanthropy heavily into his business and life. Over the past 15 years The Orfalea Foundation has donated $175 million, mostly to programs that focus on early childhood care and education, differential education, and working with vulnerable youth.

Orfalea has also invested money in several other businesses, mostly within Santa Barbara County. One of his most recent ventures is Impact Hub, a collaborative space for entrepreneurs located in downtown Santa Barbara. Orfalea shares his unconventional business wisdom as a professor at USC and Loyola Marymount.

Full Profile

    Paul Orfalea founded Kinko′s in 1970 near the University of California at Santa Barbara with a simple idea: provide college students with products and services they need at a competitive price. The space that Orfalea rented for his copy business was so small that the copy machine had to be lugged out onto the sidewalk. From its modest beginnings, Kinko′s is now the world′s leading business services chain. Today, there are over 1,200 Kinko′s worldwide.

    Much of Kinko′s success can be traced directly to Orfalea′s unique business philosophy that was based on the founder′s freethinking, creative style. Orfalea′s theories and instincts on how to operate a successful business were grounded in his passion for retailing, his insistence on taking care of his co-workers and customers, and a sharp eye for opportunity. Through Paul Orfalea′s leadership, Kinko′s has taken an exemplary leading role in environmental responsibility.

    Orfalea encouraged active participation from all 23,000 co-workers, and generous incentive programs were implemented to stimulate creativity. In fact, co-workers at every level were encouraged to share ideas freely in organizational decisions. A reflection of this success is that Fortune magazine selected Kinko′s as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work with in America” in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Forbes magazine also ranked Kinko′s 84th on its year 2000 “Forbes 500 Biggest Private Companies.” Working Mother magazine listed Kinko′s in its “Best Companies for Working Mothers” 2001 issue.

    The year 2000 brought about many changes for Orfalea as he retired from his position as Kinko′s Chairperson, and assumed the role Chairperson Emeritus for Kinko′s. In 2004, Kinko′s was acquired by the FedEx Corporation. Orfalea is no longer involved with FedEx Kinko′s business management. Orfalea refers to his retirement as being “repurposed” and is now involved in a range of activities, including West Coast Asset Management Inc., Stone Canyon Venture Partners LP and other business ventures.

    Orfalea, his family, and Kinko′s have a long history of supporting educational initiatives including scholarships and child development programs. In 2000, the family started the Orfalea Family Foundation, which supports various philanthropic areas. Grants have been concentrated in California, especially child development facilities on college campuses, along with other children′s centers and programs for underprivileged youth. The foundation specifically focuses on early care and education, caregiver training and intergenerational programs. The Orfaleas also support organizations addressing “learning differences” for those challenged with different learning styles.

    Orfalea is in high demand for public speaking, often addressing business organizations such as entrepreneurs and working people, and learning-challenged groups with his inspirational messages. He frequently teaches at University of Southern California (his alma mater), UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, as well as various community and state colleges, and he has taught at NYU, Princeton, Harvard, UCLA and Wharton School of Business among others. Cal Poly has dedicated a business school in the Orfalea name in honor of his ongoing contributions.

    Forbes, People and Fortune magazines, along with The New York Times, have profiled Orfalea as one of several prominent leaders who has overcome dyslexia and gone on to have an illustrious career. Other prestigious awards are the 1998 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the University of Southern California′s Marshall School of Business; the 2000 Philanthropist of the Year and 2003 Friend of the California Community Colleges; the 2001 Conrad Hilton Entrepreneur Award, the Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion for Entrepreneurship, CEO Hall of Fame, the Salvation Army′s Sally Award, and USC′s 2003 R.O.S.E Award (Recognition of Outstanding Support for Education). Orfalea has received the Hello Friend Award from the Ennis William Cosby Foundation, along with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and various senate recognitions. In 2004, Orfalea was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Babson College in Massachusetts.

    In 2005, Orfalea wrote Copy This! Lessons from a hyperactive dyslexic who turned a bright idea into one of America’s best companies. This unique autobiography is filled with life lessons on overcoming obstacles and turning impediments into opportunities. It reveals how Orfalea succeeded using his learning differences and unorthodox approach to business to mold a compassionate, unconventional, partner-driven culture that allowed Kinko’s to thrive.

    Despite all of these high profile activities, you will find Paul Orfalea very down to earth, friendly, compassionate and continually curious about the world around him – he is a true modern adventurer.


Paul Orfalea Speaker Videos Back to top

Moderated Conversation with Paul Orfalea at UC Santa Barbara


Paul Orfalea talks about the importance of being bored and how these still moments of non-activity allow us to get to know ourselves, our passions, and set our own agendas. The self-made multi-millionaire credits the founding of Kinko’s to his own boredom and being broke.

One of the biggest missteps he sees people making today with children is a preoccupation with keeping them busy. This includes our ubiquitous technology, which we’ve come to depend upon for company. “There’s something about being with yourself and reflecting and figuring out what’s really going on,” Orfalea notes. “Busyness is not your friend. Anxiety and ambition are your best friends.”

Interview with Paul Orfalea Part I


Interview with Paul Orfalea Part II



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Kinko’s founder, Paul Orfalea leaves audiences spellbound with what is unarguably one of the business world’s strangest success stories. The entrepreneur and philanthropist was a frequent “problem student” who was diagnosed early with both dyslexic and ADD. Despite the numerous challenges he faced, he leveraged his strengths to build an empire of 1,200 copy centers across 4 continents. Orfalea discusses his creative muses, people-centered approach to management, and the business opportunities he sees today, as he speaks honestly about what he did well and what he would have done differently knowing what he knows now.

    When speaking to associations, organizations, conferences and educational institutions nationally, Paul Orfalea discusses the following key topics and areas of focus:

    • Business Motivation
    • Customer Loyalty
    • Early Care Importance
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Financial Management
    • Global & Current Events
    • Investing
    • Learning Differences
    • Work-Life Balance


Paul Orfalea Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    American Management Association Corporate Branding Conference
    Association on Higher Education And Disability
    Brand Source
    Cosby Foundation
    Entrepreneur Organizations (multiple)
    Entrepreneurship Week USA
    First Five Commission of California
    Fortune Small Business Conference
    Gateway Computers
    Harvard University
    Hyundai Motors
    International Car Care Association
    International Learning Disabilities Association
    Intuit Software
    Los Angeles County Office of Education
    Library of Congress
    MIT – Gathering of Titans
    National Association of Workforce Boards
    Notre Dame Business School
    New York Times & American Express Small Business
    NYU Entrepreneurial Conference
    Princeton University
    UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
    UCLA Anderson School of Business
    Working Woman Magazine Conference
    Yale Center for Dyslexia, Creativity, & Other Learning Abilities
    Young Presidents′ Organization




* 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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    American Management Association Corporate Branding Conference
    Association on Higher Education And Disability
    Brand Source
    Cosby Foundation
    Entrepreneur Organizations (multiple)
    Entrepreneurship Week USA
    First Five Commission of California
    Fortune Small Business Conference
    Gateway Computers
    Harvard University
    Hyundai Motors
    International Car Care Association
    International Learning Disabilities Association
    Intuit Software
    Los Angeles County Office of Education
    Library of Congress
    MIT – Gathering of Titans
    National Association of Workforce Boards
    Notre Dame Business School
    New York Times & American Express Small Business
    NYU Entrepreneurial Conference
    Princeton University
    UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
    UCLA Anderson School of Business
    Working Woman Magazine Conference
    Yale Center for Dyslexia, Creativity, & Other Learning Abilities
    Young Presidents′ Organization


    Paul Orfalea’s autobiography, Copy This! Lessons from a hyperactive dyslexic who turned a bright idea into one of America’s best companies is available now in bookstores and online retailers.

    COPY THIS! is filled with life lessons on overcoming obstacles – perfect for every business owner looking to grow a company, every manager helping their team perform, every visionary trying to launch a new idea, and for every mother and father of a child suffering from learning challenges. This is the story of how Paul Orfalea, a hyperactive dyslexic who failed two grades, opened a small copy shop called Kinko’s in 1970 and turned it into a $2 billion-a-year company, while barely being able to read, write, or sit still through a business meeting.

    Paul succeeded in using his learning differences and unorthodox approach to business to mold a compassionate, unconventional, partner-driven culture that allowed Kinko’s to thrive, and made it, according to Fortune, Forbes, and Mother Jones one of the best places to work in America.

    Paul Orfalea’s royalties from the book will be donated to nonprofit organizations for children with learning challenges.

    WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT COPY THIS!

    “Paul Orfalea is a true inspiration to anyone who has been told ‘no, you can’t’ because of a learning difference.”
    – Bill Cosby

    “Irresistible. Paul Orfalea is witty, charming, and wise. If I could live my life over, I would sit at his feet and listen to everything he has to say.”
    – Bill Moyers

    “For entrepreneurs and kids both, resiliency is a crucial ingredient in success, and there’s no better way to reinforce that quality than by reminding us, as Paul Orfalea does, that being different isn’t a bad thing and that we each have something uniquely our own to contribute.”
    – Charles Schwab

    “Orfalea’s exuberant and irreverent attitude…will entertain many readers, and his sanguine acceptance of his dyslexia will inspire many others.”
    – Publishers Weekly Magazine, July 11, 2005

    Order Here



    When speaking to associations, organizations, conferences and educational institutions nationally, Paul Orfalea discusses the following key topics and areas of focus:

    • Business Motivation
    • Customer Loyalty
    • Early Care Importance
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Financial Management
    • Global & Current Events
    • Investing
    • Learning Differences
    • Work-Life Balance


Moderated Conversation with Paul Orfalea at UC Santa Barbara


Paul Orfalea talks about the importance of being bored and how these still moments of non-activity allow us to get to know ourselves, our passions, and set our own agendas. The self-made multi-millionaire credits the founding of Kinko’s to his own boredom and being broke.

One of the biggest missteps he sees people making today with children is a preoccupation with keeping them busy. This includes our ubiquitous technology, which we’ve come to depend upon for company. “There’s something about being with yourself and reflecting and figuring out what’s really going on,” Orfalea notes. “Busyness is not your friend. Anxiety and ambition are your best friends.”

Interview with Paul Orfalea Part I


Interview with Paul Orfalea Part II