Anthony Bourke Profile

  • One of the first pilots to fly over New York City after the 9/11 Attacks, Major Bourke is a globally known authority on building high-performing teams prepared to succeed in even the most complex situations.

  • After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Major Bourke applied his military protocol to become the top producing mortgage banker in the Western U.S. and build a $65 million company in just three years.

  • Ranked among Inc. Magazine's top leadership speakers, Major Bourke specializes in showing businesses how they can use Air Force best practices to accelerate improvement and growth at their organization.

  • As the Founder of Afterburner Seminars and more recently, Mach 2 Consulting, Major Bourke has taken his message of peak performance to over 100,000 people in 12 different countries.
  • Accomplished fighter pilot and seasoned CEO, Major Anthony Bourke has helped thousands of leaders streamline growth and improvement in their companies. After flying hundreds of tactical missions across the globe and increasing his startup’s revenue from $500,000 to $65M in just three years, Major Bourke helped build Afterburner Seminars where he served as it’s CEO & President so he could share the lessons he learned in the military with organizations eager to get to the next level. Today, as the CEO and Founder of Mach 2 Consulting, he continues to show teams how they can become top performers in even the toughest conditions.

    With 2,700 flight hours logged – including a defense mission patrolling the skies of Manhattan just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center – Major Bourke is a respected authority on leadership, communication, and teamwork in life or death situations. As a top producing mortgage banker and successful entrepreneur, Bourke learned firsthand that the same techniques and tools that enabled fighter pilots to achieve peak performance could easily and effectively help businesses continuously improve their culture, practices, and results.

    For over 20 years, Major Bourke has inspired multiple Fortune 1000 companies and conference audiences to up their game with his simple but powerful takeaways. He is ranked among Inc. Magazine’s “100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference.”

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Major Anthony “AB” Bourke is a highly accomplished and decorated F-16 fighter pilot who flew tactical missions in service to our country all over the world. He has accumulated more than 2,700 hours of flight time in various high performance aircraft and was one of the first pilots to fly an F-16 in homeland defense efforts over New York City in the aftermath of September 11th.

      Following his impressive military career, AB applied the tools and techniques that made him one of our nation’s premier fighter pilots to the competitive world of business. He ascended rapidly to become the top producing mortgage banker in the Western US for a prominent lending institution. His success in the mortgage banking industry led to an opportunity with a California based start-up where his team dramatically grew annual revenue from $500,000 to $65M in just three years.

      Following these two endeavors, AB combined his love of business with his passion for tactical aviation to build Afterburner Seminars, a global training company based on the lessons he learned in the military. While President & CEO, Afterburner grew into a best-in-class training company that was twice named one of Inc. magazine’s “500 Fastest Growing Companies.”

      Currently AB serves as CEO & Founder of Mach 2 Consulting and has shared his message of peak performance to more than 100,000 people in twelve different countries. AB brings his tactical knowledge and business acumen to the forefront of the management training world to share how fighter pilots, and other organizations where performance truly matters, can develop a feedback system to ensure continuous improvement and peak performance. His wealth of experience and ability to connect with audiences landed AB in Inc Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference.

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    Anthony Bourke's Speech Descriptions

    Major Anthony Bourke takes lessons from altitudes of 50,000 feet down to earth as he shows businesses how they can reach peak performance in trying conditions and demanding environments. Drawing from his experience in thousands of high-stakes military missions and business deals, the former fighter pilot and experienced CEO imparts proven techniques for building high performing teams. Major Bourke customizes his expertise in critical areas like communication, sales, and leadership to meet your organizations’ specific needs, leaving your group fired up and thoroughly prepared to drive better results.

    Executing at Mach 2

    There are many companies with great people and great strategies in the business world today. Ultimately the difference between the winners and the “also rans” comes down to Execution.

    During this interactive, multi-media keynote speech, AB will share the tools that fighter squadrons use to make sure that we are aligned, flying in formation and executing at the highest level every single time we fly. This highly motivating and inspiring keynote will equip your team with simple actionable tools that they can apply the very next day to improve execution and drive better results as individuals and as a team. If your company is pursuing a path of Executional Excellence, this session will reinforce your messaging and provide a fresh perspective on why Execution truly matters in every business.

    Communicating at Mach 2

    A high impact Keynote focusing on how the world’s most successful enterprises – where results truly matter – achieve peak performance by creating a culture of honest and open feedback. At the conclusion of this multi-media presentation, your team will walk out the door with a clear understanding of the potential power of open feedback. They will also learn how a “feedback gap” can cripple an organization. Finally, they will see a clear path on how they can make open feedback an integral part of company culture.

    Leading at Mach 2

    All great leaders have a system for driving peak performance. This hard-charging, high-impact keynote offers your leaders the straightforward, critical tools that U.S. fighter pilots employ to lead their wingmen into the demanding environment of aerial combat. Learn how the best fighter squadrons and the best businesses in the world hire future leaders, how they then properly train those individuals, and constantly promote a process of continuous improvement to stay one step ahead of the competition.

    Selling at Mach 2

    In addition to rising to the top of the aviation community, AB has built a business career on sales excellence. After achieving accolades as “Top Producer in the Western US” for a prominent lending institution, AB led a team of 40 professionals to grow revenue at a California based start-up company from $500,000 to $65M in just three years. A quintessential sales professional, AB will teach your people that just like fighter pilots, “great salespeople are made… not born.” He draws comprehensive parallels between what makes great fighter pilots and what makes great salespeople. For organizations looking to develop a sales team of “Top Guns,” this dynamic, interactive speech is a must!

    Anthony Bourke on Speaking

    Whether they are running a small startup or a multi-national organization, attendees will feel energized and eager to apply some of my principles to their businesses when they return to work.

    SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn/take away from your presentations?

    BOURKE: I expect my audience to walk away from my presentations motivated and inspired by my speech and my stories. Following my speech, they will understand that there are many leadership and organizational principles developed in the military that can be successfully applied to their own business. Whether they are running a small startup or a multi-national organization, attendees will feel energized and eager to apply some of my principles to their businesses when they return to work.

    SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event?
    How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

    BOURKE: For a typical keynote speech, I ask my clients for one hour of their time on the phone approximately 30 days prior to the presentation. This gives me an opportunity to tailor my message to their audience and meeting theme. I also ask for 30 minutes to conduct an av check at the event either the evening prior or the day of the event.

    If appropriate, I am also open to joining the client for a drink the evening prior to the presentation to get a feel for the audience and meet the leaders of the organization.

    SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?

    BOURKE: I have been speaking to corporate audiences for more than 20 years in the USA and abroad. My most recent memorable speaking engagement was at a Society for Human Resource Management Conference on September 9, 2016 in Burlington Vermont. This was almost 15 years to the day that I was stuck in Burlington, 3,000 miles from my home, the morning of September 11, 2001 and volunteered to help a local F-16 Squadron fly homeland defense missions over New York City.

    I remember becoming very emotional when I told the audience my story. Following my speech, I went and visited the local F-16 Squadron. I had not been back in 15 years and this brought back an incredible range of memories and emotions as I toured the squadron and compared notes with the other pilots.

    Any audience that is interested in improving teamwork, alignment, communication and execution is a good audience for my message as I focus heavily on finding ways to drive continuous improvement in organizations around the globe.

    SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

    BOURKE: My message works well across a wide range of audiences. I have worked with small startups and large multi-national companies. I have worked with executives, sales, operations, legal, finance, HR, and customer service teams. I have also been very well received in the world of health and dental care where execution and patient safety is paramount. Any audience that is interested in improving teamwork, alignment, communication and execution is a good audience for my message as I focus heavily on finding ways to drive continuous improvement in organizations around the globe.

    SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?

    BOURKE: I don’t think I have a favorite speech topic. I love speaking to audiences of all types and sharing my messages on Leadership, Execution, Innovation, Communication and Sales from the perspective of a former F-16 Pilot who has started and built many successful businesses.

    If I had to choose a favorite speech, I would say that it is the speech that I am giving that day. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy preparing for my presentations and customizing them for my audience. By the time I walk on stage to deliver a keynote speech, I am fully prepared and committed to delivering a presentation that helps my clients overcome their challenges and achieve their individual and team goals. I love speaking and feel energized every time I get up in front of an audience.

    Discovering my ability to inspire and motivate audiences with my speeches has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

    SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?

    BOURKE: After leading a small business from $500,000 in revenue to $65M in revenue over the course of three years, I realized that everything I was doing to lead my people, to organize my business, to strategize and to win was the same thing I was doing in my spare time flying F-16’s in the reserves.

    My partner and I developed some management principles around these concepts and this led us to start speaking and presenting to a company who at that time was our largest client. The message was very well received and has led to more than 20 years of delivering keynote speeches and interactive training programs to organizations around the world. Discovering my ability to inspire and motivate audiences with my speeches has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

    SPEAKING.COM: How do you keep your audience engaged and actively listening during your keynotes? Do you use case studies, personal stories and/or in your speeches?

    BOURKE: I am not a podium speaker. I am very interactive with the audience and refer to myself as a roamer. I roam the stage, I roam the audience, I call on people and engage with them. I also try to balance a mix of inspiring stories, with actionable business tools that my audience can take home the next day and apply to their business and personal lives.

    If I do my job, at the end of a speech I expect the audience to be standing and clapping and thinking to themselves “That was totally awesome! AB’s speech was inspiring and motivating, but I also wrote down some key ideas that I can take back to my business tomorrow that will make me and my team so much better. Put me in coach! I’m ready to run my first Debrief right now!”

    SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients achieve?

    BOURKE: A few examples that immediately come to mind.

    a. Helping a well-known chain of casual dining restaurants rethink their operations in both the front of house and the back of house. This included developing Briefing Boards in their kitchens so the entire cooking team was playing off the same sheet of music. It also involved developing standard Briefing and Debriefing Cards so that managers were clearly communicating goals and expectations to their wait staff at the start of a shift and providing daily feedback in the form of Debrief at the end of every shift. This organization has continued to use these principles over the years and has grown into a publicly traded company with a nearly $1B market cap.

    b. I had the privilege of working with one of the Big Three Consulting Firms to help them implement my “Feedback Loop” of regular Briefing and Debriefing in all 50 of their global offices. This was a 2-year project that was designed to improve the client experience and drive better results for each case. It also helped make the case teams feel much more connected to their partners, their clients and their cases which had a significant impact on retaining key associates who the firm had identified as future partners. Exclusive Interview with Anthony Bourke
    Using Debriefing to Foster Continuous Improvement, with Leadership Speaker Anthony Bourke
    In this interview, leadership and team building keynote speaker Major Anthony Bourke discusses:
    • Creating a culture of continuous improvement.
    • How to debrief effectively at your organization.
    • How a checklist saved his life.
    • Flying over New York City just hours after the World Trade Center Attacks.
    Read the Full Interview

    "Successful businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve, innovate and reduce execution errors. Debrief fosters a culture of continuous improvement in any organization."
    - Anthony Bourke

    What People are Saying about Seeing Anthony Speak

    Rating Entries

    ”I wanted to write you to let you know how pleased we were with your participation at our 26th Annual Conference. First, your programs were the #1-ranked item on our post-conference surveys. Our franchises noted that you gave them real, street-level tools that they can implement immediately.
    Specifically, your information on debriefing was a real hit that will have immediate impact on their businesses. Your breakout session on decluttering sent these guys home focused on the real, needle-moving activities that have a true impact on their company. I truly look forward to working with you again. Thank you again for THE BEST KEYNOTE WE’VE HAD IN OUR HISTORY.”
    – Brandon Stephens, President, The Decor Group, Inc.

    ”Truly, I enjoyed your presentation. I might even say you are my favorite keynote speaker to date, maybe it’s the military thing, but you certainly had my attention the whole time. Not to mention you seem to be a pretty down to earth guy… I’ve recapped your presentation about 5 times today to my staff, again you are one of my favorites! I appreciate you addressing our industry and thank for your time. Cheers my friend!”
    – David R. Beckham, AHC, FDAI, Vice President & General Manager, Security Builders Supply

    ”Hi Anthony, Thank you so much for your time today. Sharing your story with our team and motivating everyone is….well, your current career choice because you’re amazing at it. Thank you for being so genuine today. I have launched a survey to the attendees from your keynote and so far, all 5 star ratings! Once we get a higher completion rate, I’ll happily share all comments with you. Travel safely and we will be in touch shortly.”
    – Kelley Lansing, Corporate Event Manager,

    ”First of all, I would like to let you know how much we enjoyed your presentation. As you can imagine, we have seen many presentations over the years. We are to the point now that we often focus on the mechanics of the presentation rather than the meat. Yours was a far different experience for us. Your keynote was both interesting and captivating. It also engaged the audience which we well now is not easy to do. The presentation was great, the walk in slides with music was a perfect touch to set the stage for your keynote.”
    – Michael Rivas, SenovvA, Inc. Los Angeles | New York | Toronto | San Francisco | Dublin

    “AB, we have contracted many consultants and dynamic presenters over the years, but let me say, your work, with the “mission objective” assigned, was the best I’ve ever personally experienced. While I could go on and an, let me close by simply saying “great job,” and we are looking forward to pursuing some additional special project work with you shortly, in some of our more challenging markets.”
    -Ralph Russo, President, Sara Lee

    “You were a huge hit at OPCON! Very applicable and timely. I had countless people come up to me throughout the day Wednesday and compliment on your presentation. It was really fantastic.”

    -Tony Thompson, President, Papa John’s Food Service

    “Once again, please accept my thanks for participating in the ADT National Account Sales Kickoff Meeting. As you know we tend to be a high-energy group and it’s not often a speaker or a program really lights a fire under us but you did just that last week in Las Vegas. Your high energy, fact filled program resonated in a very positive way with the ADT National Account sales organization.”
    -Bob Dale, Senior Vice President, ADT

    “I was blown away by the excellent presentation.
    As we are combing through the evaluations,
    I am not alone in saying that the experience was awesome.”

    -Elizabeth Dahlgren, Vice President, Charles Schwab

    “Thanks again for providing us a World Class Speech at our PCS Annual Conference. Your message was a perfect fit for our group and our theme. Most importantly the term “Debrief” is the new buzzword at Russell as we continue to “Come Together” and focus on always doing the right thing for our clients, our associates and our investors. I commend you on your hard work up front, learning our business and our language. You seamlessly wove our themes and verbiage into your presentation and this was noted by all who attended.”
    -Michael Winnick, Managing Director, Russell Investments

    “You were the highest rated speaker at our conference!”

    -Bob Wenzinger, Director, PPG Industries

    “Thank you for your work over the last several months. Finally seeing your session come to fruition was terrific. The early anecdotal feedback is very positive, as is the feedback for the overall meeting. So, my immediate reaction is SUCCESS!”
    -Lori Fouche, President, Prudential Group Insurance

    “Thanks again for all of your great work this past week. I have gotten nothing but incredible positive feedback – you made quite an impression! I can also tell you that people referred to your presentation throughout the remainder of the sessions, and people are starting to adapt the briefing and de-briefing mentality.”

    -Paul P. Robinson, Senior Product Manager, Brother International

    “Interactive presentations are the top educational events and AB’s was one of the best I have seen – a “10” definitely! His experience as a fighter pilot and the ability to transfer the same skills to leaders is fantastic! They came away understanding the importance of making the right split second decisions as a leader and the resulting impact on their teams. Chapters should sign AB up now for an exciting and dynamic flight lesson!”
    -Yvonne Warner, Chapter Administrator, Young Presidents’ Organization

    “AB, your speech and brief/debrief were extremely well received by the Partner team and fitted in perfectly with our conference theme. I’m hoping many Partners adopt this approach with their teams so that they become more engaged, aligned and continue to learn and develop.”

    -Thomas von Koch, Managing Partner, EQT Partners

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