Bill Conerly Profile

Dr. Bill Conerly guides business leaders in building resilient plans adaptable to any economy. He has the unique combination of a Ph.D. in economics from Duke University and over 30 years’ experience helping companies thrive in changing economic conditions. He has worked in economics and corporate planning at two Fortune 500 corporations and at a major bank, where he was senior vice president.

Companies have used Dr. Conerly’s expertise to help with decisions regarding capital expenditures, inventory levels, expansion into new markets, pricing, business models and financial structure.

Bill Conerly has spoken to over 1300 business audiences in four countries and 31 states. He has earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association.

Dr. Conerly is an on-line contributor to and the author of The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy (2017) as well as Businomics (2007). You may have seen him interviewed on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN and CNBC.  He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and USA Today.

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Bill Conerly's Speech Descriptions

The Economic Outlook: Your Company’s Opportunities and Risks in the Evolving Business Cycle

Why this program: Every business is impacted by the economy; it’s always top of mind for small business owners and corporate executives. Dr. Conerly uses common-sense explanations and simple graphics rather than tedious statistics and complex theories.

Key takeaways:

    • Outlook for major sectors of the economy, with emphasis on those most important to the audience. (For example, lumber companies hear more about housing starts, while credit unions hear more about consumer spending and borrowing.)
    • How the global economy will evolve, and what that means for audience members.
    • Forecast for inflation and major commodity prices. (Again, with emphasis on those costs most important to the audience.)
    • The risk of recession and how businesses can protect themselves.
    • Politics? Dr. Conerly never uses the platform to push his own party, but he discusses critical political issues from the perspective of “What does this mean for the economy?”

Why this speaker:

Dr. Bill Conerly has been forecasting the economy since 1980—he’s seen it all. He’s also been showing business leaders how the economy will impact their companies—and guiding them to develop plans that will be resilient in any economy.

Normal customization emphasizes those sectors of the economy of greatest impact on the audience. Regional audiences hear “an outsider’s perspective” on the local economy. Audience interaction is flexible; discuss your preferences with Dr. Conerly.

Leadership in Today’s Tight Labor Market: Retaining and Recruiting High Productivity Employees

Why this program: The tight labor market is the greatest business challenge today, and it will continue for a decade.

Key takeaways:

    • The secret of employee retention—and it’s not money.
    • Finding new employees: where the fish are biting.
    • Hiring, retaining and motivating millennials.

Why this speaker: In 2008, in the middle of the recession, Dr. Bill Conerly projected a tight labor market in the next decade and began offering advice on employee retention and recruitment. He identified the best business practices in research for his book, The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy.

Benefits of this program: Attendees will take back to the office strategies they can implement immediately to increase employee retention, raise recruiting success rates, and build a high productivity workforce.

The Next Decade: What Businesses Should Do TODAY to Prepare for Tomorrow

Why this program: Most business leaders spend time on urgent matters, but not much time on the big picture of how the world is changing. Having some key trends in mind helps executives make better day-to-day decisions.

Key takeaways depend on the audience; here are some possibilities:

    • Demographics and worker availability: what to do now to prepare for when the Baby Boomers retire.
    • Borrowing will be very cheap for those with great financials, but unavailable for others. How to protect your business’s access to credit.
    • Your future taxes will be higher due to upcoming growth of the federal deficit; how to incorporate this into your business and personal financial planning.
    • Business cycles will be more extreme than in recent years; how to protect your company from recessions, and how to gain all you can in booms.
    • Technology, costs and customers: how new capabilities will allow you to clean your competitors’ clocks—or risk having your own clock cleaned.
    • Globalization: Will changing political attitudes about foreign trade take us back to less globalized business? What you should do now to protect your overseas sales or supply chain.

Why this speaker:

Dr. Conerly is an economic futurist emphasizes the most likely economic changes, avoiding excessive speculation and uncertainty. He provides action steps that business leaders can take today to prepare for the coming decade.

Specifics are adjusted for the particular audience. This topic can include some audience interaction.

Business in an Uncertain Economy: The Best Strategies for Businesses in an Ever-changing World

Why this program: Business rises or falls with the economy, but change also comes from technology, social attitudes, government and competition. Companies need The Flexible Stance: ready to expand, ready to cut expenses, ready to shift direction. They also need to know when to implement these changes.

Key takeaways:

    • Sources of uncertainty, and how they will impact a business.
    • How to keep your business ready for expansion while protecting against recession.
    • The role of contingency plans, both upside and downside, in a thriving business.
    • How to develop a culture of flexibility throughout the organization.

Why this speaker:

Dr. Bill Conerly wrote The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy to help business leaders capture upside possibilities while protecting against downside risks. It’s the best book on managing with uncertainty about the future.

This topic can be a keynote or a training seminar.

Prepare for Perpetual Change—Capture Opportunities and Avoid Risk in an Uncertain World

Why this program: Companies are beset by continual changes in the economy, technology, social attitudes, government regulation and competition. Top leaders help their team members adjust smoothly to enable the organization to seize opportunities and avoid risks.

Key takeaways:

    • How a leader prepares the organization for change.
    • Action steps to develop a culture that changes smoothly.
    • Best business practices to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
    • Developing employees who succeed in a changing world.

The audience hears examples from Dr. Conerly’s latest book, The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy. These illustrations come from companies large and small, in a variety of industries.

The presentation works well with substantial audience interaction; activities are adjusted to fit audience size.

Tailored speeches
Dr. Conerly creates specialized content upon request. Some past presentations were:

    • Log Exports to the Far East
    • Foodservice and the Economy
    • Adapting Your Consulting Expertise to an Uncertain Future
    • The Future of Manufacturing

Call to discuss your needs.

Audience Interaction: Dr. Conerly enjoys leading interaction among audience members. These activities can be dialed up or dialed down to meet the meeting organizer’s preferences.

Keynote or Workshop? Most of these topics can be conducted either as a keynote to a large audience or as a workshop for a smaller group.

What People are Saying about Seeing Bill Speak

Rating Entries

“Bill did a great job. We look forward to a continuing relationship.”
John Hamburger, Franchise Times

“You are a master at your craft and a favorite of our audience.”
Jim Parker, UBS Financial Services

“During the course of his nine-year stint with First Interstate, the engaging executive became known for the quick wit he displayed at numerous speaking engagements.”
The Business Journal

“It can be difficult to find economists who provide good substantive information who are also entertaining and engaging. I received many enthusiastic comments about Dr. Conerly from members and others in the audience.”
Molly Steckel, Idaho Telecom Alliance

“As the highest rated speaker on our program, your remarks about the economy and its relationship to the financial services industry were relevant, timely and insightful. One of your greatest strengths is your ability to talk economics in an easy listening style. Participants appeared to be “taking it all in” without having to decipher what you were saying.”
Becky Tongish, Kansas Bankers Association

“Bill Conerly is one of the most interesting and engaging speakers I have ever heard. The fact that he is a very funny man is a bonus.”
James A. Kronenberg, Oregon Medical Association

Select Clients Include:


Ag First

American Forest Resources Council

Arizona Bankers Association

Associated General Contractors

Bank Holding Company Association

Bank of America

Bank of the West

Banner Bank


Bonar Plastics

Book Manufacturers Institute

Cascade Policy Institute

CBIZ-Nation Smith

Chicago Title

Commercial Finance Association

Community National Bank

Council of State Governments

Credit Suisse

Credit Union Executives Society Annuel Convention

Economic Roundtable

Farmers & Merchants Bank

Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle

Franchise Times

Goldwater Institute

Interplast Group

Iowa Bankers Association

Kansas Association of Counties

Kansas Bankers Association

Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel

Key Bank

Legend Homes

Liberty Northwest

Montana Independent Bankers

Moss Adams


Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Oregon Medical Association

Pacific Northwest Bank

Pacific Northwest Steel Fabricators Association


South Dakota Banker Association

Viking Bank

Washington Contract Loggers Association

Washington Forest Protection Association

Washington Trucking Association

Wells Fargo Bank

Women′s Food Service Forum

Wood Products Credit Union

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Books by Bill Conerly:

The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy
Visualize a baseball game. A fast runner is on first base, looking to steal second. The runner takes a lead, then plants himself in a flexible stance. He’s ready to run in either direction: to second base if he gets a chance to steal, or back to first base if the pitcher tries to pick him off. Using that stance in business is the subject of Dr. Bill Conerly’s latest book, The Flexible Stance: Thriving in a Boom/Bust Economy.

The economic outlook is uncertain—this year and in the future. Economists failed to predict the recessions of 2008, 2001, 1990 and 1982. Technology is changing faster than ever before, forcing businesses to confront different consumer demands as well as new production processes. Social attitudes also change faster in a more connected world; think of gay marriage, marijuana and #metoo. Government policy has moved in unprecedented directions, with highly uncertain results, and new competitors threaten many established companies.

The flexible stance is hard for business leaders, who usually rose to top positions using the sprinter’s stance: focus on the tape 100 meters away, looking neither left nor right. Traditional corporate planning tries to develop the one perfect forecast of the future, then optimizes the company for that scenario. Unfortunately, the future often does not cooperate.

Techniques for a more flexible stance include evaluating everyday decisions with an eye to whether they enable adjustment to change or inhibit adjustment. Contingency plans should be developed for both upside and downside possibilities. Faster execution reduces risk. Sometimes—but not always—diversification can increase flexibility. The successful business leaders of the future will be humble about their ability to predict the future, but aggressive in developing flexibility to thrive whatever the future brings.


Businomics From The Headlines To Your Bottom Line: How to Profit in Any Economic Cycle
In today’s 24/7 marketplace, news about the economy dominates the front page of every newspaper and every broadcast. However, many executives and business owners don’t understand what the headlines mean to their company or industry.

Businomics shows readers how they can profit and protect their businesses during any economic cycle. Moreover, it teaches readers how to develop early warning systems for economic problems and how to understand how local, regional, and foreign business cycles could affect their bottom line. Businomics helps any business executive or owner understand how their business fits into the economic scheme. Unlike textbooks or college courses which teach abstract equations, theory, and economic policy, Businomics makes economics painless—and gives managers and business owners everything they need to know to understand how the economy affects their enterprise and investments.

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