Cy Wakeman Profile

  • Cultural transformation virtuoso and Founder of Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman helps companies cut through workplace drama to get the results they want.

  • Wakeman is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier.

  • A Global Guru "Top Leadership Professional" and a "Top 100 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter," Wakeman is consistently ranked by audiences as one of the most influential speakers/trainers they've had.
  • Human behavior expert, Cy Wakeman is the Founder of Reality-Based Leadership, where she has taught hundreds of leaders how to “upcycle” workplace drama, rechanneling wasted emotional energy into productive mentalities, behaviors, and results. She is the author the New York Times bestseller The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier . Her latest book is No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results.

    Wakeman has been researching drama and viable ways to eliminate it for over 25 years. She has been named one of the “Top Global Leadership Gurus” by Global Gurus, as well as one of the “Top 100 Leadership Experts to Follow on Twitter.” Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company, as well as many other media outlets.

    Wakeman lives with her husband and eight sons.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Cy Wakeman is a dynamic international keynote speaker, business consultant, New York Times bestselling author, and global thought leader with over 25 years experience cultivating a revolutionary new approach to leadership. Grounded in reality, Wakeman’s philosophy has helped organizations and individuals all over the world learn to ditch the drama and turn excuses into results.

      Wakeman’s professional journey began when she was promoted to her first management position in the late 1980’s. Rather than forcing ineffective, conventional management practices into her workplace, Wakeman began developing and teaching her employees a reality-based mindset, one that is founded in personal accountability. What she discovered was inspiring – her employees were not only motivated to succeed, but they were also driven to deliver results, adept to change, and emanate happiness on the job. Inspired to help others transform their organizations and their work, Wakeman began consulting and training. Today, she visits more than 200 companies each year, empowering employees and executives alike to take control of and invest in their work.

      Named one of the “Top 100 Leadership Experts to Follow” on twitter, Wakeman’s influence continues to build. Participants consistently rank her programs as the single most impactful training they have ever received.

      An expert blogger on, and The Huffington Post, Wakeman’s ideas have been featured on the TODAY Show, The Social, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Insider, Huffington Post, The Daily Muse,, and She’s written three books, Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, & Turn Excuses into Results(Jossey-Bass; 2010); The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, & Will Make You Happier (Jossey-Bass; 2013); and No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results (St. Martin’s Press 2017.)

      Wakeman’s newest book, No Ego, points out that Ego-driven behaviors are the #1 source of drama in workplaces today, and it’s costing organizations billions annually. The philosophy of “perfecting the environment” to create employee engagement just feeds the ego and generates huge amounts of drama and emotional waste. It is high time for a modern leadership philosophy that provides simple tools and techniques to eliminate drama from our organizations, deliver up employees who say yes to what’s next, and cultivate accountability, not engagement, to drive big business results.

      Wakeman is a highly sought-after conference headliner and holds a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speaker’s Association, placing her within the top 3% of speakers. She was also voted #18 on the Global Guru’s list of Top 30 Leadership Professionals for 2017 Her programs are consistently ranked by participants as the single most impactful training they have ever received.

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    Cy Wakeman's Speech Descriptions

    Leadership expert Cy Wakeman shows you how to get the drama out of your workplace so you can get back to what matters. Professional with a personal touch, Wakeman works with leaders and their teams to help them get to a place beyond ego – a place where people can be at their best. While other speakers may discuss how to increase engagement, accountability, and innovation in your organization, Wakeman’s approach says those things are already there; you just need to uncover them by removing the negative factors that are getting in the way.

    No Ego: How leaders Can Cut the Cost of Drama, End Entitlement and Drive Big Results

    Recent research conducted by Cy Wakeman in conjunction with the Futures Company, has discovered that rather than driving performance and creating efficiencies for the organization, conventional leadership strategies and philosophies are actually fueling drama in the workplace. In fact, research indicated that under currently prescribed leadership philosophy and strategic best practices, up to three months per year of each employee’s time - potentially billions of dollars annually in the U.S. alone – is wasted in drama. In this session, Cy proposes a radically different approach to core leadership philosophies such as engagement, change management, and accountability. Join Cy as she calls leadership professionals to redefine HR and leadership with science and research and to teach leaders strategies and tools that will actually work in their modern workplace.

    Reality-Based Leadership™: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace and Turn Excuses into Results

    These are challenging times in our businesses today. In leadership, we must become willing to admit that the ways in which we have taught leaders to lead over the years is simply not working. These times are calling for a new type of leader, one who can bring peace, sanity, and results back to the workplace! In this session, Cy rocks audiences as she teaches the key principles of her new wave of Reality-Based Leadership™.

    Business Readiness – Ensuring Our Teams are Ready for What’s Next

    In this high energy session, Cy Wakeman will help leaders understand their heightened responsibilities in delivering teams and talent that are ready for what’s next along with strategies to ensure that teams are able to quickly adapt and change and deliver on the needs of the organization to provide relevant, highvalue, services in even mature markets. After all, change is only hard for the unready.

    Hardwiring Accountability into Your Workforce

    Everyone is talking about accountability, but few organizations are actually successful in ensuring that personal accountability is hardwired into their talent and everyday business operations. Join Cy as she breaks down the core competency of personal accountability and gives you no nonsense, workable strategies to hire for, coach for, and develop for accountability in your workforce! After all, personal accountability is the foundation of Reality Based Leadership™ – a revolution in leadership.

    Employee Engagement is Broken: Unlocking the True Driver of Employee Performance

    For years, our organizations have been investing time, money and energy into engaging our employees based on the promise that engagement drives results. While engaging our employees is critical, it turns out that engagement isn’t enough. Engagement without accountability is chaos. In this dynamic, provocative and groundbreaking presentation, you will be introduced to the concept of Reality-Based Engagement, where accountability and engagement intersect to produce awesome results. This will include some practical guidance for how to cultivate the power of personal accountability within your organization.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Cy Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Cy’s philosophy is important for business leaders to understand – if you don’t invest in the right tools to empower your people, your going to lose.”
    – Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia

    “Cy Wakeman does a great job in illustrating how leaders can build a workplace free of drama and full of accountability – the true amplifier of one’s strengths.”
    – Marcus Buckingham, New York Times bestselling author of First, Break All the Rules; Now Discover Your Strengths; and The One Thing You Need to Know.

    “This is the most effective, productive and practical solution any business leader would want. I cannot tell you how much money, time and emotional waste has been saved because of Cy’s philosophy. She can transform any culture to help the willing revolutionize consistent and constant change.”
    – Frank Calderoni, CEO Anaplan, Former CFO Red Hat and Cisco

    “The response from our HR community has been overwhelming. They loved your message, and I think the whole experience provided a much-needed energy boost. The day exceeded my expectations, and it was the perfect launch to my new role – setting a new tone for our HR community.”
    – Vicki Williams, CHRO, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

    “What a privilege to have you in Charlotte last week! Your message of ditch the drama, your ego is not your amigo, and how to check our stories was so impactful to our teams. The group you spoke to is highly diverse and yet your message resonated in a uniform and profound way. A ‘home run’ said one of my key teammates. I am grateful you made the trip and that you seamlessly wove the issues we are facing into your discussion. Onward we go…but in REALITY!”
    – Robert Adam Schleusner III, Head of Wholesale Credit, Bank of America

    “I wanted to share the fantastic feedback we’ve received from Cy’s programs over the years. I am grateful for the passion that she brings to her presentations and for the experience that those attending (including myself) are able to take away from her sessions. Cy’s presentations are some of the highest rated Executive Programs we’ve had at the Center since 2010, and Wow…she just gets better and better each time!”
    – Brent Kondritz, Assistant Director/Program Manager, Center for Leadership at University of Dayton

    “Thank you for the impact you have had on me. Last year at Herman Miller, Inc. the East delivered a record year. My team is stronger and better leaders as a result of me working on my leadership… with you! Thank you. I also wanted to share how helpful your podcasts and YouTube videos are to create the adjustment in my thinking when I digress. I had a week this week where I did not step up, so I spent the morning re-watching your work. I am back thinking of the all possibilities of creating great and enabling my team to share in that work.”
    – Karen Stratton, Vice President Sales-East, Herman Miller

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    Books by Cy Wakeman:

    The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happie

    The key to understanding how your manager calculates your real value—and how to boost it

    More than anything else, you need to understand exactly how your employer evaluates you, and your annual performance review doesn’t tell the whole story. In The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, Cy Wakeman shows how to calculate how your true value to your organization by understanding your current and future potential against your “emotional expense”—the toll your actions and attitudes take on the people around you. With Cy’s clear, straight-to-the-point advice, you can confront and reduce your emotional costliness, become an invaluable member of your team, and even learn to love your job again.

    Reveals a formula for measuring your current performance, future potential, and the biggest detractor, your emotional expense
    Shares real-world advice for quickly boosting your value and becoming a highly-valued, sought after employee and teammate
    Builds on the lessons in Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman’s first book for leaders and managers

    The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is the essential guide for boosting your value, owning your career, and becoming the kind of employee no organization can afford to lose.

    Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results

    Leadership strategies grounded in reality and focused on results

    Recent polls show that 71% of workers think about quitting their jobs every day. That number would be shocking-if people actually were quitting. Worse, they go to work, punching time clocks and collecting pay checks, while completely checked out emotionally. In Reality-Based Leadership, expert Fast Company blogger Cy Wakeman reveals how to be the kind of leader who changes the way people think about and perceive their circumstances-one who deals with the facts, clarifies roles, gives clear and direct feedback, and insists that everyone do the same-without drama or defensiveness.Filled with dynamic examples, innovative tools, and diagnostic tests, this book shows you how to become a Reality-Based Leader, revealing how to:

    Uncover destructive thought patterns with yourself and others
    Diffuse drama and lead the person in front of you
    Stop managing and start leading, empowering others to focus on facts and think for themselves

    Equipped with a facts-based, confident approach, you will free yourself from the frustrations you face at work and transform yourself into a Reality-Based Leader, with the ability to liberate and inspire others.

    No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results

    The New York Times bestselling author of Reality-Based Leadership rejects the current fad of “engaging” employees and the emotional drama of “meeting their needs”–returning leadership to leaders and productivity to businesses.

    For years now, leaders in almost every industry have accepted two completely false assumptions–that change is hard, and that engagement drives results. Those beliefs have inspired expensive attempts to shield employees from change, involve them in high-level decision-making, and keep them happy with endless “satisfaction surveys” and workplace perks. But what these engagement programs actually do, Cy Wakeman says, is inflate expectations and sow unhappiness, leaving employees unprepared to adapt to even minor changes necessary to the organization’s survival. Rather than driving performance and creating efficiencies, these programs fuel entitlement and drama, costing millions in time and profit.

    It is high time to reinvent leadership thinking. Stop worrying about your employees’ happiness, and start worrying about their accountability. Cy Wakeman teaches you how to hire “emotionally inexpensive” people, solicit only the opinions you need, and promote self-awareness in your whole team. No Ego disposes with unproven HR maxims, and instead offers a complete plan to turn your office from a den of discontent to a happy, productive place.

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