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Geoff Colvin Profile

  • Senior Editor-at-Large, FORTUNE Magazine.

  • CBS Radio daily commentator and bestselling author.

  • Gives business leaders the tools to navigate uncertainty and change.

  • The best companies and leaders win by confronting reality faster than the competition. GEOFF COLVIN of Fortune delivers valuable insights to help them do just that. His unique perspective stems from unparalleled access to top global business leaders who tell him what they’re seeing, thinking, and doing. As a result, Geoff can provide audiences with a clearer path for an uncertain future. Geoff unpacks actionable insights on the economic, market, political, and technological forces driving disruptive change. Geoff’s columns and cover stories in Fortune have earned him millions of loyal fans, many of whom also hear him on the CBS Radio Network, where he reaches seven million listeners each week. Geoff Colvin is author of four books including the groundbreaking international bestseller Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. His latest book is The New York Times bestseller Humans are Underrated which looks at the future of work and how humans will fit into a workplace filled with robots and smart technology.

    As Fortune magazine’s senior editor-at-large, Geoff Colvin is now in his fourth decade at Fortune. He is one of business journalism’s sharpest and most respected commentators on leadership, management, globalization, government regulation, corporate governance, competition, the economy, the InfoTech revolution, human performance and related issues.

    In addition to his daily CBS Radio Network segments, Geoff has appeared on TodayGood Morning AmericaSquawk BoxCBS This Morning, ABC’s World News Tonight, CNN, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, and dozens of other programs. He also served as anchor of Wall $treet Week with Fortune on PBS.

    In addition to speaking, Geoff is also a brilliant panel moderator, emcee and interviewer whose subjects have included Jack Welch, Henry Kissinger, Richard Branson, the Prince of Wales, Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan, Steve Case, Tony Blair, Michael Dell, Ted Turner, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and many others.

    Geoff is a respected author whose groundbreaking international bestseller, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, has been published in a dozen languages. The Upside of the Downturn: Management Strategies for Difficult Times was named “Best Management Book of the Year” by Strategy + Business magazine. Geoff’s latest book is Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will. It’s based on the idea in his wildly popular Fortune article “In the Future Will There Be Any Work Left for People to Do?” It looks at the trend of technology displacing more jobs than it creates and the ways humans will create value for their organizations and their careers in the changing economy. The ideas he shares have profound implications for every business and industry.

    A native of Vermillion, South Dakota, Geoff Colvin is an honors graduate of Harvard with a degree in economics and has an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

    Geoff Colvin Speaking Videos

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    Geoff Colvin's Speech Descriptions

    Confronting Reality: Leading Ahead of Disruption

    Every day can bring harsh new surprises. Economic and policy change. The competitor or new business model you never saw coming. Game-changing technology. Competing in the friction-free economy has leaders worrying most about what they don’t know. In his talk, Geoff Colvin leverages nearly 40 years at Fortune to arm audiences with valuable perspective on the trends driving business disruption, revealing how top leaders are confronting them right now. Economic growth, consumer demand, interest rates, taxes, employment costs – these issues are transforming the business environment daily, and Geoff provides unparalleled insights in terms you won’t hear elsewhere. And while political winds may blow toward protectionism, the market trends powering the friction-free economy are technological and going strong, requiring swift and full attention. As a result, winning in business today demands extraordinary leadership acting on the best intelligence it can find. Geoff’s message is optimistic and energizing: opportunity is more widely available than ever and there will be winners – why shouldn’t it be you?

    The Future of Work – How Will Humans Fit In?

    With robots and smart machines doing so much of the work humans used to do, what is the future of work? Where will humans add value? What job skills will be most in-demand? Geoff Colvin answers these questions and more in this talk based on research for his New York Times bestselling book, Humans are Underrated. Forward-thinking employers say the critical skills they’ll need most to compete in the future are those that focus on social interaction: collaboration, storytelling, social sensitivity, brainstorming, creating and innovating with others, leading, and above all – empathy. The need to transition to newly valuable skills is happening faster than organizations and most psyches can adapt. And for those companies balancing a workforce of people and machines, there are political and PR consequences. Geoff reveals what top organizations are doing to prepare for the future of work. The good news is that we humans already have what it takes – it’s up to us to make of it what we will.

    Where Is This Economy Headed?

    Even before the new alignment of power in Washington, it was the question on everyone’s mind: where are the U.S. and global economies going? Now it’s even more urgent – and uncertain. The economic picture can change dramatically with a single tweet, and Geoff Colvin covers it in depth from his perch at Fortune. In opinion surveys, top CEOs and ordinary consumers say the same thing: there’s too much change, too fast; we can’t keep up. We all remember a time when it was easier to anticipate where things might be headed, when the consequences of misjudgment were less severe. Now a meltdown of financial markets in China can ripple globally and take down a trillion dollars in assets in a single day – and such volatility is becoming more common. Geoff helps audiences make sense of the forces driving economic change – offering a glimpse of where each may take you and your business.

    Confronting Technology – Are You Ready?

    It’s a huge opportunity if you’re aware of it – a mortal threat if you’re not. The technology that revolutionizes lives and businesses is advancing at an increasing rate. Each stride forward is bigger than the last. A $1,000 laptop will possess the computing power of a human brain by 2023 and the computing power of all human brains by 2050. Are you ready for the opportunities and challenges such technology will bring? Most people aren’t. Every business and businessperson now needs a new, uniquely modern competence: the discipline of confronting the reality of future tech, which we cannot intuitively picture, combined with the creativity of imagining what might be possible when that future arrives. Geoff describes what’s happening in an exciting, accessible way and shows how today’s most successful businesses are thinking and acting in new ways to own the incredible future. Geoff’s presentation will help align your people and make them more disciplined in confronting the future.

    Talent Is Overrated – How Great Performers Really Got Great

    Scientific research on great performance shows that what most of us believe about hard work and raw talent is off-base. That means most of us will never perform as well as we could. Geoff Colvin, author of the groundbreaking international bestseller Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, explains the findings and relates them to real life in real organizations. He shows how most organizations value the wrong things – that passion, honesty, and learning are more valuable than hours, IQ, or “native ability.” Geoff demonstrates that world-class performance comes from behaviors that every person and organization can adopt. Those who apply these principles gain a tremendous competitive advantage and Geoff cites relevant examples to prove it and launch an important conversation in your organization.

    Panel Moderator, Discussion Leader, Emcee/Host

    Geoff Colvin’s unique gift is his ability to brilliantly moderate panels, lead onstage interviews and host/emcee. He’s played these roles for more than three decades at Fortune conferences worldwide. Top companies and associations regularly utilize Geoff because he gets the most out of participants; he asks the right questions, listens intently to what’s being said on stage and responds to that – keeping the discussion relevant and the energy high.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Geoff Speak

    Rating Entries

    “I’ve heard nothing but praise from attendees. They loved your presentation and your blend of an economic update along all your insight as to what great leaders are doing to be successful. I especially loved your quote ‘They stop protecting yesterday and create tomorrow.’ So many great take-aways.”
    – First Horizon Bank

    “Geoff received a 4.73 score (out of 5.0) from our audience, which is a great score. He did a terrific job.”
    – Ogletree Deakins

    “We got great feedback about your presentation from our members. Despite the difficult times, people felt like you had a very insightful and positive message. I expect that you’ll hear from us again.”
    – President & CEO, National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED)

    “Geoff was great. His simple approach to explaining the economy and economic forecasting made it a great speech, and he stuck around to do our roundtable discussion, which was also really strong.”
    – Publisher, The Electrical Distributor [tED] Magazine

    “Our members raved about your remarks. At the afternoon sessions and throughout last night’s event, all we heard were complimentary comments about your address. I know you speak to so many groups. Please count ours among those that are your biggest fans.”
    – President, Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI)

    “Thank you again, Geoff! The feedback is that your content was the highest value of the day!”
    – Director of Event Content, Vistage (VIRTUAL EVENT)

    “Geoff hit it out of the park!!! Sounded great, looked great, and wonderful insights.”
    – RealPage (VIRTUAL EVENT)

    “We have had tons of great feedback. You helped companies get honest with themselves and to think of doing business differently.”
    – Global Leaders Organization (VIRTUAL EVENT)

    “We sincerely appreciate you contributing to our AGM. The feedback we received from our investors and entrepreneurs was exceptionally positive. Your message really resonated with our CEOs who are looking for past precedents and analogies like the Tour de France to give them hope and motivation to continue to think and act creatively.”
    – McRock Capital

    “… suffice it to say you were a huge hit – as always! We hope you are willing to continue to work with us in a similar fashion. Curtis Barnett, our CEO, particularly liked your moderation of our conference – you did an excellent job of weaving the story together as the day progressed, making the event an even more professional and meaningful experience. We mean it when we say you are stuck with us!”
    – Arkansas BCBS

    “…the participants and their coaches have profoundly enjoyed the sessions. Without being prompted, you have hit all the key topics that have emerged throughout the week. It was a capstone in the true meaning of this word. Truly impressive.”
    – AbbVie

    “Our group was extremely pleased with your presentation and message. The amount of praised you received, was incredible, to say the least. Many, many of our attendees expressed how moved they were with your presentation. Just a tremendous amount of praise is ALL I heard (more than any speaker we have ever had).”
    – Executive Director, National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA)

    “Geoff hit a home run today!!!!!!!!!!!! Outstanding…”
    – Head of Conf Planning & Travel, Putnam Investments


    “Your presentation was a resounding success with the attendees, and I’ve heard nothing but great feedback. Your cadence, candor, and depth of knowledge in what you presented was exceptional, and I hope we have the opportunity to work together again.”
    – Foundry Events obo 55 North Conference

    “Thank you for your email and for inspiring my team! The feedback is unanimous, they loved your presentation, the Q&A that followed and how you inspired them and boosted their confidence. That was exactly my goal. Thank you.”
    – CEO, Arch Capital Group

    “Geoff, you were definitely the highlight of our conference. In reviewing our surveys today, you were overwhelmingly ranked as the favorite speaker and one they would most like to hear from again. The positive anecdotal comments I’ve heard from both our internal team as well as conference attendees regarding your contribution have been significant. We were very proud to have you as our keynote speaker.”
    – Lead Executive, Business Alliances & Ancillary Division, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

    “Thank you so much for your participation in the first annual L’ATTITUDE event! Your participation, both as participant and moderator was brilliant. Your [precision], command of facts and data AND unique ability to weave it into a logical, easy to understand outcome is special.”
    – Co-Founder, L’ATTITUDE

    “You hit it out of the park. We will ask you back.”
    – CEO, American Pacific Mortgage

    “Your kickoff to our conference was incredibly well received. Everyone enjoyed your presentation particularly the piece about humans’ role in the future.”
    – CFO, Coril Holdings

    “I can’t tell you how many people, customers and employees, came up to me and said how good your session was. Honestly, it set a tone that I was hoping for so to me it was a huge win. I also appreciate you filling in the time gap on such short notice.”
    – President and COO, SoftwareAG North America

    “Thank you, once more, for making the time to moderate the Board and Governance Forum. Your thoughtful remarks, questions, and insights contributed to making this Forum a resounding success! Now that we have received formal input from our participants, I wanted to share that we are hearing tremendous feedback on the job you did and it is clear that your leadership was universally well-received.”
    – Americas Alumni Leader, EY

    “We received rave reviews on your presentation and our Chairman is already reading your books – as will I! I’m sure our paths will cross again in the future!”
    – Partner, Baker & McKenzie LLP

    “… he was so awesome!!! Thank you so much for sending him to us! He was amazing.”
    – Director of Economic Development Services, CareerSource Pinellas

    “It was GREAT. We have only heard great things. Geoff tailored it to the audience. He is a gem!”
    – Gala Organizer, Institute for Public Relations

    “Thanks for doing your bit to help knock #IABC16 out of the park! Much appreciated – and by the way, some of your slides were the most tweeted images so you clearly resonated.”
    – Conference Chair, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)

    “Thank you very much for speaking at our Summit – I got fantastic feedback on your message! It was uplifting and inspiring, and you certainly made me look good!”
    – Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Certent

    “You were outstanding yesterday. Please know how much we appreciate all that you did to make the event such a success. The audience enjoyed your remarks very much and the panel discussion was superb. You have a special way as a moderator of strategically steering the conversation and adeptly ensuring that all participants have equal opportunity to contribute.”
    – Vice President, BioEnterprise

    “An amazing, kind, thoughtful, insightful man. We’ve had incredible feedback.”
    – President and CEO, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce

    “A quick thank you again for a wonderful talk last night. I received great feedback from our group – everyone thought you were insightful and engaging. Particularly, I heard, “Spot on.” As mentioned, please be in touch if you would like a reference for future speaking engagements; I would be happy to help in the format most useful to you.”
    – Vice President, Liberty Global

    “Geoff did a fantastic job and really set the stage for the remainder of the day and his perspectives were repeated during later sessions.”
    – Group Communications Director, The Coca-Cola Company

    “I can’t thank you enough for joining us in Nashville this week, and sharing your truly inspiring perspective. Your insights reverberated throughout the remainder of the session in ways that I think would make you know that your work has positive impact. Part of that is because of what you said, but it is also very much a product of how you said it.”
    – Vice President, Succession Management and C-Suite Services, Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI)

    “The audience loved the topic and learned a lot from him.”
    – Strategic Marketing Manager, Sabre Hospitality Solutions

    “Geoff did an amazing job with our event. He was very thoughtful and thorough with his preparation and really hit the mark for us. He’s a wonderful moderator!”
    – Marketing Manager, The Boston Consulting Group

    “This was undoubtedly the best executive conference we’ve held in our 20 plus years of hosting this event. While venue was great, it’s all about the content. Your talk was particularly compelling since the empathy/humanity theme was something that our guests had not really contemplated, and as such, served as “fresh” content for them to consider. Your style in delivering was also superb.”
    – Executive Vice President, Hartford Steam Boiler

    “I found your presentation and style very enjoyable & your session received great reviews from our clients. Thank you for making the conference better!”
    – Vice President and Managing Director, Knowledge Partnership, Investment Manager Services, SEI

    “You are a star. All the comments have been stellar.”
    – Partner, Pepper Hamilton LLP

    “Geoff Colvin was EXACTLY perfect for us. We loved his pace and his sense of humor . . . and his delivery was just great. BIG HIT!”
    – Operation Manager, NewFirst Financial Resources LLC

    “Geoff was very, very good. Everyone bar none, was extremely happy w/ his discussion and topics. Very relevant, timely and applicable as it relates to the Ever-evolving business world. Would like to engage him again w/o question and would be happy to be a reference if you ever need it. ”
    – Senior Vice President and General Manager, Health Plan Business Unit, Mede Analytics

    “I wanted to just keep you here so you could give the same talk to our partners. It’s exactly what they need to hear.”
    – Managing Partner, Baker & McKenzie

    “Geoff Colvin was fabulous! Thanks. Members thought he was the best speaker we have ever had.”
    – President, Flexible Packaging Association

    “Geoff, I truly appreciate you taking time to meet with the team and to listen to their discussions. The feedback from the clients thus far was that you made them think out of the box and more strategically then they have in a long time. What was most interesting is that two of the clients quoted you in the afternoon session so clearly you made an impression!”
    – Chief of Marketing, PowerPlan, Inc.

    “In a word: fantastic! Geoff really was perfect for this. He kept the conversation lively. Geoff really knocked it out of the ballpark.”
    – Microsoft

    “No surprise, Geoff was articulate and insightful, thoughtful on global and fiscal issues affecting industry and candid on impressions of leadership. Not to mention, a wonderful man who I will forever be indebted to.”
    – CEO, The Elliot Group

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    Books by Geoff Colvin:

    Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

    It’s easy to imagine a nightmare scenario in which computers simply take over most of the tasks that people now get paid to do. The unavoidable question—will millions of people lose out, unable to best the machine?—is increasingly dominating business, education, economics, and policy.

    The bestselling author of Talent Is Overrated explains how the skills and economy values are changing in historic ways and offers a guide to what’s next for all workers. Mastering technical skills that have historically been in demand no longer differentiates us as it used to. Instead, our greatest advantage lies in our deepest, most essentially human abilities—empathy, creativity, social sensitivity, storytelling, humor, relationship building, and expressing ourselves with greater power than logic can ever achieve.

    These high-value skills craete tremendous competitive advantage—more devoted customers, stronger cultures, breakthrough ideas, and more effective teams. And while many of us regard these abilities as innate traits, it turns out they can all be developed. As Colvin shows, they’re already being developed in a range of farsighted organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic, the U.S. Army, and Stanford Business School.




    Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from EverybodyElse

    Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller

    Asked to explain why a few people truly excel, most people offer one of two answers. The first is hard work. Yet we all know plenty of hard workers who have been doing the same job for years or decades without becoming great. The other possibility is that the elite possess an innate talent for excelling in their field. We assume that Mozart was born with an astounding gift for music, and Warren Buffett carries a gene for brilliant investing. The trouble is, scientific evidence doesn′t support the notion that specific natural talents make great performers.

    According to distinguished journalist Geoff Colvin, both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. What really makes the difference is a highly specific kind of effort-“deliberate practice”-that few of us pursue when we′re practicing golf or piano or stockpicking. Based on scientific research, Talent is Overrated shares the secrets of extraordinary performance and shows how to apply these principles. It features the stories of people who achieved world-class greatness through deliberate practice-including Benjamin Franklin, comedian Chris Rock, football star Jerry Rice, and top CEOs Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer.

    Order Here




    The Upside of the Downturn: Ten Management Strategies to Prevail in the Recession and Thrive in the Aftermath

    Some businesses – and some people – will emerge from this downturn stronger and more dominant than when it started. Others will weaken and fade. It all depends on critical choices they make right now.

    Geoff Colvin, one of America′s most respected business journalists, says even the scariest recession has an upside. The best managers know conventional thinking won′t help them win in these tough times. They′re taking smart, practical steps that will not only keep them strong, but will also distance them from the pack for years to come.

    The dozens of top-performing leaders Colvin interviewed reject the common view that slashing costs and firing employees are all that matter. They see the recession as a rich opportunity to reinvent their organizations and lay the groundwork for future growth.

    Colvin′s ten solidly grounded strategies will increase your company′s competitiveness and build its long-term value. A sample:

    • Reset priorities. Easy to say, harder to do. Pursuing the lofty goals set in good times can be disastrous now.
    • Reevaluate people and steal some good ones. Mass layoffs are a tempting way to cut costs, but great companies often find smarter alternatives. And if your competitors are dumb enough to fire their best people, grab them.
    • Keep investing in the core. Trim the fat from your budgets but not the muscle. The best companies actually increase some spending in a recession, funding the areas that make them unique and valuable.
    • Don′t rush to cut prices. Many companies assume they must – yet the long-term damage often outweighs the short-term boost.

    Colvin shows how these strategies really work, using examples of major companies that have applied them with inspiring results.

    Order Here




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