Josh Klein Profile

Life-long expert on the use of hacking and innovation to create and solve social systems and industries, Josh Klein has served as a consultant on innovation and cyber security to the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the State Department, as well as Microsoft, Oracle, AT&T, and many others. He is also the celebrated author of Roo’d, Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results and Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have.

Klein is a hacker—someone willing to take apart a system in order to create new opportunities. In the traditional engineering sense, a “hack” is a clever re-use or repurposing of technology or systems to achieve a new, superior result. So, he isn’t simply a hacker, he’s an innovator who likes to tinker with (and take apart) everything, reassembling the pieces into better, more effective constructions.

He does this with everything: from social systems, computer networks, institutions, and consumer hardware to animal behavior and beyond. Klein knows that the greatest innovations come from rethinking ordinary situations. Through re-imagining, repurposing, and re-engineering hackers can herald global improvements by being exactly who they are.

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    “Josh Klein is the quintessential hacker – a cross-disciplinary, pattern recognizing polymath who takes his greatest joy from combining the unexpected and seeing the result work in new and better ways.”

    Josh Klein is a passionate hacker of all things. He examines systems, he takes them apart, and he puts different pieces together to produce something new and more effective. He hacks. Everything. His list includes social systems, computer networks, institutions, consumer hardware, animal behavior, and many more. Klein knows that the greatest innovations come from rethinking ordinary situations or hacking- a do-it-yourself movement with roots inside the engineering community.

    A hacker is someone who is willing to take a system apart to create new opportunities.

    A “hack” in the traditional engineering sense is a clever re-use of technology or systems to achieve a superior result. It’s also increasingly the most common means of innovation available to any organization or individual. In his keynotes, Joshua Klein explains how hacking allows success everywhere, for anyone – from the tooth fairy to the publishing industry – and how we as hackers can herald global improvements by being exactly who we are.

    Josh frequently provides emerging technology research for organizations large and small, turning this insight into market-leading strategy for both product and business model evolution. His deep technology background enables him to quickly cut through hype to find where an organization can get maximum leverage, saving time and providing first-mover advantage.

Josh Klein Speaking Videos

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Josh Klein's Speech Descriptions

Josh Klein’s programs center on the concept of “hacking.” Josh is attempting to bring the term back from its long-time negative association (the execution of malicious computer attacks) to a more positive approach.

He emphasizes the unorthodox reworking of current systems for mutual benefit across multiple sectors of industry and society. His talks are engaging and informative to audiences everywhere, as they take facts and systems that are well known and turn them around to create new, innovative ideas.

Hacking Work:
How Work is Broken and How We Can Fix It – From the Bottom Up

We all know that big bureaucracies are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Turn one of your biggest costs – frustrated employees – into one of your biggest assets. (Based on my recent book.)

Reputational Economics:
Why Who Cares is More Important than What You Have

Everyone relies on their relationships to get what they need. The internet has changed that, now (with new social software platforms) more than ever. Hear how to make the most of who you know!

Meritocratic Marketplaces:

The Secret Side to the Megatrends You Thought You Understood

“Transparency,” “Online Services,” “the cloud”: we’ve all heard the buzzwords, but what do they *mean*? The answer turns out to be both more and less than you’d think. Come discover how common opinion has shortsighted the impact and opportunity of the biggest trends we’ve all misunderstood.

How Parasitic Species can be Coopted to Beneficial Systems

Rats, cockroaches, deer, crows – all of these species are hyperadapted to living with humanity (synanthropes), and yet we persist in trying to eradicate them. It turns out that with a little ingenuity we can make them productive elements of human society, instead. Find out how as we explore synanthropy.

Additional Recommended Topics:

  • Scope, Scale, and Size: Keys to Massive Innovation in the 21st Century

Josh Klein on Speaking

I really want people to leave the room excited about the potential they have in their grasp to change the world.

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

KLEIN: There are always event and industry-specific takeaways, or points relevant to particular technologies salient to the audience. On a broader note, I really want people to leave the room excited about the potential they have in their grasp to change the world. All of us have access to more technology, education, and communities of interest than at any time in human history. It’s tremendously exciting, and a massive opportunity.

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

KLEIN: I have a bunch of bot services that dig up information about everyone attending, any past events, related content, and what’s trending by the participants on social media. This ensures I know what people are talking about before I get on stage. The most important thing I do though, is work with the organizers to make sure the presentation is rock-solid in terms of integrating with the event. My biggest goal is to make sure I present valuable content we both believe the participants will take home with them.

Otherwise, my favorite secret ninja presenter trick is to get to the event early enough to walk around and talk with folks as a participant. Getting a visceral feel for where people are in an event’s agenda, what topics or speakers have had a lingering impact, and what issues are *actually* buzzing around that day are all absolute gold for a presenter to work into his speech, and they make it immediate and tangible in a way nothing else can.

There’s something about walking off a stage and having Peter Schwartz and Robin Williams competing to congratulate you that makes an impression.

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

KLEIN: I once taught a high-school soccer team how to snarf the network traffic on the on-board wifi network on a plane to Dallas, but I had to cut it short when the stewardesses started getting twitchy.

Otherwise, I’d say that speaking at the WEF’s Davos conference was definitely memorable, as was TED. There’s something about walking off a stage and having Peter Schwartz and Robin Williams competing to congratulate you that makes an impression.

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

KLEIN: Anyone who wants to improve their utilization of new and emerging technology. I’ve spoken to small-scale startups, nonprofits, schools, and rooms that were packed with Fortune 200 senior executives. My biggest impact comes when I get to pull back the curtain on emerging tech to people who sincerely want to change how they run their business.

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

KLEIN: It sounds silly, but I don’t have one; the targets change too fast, and I customize my content too much to pick a single topic. I will say that I have favorite *audiences*, however. Those that consist of people who want to engage, who are going to ask thoughtful questions afterwards, and who seriously want to learn are always more fun.

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

KLEIN: My first real speaking gig was on the TED main stage. I realized afterwards that I have a genetically mutation that allows me not to be bothered by speaking in public, plus it’s a whole lot of fun! After doing it for a few large-scale engagements, I discovered that it could also be a very effective way to move the needle on how people participate in and manage their businesses, something that I found hugely compelling.

Having worked with some of the most powerful governments and corporations in the world, as well as with some of the most talented criminals, I have many fun and surprising stories to share.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and/or humor factor into your keynote speech content?

KLEIN: Hugely!! Narrative is how human beings remember and make sense of the world, so it’s the first tool you need to use in making an effective presentation. Case studies are important to substantiate your case so people have a reference for each point. Humor is always helpful when talking about how technology will destroy people’s safety, business, and way of life.

Plus, having worked with some of the most powerful governments and corporations in the world, as well as with some of the most talented criminals, I have many fun and surprising stories to share. 🙂

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

KLEIN: Getting early-stage startups their first major round of funding is always a blast, as is working with a big company to create their first rapidly iterated internal startup effort.

Some of the most important successes are the most personal, however. I did a small event in Montreal once, shortly after the release of my second book, Hacking Work. Afterwards an older gentleman waited until everyone who had gathered for follow-up questions or book signings had left, and then quietly explained that he had to tell me that he thought I was “completely full of shit”. He’d said he’d worked for the same company for 24-and-a-half years, and what I was espousing was complete anarchy. He felt that he took care of his company, and his company took care of him.

A few months later he emailed me and explained who he was. He’d been three weeks from retiring and collecting his pension when we met, he said, and a week later he’d been fired under spurious pretensions so the company wouldn’t have to pay it. At first he’d despaired, but eventually he recalled my presentation, bought my book, and put it into action. When he emailed me he’d just finished his first couple weeks at a new job doing work he’d always wanted to do but never got around to trying for because of fear of losing his secure job.

I can’t claim credit for the work this man did nor for his amazing bravery in bootstrapping himself out of a horrible situation, but being able to be a part of his story has compelled me to work harder and reach farther with my own work than almost anything else I’ve done. Exclusive Interview with Josh Klein
Social Hacking, with Josh Klein
In this interview, Josh Klein discusses:
  • The biggest future trends shaping the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Hacks that have made the world a better place.
  • How "hacking your work" can benefit your business.
    Read the Full Interview
  • "Most people don’t understand what AI is or how its human-seeming elements are fooling us into treating it as an oracle."
    - Josh Klein

    What People are Saying about Seeing Josh Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Josh is a smart, captivating speaker who offers more than his thoughts on technology – he offers real accounts of his lived ′experiences hacking computers, cellphones, and even crows.′”
    – Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist

    “My brain is still splattered against the wall from our meeting this morning.”
    −Nikole Yinger, Producer, Bloomberg TV

    “Josh Klein will be one of the most exciting cultural players to watch
    in the coming decade; his personal fluidity between disciplines and movement of ideas across worlds both real and virtual, technological and creative, allows him to be a guide for those of us who are interested in being the architects of our own identity.”
    – Aimee Mullins, Speaker, Athlete, Actress

    “I hack everything now. When I have an assignment, I think to myself ‘how can I hack this?’… It [the concept of hacking] has changed my life. Now when I do anything I ask myself – how can I hack this?”
    – Manleen Kaur , Student at Baruch College

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    Books by Josh Klein:

    Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have

    As the internet has increasingly become more social, the value of individual reputations has risen, and a new currency based on reputation has been created. This means that not only are companies tracking what an individual is tweeting and what sites they spend the most time on, but they’re using this knowledge to predict the consumer’s future behavior. And a world in which Target knows that a woman is pregnant before she does, or where a person gets a job (or loses one) based on his high school hijinx is a scary one indeed.

    Joshua Klein’s Reputation Economics asks these crucial questions: But what if there were a way to harness the power of these new technologies to empower the individual and entrepreneur? What if it turned out that David was actually better suited to navigate this new realm of reputation than Goliath? And what if he ushered in a new age of business in which reputation, rather than money, was the strongest currency of all? This is all currently happening online already.

    Welcome to the age of Reputation Economics:

  • Where Avis is currently discounting car rentals based on Twitter followers
  • Where Carnival Cruise Lines are offering free upgrades based on a Klout score
  • Where Amazon and Microsoft are a short way away from dynamically pricing their goods based on a consumer’s reach and reputation online
  • Where Klout scores are being used to vet job applications

    The value of individual reputation is already radically changing the way business is done.

    Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results

    Why work harder than you have to? One manager kept his senior execs happy by secretly hacking into the company′s database to give them the reports they needed in one third of the time. Hacking is a powerful solution to every stupid procedure, tool, rule, and process we are forced to endure at the office. Benevolent hackers are saving business from itself.

    It would be so much easier to do great work if not for lingering bureaucracies, outdated technologies, and deeply irrational rules and procedures. These things are killing us.

    Frustrating? Hell, yes. But take heart-there′s an army of heroes coming to the rescue.

    Today′s top performers are taking matters into their own hands: bypassing sacred structures, using forbidden tools, and ignoring silly corporate edicts. In other words, they are hacking work to increase their efficiency and job satisfaction. Consultant Bill Jensen teamed up with hacker Josh Klein to expose the cheat codes that enable people to work smarter instead of harder. Once employees learn how to hack their work, they accomplish more in less time. They cut through red tape and circumvent stupid rules.

    For instance, Elizabeth′s bosses wouldn′t sign off on her plan to improve customer service. So she made videotapes of customers complaining about what needed fixing and posted them on YouTube. Within days, public outcry forced senior management to reverse its decision.

    Hacking Work reveals powerful technological and social hacks and shows readers how to apply them to sidestep bureaucratic boundaries and busywork. It′s about making the system work for you, not the other way around, so you can take control of your workload, increase your productivity, and help your company succeed-in spite of itself.

    Order Here

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