Ken Segall Profile

  • Creative director and marketing guru, Segall was instrumental in Apple’s legendary comeback as part of the executive team that took it from near bankruptcy to a value of $ 153.3 billion.

  • Segall was the mastermind and leader of Apple’s legendary “Think Different” campaign and the iconic names of flagship products, namely the iMac, iPad, iPhone, and iTunes.

  • Segall is the best-selling author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success and Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity.
  • For 12 years, it was Ken Segall’s job to make people love Apple. As creative director for NeXT and Apple, Segall worked closely with Steve Jobs to pivot Apple from near bankruptcy to a value of $153 billion within the course of a decade. Segall has documented the secrets to Apple’s success and how other companies can apply them in his New York Times bestseller, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, and his follow-up book, Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity.

    Segall spearheaded Apple’s game-changing “Think Different” campaign. He is also famous for naming the “iMac,” thus sparking Apple’s iconic “i” product craze. Additionally, Segall’s talent and obsession with technology has landed him jobs marketing for IBM, Intel, and Dell.

    As an author and speaker, Segall explores how business leaders around the world are raising profits by cutting complexity in their products and operations. An internationally in-demand presenter, he’s delivered keynotes about the power of simplicity on five continents.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Ken Segall is one of the most admired creative executives in the marketing industry. He led the creative team behind Apple’s iconic Think different campaign and set Apple down the i-path by naming the iMac. With wit and insight, Segall speaks to companies worldwide about the power of simplicity, coloring his presentation with stories about life in the world of Steve Jobs.

      Ken Segall is the author of the book, Think Simple — the follow-up to his New York Times bestseller, Insanely Simple. A self-proclaimed technology enthusiast, Segall worked closely with Steve Jobs as his ad agency creative director for 12 years spanning NeXT and Apple. He has also served as worldwide agency creative director for IBM, Intel, Dell, and BMW.

      Segall is an international speaker on the power of simplicity. His message has struck a chord across a wide range of industries in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, opening eyes to the benefits of simplicity that are available to all.

      In Insanely Simple, Segall showed how Steve Jobs’s love of simplicity helped propel Apple from near-bankruptcy to become the world’s most valuable company. You could see it in the way Apple innovates, advertises, sells at retail, and even organizes itself internally. In Apple’s success, there are valuable lessons for every company’s success.

      In Think Simple, Ken Segall goes beyond Apple to show how simplicity is powering many different companies around the world—big and small, famous and under-the-radar, established and start-ups. The book is based on interviews with more than 40 CEOs and business leaders, including those at Whole Foods, The Container Store, Ben & Jerry’s, Charles Schwab, Telstra, Bank of Melbourne, and many more.

    Ken Segall Speaking Videos

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    Ken Segall's Speech Descriptions

    Steve Jobs’s communicator of choice, Ken Segall shows companies worldwide how to boost their bottom line by embracing simplicity. Segall offers compelling insider stories from his decade at Apple, during which Jobs stepped in to transform a bloated failing company into the world’s most valuable business. However, Segall does more than entertain; he helps organizations draft a roadmap to eliminate complexity from their operations and move toward a simpler, better business model.

    Current speaking topics

    Insanely Simple
    Creating ads for Steve Jobs was exciting, intense, scary, empowering and fun. Most important, it was a learning experience. Ken witnessed firsthand how the love of simplicity can create better products, fanatic customers, and more fulfilled employees.

    In this talk, he shine a light on the elements of simplicity that have driven the success of Apple and other companies, enabling them to outthink their competitors.

    He's got plenty of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories to share, all of which support my thesis: Simplicity is the most powerful force in business—and it’s something that any person or company can put to work today.

    Inside Apple Advertising
    Apple has long been the gold standard for advertising creativity, quality and effectiveness. That’s because Steve Jobs was as uncompromising in his ads as he was in his products.

    Here, Ken focuses on some of Apple’s more famous advertising moments, taking the audience behind the scenes to understand the sometimes-crazy road from concept to air. He shares stories about strategies, creative development and product. If great marketing is your quest, it helps to hear how some great campaigns were born.

    Working the Steve Jobs Way
    Steve was as advertised—difficult and sometimes brutal—but he was also one of the most effective business leaders in history. It was a mix of talent and personality that allowed him to lead Apple from the brink of extinction to unimaginable success.

    In this talk, Ken takes a closer look at Steve’s management style, illuminating principles that anyone can adopt to motivate employees, make better products and streamline complicated companies.

    Ken Segall on Speaking

    Every business, big or small, across every industry, established or startup, can leverage the proven principles of simplicity. It’s a powerful way to out-think competitors.

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

    SEGALL: My experience with Steve Jobs made me see simplicity as a lens through which you can look at virtually every aspect of your business—customer-facing and internal. It’s about attracting customers and earning their loyalty. It’s about creating a more fulfilling, more motivating working environment (physical and mental) for employees. Every business, big or small, across every industry, established or startup, can leverage the proven principles of simplicity. It’s a powerful way to out-think competitors.

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

    SEGALL: I’m eager to learn everything I can about my audience—who they are, why they’re attending, what they hope to learn. When possible, I also want to know what unique challenges their company might face. That’s because simplicity can be applied to every part of a business—products, services, websites, marketing, packaging, corporate organization, etc. I want to be sure that I’m sharing the most valuable insights to each audience.

    I proudly say that my presentations are never quite finished. To keep things fresh and relevant, I’m constantly adding and tweaking, based on the latest news and market trends. I will never be trapped in a presentation that grows stale over time. I also encourage event organizers to share their thoughts with me in real time. I’m open to new ideas right up to the moment I walk on stage.

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

    SEGALL: I had one experience that definitely qualifies as memorable and unusual. I would also add life-changing and unimaginable. On my flight home from a keynote presentation in Helsinki, I found myself seated next to a charming Finn—and we ended up getting married a few years later. If that’s not coincidental enough, both of us actually changed our seats prior to that fateful flight, and ended up seated together as a result. The universe works in the most magical ways!

    Honestly, I underestimated the enthusiasm my topic would generate. Across more than 20 countries, I’ve found that the idea of simplifying a company—for the benefit of customers and employees—is universally embraced and desired.

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

    SEGALL: When I wrote my first book, I had a terrific story to tell. I had worked with one of the world’s most inventive, visionary leaders – Steve Jobs. He presided over the company’s history-making success and that success was based on a core belief that could be embraced by any business person, to his or her own advantage.

    I believed my story would appeal to every level of business reader—and it did. The book became a New York Times Best Seller, and I received a flood of speaking inquiries from wildly diverse industries as a result. I have now spoken to groups in industries across the spectrum, including banking, legal, design, entertainment, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, marketing and more.

    Honestly, I underestimated the enthusiasm my topic would generate. Across more than 20 countries, I’ve found that the idea of simplifying a company—for the benefit of customers and employees—is universally embraced and desired.

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

    SEGALL: My experience as Steve Jobs’ ad man is hands-down the most important work I’ve done in marketing. It was simultaneously inspirational, exhilarating, exciting, fun and, most important, effective. I’m eager to speak on a number of topics, but I most enjoy sharing my experiences in the roller-coaster world of Steve. It truly was the marketing adventure of my lifetime. There are so many important business lessons in it, and so many moments that prove the power of simplicity.

    Working with Steve opened my eyes so much wider. I realized that simplicity wasn’t just a way to improve marketing—it could transform an entire company.

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

    SEGALL: For twenty years prior to my speaking career, I’d focused on the power of simplicity in my marketing work. I’d been drawn in by the impact and effectiveness of simple, focused ad campaigns, so my website had been devoted to the topic well before I met Steve Jobs. However, working with Steve opened my eyes so much wider. I realized that simplicity wasn’t just a way to improve marketing—it could transform an entire company.

    It was this belief that inspired me to write Insanely Simple, and it was the success of this book that inspired me to go out speaking about it. I haven’t looked back since!

    Every engagement is a new experience for me. I meet smart, innovative people wherever I travel and I’m forever amazed at how much creative energy exists across all cultures. We really do live in thrilling times.

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

    SEGALL: The best compliment I get is that I’m a storyteller. Truthfully, that sounds far better to me than “speaker.” After all, anyone can get up and describe a business insight, but it’s an art is to use interesting, fun, unexpected stories to bring one’s insights to life. Otherwise, little is remembered. I have so many behind-the-scenes stories about working in the world of Steve Jobs—stories relevant to my topic—that I’m in no danger of running out anytime soon. Exclusive Interview with Ken Segall
    Lessons Learned from Working with Steve Jobs by Ken Segall
    In this exclusive interview with SPEAKING.COM, leadership and creativity speaker, Ken Segall discusses:
  • How simplicity was the secret to Apple's success.
  • How to cut complexity and keep things simple in your workplace.
  • What it was really like to work with Steve Jobs. Read the Full Interview
  • "We all choose the simple over the complex—and this is a preference that can be monetized by any business. "
    - Ken Segall

    What People are Saying about Seeing Ken Speak

    Rating Entries

    “A fantastic session: focused, deeply insightful…and simple! Ken was a huge hit with an audience of hundreds of CEOs and CXOs.”
    — Google, Mumbai, India

    “Ken totally captivates and energizes. He hit exactly the right tone for our audience—so much so that we had to delay the start of our next presentation, while our team queued to meet him.”
    — Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, London, UK

    “Ken’s Insanely Simple speech serves as an energizing inspiration and wake-up call.”
    — Procter & Gamble, Panama City, Panama

    “A motivating talk! I could feel the temperature of the room going up and up. The students were inspired, and their spirits uplifted.”
    — Doshisha Business School, Kyoto, Japan

    “The agency was buzzing…Ken Segall shared so many principles that could/should be applied to both us and our clients. He inspired and energized.”
    — DDB, New York, NY

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    Books by Ken Segall:

    Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity
    Simplicity is arguably the most potent weapon in business—attracting customers, motivating employees, helping outthink competitors, and creating new efficiencies. Yet rarely is it as simple as it looks.

    Ken Segall’s first book, Insanely Simple, was based on observations gained from twelve years working as Steve Jobs’s advertising agency creative director, first with NeXT and then with Apple. He saw firsthand that Jobs looked at everything through the lens of simplicity. His obsession with simplicity was not just visible in Apple’s products. You could see it in the way the company organized, innovated, advertised, sold at retail, and provided customer service.

    In practice, simplicity was Jobs’s most powerful business weapon. It helped Apple distinguish its products and create entirely new product categories, and it put distance between Apple and its competitors. But, while Apple is a terrific example of a company that has been propelled by the power of simplicity, it is hardly alone.

    Inspired by the ways Apple has benefited from the power of simplicity, Segall set out to find other companies that were traveling this path. He wanted to learn more about the thinking of their leaders. He felt that if he could chronicle the experiences of those who have successfully simplified, it would be an invaluable guide for everyone who would like to do the same.

    This book is the result of his journey into simplicity in companies around the world.

    Many of the “heroes of simplicity” profiled in this book are probably not on your list of usual suspects. Segall had conversations with over forty men and women from a wide range of industries, in companies big and small, established and up-and-coming, famous and below under the radar.

    Each leader has a fascinating point of view about how simplicity has helped improve his or her company and set it apart from competitors. Each is unique, yet, as you’ll find, many display interesting similarities.

    From Jerry Greenfield, you’ll hear how Ben & Jerry’s grew from local to global without losing its focus and simple values. From the CEO of one of Australia’s biggest banks, you’ll hear how simplicity is attracting new customers. From former Apple Senior Vice President Ron Johnson, you’ll hear how a simple idea aligned the team creating the worldwide network of Apple Stores.

    You’ll discover how simplicity influences the CEOs of The Container Store and Whole Foods. You’ll get insights on simplification from the worlds of fashion, automobiles, entertainment, and technology. You’ll even get inside the blue heads of the Blue Man Group, who developed a business strategy to defeat complexity before it could take root.

    No principle is more important for businesses today than simplicity. In this insightful and often surprising book, you will learn how to harness the power of simplicity to build lasting, profitable organizations.

    Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success

    Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on earth in 2012.

    As ad agency creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple’s resurrection, helping to create such critical marketing campaigns as “Think Different” and naming the iMac.

    This book makes you a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You’ll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster, sometimes saving millions in the process.

    Segall brings Apple’s quest for Simplicity to life using fascinating (and previously untold) stories from behind the scenes. Through his insight and wit, you’ll discover how companies that leverage this power can stand out from competitors—and individuals who master it can become critical assets to their organizations.

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