Travels from California, USA
Speaker fee starts in range: $20,000 to $25,000
With timeless albums like This Father’s Day and From Strength to Strength, Peter Himmelman won a permanent place in the hearts of countless rock fans. Now, the Grammy and Emmy-nominated musician channels his decades of experience in the creative arts to help companies build trust and resilience across their organization, fostering teams that are stronger, more innovative, and more engaged.
Himmelman is the founder of Big Muse, a creative consultancy whose clients include the Gap, Adobe, McDonald’s, and other Fortune 500s. He’s delivered his interactive programs to senior executives and students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. His critically acclaimed book, Let Me Out, systemizes and simplifies the often arduous challenge of turning an idea into a reality.
Himmelman first came into the public eye as the frontman for the Minneapolis rock ‘n’ roll band, Sussman Lawrence. In the 1980s, he launched a successful solo career, earning a reputation as “rock’s most imaginative performer.” A committed family man and father of four, Himmelman limited his time touring in order to be with his family and eventually took a 9-to-5 job composing television scores so that he could spend more time at home. He wrote the soundtrack for the highly popular drama Bones for four seasons and received numerous accolades for his work on the series Judging Amy, including an Emmy nod for his song, “The Best Kind of Answer.”
In addition to helping corporate teams across the U.S. access and unleash their own creativity, Himmelman continues to write and perform new music. His insights on innovation have been published in Forbes, Time, and the Huffington Post.
Peter Himmelman is a Grammy and Emmy nominated singer-songwriter, visual artist, best-selling author, film composer, entrepreneur, and rock and roll performer with over 20 critically acclaimed recordings to his credit.
In addition to his own creative work, he is the founder of Big Muse, a company, which helps organizations to leverage the power of their people’s innate creativity. Clients include The Wharton School/McNulty Leadership Program, The UPennCLO Executive Doctoral Program, Kellogg School of Management, 3M, Boeing, McDonald’s, Adobe, and Gap Inc. His most recent book, Let Me Out (Unlock your creative mind and bring your ideas to life) was released in 2016 on Random Penguin/House.
Peter also holds an Advanced Management Certificate from The Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern, and a Certificate of Leadership Development from the United States Army War College.
Innovation speaker and musician, Peter Himmelman shares the personal and moving journey that molded his life's perspective. After a successful rock career, Himmelman had settled into a comfortable job composing sound cues for television shows, but each day, he wrestled with the feeling that something was missing - that he was sleepwalking through life.
He occupied his downtime, immersing himself in the work of someone that he felt truly had lived every day fully awake - Daniel Pearl, an American investigative journalist whose passion and mission to shed light on the 9/11 Attacks led him to a gruesome death at the hands of terrorists in 2002. Reflecting on the wide-reaching impact of Daniel's body of work, Himmelman often questioned what he was doing with his own life - until a friend sent him an article on Pearl that contained a surprising detail.
Written by Pearl's former colleague, William Pesek, the article mentioned that the late reporter had been an avid fan of Himmelman's music and often spent time discussing his songs with Pesek. Upon contacting Pesek, Himmelman further discovered that he had actually chatted with Pearl and Pesek after one of his concerts in 1995, leaving a lasting and positive impression on both journalists.
"The things we do, the actions we take have a great significance," Himmelman imparts. "And in spite of the conclusions we've drawn from our many fears and our many failures, we truly matter...Even the small things, the thoughts in our head, our facial expressions, our body language, the things that we read and the things we say aloud have a resonance far beyond our limited reckoning."
Boosting your organization’s innovation and productivity isn’t about “making your people more creative.” It’s about making an environment where your people feel free to exercise their natural creativity. Musician and innovation expert, Peter Himmelman engages your team in an interactive experience that will leave everyone more trusting, self-confident, and connected – the very dynamic needed to foster new ideas and growth.
With over ten years of experience creating in a corporate environment, Himmelman has a firsthand understanding of common constraints to creativity and growth as well as how to overcome them. Since founding Big Muse in 2011, he’s helped organizations like Adobe, 20th Century FOX, and the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute implement his methods hands-on, generating a lasting effect that echoes beyond anyone workshop or keynote.
Teams In Perfect Harmony: Creative Collaboration
Learn to develop an instant trust that will make your team powerfully co-creative.
You need four things to grow your business.
• Better creativity
• Better processes
• Better solutions
• Better products
The glue that holds any team together and allows these things to happen is trust. It’s trust alone that reduces fear and allows teams to become co-creative. The magic of Big Muse is that it allows you to quickly create trust.
So often Peter is asked: “Can you help make our people more creative”? Through experience, he's found that that particular challenge has less to do with “making people more creative” than it does with developing an environment that’s more trusting.
The people you employ have gone through an arduous vetting process. They work for you because you believe they are highly competent and highly intelligent. You pay them well for that competency. Knowing that, Peter doesn’t frame the solution around “bringing out” creativity, but rather, on how to create the trust that allows it to effortlessly shine forth.
A few years back, he had an experience working with a large company that drove this idea home in a powerful way. Like many other organizations, they asked him: “Can you help make our young leaders more comfortable with creativity?”
On the day of the workshop, he was dismayed to see members of the company’s upper management team in positions around the room wearing grim faces, each of them holding clipboards in their hands, and taking notes on the performance of each of these young leaders as he went through his program. ‘How could anyone be expected to be creative in this hostile —almost punitive environment?’ he wondered.
Peter learned a simple, but essential lesson that day: Intelligent people are creative by nature, all they need is an environment of trust and their creativity will burst forth.
Whether it’s a workshop or a keynote, Big Muse’s special advantage over other programs is that Peter uses creativity to generate creativity. He's not pedantic. He doesn't overdose people with Powerpoint. Most importantly, he doesn't just yammer on about data points, or what the research says; he engages your people in visceral, creative projects that allow them to actualize the information.
Whether it’s song, poetry, artwork, or storytelling, Peter and his team put together an experience that will leave your people feeling more trusting of one another, more connected to the mission of your company, and most importantly, more trusting in their own creative capacities.
Amping Up Innovation: Silencing Marv The Inner Critic
MARV: Majorly Afraid of Revealing Vulnerability®.
If you’re human, you’re already well acquainted with MARV. He’s the voice of fear in all of us. We know from experience that Marv works too hard. He’s terrified of failure, shame and vulnerability. As our internal-critic, Marv’s job is to protect us from those “awful things”. (And he takes his job seriously!)
When Marv offers us his negative judgment, he’s only trying to help. But in doing so he stymies our growth and creativity. Taming him will lead your organization to greater competitiveness, adaptability to rapid change, and to greater productivity overall.
This Big Muse program gives participants techniques to short circuit the brain’s native tendency towards fear, which allows them access to new creative possibilities. M.A.R.V. stands for (Majorly Afraid of Revealing Vulnerability®). Marv is our metaphor for your internal critic. Learn to silence him, fearlessly share your ideas, be deeply creative, and grow in your personal and professional life.
Your people will learn key tools to keep Marv at bay while they free their minds to do their best work. Employees that are overly focused on negative judgment, whether externally imposed, or from their own destructive thinking, may well be the single biggest inhibitor to your company’s success.
While other programs and speakers simply speak to the issue of overcoming fear, Big Muse programs are super-interactive. This interactivity includes having your people write original songs (whether individually or in groups) about key company concerns, new outlooks, social issues (you name it), songs that will later be performed by the Big Muse band and myself to create a powerfully resounding culmination to the session. Instead of being told how to act or how to feel, participants in a Big Muse session absorb information in a potent, visceral, and unforgettable manner.
Leadership: Knowing Yourself To Lead Others
It’s axiomatic; if you can’t self-reflect, you can’t know yourself. If you can’t know yourself you can’t lead your own growth. If you can’t lead your own growth you can’t lead others. Learn to take control of your career and your life, so both you and your teams can perform better and lead more fulfilling lives. One of the keys to being resilient in these times of unceasing flux and disruption is not only to know your values, but to examine them, to write about them, and then… to make a plan to bring those values into every part of your life.
Words like courage, loyalty, honor, and integrity have sadly fallen into disuse. They are considered by many to be things found only in old movies and on Hallmark greeting cards. Peter and Big Muse think about those words very differently. They believe that core values are what’s missing in today’s mercurial business climate; a sometimes, less than humane place, where many leaders appear to be clawing their way to some mythical “top” —in spite of the consequences to stakeholders, employees, and society at large.
They also believe that a deep exploration into values, ideas of purpose, and of an overall sense of contributing to mankind, is not only moral, it makes strategic business sense as well. Here’s why:
You may have read the studies, they’re everywhere; the ones that say that employee disengagement is at an all time high —around 70% internationally. That means that 70% percent of your people are just phoning it in. Those same studies point out a figure that’s even more disturbing; 20% of that 70% are actually working against the goals of your company, they are conspiring against precisely what you are working towards.
Peter feels strongly that disengagement at that level comes about when people sense the company they are working for does not have strong values. They become dissatisfied when they think the only mission statement is to shore up the bottom line. While keeping numbers up should be a priority, if that’s all your company stands for in the minds of your employees, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to keep them around for long. As human beings, we are motivated far more by a sense of purpose than we are by simply filling our personal coffers.
Resilience: Success in Experimentation
Experimentation is a necessary part of your path to success. Learn to treat it as a positive experience so that it becomes a catalyst, rather than an inhibitor to personal and professional growth.
Without the ability to try new things, employees become bored, and their boredom invariably leads to frustration. That frustration leads them to either, look for another job, or stick around to become a member of the aforementioned, 70% disengagement club, (or worse, the 20% company saboteur club)!
Peter knows a young woman who works for a large international food chain. After hearing her speak about her frustration with having to deal with the company’s complex hierarchy and its intrusion into even the smallest decisions, he felt her pain. She admitted two things that stuck with him:
1.) She could accomplish so much more at her job if only she were given the opportunity to implement some of her own solutions to existing problems.
2.) She puts in only three hours of valuable work per week. The rest of the time she deals with a snail-paced, creativity-stifling bureaucracy.
In this important session, (primarily geared to upper management), Peter creates conversation around both the costs and the benefits of allowing talented people to their creative muscles, to utilize their native creativity, and to put their innovative solutions to good use. Clearly, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
In this Big Muse session, Peter doesn't simply talk; he creates active scenarios in which leaders can safely explore their fears around experimentation. He creates a lasting resilience to those fears so that they no longer stand in the way of achieving your goals of retaining talent, recruiting talent, and staying competitive.
SPEAKING.COM:What do you want people to learn/take away from your presentations?
HIMMELMAN: I want people to be more cognizant than they are, by their very existence on this planet, residing in a miracle. This may sound poetical or impractical to some, but there is a deliberate and strategic side to this idea as well. When we have this awareness that our lives matter, that we are part of a larger whole, and that within that whole we have a purpose and a place — we will be more joyous and less fearful. When we are less fearful (more “MARV-less”), we are in touch with our innate creativity. It’s that access to creativity, to imagination, and hope for a better future that leads to success for each and every stakeholder.
SPEAKING.COM:What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?
HIMMELMAN: A very important aspect in my preparatory work is to speak with one or more principles in an organization so that I can thoroughly understand — to the point of deep empathy — exactly what their opportunities are, their challenges in getting there are; and perhaps most importantly, what their level of desire and their risk tolerance is for change.
In certain instances I have politely declined to work for an organization when through these initial conversations, I came to believe that a company or specific leader’s commitment was more about optics than it was about a true revitalization of their resources.
SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?
HIMMELMAN: Unusual road experiences, you’ve gotta be kidding. I’ve been in rock and roll for forty years! One of my most memorable experiences has been working with returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve written extensively about those experiences in several places.
SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?
HIMMELMAN: The obvious ones are creative agencies — designers, marketers, and copywriters. I’ve found however, that audiences from fields like law, medicine, insurance, or financial – industries that generally aren’t considered the least bit creative by the general public or the people within those industries themselves — have gotten an incredible boost from my sessions. When people emerge from my sessions with the belief that they are in fact, truly creative, I know I’ve accomplished a great deal.
SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speaking topics are your favorites and why?
HIMMELMAN: How to overcome fear to become more creative. To me, this is something of a personal mission. It is my belief that the more fearless creators we have on planet Earth, the more joy and peace we will experience.
Learn to Lead Yourself before you lead others.
As a husband for thirty years, a father of four, now grown children, and a bandleader for all of my adult life, I’ve seen how successful leadership of others is actually an outgrowth of one’s ability to lead oneself. Knowing what your values are, and having the ability to both articulate them and evince them in your daily life is a prerequisite for strong leadership. In a similar vein, so is building a consciousness of your own strengths and weaknesses. This Big Muse workshop is an area where people have an opportunity to do a great deal of introspection and create conversation around the high-level ideas that we so often delay because we’re doing the lower-level work of putting out our daily fires.
How to use imperfection as a source of power.
I liken imperfection, something we have around us far more than its opposite (at least from our mortal perspective), as an instigator of creativity, rather than an inhibitor. Imperfection, by its very nature causes tension. And tension, as with the tension on a bowstring when pulled taut, is where energy exists.
When we learn to re-contextualize tension as an ally, we are made aware that a once forbidding thing — the tension itself — becomes an endless source of energy and inspiration. To put it in simpler terms: if everything were perfect, we’d never have to lift a finger. It’s that sense of ease, that sense of “mastery” I spoke of earlier that dissuades us from a need for accomplishment.
SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements?
HIMMELMAN: On a practical, somewhat prosaic note, the music business as I had known it, had begun to seriously unravel just as my three oldest of four kids were becoming college age. It was a financial consideration at first. Sort of a “What the hell am I going to do now” kind of thing. I needed a new source of income, and I found out (very clearly) just how much impetus exists in that sort of tension.
On a more emotional level, I’d always had a love for helping people find their creative voice. Once I started working with organizations and writing my book, it was as if a flame had been lit, one that eventually grew into a roaring fire of both heat and light.
SPEAKING.COM: How do you keep your audience engaged and actively listening during your keynotes? Do you use case studies, personal stories and/or in your speeches?
HIMMELMAN: I am a natural born storyteller. I use my life experiences, both the tragic ones and the triumphal ones, to create trust. Then, there are the many stories that depict my moments of insecurity and failure. I use other stories to inspire, to make people laugh, and to get them reflecting upon their greatest asset, their relationships with the people they love.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients achieve?
HIMMELMAN: One of the most fulfilling comments I get is when people tell me that the tenor of the conversations within their organization has changed since I’ve worked with them. What they confide to one another, the things they ask of one another, has shifted from the kinds of things one might say to a mere acquaintance, to a trusted team-member.
In almost all instances, I’ve been able to get people more comfortable with seeing themselves as creative individuals. This is no small achievement, and not because they’re not creative — indeed they are — but because seeing oneself as such can open a person up to all sorts of expressions and achievements.
The idea that I’ve had some hand in making a person believe that he or she can do something they previously thought was impossible is incredibly gratifying.
“I felt actual exhilaration from the folks I’ve run into after your seminar. Exhilaration is a word I never use to describe anything that happens in the corporate setting so that is damn impressive.”
– Alan Tecktiel
Senior Director, HR Client Solutions, McDonalds Corporation
“For the record (excuse the pun)… Peter’s presentation received the highest employee score of any speaker we’ve ever had for an employee development day! Big buzz today at work! Peter worked with us to craft a session that was meaningful, engaging, inspiring – and it was the perfect launch into our new fiscal year. His ability to model vulnerability in order to bring everyone into a place where they connect significance with their work – it was amazing. The use of music, humor, candor along with well thought through content brought a home run to our Employee Development Day.”Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
“Adobe Public Sector brought in the Big Muse to motivate our field organization and help us improve communication with our customers and business partners. Peter’s program exceeded our expectations! It helped inspire our employees and delivered the creative confidence they needed to better connect with everyone important in our lives – both at home and work. Our employees didn’t want the session to end, the highly interactive experience was a welcome departure from traditional leadership slide shows.”– Barry Leffew
Vice President, Adobe Public Sector
“I finally thought of your approach, put myself on a 6-minute deadline and rapped out a fabulous and breakthrough concept in 6 minutes. It was exhilarating! Thank you.”– Rob Webb
CEO of UHG Ventures, a part of UnitedHealth Group
“He’s Authentic. What Peter added was the human and authentic element. He got into the ethos of what makes us avoid risk. He went deeper into the rational and irrational, the heart and the mind of it, whereas the entrepreneurs were more into the mind part of it, the rational part. Given that our platform is that we are a human experience company, it is really important that we bring that emotion into what we do.”– Lisa Donohue
CEO of Starcom
“Peter creates an opening for people to look at challenges and opportunities in totally new ways. Anyone looking to drive real change, at any level in their organization would benefit from the experience he provides.”– Doug Rausch
Former President of Trader Joe‘s, CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Senior Fellow, Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative
“He had 900 store managers believing that – despite the constraints, they could do more than what they previously thought possible.”– Dan Leavitt
Sr. Manager, Learning and Development, Banana Republic
“What an amazing evening last night! The entire exercise not only pointed out the importance of vulnerability to release our creative spirit but also the possibilities of innovating within constraints (time and format).”– Linda Darragh
Executive Director, Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI) Northwestern, University
“Your methods were brilliant and you allowed us to connect more as a team. Your one-day event has had a lasting effect!”– Mitch Martens
Cedars-Sinai Health System
“Peter Himmelman brought great humanity, energy and inspiration to our event. Peter skillfully brings out the hidden creative genius in people – delightfully and painlessly! His program begins with a great story, that leads into an engaged exploration of participants personal stories and ends with the crescendo of creative expression. We look forward to working with Peter again, and again, and again!”– Jeff Klein
Director of Marketing & Business Development, Conscious Capitalism, Inc., Producer, Conscious Capitalism Events
“Peter was an amazing asset to our legal retreat. His questions were thought-provoking, the activities he conducted brought the team closer together on a more personal level and everyone came away feeling a little more bonded with their teammates.”Shay BrackneyAir Methods Corporation
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Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life
From award-winning musician turned communications expert Peter Himmelman, science-based techniques and simple exercises to get unstuck and unlock your creative potential.
Do you want to stop procrastinating? Would you love to be more creative? Is there an idea you’ve dreamt of making a reality? Whether it’s learning ragtime piano, losing 30 pounds, or starting an organic jellybean company, Himmelman’s unique, inspiring methods will give you the tools and confidence you need to harness your fear and take steps to make your goals a reality.
Using practices mined from his years as a successful musician, Himmelman shows you how to open your mind and unite left AND right-brained thinking through powerful and deceptively easy exercises that will enable you to:
-Create more fearlessly, whether it’s an ad campaign, a song, or a new business
-Communicate more effectively
-Finish projects that have stayed in the “bits and pieces” phase forever
-Make your ideas take shape in the real world
The perfect tool for anyone in a mental rut, Let Me Out will force you to stop listening to the negative thoughts that hold you back and achieve the professional and personal success you deserve.
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