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Deborah Perry Piscione

Deborah Perry Piscione

Authority on Innovation & Leadership


The further from “stagnant” and the closer to “chaos” that we are willing to operate, the higher the chance for genius to happen…and the higher the chance to fail. For experienced and highly skilled risk-takers, the chance of failure also provides remarkable opportunity for extraordinary innovation and inspired business success. Think of the seasoned poker pro, who at closer examination uses risk to their advantage, utilizing their talent in reading people, assessing odds, using table position, and trusting their split-second decision-making skills to not only win the hand, but to maximize their pot. Read More >

That is how iconoclasts like Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk are made. So why is it that the business leaders that fascinate us the most are also our most successful risk-takers, yet we continue to discourage risk-taking in our own organizations? Does this vacuum of risk prevent companies and institutions from being truly innovative and tapping into the potential of everyone? The answer is YES, beyond a shadow of a doubt, based on extensive research and innovation development by Deborah Perry Piscione.

Having moved from the White House, Capitol Hill and the halls of power in Washington, to Silicon Valley and its innovative and collaborative culture, Deborah immediately became fascinated by how ideas grow into successes. She launched three successful companies, and detailed her research and experiences in her New York Times best-seller Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World – the most extensive book ever published explaining why that region is the entrepreneurial mecca of the business world.

In her groundbreaking new and bestselling book, The Risk Factor: Why Every Company Needs Big Bets, Bold Characters and the Occasional Spectacular Failure, Deborah takes a comprehensive look at this crucial, undervalued leadership behavior and outlines how leaders must pivot to support risk-taking across the organization, rather than mitigating it. Exploring the heroes of risk, Piscione makes a compelling case for bold idea creation in leadership, corporate culture, talent development, sales and marketing, innovation and intellectual property, and crisis management. Piscione’s newest book, The People Equation: How Putting People First Unleashes Growth and Innovation, is slated for public release in fall 2016.

Deborah Perry Piscione is a Principal at Vorto Consulting and specializes in elevating innovation practices, leadership cultures and talent development for forward-thinking companies. She is the architect of the new innovation methodology – Improvisational Innovation, which engages all of the organization's talent in innovation when it is needed the most.

With increased globalization, new technologies and shifting economic growth, competition is coming from every direction. Companies and governments are looking for every new customer, every new idea, every advantage they can find now. Deborah specializes in helping organizations understand the unrealized assets — their talent — the talent that they already have under their nose, and building work systems that unlock their full potential. She also helps us with the formerly counterintuitive understanding that gambling on calculated risks in business is both free, and often pays out.

In an evolving, broader business world, (now open to almost anyone with internet access and an idea) risk is the necessary norm, needed to compete. Deborah Perry Piscione fully customizes her presentations to focus on the areas of risk that are most important to your audience’s needs. Whether you are a manager who simply wants production to go up, and errors to go down, or you are a successful CEO – wanting to remain one – Deborah Perry Piscione is in a unique position to help you perceive risk in a brand new way, and help you create an environment that supports genius, rather than the generic. Her speaking clients include Google, TedX, Cadence Design, London School of Economics, Microsoft, McDonalds, Princeton University, KPMG, Innotown, Society for Human Resource Management, Stanford University, Accenture, Texas Economic Development Council, Singularity University and many others. Ultimately, you will experience a hard-hitting, yet entertaining lesson in how to adapt you and your organization to the demands of an increasingly fast-paced, agile and unforgiving world.


RESUME: Read Less ^

  • Currently, Principal and Cofounder of Vorto Consulting
  • Co-founder & CEO, Desha Productions, Inc.
  • Co-founder, Chump Genius
  • Media Commentator: CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, PBS and NPR
  • New York Times bestselling author of, Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World
  • Washington Post bestselling co-author of Unfinished Business: The 10 Most Important Issues Women Face Today
  • Bestselling author of, The Risk Factor: Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets, Bold Characters and the Occasional Spectacular Failure
  • Staffer, US Congress & The White House
  • Winner, Editorial Excellence - Best of the Web Awards
  • Senior Fellow, Independent Women’s Forum
  • Awarded: Silicon Valley Women Business Owner of the Year, Gracie Allen Award, The White House Project Award

Speaker Videos

TEDTalk: The Risk Factor




On Silicon Valley


Speech Topics

The Risk Factor: Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets, Bold Characters & the Occasional Spectacular Failure

It’s no coincidence that our most revered business icons are also the boldest risk-takers, such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. Yet in today’s stock market-driven economy, businesses are playing it safe – focused only on short-term gains, rather than long-term value creation, resulting in a stagnant business culture which generates entirely forgettable results in a world that demands significant solutions. In this poignant presentation, Deborah discusses how to get back into the business of risk-taking. In her latest book, The Risk Factor: Why Every Organization Needs Big Bets, Bold Characters, and the Occasional Spectacular Failure, Deborah Perry Piscione explores this panned leadership behavior, and outlines how companies must support risk-taking – across the board. Read More >


Exemplifying the heroes of risk, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism – and the role risk-taking and failure tolerance play in their success, Piscione makes the case not only for big, flashy mergers and acquisitions, but also for making anarchic choices in everything from leadership to corporate image and responsibility. Drawing on case studies from start-up business giants like Netflix, to upstart giants in business like Sir Richard Branson, Deborah distills lessons for both new and old entrepreneurs whose practice of risk aversion has cost them more than they will ever know. Read Less ^

Bold Leadership: Corporate Courage

Leadership is about courage. The courage to chance failing as the price for succeeding big. The courage to ignite the passions of your workforce and being open to great ideas from anyone at any time. It is about doing what is right, and seizing the moment when the iron is hot. So, why is this so hard? Because in all of the books and speeches about leadership, what has been neglected is how to master the art of risk-taking. In this exciting presentation, Piscione shows how risk can become an incredibly powerful tool in the leader’s tool belt. Read More >


Deborah explains how risk-taking is imperative to long term growth, both as an organization and as a person, and reveals the key differences between gambling and calculated risk-taking, and how to master the skills of risk. Audiences are then able to build a culture that not only focuses on producing the work, but to also create and execute a steady flow of ideas to improve every aspect of the organization, and recognize a leader’s bias toward their own ideas to find the balance between long-term value creation and short-term profitability. Read Less ^

Growing a Culture of How: The Philosophy of Risk – Down to a Science

Corporate culture is the single greatest competitive differentiator, and is crucial to an organization’s long term success. Company culture is not just about what you do, but how you do it. Yet, every company culture is different, with its own hierarchies, preferred communications methods, sources of inspiration and energy, and unfortunately, its own series of speed bumps that slow down change and hamper risk-taking. Yet, more has been learned than ever before about creating and adapting cultures that are fast, agile, collaborative and highly creative. An expert on corporate culture, Deborah shares her original cultural philosophy and methodology on how companies should operate to best achieve an innovation culture and the blueprint of A Culture of How.

Extending HR’s Reach: Another Resource for Re-Invention

HR has been seen by a majority of executives as the part of the organization that limits opportunities for innovation. In her extensive research, Deborah has identified the reasons for this negative perspective. More importantly, she reveals the incredible – and often-overlooked – opportunities for HR to reach out, reinvent, and become a partner in strategy, innovation and progress. Piscione then goes on to explain why HR is in the best position to do so – as it is the only part of the organization that touches every other part of the organization. She explores the big ideas that not only keeps HR relevant, but to be a driver for innovation and talent processes that will maximize the success of the entire organization.

Two Words that Will Set the Stage for Innovation: “Yes, and…”

In this presentation, Piscione discusses a methodology in innovation called, “Improvisational Innovation,” which democratizes the ability for anyone at any level to create and experiment. Improvisational innovation offers a formal process by which anyone can submit ideas, be taken seriously, and be protected in the process. She explores how to allow good ideas to bubble up from anyone at any time, and solve the age-old leadership dilemma of, “How do I know if someone in our company has a brilliant idea that will either generate new revenue or save the company money?” She answers this dilemma by describing how to create a culture of “Yes, and…” – a well-known improv technique, capable of radically changing the fortunes of any company. Read More >


The practice of responding, “Yes, and…” to employee suggestions (whether they are home runs or not), keeps the conversation going by encouraging a flow of new ideas with the support and validation of a positive reaction. When employees are encouraged rather than stifled, and given the courage to speak up, that one game-changing idea may only be one water cooler conversation away. Read Less ^

Cultivating Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: The Secret to Silicon Valley’s Staggering Growth

Why do governments around the world continuously send delegations to Silicon Valley to try to discover its secrets? In a time of economic downturn, what can Silicon Valley teach the rest of the world about entrepreneurialism and innovation? The secret is in the synergy that creates an entrepreneurial ecosystem. In this keynote, speaker Deborah Perry Piscione explains how different parts of the ecosystem come together as an interconnected web, such as the collaborative dynamics between private and public sectors, and the interplay between higher education and the business community. She also illustrates the commercialization of know-how, the open attitude toward immigrants, and all other factors that attract the creative class, and boost the quality of life. Read More >

But then there's also that elusive spark – the quality of entrepreneurialism that is the region's signature asset – its identity. As Piscione explains, there are six characteristics that all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs radiate – passion, authenticity, love of ideas, an appetite for risk, trustworthiness, and resilience. With the spirit of entrepreneurialism at the heart of the ecosystem, you create a distinct and extraordinary culture in which business is conducted not as cutthroat competition, but as open inquiry and collaboration that nurture ideas, talent, products, and human potential. Piscione's presentation captures the best of Silicon Valley so that others may create similar ecosystems and share in its success. Read Less ^

All In : The Great Power Shift of Women

Men have defined the rules of business for centuries, taking advantage of their strengths.  Women need to tip the rules in their favor, highlighting the skills that they not only do better than men, but will greatly improve how people and organizations get things done. From her experiences running the renowned national women’s networking program Alley to the Valley, Deborah Perry Piscione has an unparalleled understanding of what enables women to become great leaders and at the end of the day, accomplish what she ultimately wants to accomplish.  Even with the rapid rise of women in great leadership roles, the playing field is still pitched away from women.  Deborah not only talks about the skills and networks you need to develop, but more importantly the collective risks that women need to take to showcase the strengths of women leaders and improve organizational cultures and productivity.  She addresses enduring myths that permeate the minds of decision-makers, and provides clear-cut solutions that will have you on your feet.  Deborah believes that the onus in on women to stop talking, stop focusing on the negative statistics of women in the workplace, stop trying to adapt to male cultures and for once and for all, craft a coordinated effort to change the rules of the game.