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Josh  Linkner

Josh Linkner

Creativity Expert, Tech Entrepreneur & Best-Selling Author


Josh Linkner – who started his career as a jazz guitarist - personifies creativity, entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation. He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million. Read More >

Josh is the author of four books, two New York Times Bestsellers: Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, and The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation, as well as his latest book, Hacking Innovation. He is also the Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, investing in and mentoring over 100 startups.

Josh has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a President Barack Obama Champion of Change award recipient. He is a regular columnist for Forbes, The Detroit Free Press, and Inc. Magazine. His work on innovation has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CNN, and The New York Times. And yes, he still plays a mean jazz guitar. For more information, visit JoshLinkner.com. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Highlight Reel

Think Like a Startup

Celebrating the Crazy Ideas

Creating a Culture of Greatness

Speaking Reel

Speech Topics

Hacking Innovation: The New Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers

With intense competitive pressures and mind-numbing speed, leaders seek fresh approaches for growth and innovation. As old methods become commoditized, new creative problem solving techniques are needed more than ever. Drawing inspiration from the unlikely world of hackers, New York Times best-selling author and five-time tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner has discovered a new and powerful model for leadership and organizational success. The underworld of cybercriminals contains some of the most creative people on the planet, despite their illicit motives. In this thrilling and provocative talk, Linkner takes the audience on a mind-opening journey, showing how hacking techniques can be deployed to drive legitimate business outcomes. Learning how hackers would solve your most pressing challenges using unorthodox approaches will give you a new framework for creative problem solving, growth and innovation. Read More >

- Specific tools and techniques from the Five Core Mindsets and Ten Primary Tactics of Hackers

- Fresh approaches to complex problem solving

- How a hacker would approach your work if he or she had your job

- Why unorthodox moves can lead to the best business outcomes

- How to protect yourself and your company from innovation hackers of all sizes and types Read Less ^

Harnessing Innovation: Turning Raw Ideas into Powerful Results

As a five-time successful tech entrepreneur and investor in dozens of startups, Josh Linkner has seen thousands of companies loaded with creative buzz and big ideas. How is it that some harness their imagination to create game-changing drivers of growth and innovation while others miss the mark? The answer: The best companies have a systematic process to focus their team’s creativity into practical outputs—something Linkner discovered by founding and building companies that sold collectively for over $200 million. As a professional-level jazz guitarist, Linkner blends the improvisational qualities of a jazz ensemble with bleeding-edge business savvy to bring a completely fresh perspective on unleashing creativity in the organization. His inspiring presentation delivers practical tools that can be used immediately to increase creative output and deliver bottom-line results. You’ll learn to: Read More >

- Use specific techniques to harness your most powerful ideas

- Apply creativity on a daily basis across all business activities and roles

- Break free from the three biggest blockers of creativity

- Apply best practices from the world’s most innovative companies

- Avoid the five biggest creativity killers

- Master the three most powerful brainstorming techniques that you’ve never heard of

- Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas Read Less ^

The Gravity-Defying Leader: Innovative Approaches to Hyper-Growth Leadership

With disruptive forces assaulting business from every direction, creativity has been labeled the single most important business attribute. To succeed, leaders must be focused on creating a resilient culture where everyone’s engaged; a torrent of innovative ideas needs to flow from every level of the organization. Top leaders then employ a secret weapon: a systematic approach to selecting and launching the ideas that will best drive growth and innovation. Josh Linkner weighs in with a fresh perspective on this critical leadership challenge. A highly successful serial entrepreneur and now a tech investor, Linkner shows leaders how to employ his simple but effective framework to ramp up the creativity and identify/launch ideas that will break through and defy gravity. This presentation will help leaders: Read More >

- Challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom

- Build courage to foster responsible risk-taking

- Authentically express your own creativity and tap into the hidden creativity of your team members

- Develop “everyday creativity” to attack business problems of all sizes

- Deploy creativity beyond R&D to reimagine processes, drive efficiency and improve operations

- Uncover fresh approaches for reinvention and growth Read Less ^

Entrepreneurial Fire: Think & Act Like a Startup (Even If You’re Not)

Entrepreneurs look at the world differently. We celebrate them for their bold vision and courage—they drive game-changing innovation that creates enormous economic success while making a profound impact on the world. What is it about the entrepreneurial mindset that helps these mavericks seize opportunity that others miss? A five-time successful tech entrepreneur, Josh Linkner shows leaders and organizations how to embrace the creativity, grit and vision of a startup and then channel this approach to drive growth, innovation, efficiency and customer delight. Linkner decodes the entrepreneurial DNA to help leaders of any size company in any industry or profession: Read More >

- Understand how an entrepreneur would attack their organization with the specific goal of dislodging it

- Reimagine their role through the lens of an entrepreneur

- Harness the ferocity of entrepreneurial thinking

- Embrace “startup speed” to increase velocity in your own organization

- Learn the five best approaches used by startups to create disruption

- Avoid the weaknesses that plague entrepreneurs by exposing the four biggest startup death traps Read Less ^

The Music of Business: Translating Improvisational Thinking from the Jazz Stage to the Business World

Be prepared to be amazed. Josh Linkner, a jazz guitarist since age 13, credits a musical background for giving him a different way of looking at business. In this stunning interactive presentation, a live jazz performance by Linkner and his band is woven with stimulating dialogue. You’ll actually hear, through their music, fresh ways to unleash your organization’s creative mojo. In jazz, 99% of the notes are improvised and created in real time. Yet it’s the structure of a jazz combo—not the inherent talent of individual musicians—that allows for such breathtaking creative expression. In today’s business landscape of dizzying speed, exponential complexity and ruthless competition, we can no longer just play the notes on the written page. You will learn powerful lessons inspired by jazz musicians (aka “real-time innovators”) to help you: Read More >

- Develop your own ability to improvise, no matter what job title you hold

- Establish team dynamics that foster creative thinking and risk-taking

- Uncover fresh approaches to previously unchallenged assumptions

- Break free from traditional thinking and uncover vast new possibilities

- Learn five secret techniques used by jazz musicians to foster creativity, which can easily be adapted to your own organization

- Expand your ability to deal with ambiguity and recover from setbacks Read Less ^

A Street Fighter’s Guide to Reinvention: Lessons from the Front Lines of Detroit’s Rebirth

Detroit’s fight back from the brink is an inspiring tale of resilience told firsthand by Josh Linkner whose grit and passion are playing a critical role in the city’s revitalization. Linkner is a driving force in Detroit’s comeback; among his many honors—“Detroit Executive of the Year,” the region’s “CEO of the Year” and “Michiganian of the Year.” As the CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, he is helping the city he loves rise from the ashes and reconnect to its entrepreneurial and technological roots. Linkner’s heartfelt talk energizes audiences with the power of possibility. It’s also a cautionary tale of how Detroit, once a birthplace of innovation and a vibrant city, succumbed to the evil forces of protectionism, blame and bureaucracy. The lessons in this powerful comeback story—still in progress—help you: Read More >

- Understand the four most common reasons organizations decay

- Connect the dots between urban renewal and business reinvention, and learn how to apply the same approaches to your own organization

- Embrace the five unexpected lessons of underdogs and learn to fight out of seemingly impossible situations

- Gain inside perspective from the passionate leaders who are leading Detroit’s courageous turnaround

- Uncover best practices from “street fighter” mentality—on scrappiness, determination, resilience and conquering adversity Read Less ^