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Ken  Schmidt

Ken Schmidt

Former Director of Communications Strategy for Harley-Davidson Motor Company

Ken Schmidt

Former Director of Communications Strategy for Harley-Davidson Motor Company


The former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history. He’s since advised executive leaders of many of the world’s best-known brands, delivered more than one thousand keynote presentations, written two best-selling books and created a popular business podcast. He’s widely respected as one of the business community’s most outspoken, provocative, and entertaining thought leaders on competition, loyalty, human behavior, workplace culture, brand management, positioning and reputation management -- and how each of those topics impacts the others.

The longtime motorcycle enthusiast’s formal association with Harley-Davidson began in 1985. As a specialist in corporate positioning and financial relations, he was asked to work with the struggling company to help restore its image, improve its competitiveness, create demand for its motorcycles and attract investors. Within a few short years, as sales of its motorcycles rocketed upward, Harley-Davidson became one of the most respected, competitively dominant, profitable and frequently reported-on companies in the world.

Today, Schmidt’s focused on his greatest passions, motorcycling, speaking and helping business leaders to improve their competitiveness. In addition to Make Some Noise: The Unconventional Road To Dominance, he also ghost-wrote, 100 Years of Harley-Davidson, the best-selling motorsports book of all time. In 2021, he launched, “Tailgating With Geniuses,” a highly successful business and entertainment podcast.

Speaker Videos

Ken Schmidt: Make Some Noise Philosophy

Ken Schmidt: 3 Questions Drove Harley Davidson Turnaround

Speech Topics

Make Some Noise: Open the Throttle & Dominate Your Marketplace

Ken Schmidt’s bread-and-butter keynote is a fascinating story of how businesses of any size and scope can—by focusing on understanding and harnessing the most basic drivers of human behavior—improve their competitiveness and avoid margin-killing commoditization in even the most difficult marketing environments. The road to building a fanatically vocal customer base, creating a passionately loyal corporate culture, and developing leaders who inspire and motivate starts here.

Building Tattoo-Worthy Customer Relationships

We’re not wired to be loyal to products or services, no matter how well they perform. We’re only capable of being loyal to people and to well-managed brands that successfully humanize their presence by creating emotional resonance with us – even if our prices are higher. It’s time for your customers to evolve from “folks who buy from us,” into “loyal friends who recommend us without being asked,” which means your relationships with them have to evolve from superficial to meaningfully permanent. Customers come and go, but loyalists, like Harley-Davidson tattoos, become part of you and never leave.

Fierce Loyalty: Dominating in a Commoditized Market

When customers care more about what they’re paying than who they’re buying from, businesses lower prices to stay in the mix and leaders ask, “Whatever happened to loyalty?” They ask the same question as they struggle to attract and keep employees in the era of the “Big Quit.” The problem is clear: Businesses of all sizes need to understand the drivers of loyalty and how to harness them if they’re going to be dominant in increasingly commoditized, hard-to-hire market spaces. This is a how-to, natural follow-up to any of Ken’s presentations.

Thrive Among Thorns: Untapped Growth Opportunities for Financial Services

Ken Schmidt’s most requested topic from financial industry clients. With little differentiation among competitors, it’s no wonder potential clients opt to work with “whoever’s closest to my house,” instead of “whoever can best serve my needs.” Or stay away altogether. Where others see futility, there are unprecedented opportunities for growth. Here’s how to change the culture of your financial services business to stand out, create demand and client loyalty in your local markets, fuel marketplace advocacy and take advantage of the look-alike/act-alike competitive environment.