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Robert  Safian

Robert Safian

Former Editor & Managing Director, Fast Company

Biography

Robert Safian is one of the most sought-after speakers, moderators, and interviewers in modern business. From his acclaimed podcast “Masters of Scale: Rapid Response”—which has identified critical post-pandemic lessons across industries— to leadership positions at Fast Company, Time, and Fortune, Safian has been lauded as an unparalleled source of insight on the future of global enterprise. With deep relationships in C-suites at hundreds of blue-chip brands and dynamic startups, Safian has unique access to the cutting-edge developments and breakthrough strategies that are reshaping our world. Read More >

When Covid-19 struck, Safian was tapped to host "Rapid Response", dedicated to covering the real-time adjustments required in this time of uncertainty and change. Safian’s guests have included dozens of CEOs from Airbnb to Verizon, Delta to GM, Marriott to Target, plus leaders in medicine, philanthropy, academia, emerging tech and more. Cited by the New York Times as one of its “Podcasts for the Pandemic Era,” "Rapid Response" has been embraced by listeners, downloaded millions of times. At the same time, through his advisory firm The Flux Group, Safian has provided confidential strategic advice to key Fortune 50 companies, global professional-services firms, high-impact nonprofits and more.

For decades Safian has chronicled thousands of odds-defying organizations and leaders, uncovering their secrets of success and translating them across multiple TV networks, digital platforms, and media properties. He synthesizes business lessons into eye-opening and thoroughly entertaining presentations filled with compelling storytelling. He is warm and approachable, and an expert at working with event organizers to personalize his presentations for each audience, whether addressing a startup in Austin, tech giants in Silicon Valley or a board of directors in Dubai. By illuminating stories of the people behind innovative business thinking, he provides hope to millions of talented professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders that meaningful change is possible.

Safian has been propelled by a reputation for near-clairvoyant prediction. He was the first editor to put Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on a magazine cover and covered Airbnb, Netflix and Uber long before they were household names. For nearly twelve years he led the influential, award-winning business magazine Fast Company, turning it into the world's leading progressive business media brand. He was named Editor of the Year by Adweek, and earned the highly coveted National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year in 2014, beating out rivals including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine and more. Prior to Fast Company, Safian was the executive editor for Time and Fortune and headed Money as its chief editor for six years. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

7 Predictions for the Next 20 Years

The Secrets of Generation Flux

Fast Adaptation and Flux Leadership

How Great Leaders Thrive

What It Takes to Be a Fast Company

Succeeding in an Age of Flux

Speech Topics

Lessons of Rapid Response: Succeeding In The Age of Covid

Our business reality has been permanently adjusted. The challenges of the “BC” era—before coronavirus—were already acute, with intense competition, generational and global pressures rising, tech-fueled uncertainties. But in today’s “AC” world—after coronavirus—the pressures are even more acute, and the stakes even higher. Read More >

To succeed in this environment requires a new kind of playbook, one that pairs urgency in some areas with patience in others; where the right technology is a win-or-lose requirement, yet human capital is more important than ever; where remote work has changed what organizations need from leaders. Creativity and innovation are clashing with efficiency in new ways, altering accepted practices and redefining the equation for success.

Drawing on more than 60 intensive, in-depth interviews since the pandemic began with the world’s top CEOs and business leaders, journalist, adviser and podcast host Robert Safian offers a cohesive framework for addressing these unprecedented times. Presenting clear, engaging and often-unexpected lessons, Safian delves into the personal, practical learnings from leaders at Airbnb to Verizon, Delta to Marriott, GM to Target, sharing memorable and often intimate stories of their in-the-trenches choices, decisions and epiphanies. 

There are no simple answers in these difficult times, but sticking with yesterday’s approach is a formula for trouble. For all the dislocations, now is an ideal moment to inspire and reshape a career, a team, an organization. By bringing to life the insights that matter most, Safian shows just how critical this moment is, and how thoughtful and intentional our choices must be to create the future we all want. Read Less ^

The Secrets of Generation Flux

Modern business is pure chaos. To succeed in this climate requires a whole new approach. Organizations need to invest in people who thrive in this environment. They are the members of Generation Flux. This is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one. What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, and thrives in disruption—recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it. This is no simple task. The vast bulk of our institutions—educational, corporate, political—are not built for flux. With so many leaders now emphasizing agility, there is still an incomplete understanding on how to make that work. Robert Safian has researched and interviewed scores of GenFluxers, from General Stanley McChrystal and GE’s Beth Comstock, to Mashable’s Peter Cashmore and Atom Factory’s Troy Carter, to provide you with a look at the changing playing field and how to recruit and empower GenFluxers to drive your future success.

How Great Leaders Thrive Amid Chaos

The pace of change in culture and business has never been more intense — from healthcare to technology, media to transportation — and it can be paralyzing. However, it also signals dramatic opportunity for those who are able to take advantage. A cohort of leaders is pointing the way, defined not by chronological age but by a mindset. These are the members of Generation Flux, whose perspectives and strategies offer insights and solutions for all of us. Chaos is increasingly the norm, but chaotic change should not slow us down. If we have the right tools and can surf the wave of change, great things are possible. Safian mixes the most effective case studies with his business acumen and natural curiosity to tailor his presentation to the specific needs of your organizations and audience. Both inspiring and educating, he offers the knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the journey of change.

Lessons of the World's Most Innovative Companies

In this informative and enlightening presentation, Fast Company magazine's award-winning editor Robert Safian shares his firsthand experience with the likes of Apple, Nike, and Twitter, offering insights on today's most innovative companies. He shows how companies can thrive, even in tough times, by embracing the power of innovative ideas and creative execution.

Is Your Company a "Fast" Company?

In stressful economic conditions, it can be very hard for business leaders to look toward the future. Robert Safian, editor of the award-winning innovative business magazine Fast Company, provides three distinct guidelines to help companies and businesspeople determine if they are "fast" and how to ensure future success – incorporating elements of agility and adaptation. Audiences walk away with the tools necessary to assess and implement a "fast" approach to business.

Find Your Mission

With the pace of change at historic highs, leaders and organizations struggle to juggle the barrage of new information, tools, ideas and options. All the stimulation can lead to paralysis – or it can lead to great success. Robert Safian, editor of the award-winning innovative business magazine Fast Company, explains how identifying a “mission” and infusing it through your organization can unleash dramatic results. To engage Millennials – as customers and as employees—requires a new understanding of what a brand and a business stand for and how to intertwine profit and purpose.

Leading in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Recently, Netflix quietly deleted all the remaining user reviews on its service. And just like that, CEO Reed Hastings completed the latest shift in his company’s ever evolving strategy: away from the wisdom of crowds in its content recommendations, in favor of the wisdom of the machine. The algorithm is now firmly in charge at Netflix—as it increasingly is across the economy. Read More >

The implications of artificial intelligence and the rise of the algorithm have never been more relevant, more important, or more complex. Discussion and consternation about AI has reached culture-wide status, and an essential, worthwhile dialogue. Yet in the big picture, the bottom-line is irrefutable: Tech’s newest wave is upon up, and there’s no going back.

Whether you run a big public company or a nascent startup, whether you are inside academia or in the nonprofit world, whether you oversee a team or contribute to the operations of an enterprise, understanding AI’s emergence is central for all of us. In this presentation, Robert Safian explores five lessons that underscore how AI and the algorithm is redefining business and organizational leadership—including the biggest lesson every leader and businessperson needs to grapple with to thrive in this era. Read Less ^