The former Director of one of the largest university leadership development programs in Canada at the University of Toronto, Drew Dudley nevertheless embraces the idea that “leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.”
“I’ve never thought of what I do as ‘teaching’ leadership,” he says. “For me, it’s always been about trying to find a way to help others explore the concept—what it means to them, and to their communities.” Dudley helps us understand leadership in a more nuanced, practical, and hopeful way. He argues that we too often make leadership into something bigger than us, or beyond us. We make it about money, fame, titles and influence, and therefore something reserved for a select few. Instead, Dudley insists our organizations and communities are stronger when we embrace the idea there is a form of leadership of which we are all capable. His keynotes blend world-class storytelling with practical insights on how to develop and recognize leadership—in ourselves, our families, our organizations, and our communities.
He has spoken to over 250,000 people on 5 continents, been featured on The Huffington Post, Radio America, Forbes.com, and TED.com, where his TED talk was voted “one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time” and has been viewed millions of times around the web. TIME recently named the talk one of their “seven speeches that will make you a better leader.” His work with some of Canada's largest schools, corporations and government agencies has led to him being called “one of the most motivating and inspiring speakers on leadership out there right now” (Dr. Brian Harrington, Oxford University).
Creating Cultures of Leadership and the Power of “Lollipop Moments”
“How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourself a leader?”
What would happen if you asked that at your next team meeting? What percentage of hands do you think would be raised? Leadership speaker Drew Dudley has asked that question to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and he’s yet to find an organization where the majority of employees are willing to call themselves leaders. That’s a problem—and this keynote aims to help solve it.
We often evaluate leadership over periods of time: a fiscal quarter, a year, even an entire career. Dudley argues that the most impactful leaders and the most successful organizations evaluate leadership differently. They focus on “everyday leadership” and ensure that it’s fostered, acknowledged, and rewarded. To Dudley, this means creating a process to create more “lollipop moments.” Don’t be fooled by the name; “lollipop moments” represent moments of powerful impact and growth, and can be transformative at every level of an organization.
A born storyteller with infectious energy, Dudley shares practical insights on how successful leaders create cultures of leadership in their own lives and within their organizations. Featuring examples that originate everywhere from small-town Canada to the deserts of Qatar, and characters who range from janitors to CEOs, this presentation will make you laugh, think, and reconsider the ways you evaluate leadership in your life and workplace.
Overcoming Silos: Building Leaders and Breaking Down Silos
Your organization has smart, dedicated, and talented people. So why does it sometimes struggle to get everyone working together effectively? Silos develop when people fear that working as part of a collective will stand in the way of reaching personal goals and living their core values. As a result, they stick to people with the same values, and avoid engagement where their values might be compromised. This can lead to cliques, turf wars, interpersonal conflict, and of course, lower productivity and satisfaction.
The problem in many organizations is that those within them only discover (or really, guess at) the key values of their teammates when a conflict arises or when a teammate does something they don’t like. In this keynote, Dudley provides a step-by-step process organizations can use to help team members understand their own values and those of their colleagues, as well as embed four key values necessary for collaboration in every organizational culture.
The Silent Battles: Life, Leadership, and Bipolar Disorder
“Have you ever watched a movie that had a big twist at the end? The next time you watch that movie, you see everything that happens in a different light. That’s how I felt looking back on my life once I learned I had bipolar disorder,” says leadership speaker Drew Dudley.
Dudley has spoken to over 100,000 people around the world about creating personal cultures of leadership. This presentation is the story of how he often felt he had no right to do so. He shares the exhilarating highs and devastating lows made possible by his disease, and talks about the challenges of managing personal and professional relationships despite fear and self-doubt. He shares the pressure he felt to deny his illness as he experienced greater success, and the difficulties he encountered in seeking, finding, and accepting help. “I’ve come to realize that we all fight silent battles in our lives,” he says. “Battles we keep quiet because we are afraid they will make us look weak, or unemployable, or an embarrassment to those we care about.”
Dudley weaves humour with insight to make this a presentation about more than mental illness: he aims to shed light on how each of us can more effectively fight the silent battles in our own lives. Blending his personal story with universal leadership principles, he provides not only a greater understanding of life with mental illness, but equips the audience with tools to become more resilient, respond better to adversity, and improve their own mental well being.
Untaught Lessons: Barriers to Leadership and How We Can Overcome Them
In speaking to over 250,000 people around the world, Drew Dudley has discovered that the vast majority of them are simply not comfortable calling themselves leaders.
This aversion to seeing ourselves as leaders is a result of ingrained cultural practices and perspectives that suppress our talents and ambitions, disengage us from the leadership process, and make us regress as leaders and agents of change. These roadblocks to leadership aren’t consciously created, nor are they the fault of any individual or group. They emerge from the “untaught lessons” of our education system—lessons that too often leave people feeling that what others think of them is somehow more important than what they think of themselves.
In this keynote, Dudley highlights these barriers and how they develop, and with hope, humour, and optimism, focuses on ways in which they can be overcome.
Thank you, Drew for your inspiring words. I truly believe that if we all asked ourselves the six value add questions every day, we will all be more fulfilled and enrich the lives of those around us. Numerous members of our group have let me know how your words yesterday have impacted them in such a positive and inspirational way. One of my colleagues has already taken the steps to repair a relationship with an old friend. You are an amazing individual and we are so lucky to have spent our Leadership Retreat morning with you.
Drew's sessions spoke to the importance of personal leadership and accountability. He also incorporated Service BC values and helped our staff come up with concrete questions to help them support those values. I found both his sessions very engaging—he is an entertaining, thought-provoking speaker whose comments stay with you days and weeks after the fact. We conducted a survey of attendees and both of Drew’s session received the highest rating of all the components. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.
Coaching Association of Canada
We have received such positive feedback and praise for your exceptional conference presentation. Your captivating session, professionalism, and enthusiasm in sharing your experiences was noted by many. We appreciated your preparedness and ease with which we worked to coordinate your session. Several delegates commented that they sourced relevant and applicable takeaways from the conference, specifically from your Celebrating Everyday Leadership session which was referenced numerous times throughout the remainder of the conference. Thank you for contributing your insights to positively shape our conference delegates’ experience.
Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' S
Drew Dudley's presentation was the highlight of the three days for me—he was outstanding. He was an excellent speaker. He was thought-provoking and really helped to make a connection beyond theory to action. After attending his keynote, I was inspired to engage in the value activities he discussed. He was extremely inspiring personally as well as professionally. I learned useful tools that I can use everyday at work and at home.
HIEC Conference Halton Industry Education Council
I don't normally do this, but we have never had a keynote speaker that everyone ranked so high in our evaluations! You received 5.30 out of 5.00 on the evaluations and the individual feedback was awesome too. I put some of the comments below: - Drew Dudley was an amazing speaker he has articulated the traits in a leader that I believe in! Great event! - There is not enough words to express the value in hearing Drew Dudley. A true wow moment in my day...my lollipop moment! - Drew was awesome! - Drew Dudley's speech was extremely motivational. It taught me different ways to look a simple life accomplishments. His words gave me a sense of a different future for myself and how I may want to start living my life ("one interaction at a person at a time"). The good you do always comes back to you in one way or another. His words made me wonder if the things I am aiming for in life are actually worth. I also loved and felt motivated by everyone who stood in front of us and said a few words. - Drew Dudley is very inspirational! Judging by the captivating audience, he didn't just empower me but everyone so thank you for making my day. - Thank you for Drew! Truly inspiring and refreshing as usual HIEC has another great event!
Beaming. That’s the only way I can describe the faces of the United Way staff team as Drew began to speak at our community celebration event. Drew took the time to learn about our organization and the goals of our event in advance, and the result was a seamless, poignant, and unbelievably relevant message that really hit home with our guests. Drew is relatable and inspiring, and he made each and every person in the room feel appreciated and valued (which was our top goal for the night.) Thank you, Drew—for your amazing effort, of course—but mostly for making our faces hurt from smiling so much.
Drew blew us away. We had 400+ people at the event and usually, by Saturday afternoon, we've lost a lot to distractions - hanging out with friends, gone off to do sponsor stuff, whatever. But on Saturday afternoon at 3:30, we still had most attendees eagerly awaiting the last session. We were scheduled to start right then, but we decided to push it back by 15 minutes - people were enjoying talking to the sponsors and each other, so I wanted them to not feel rushed. We started at 3:45 and I had asked Drew to keep it high energy, given that this was the end of a long tiring schedule. Within 5 minutes, Drew had the place in stitches. Within 10 minutes, he had the place in tears. He pulled out every story he had, I think. He worked with the audience and challenged them. He fed off their energy and they off his. He managed to take every lesson, every learning, everything we'd said over the last two days and bring it home. There was not a dry eye in the place. When he sat down, the audience stood up and would probably still be applauding if he hadn't said it was getting embarrassing. It was, beyond a doubt, the perfect ending to our conference. Drew is an absolute gem. We are finalizing our post conference survey and will share with you and Drew any feedback we receive once we send it out. I expect it will be a lot.
Drew Dudley’s presentation was excellent and we were very pleased to have him speak. He was also great with our team and the conference attendees. Working with Lavin was easy to make the arrangements for his session. Overall it was very smooth and a positive experience!
Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association
Drew delivered a great balance between humour and content which kept the audience engaged for the entire presentation. There were many questions at the end which is also an indication of how well the audience received Drew’s message. From the survey we conducted Drew received a rating of “excellent” from 84% of attendees which is an amazing result. The other 14% gave his a good rating, we had nobody who indicted they felt this was not worthwhile to attend. Prior to the event Drew made himself available to ensure he understood our conference goals and the nature of our audience. His dedication to preparing the presentation to suit our needs is clearly indicated in the survey results. Drew was easy to work with and extremely professional. A number of our members indicated they want to hire Drew for their own events so we would have no hesitation in recommending him to another organization.