How can we harness the brain for maximum creativity—at work, and school? In The Runaway Species, David Eagleman reveals how any organization can adopt a more innovative mindset by decoding how the mind actually works. In talks, he helps us embrace risk and failure, empower our employees, and build truly creative companies.
“The kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun.”— The New York Times
To many, creativity is anecdotal: a highly personal, largely mysterious process that either speaks to you or doesn’t. David Eagleman doesn’t see it that way. He starts with neuroscience—how the brain really functions—and shows that innovation doesn’t have to be a private, enigmatic exercise. Knowing how the mind works means we can understand human creativity—and how to harness it to transform companies, classrooms, and creators. His latest book, The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World is a stunning, full-color collaboration with composer Anthony Brandt on the foundations—and furthest reaches—of creativity. But this isn’t just a celebration of our unique minds: it’s a practical handbook for building more creative companies and institutions. Essentially, it’s about learning how we think—and learning how we can think differently.
Often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience, he’s the scientific advisor on HBO’s Westworld, a bestselling author, and host of the new documentary The Creative Brain, now streaming on Netflix. Whether he’s expounding on the careful balance between routine and novelty, or how leaders can embrace risk and disruption, he provides a vivid, inspiring take on cultivating the right attitude for discovery. As the host of PBS’ Emmy-nominated series The Brain, Eagleman was the charismatic tour guide through the most impressive series—in content and dazzling style—ever produced on neuroscience. A Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, he’s also traded jokes with Stephen Colbert and been featured in Italy’s Style magazine.
“The hottest thing in neuroscience”— The Times
Eagleman’s accolades—both popular and academic—prove his rare ability to make advanced science relevant, accessible, and fun. The Director of the Center of Science and Law, Eagleman is also the founder of BrainCheck, an exciting new app that test neurocognitive functions. Named a Science Educator of the Year by the Society of Neuroscience, he is also a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His talk at TED on creating new senses for humans—illustrated by his original invention, the VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer), which translates sounds into vibrations for deaf users—earned him a standing ovation on the main stage.
His widely celebrated books include New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and The Brain: The Story of You, of which Stephen Fry says, “on every page there is a revelation so fantastic as to make one gasp.” His short fiction collection SUM was translated into 27 languages, and inspired U2 producer Brian Eno to write twelve new pieces of music, which they performed together at the Sydney Opera House. Regardless of the audience, Eagleman can unpack the full range of applications (for memory, business, decision-making, technology, education, the law, and more) we get from a more nuanced understanding of the brain—and make it fun.
“David Eagleman was fantastic. Some audience members noted that they felt he was the best speaker of the season, and one even said he was the best speaker from the past ten years! The audience was captivated and wanted more! He was an absolute joy to work with—so organized, humble and easy-going. We were so lucky to end our season with such a positive, upbeat and interesting speaker!”Yahoo.com
“David Eagleman was one of the most engaging, energetic, intelligent speakers we have had as a keynoter. He is approachable and sincere. We would readily ask him back again without any reservation!”Virginia Association of Independent Schools
“David was great! The feedback has been outstanding and was especially helpful to the smaller project team working on the store traffic issue. Thanks for all your help in making this happen, I couldn't be more pleased with the way it turned out!”The Gap
A Fine Balance Finding the Sweet Spot Between Novelty and Familiarity
Human brains seek a balance between exploiting knowledge already earned, and experiencing new surprises. After eons of development, this tension is perfectly—and predictably—refined: too much familiarity and we tune out; too much surprise and we become disoriented. How can companies consistently strike this fine balance when developing consumer products and services?
In this workshop, David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt invite companies to bring the projects their working on, struggling with, or ready to take to the next level, and together, run them through the innovation frameworks and best practices they developed in the process of researching The Runaway Species. Through intensive collaborative brainstorming sessions and real-time feedback from David and Anthony, audiences will generate a ton of ideas quickly, learn to embrace the right kind of risk, and come away inspired, empowered, and ready to innovate.
The Creative Company How to Embrace Innovation and Lean into the Future
Companies that want to take the lead in innovation have to wrestle with a three-headed problem: the future is hard to foresee, most ideas die, and even great concepts may not last. So: What does it take to become a truly creative company? In this talk, David Eagleman argues that all organizations must generate ideas—small, diverse, wild ideas, the more the better—to stay ahead in a world that is constantly changing. He’ll show you how to inspire employees and teams to greater heights, to work on “moonshot” concepts, to learn from failures (even fiascos), and to push beyond the expected. This is easier said than done, but Eagleman, the world’s coolest neuroscientist, is up to the task. Using a handful of great examples—and the advanced science that animates them—he shows you that there’s no one true way to innovate, and that the process is itself not set in stone: it’s something to be reconsidered and reinvigorated. Most importantly, he helps leaders break from “cognitive ossification,” which can stall progress through routine and expectation. The path to breakthrough new products and experiences is strewn with bad ideas—but, surprisingly, good ones, too. Eagleman helps us know which ideas to pursue, which to abandon, and why investing in even the most far-reaching possibilities might be the most practical thing you can do for your company.
The Runaway Species Transforming the World Through Human Creativity
Of all life on Earth, human beings are unique in their capacity to create—and remake—the world. But still, we know so little of this fundamental drive. Where does the urge to create come from? Do all creative acts share a similar set of qualities? And, importantly, is it a force we can all learn to cultivate?
In this moving examination of human creativity, David Eagleman applies the latest findings from the field of neuroscience to issues of immediate and practical importance. To uplift our schools and institutions, businesses and personal lives, Eagleman outlines ways we might stimulate our latent creative urges while nourishing those we already possess. Both a celebration and interrogation of the human spirit, this keynote can help audiences imagine a more creative future for all of us—at a time when innovation may be key to transforming, and saving, our world.
Livewired How the Brain Rewrites Its Own Circuitry
The brain is often portrayed as an organ with different regions dedicated to specific tasks. But that textbook model is wrong. The brain is not hardwired, David Eagleman contends—it is livewired. In this talk, Eagleman presents his new theory of infotropism: why the fundamental principle of the brain is information maximization. In the same way that plants grow toward light, brains reconfigure to boost data from the outside world. Follow Eagleman on a thrilling journey to discover how a child can function with one half of his brain removed, how a blind man can hit a baseball via a sensor on his tongue, how new devices and body plans can enhance our natural capacities, how paralyzed people will soon be able to dance in thought-controlled robotic suits, how we can build the next generation of devices based on the principles of the brain, and what all this has to do with why we dream at night. You will never think about your brain in the same way again.
Your Brain and the Law The Future of Biologically Informed Jurisprudence
Advances in neuroscience are beginning to reveal the limits of our criminal justice system. As scientists probe the brain, we begin to see how many neural problems are linked to anti-social, violent, and criminal behaviors. And as our biology changes, so too does our behavior—making the issue of criminal blameworthiness, of volition, much more complicated than we’ve traditionally understood. In this riveting keynote, David Eagleman—director of the Center for Science & Law—exposes the flaws of our punitive institutions, and helps us imagine a new legal system, more intrinsically tied to scientific research, and one that adjusts sentences, rehabilitation, and incentives depending upon the neurological make-up of the perpetrator. With reference to contemporary cases and the latest in the science of the brain, Eagleman outlines a more cost-effective, adaptable, and ultimately humane system for the benefit of all.