AA-Josh-Linkner-3-Orig-Low-cropped-e1419996787836Josh Linkner delivers inspiring and actionable keynotes to drive meaningful outcomes worldwide. He is the perfect balance between energizing and practical; entertaining and result-focused; fun and impactful. As an innovation keynote speaker, New York Times Bestselling author, successful four-time entrepreneur, venture capitalist, national columnist and well-respected jazz musician, Josh blends deep, real-world experience with a magnetic stage presence to help people and organizations thrive. Every talk is customized to drive the biggest possible impact, combining engaging stories, gorgeous visuals, and practical techniques that push audiences to jumpstart their creative energy and solve challenges in fresh, innovative ways.


“Terrific! Our people were very engaged and had some great takeaways. You definitely made an impact!”

– Vicki Ruiz, ESPN

“I again want to tell you how inspiring your words were. Your passion was absolutely magnetic.”

– Stu Shinske, Gannett

“Josh Linkner made a huge impact on our organization.”

– Juergen Rochert, Vice President, Daimler Financial


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

Josh is the author of 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. 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.

Topics and Outcomes


As a four-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 collectively sold 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:

  • 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 even heard of
  • Build a culture that celebrates fresh thinking and embraces new ideas


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 fresh, creative 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:

  • 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


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, 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.   Josh Linkner decodes the entrepreneurial DNA to help leaders of any size company in any industry or profession:

  • 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


Be prepared to be amazed. Josh Linkner, a jazz guitarist since age 14, credits a musical background for giving him a different way of looking at business.  In this stunning interactive presentation, a live jazz performance by Josh 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; 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 (a/k/a “real-time innovators”) to help you:

  • 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 5 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


Detroit’s fight back from the brink is an inspiring tale of resilience told first-hand 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:

  • Understand the 4 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 5 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 ‘streetfighter’ mentality – on scrappiness, determination, resilience and conquering adversity



Thank you so much for today! You were terrific, and certainly a pleasure to work with!  You definitely made an impact! Thank YOU!

Josh did a tremendous job and his creativity message resonated perfectly with the audience and was right on target.

Wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your presentation. It was a very timely topic for our group. Thanks for putting a little order into a great topic and providing additional tools for us to use.

I can’t thank Josh enough for giving his time, energy and wisdom to make our event such a success.

Josh, thank you again for presenting today at the CMO Summit. You were fabulous and we have received wonderful feedback!

Thanks for the momentum that you started during your keynote here at McAfee in January. Your message was really inspirational and has stuck in the heads of many execs who were there. Thank you!

You were amazing!

In today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace, the most important resource any business has is the creative thinking of its people. Josh Linkner lays out a road map that will guide individuals, teams, and companies to higher levels of creativity.

Josh, everyone had nothing but great things to say about your presentation.  You did a wonderful job at entertaining and enlightening the crowd with your message.  Thank you so much!

I felt compelled to send you on a short email to let you know quite how blown away I was by your presentation to us yesterday in London. It was quite literally one of the most motivating and thought provoking two hours of my professional career.

The State Department would like to express our sincere thanks.  It has truly been a great success working with Josh.

Josh brought a great source of refreshing content about creativity in business that was just what [we] needed. His energy and enthusiasm about the topic inspired attendees and gave them takeaways to implement in their own companies.

Josh raised the energy level at our quarterly team meeting with thought-provoking discussion on creativity and leadership. His passion is contagious. We were engaged throughout and left the meeting fired up!

Linkner hit the ball out of the park!

I just wanted to drop you an email to say a big thanks again for today. The feedback I have heard has been incredibly positive, and I think it really contributed to the strong outcomes for the real work we went on to do over the day. I also really appreciated how you tailored you message to the audience from the discussions in the weeks prior to the program.

Thank you so much for keynoting The Marketing Forum. Your presentation was perfectly on target! Everyone I have spoken with really enjoyed your presentation. It was just what we had discussed; targeted for this audience, combining a 30,000 mile view with specific takeaways to implement now.

Josh’s presentation was perfect. The content was spot on and you could tell he really prepped. I would highly recommend Josh to other clients if they are looking to unlock the power of creativity across their organization.

Josh Linkner made a huge impact on our organization.  His message on creativity and innovation was spot-on and his work has had a lasting effect. His keynote was high-energy, interactive, and left us with specific tools and techniques to improve our creative output.

Fantastic Josh. Your presentation was really a fantastic way to kick off the meetings for our larger team. It was clear that you had taken the time to learn about our company and industry.  I have received numerous unsolicited compliments on your presentation.

Josh Linkner is the perfect model of what one should want from a speaker. During the planning and preparation period, he is accessible, flexible, engaged, attentive, and truly invested in understanding the client, the objectives, and the desired outcomes. His passion and love for championing and teaching creativity is clear in his energy, his well-designed stories/case studies, and in the overall presentation of his topic. If you are thinking of working with Josh, stop thinking – just do it.

Josh has unmatched ability to embrace innovation. At his repeated visits to Viacom, Josh has consistently offered the strategic ideas and practical techniques necessary to drive creative thinking.

The message about creativity and innovation was excellent. It was clear, well researched and engaging. Your use of stories, facts and humor made the time fly. I had several people come up to me afterword and thank me for having you come in.


Josh Linkner brings his deep executive and entrepreneurial background to the stage, along with extensive keynote experience. He's delivered over 500 inspiring and impactful talks on four continents to tens of thousands of people who are now better armed to meet the challenges they face. Clients range from large corporations and associations to high-growth startups, universities, and governmental agencies such as: