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Posts by Karen Harris

AI, Algorithms, and the Changes That Are Here to Stay

By Karen Harris | Feb 08, 2019 | Comments Off

Image credit: Center for Generational Kinetics

If you’re finding article after article and news story after news story referencing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms – you’re not alone! Sources tell us that AI is changing the landscape of how people do business, how markets shift, how we travel, purchase, sell, and how organizations map out the future.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Forbes columnist Bernard Marr shared five of his top predictions for 2019 in an insightful article that spells out how it can potentially affect politics, transparency, automation, jobs, and more. “AI points towards a future where machines not only do all of the physical work, as they have done since the industrial revolution but also the ‘thinking’ work – planning, strategizing and making decisions.” For some, that sounds scary, but for others, embracing change (always a good idea) and getting a handle on how AI is being integrated in almost every part of our lives and economy is just smart business.

Another recent article in Medium Magazine shared, “A recent McKinsey study estimates that the most advanced AI techniques may create between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in new value annually in 19 industries — from agriculture and automotive to banking and basic materials to travel and telecommunications.  AI is defined as the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions we associate with human minds. And as human learning grows, so does AI. Scientists continually push the boundaries of what is possible with new techniques. As a result, it’s critical for leaders to understand not only the vision but also the reality of AI.”

With so much buzz – it’s no surprise that futurist and thought leader Mike Walsh made AI the focus of his new book, The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines are Smarter than You.  In it, Mike brings together years of research and interviews with some of the world’s top business leaders, AI pioneers, and data scientists to share a set of 10 principles about what it takes to succeed in the algorithmic age. The Algorithmic Leader offers a hopeful and practical guide for leaders of all types, and organizations of all sizes, to survive and thrive in this era of unprecedented change.

What is an algorithmic leader? Someone who has successfully adapted their decision making, management style, and creative output to the complexities of the machine age. The world is changing, to be sure, and with it, our ability to communicate, adapt, and understand how technology will lead us into the future. To be successful, as a leader, a business professional, or even consumer – we must learn new ideas, new skill sets, and new ways of thinking.

They say the only constant in life is change. The keeping up with it part is up to us!

The Magic and Mastery of Bohemian Rhapsody

By Karen Harris | Jan 25, 2019 | Comments Off

With the release this week of the 91st Academy Award Oscar nominations, it was no surprise to see the Freddie Mercury bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody score in five coveted categories.  With music as complex and iconic as Mercury himself, the movie provides pivotal insights into the creative genius that went into what would end up being labeled as “one of the greatest songs of all time”. 

According to Irwin Fisch, an Emmy nominated composer and Professor at NYU Steinhardt, “One of the reasons why Bohemian Rhapsody sounds so different is in its structure. The song is neither an a cappella, ballad, opera or rock. It's actually all of them in one song. It advanced a tradition of suites in pop music, meaning not a continuous song, not a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge structure, which was the norm. A put together group of different songs, in essence. So, if people refer to Bohemian Rhapsody as a song, that's a bit of a misnomer. It's actually three or four songs.”

Complex, long (almost six minutes), and legendary. Exactly the kind of challenge Keynote Speaker, Musician, and eight-time Carnegie Hall Headliner Mike Rayburn wanted to tackle as a showcase piece for his audiences to underscore his messages of learning to perform at virtuoso levels and peak performance.  

Watch below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xywtoQ56RC8

Learning to play such a difficult piece on the guitar with seemingly impossible key changes and note progression takes arduous hours of practice, musical mastery, and perhaps even a little of Mercury’s magic and inspiration.  The end result however, whether standing on stage in full rock and roll regalia with a full band and orchestra - or like Mike Rayburn, expertly coaxing classic rock history from a well-tuned and well-loved instrument, delivering a mesmerizing performance for audiences and a chance to pay homage to legendary music and musician - is a thrill in itself.

We’ll have to wait and see on February 24th whether Bohemian Rhapsody brings home Oscar gold. Until then, we’ll always have YouTube.

A Peek Into 2019

By Karen Harris | Jan 02, 2019 | Comments Off

2018 was truly an extraordinary whirlwind for our team, and the incredible speakers we represent. Milestones, Magic, and Lots of Flyer Miles for sure! That said, we’ve got our eyes on the year ahead and we just can’t wait to get started.

First up, we’re excited to announce the upcoming release of Mike Walsh’s new book, The Algorithmic Leader. Mike is an incredible keynote speaker, thought leader and futurist who has masterfully brought together years of research and insights from global leaders, AI pioneers and data scientists to share a set of 10 powerful principles for succeeding in an algorithmic age. He’s a brilliant mind, and we know that the strategies and ideas he shares can help business professionals and organizations the world over. I’ve been lucky enough to read an advance copy – it’s going to be a huge best seller!

Next, we are happy to announce two new keynote topics from the dynamic and engaging Tim Sanders. "Innovating Faster - Why Collaboration Changes Everything" and "Making the Leap to Essential" - both are so fitting and timely for audiences in our busy, sometimes chaotic world. The first is based on what he calls ‘disruptive collaboration,’ which is a problem-solving style that leverages sometimes unusual alliances along the fault-lines of a company or its market. In this keynote he shares how “the biggest leaps and turnarounds in business history came from collisions of thought, not safe work in our silos of excellence”. In the second keynote, Tim shares the disruptive innovations in today’s world that can chip away at client bases. The solution? To provide extraordinary levels of added value – becoming essential to work with. We are already booking these new topics, and we are certain they are going to help create lasting impact for our speaking clients.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1rIfDx-ft0&t=98s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgMAX1rg0Kg&t=5s

Lastly, we wanted to share with you the “What If Challenge” that Keynote Speaker and Author Mike Rayburn has designed as a follow up tool for clients. This system of sixteen 3ish minute videos each feature a powerful “What If” question that helps teams align and transform their mindsets for optimized performance, increased innovations, and an eye out of opportunities. What a creative and value-added component to help audiences thrive long after they’ve left the event venue!

We will have much more to share and spotlight about all of our incredible keynote speakers in the year ahead. Providing exceptional service while pairing the perfect speakers to events is a passion that we just keep fuelling. There will be much excitement in 2019 as there has been in the last 12 months. We’re here to serve! Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

By Karen Harris | Nov 22, 2018 | Comments Off

Gratefulness is the single most valuable lesson I've learned. We all have really tough times (some worse than others) and really good times. Being able to be grateful for both the good and the bad situations was really hard to learn but has helped me to get through our hardest times (the loss of my parents; our son's brain surgery; my accident this summer; having to let people go due to the recession; having to fire people because they weren't the right ones). Lots of people have had way tougher stuff to deal with than I and it's really hard to be grateful when you're in the middle of all the ugliness...but it's totally the best way I've found to get through tough times.

This Thanksgiving weekend gives everyone a chance to show their gratitude - if life is good for you, perhaps you know someone who is really hurting. I pray that you will extend a helping hand so they have something to be grateful for too.

Below is a list of some of the things that my team is grateful for - have a lovely Thanksgiving full of love, compassion and gratitude.

"I am grateful for sunny days, long walks with my sweetheart and cuddles in front of the fire with my kiddos." - Rebecca

"I'm grateful for my friends and family, a job that I enjoy going to every day and only first world problems to worry about." - Melissa

"Health, happiness, family and the great people I get to work with." - Jess

"I'm grateful for a warm house, great family and a job I enjoy!" - Dori

"I am thankful for my life, health and love of my family and friends." - Adrienne

It’s HOT October - Juggling Calendars, Clients and Our Speakers

By Karen Harris | Oct 18, 2018 | Comments Off

When you’re in the business of putting the right speakers with the right clients in the right places with ALL the right components, there are certain times of the year where the calendar looks so packed that you begin to wonder if a few hours’ sleep a night or even a bathroom break are more suggestions than necessities. There’s a lot to keep together, and our crackerjack event coordinators really lean into the juggling act during this busiest month of all.

Here are a few thoughts to help you keep a cool head when the pressure is on:

  1. Practice self-care. I know, I know – “But there’s too much to do!” I believe in the philosophy that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Like great athletes during peak seasons, hydrate, make time for sleep, fuel up with healthy food, take your vitamins, and talk things out! What I love about our team is that they ARE a team. If someone is careening towards overwhelm, they have always got each other’s back, both in terms of workload and support. Ultimately, it’s that connection to people combined with the right tools of the trade that keeps burnout at bay.
  2. Keep AMAZING notes. The truth is you can’t remember everything, especially when you are playing beat-the-clock. So, whether you are arranging transportation, managing client expectations, pulling resources together or working with a speaker – or more likely, all of the above – don’t rely on your memory to serve you consistently. When possible, use a conference call line with the ability to record, take copious notes and organize your notes in a way that makes it the most easily understood and accessible for YOU.
  3. Systems rock. At cmi, we don’t leave a lot to chance. With some of the best speakers in the world relying on us to help them successfully bring their message to the masses (and show up at the right place at the right time) – we know what works and what doesn’t. That’s important because it’s really easy for things to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a streamlined, well-tested system in place for getting every event from start to finish.
  4. Technology tools are vital. Our business involves communication all over the globe; we couldn’t do that effectively if it weren’t for the tech tools that keep us ahead of the curve in terms ofschedules, reminders, dates, client information, transportation, and logistical hurdles. Find the tools that work best for your team and make them part of the system you can rely on.
  5. Ducks in a row. What keeps team members from hitting a wall during the busiest of times is all the action they take during the slower months. Savvy coordinators use off-months to prepare well and have their ducks in a row so that when the calendar gets crazy, they don’t feel the stress nearly as much. This includes REALLY getting to their systems, their co-workers and their clients. The more you know, the easier it is to make decisions on the fly and put the pieces of the event puzzle together faster.

It’s all hands-on deck around here during this busy time of year, and I just want to note that I am incredibly proud of the team we have. They make this juggling act of events look easy and keep their wits (and wittiness) about them while they are at it. Great job team!

If there is something we can do to help YOU juggle the events for your organization, let us know. It’s something we are very passionate about!

 

Learn more about Karen and the cmi team here!

Resonating Voices in an Often-Chaotic World

By Karen Harris | Sep 19, 2018 | Comments Off

How Keynoters are Making a Difference

Our world is noisy, chaotic, frustrating, even fearful for many. I believe that is why organizations of every conceivable size are stepping up to bring people together to hear empowering messages from today’s keynote speakers. The kind of messages that move people to take action in their lives, to find balance, to believe in the power of relationships, to feel hope – and to adopt change as the necessary ingredient of success that it is. These speakers are working for way more than an ovation – they are “turning on the lightbulbs” for audiences who often feel like there’s too much darkness.

It’s exciting when they connect. When an audience member internalizes a message that anything’s possible in a time where many are feeling as if their heads are bumping against glass ceilings.  When you’re in the room with a world-class speaker – whether they are speaking to 50 or 1,000 - you can feel the change occur. When what’s raging in the news media or outside the conference venue seems fractional compared to the growth and mindset shifts you witness taking place in the room. People are laughing – and they’re learning. People are on the edge of their seat and eager for more. That’s the difference words from the right people at the right time can make.

From keynote speakers who can move leaders to become more accountable and provide a culture where creativity and collaboration can flourish, to speakers who share how we are more alike as human beings than we are different and speak on the power of diversity, global citizenship, and every kind of speaker in between – these voices are resonating with today’s audiences. People need return on investment – and they need real-world solutions. They need productivity propellers – and they also need to laugh out loud. They need to see the big picture, at the same time recognizing how very much little things matter.

Working with speakers who have the immense talent to move people from where they are to where they want and need to be is a passion of every member of our team. We recognize the tremendous work they do to elevate audience experiences – and deliver take-aways that can literally change the lives and careers of others. In a world with a whole lot of noise, it’s exceptional to sit in an audience so silent and captivated by a speaker there’s almost an electricity in the room – this is why we do what we do. We know helping our speakers share their vision, missions, and messages changes the world for the better. We’re pretty darn proud of that. To all the speakers and clients we work with daily to deliver success strategies, leadership, sales, service, humor, and so much more – a nod of thanks for allowing us to be part of the process.

Learn more about Karen and the cmi team!

Seventeen Years in the Making

By Karen Harris | Jul 13, 2018 | Comments Off

How One Speaker Kept the Faith, and Delivered on The Promise

Fresh off his recent closing keynote at The Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT) Annual Conference, Keynote Speaker Jason Hewlett, received a standing ovation from the more than 15,300 audience members and realized the cumulation of a vision and goal set in 2001 when he embarked on his speaking career:  To speak on the mainstage at MDRT.

“During my entire youth there were MDRT plaques lining the hallways of our home,” shared Jason. “My Dad, John Hewlett, being in the upper echelon of the most successful in the world in life insurance and financial planning fields, his lifetime membership in MDRT made it my goal as well. When I began my career in 2001 looking for big stages to perform on, asking my Dad where I should begin, he recommended MDRT because they had the best speakers at their conferences he’d ever seen. I made my first call to them, and I’ve submitted to be on their stage as a speaker every year since.”

For Jason, it was a home run, Olympic medal, life-changing moment. “Well-earned, well-deserved, and we are quite sure just the tip of the iceberg for what is next for this show-stopping entertainer and keynote speaker” shared Karen Harris, CEO of cmi speaker management. “He lights up the stage with humor, impressions, and an animated presentation that is just out of this world. More than that, however, he CONNECTS with messaging that is relatable, heart-warming, and exactly what audiences are looking for today.”

The topic he took the stage with was his signature, “The Promise” which compels audiences to take a long look at the impact their own “promises” make on the lives around them. While fun, engaging, and completely entertaining – the keynote has poignant moments that leave audience members feeling transformed, inspired, and motivated to take positive action in their lives.

“There is so much heart and humanity that just pours out of every speech Jason delivers,” shared Julie Escobar, industry consultant. “He is loved by audiences, adored and respected by his colleagues and peers, and a dream for meeting planners to work with. High entertainment, low ego, and a double-watt personality – all make him a speaker companies want to hire again and again.”

In a world that can certainly use a lot more fulfilled promises and big dreams coming to fruition, Jason’s journey to keynote for one of the most prestigious events hosted by the world-class organization of MDRT sends a resounding message to all of us. Keep your promises. Keep the faith. Stay focused and driven. Extraordinary things can happen when you do.

Great work, Jason. We can’t wait to see what event you’ll headline next.

Plogging, People, and Our Commitment to the Environment

By Karen Harris | Jun 08, 2018 | Comments Off

Everyone Can Make a Difference

If you know any of us here at cmi at all, you know that we are passionate about our planet. What you might not know is that I grew up on a farm and my parents taught us to take care of 'the land' because then it will take care of you. They didn't think of this as being environmentally friendly - it was simply a way of life and a way of being. I've brought that forward into my family and my business. It's really important to me that we do our part to protect the land and all that entails in today's world. In 2001, I also traveled to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. What I came back with was much more than a trip to a mountaintop. I saw abject poverty and inhumane living conditions and it changed me even more. The combination of my parents’ guidance and my experiences in Tanzania and other areas, has made world stewardship part of our company culture, and I’m blessed with a team who fully supports those efforts.

Because of this, it was no surprise to me that our first monthly foray into our “Queen of Fun” expeditions found my team taking up “plogging” in our community. Plogging is a trend started in Sweden – joggers out and about on their daily runs sporting trash bags and cleaning up the environment around them as they trailed their way through their communities.  

Back to the Queen of Fun title… I’ve got an extraordinary team at cmi. Fun, energetic, creative people who just shine in every conceivable way. At a recent roundtable meeting, we decided that we wanted to inject a little more fun into our team’s schedule and thought it would be hysterical, and game-changing to dub a Queen of Fun each month. My Digital Marketing Super Creator Dori Weisenberger took the first crown and came up with the idea of plogging as our May adventure. Together as a team of like-minded professionals, they spent an afternoon cleaning up our office community.

If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful, environmentally-conscious plogging trend, there’s a great Washington Post article here.

If you want to know more about my incredible team, who they are, and what they do – click here! You’ll love them! I do!

Now, let’s go change the world for the better! We’re in!

What’s Working for Today’s Audiences

By Karen Harris | May 11, 2018 | Comments Off

 

When Humour and How-to’s Come Together

Here’s what we know – our world is a little chaotic right now. Stressful. Fast-paced. Even our best mindfulness experts are busy finding new ways to help organizations keep their staff members focused and steady in the “storms”.

One of the top requests we get from event planning professionals inquiring about our speakers is, “We need an entertaining speaker with a message.” We totally get that. A speaker who entertains, i.e., makes people laugh, is a tremendous equalizer. It’s a way for people to engage with a speaker and a message on a whole new level. Humour breaks down the barriers in communication in ways that other delivery styles can’t. It releases the stress that your audience brings with them from their busy work lives so when they hear the message (whether it be around innovation, leadership or teamwork) their minds are totally open and ready to learn.

We know that putting together events that work, start to finish, is a big job. It’s a juggling act between content and entertainment to ensure attendees get the right mix of skills, strategy, ideas, insights, motivation, and inspiration. Just as with humour, timing is everything.

What works best in our experience is to start your event off with an “entertaining speaker with a message” before you get to your “corporate speak” or “technical talks.” This ensures the attendees’ moods are lifted and their minds are open, so they are ready to receive the heavier material they also need to receive.

There’s a lot in our world to be stressed over, for sure. Finding a talented speaker who can BOTH educate AND entertain is one of the stressors we take away. It makes our day when your event participants give YOU a standing ovation for bringing in the best speaker ever!

Want to learn more? Contact us today to find out how we can help match the perfect speaker, message, and motivation for your next audience.

Karen Harris is the CEO of www.cmispeakers.com and is an expert at helping those who host and plan meetings to source great speakers. cmi is a global meeting industry leader which represents an international roster of carefully selected speakers who positively impact millions of people through their keynote speeches, books, and thought leadership.