Oct 25, 2017
Summary & Ideas for Action
Erik Wahl is an internationally recognized artist, TED speaker,
bestselling author, and a sought-after corporate speaker. Erik’s
on-stage painting and performance seamlessly becomes a visual
metaphor to the core of his message: Encouraging organizations
toward profitability through innovation and superior levels of
performance. He discusses with Jim and Jan the thought leadership
that differentiates him from Powerpoint presenters and concludes
with a vision for unity at work and in our communities.
[4:11] The psychology of performance depends on attention.
Erik’s audience has seen hundreds of presentations. To
differentiate himself, Erik doesn’t simply present, he prepares a
real-time improv experience with lights, cameras, audio, painting,
technology, and other techniques to engage the audience. He gives
the audience actionable takeaways using the tools of live
[5:25] Through unique channels Erik creates ‘aha’ moments and
‘wow’ experiences to show audiences how to implement leadership,
teamwork, differentiation, innovation, and creativity a little
[6:11] The ability to adapt is the most needed strength for
leaders. No system will work in perpetuity. There will always need
to be an adaptation as circumstances change. Change is constant.
Expand consciousness. Think differently. Master complexity at a
higher level. Step back and see the landscape from a bigger picture
[8:03] Look at ways to elevate your value proposition and build
authenticity into your relationships with employees and customers.
Disrupt yourselves to differentiate from the competition. Erik’s
core pillars fall under the umbrella of thinking differently, the
psychology of performance, and the ability to adapt.
[9:25] Erik discusses current thinking and ‘Thinking 2.0.’ Our
trained thinking is pragmatic, logical, and practical. It
represents standardization and Six Sigma. It is transactional
rather than interactive. The problem is that we get stuck in
systems that become out-of-date. To adapt to new circumstances we
need think in new ways and find new rhythms. Understand the rules
to reshape the rules.
[14:02] Science has necessary but finite and limited functions.
EQ, art, and intuition are all now more important than
[16:53] School has standardized children’s thinking. It is
important to learn to think but also to have a fluidity to come up
with more than one right answer. The more operationally efficient
we become, the more danger we have of losing potential and
possibilities. We need an increased element of fluidity in our
learning systems and business systems.
[21:02] As leaders, the ability to read people is incredibly
valuable. Because of the business costs of failed decisions,
leaders are often more comfortable with tried and true formulas
rather than adaptation. Leaders walk a balance between strength and
authenticity; analytics and emotional intelligence.
[23:44] Creativity requires rational systematic thought.
Creatives need to learn more about the marketplace and how to add
value to get market share.
[25:31] As an athlete, Erik learned mental toughness was to
endure pain and hardship. Now he believes the highest level of
mental toughness is the ability to control emotion in the face of
uncertainty, danger, and fear, to be unflinchingly calm in the face
of the most challenging situations, and to know when to move
[27:25] There is disruption, fear, anger, and social injustice
in the world. We need to address these issues properly to unify. We
need to know when to stand down. As a CEO, when you talk less and
listen more, you demonstrate empathy and grace that is more helpful
now than it was 30 years ago. Be tolerant of everyone’s input for a
better unified tomorrow. The more unity, the more people will
sacrifice for the good.
[32:53] Combining multiple generations in the workplace involves
meshing the ideals of meritocracy and hierarchy with authenticity
and autonomy. CEOs need to know how the younger generation thinks,
to get their attention and guide them in leadership strategies.
“Create ‘wow’ experiences that show the message as much as tell
The more operationally efficient we become, we risk losing
potential and possibilities.
Understand the rules to reshape the rules.
A leader must balance between confidence and humility and
between analytics and creativity.
Creativity without discipline is like a river without banks.
Diversity in the workplace involves meshing the ideals of
meritocracy and hierarchy with authenticity and autonomy.
LinkedIn: Erik Wahl
Vimeo: The Art of
Erik Wahl is an internationally recognized
artist, TED speaker, and No. 1 bestselling author. His breakthrough
experience as an artist and entrepreneur has translated into making
him one of the most sought-after corporate speakers on the circuit
On stage, Erik’s keynote experience creates a dynamic
multidimensional metaphor for how to systematically embrace
innovation and risk. His message: disruption is the new normal and
businesses must embrace creativity in a wholesale fashion or risk
being left behind. Erik’s presentation inspires organizations to be
increasingly agile and outlines how to use disruption as a
competitive advantage. Some companies will be disrupted; others
will choose to be the disruptor. Choose wisely.
His new book, The Spark and the Grind, activates the
essential components of translating ideas into action. His
breakthrough thinking has earned praise from the likes of top
influencers in both art and business. Erik’s previous book, a
bestseller called Unthink, was hailed by Forbes Magazine
as the blueprint to actionable creativity, and by Fast Company
Magazine as “provocative with a purpose.”
The Warhol of Wall Street, the Renoir of ROI, the Picasso of
Productivity, the Jobs of ... well, Jobs. Erik discovered an
alarming truth early in his career as a partner in a corporate firm
— organizations that encouraged the mental discipline of creativity
did better than those that did not put innovation as a priority
mission. So he set out to challenge companies to change their way
In the meantime, inspired by street art, he became an acclaimed
graffiti artist — though he has since stopped selling his work for
personal gain, and instead uses his art to raise money for
charities. His keynote is where his passion for business growth and
art converge into a fascinating performance.
Erik’s list of clients includes AT&T, Disney, London School
of Business, Microsoft, FedEx, Exxon Mobil, Ernst & Young, and
Books Mentioned on the Show
The Experience Economy, by B. Joseph Pine II and James H.
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, by
Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius, by Erik
The Spark and the Grind: Ignite the Power of Disciplined
Creativity, by Erik Wahl