Keynote: When is your moment (to be brave)?

About the brave keynote

Everybody inside an organization can be brave. In fact, for success, executives have to be brave. Not always—but when it matters. This inspirational keynote builds on my latest global research, involving over 1,000 marketing and business executives, on what makes for a successful brave leader. The talk helps people realize: In business, bravery is more than a buzzword—it’s powerful, and it’s possible.

Audience: B2B and B2C companies, consultancies, agencies. Executives from marketing, sales, client service, business development—but also wider company functions like IT and HR. Basically all roles where entrepreneurship is needed for success.

Formats: onstage, online, 18-45 minutes. Mini-workshops and Q&A’s available.

Positioning: Organizations found this keynote to be particularly powerful at the beginning of a day. Through a mix of facts, stories, and examples, it sets the tone for change and innovation. The audience feedback? Highly relatable inspiration! The reason? We didn’t research Marvel heroes—but real people from real firms. Everybody in the audience can be brave!

Watch the sample keynote >


On 28 September 2018, air controller Anthonius Gunawan Agung saved 160 lives. As warnings about an imminent earthquake made rounds, his colleagues fled the tower. In a split second, Anthonius decided to stay and cleared the waiting Batik Air 6231 for a safe takeoff. Seconds later, the earthquake struck Palu airport. All 160 souls on board survived— Anthonius didn’t. Para-sprinter Johannes Floors, faced with constant leg pain and life in a wheelchair, at age 16 decided on an amputation. Recently he ran the 100m in 10.54 seconds, a new world record.

It’s the brave people who make history.

You can’t be brave all the time (and you don’t need to). Just look around you. The need for change is everywhere. Change, to leverage technology. Change, to win in shifting markets. Change to help people live better lives. Change can cause fear. It’s risky. It’s the road less travelled. That’s why change leaders need to be brave, so people say.

I wanted to know if bravery really matters for executives’ business impact. So together with The Marketing Society and Kantar, I conducted the world’s largest study on brave customer leadership—with over 1,000 business leaders. Here‘s the surprising result: successful leaders are’t brave all the time—they are brave when it really matters.

Here’s the brutal truth: no matter how much the CEO talks about “failing fast” and “risk culture”, firms don’t reward brave people. Firms reward successful people. Some companies now have more people checking the business (compliance, finance, legal, sustainability) than creating it (e.g. marketing). Many senior leaders aren’t even allowed to spend money without long, bureaucratic purchasing processes—one of the most baffling inefficiencies in modern business. And executives who always act bravely may simply find themselves out of the door in no time. The bravest thing most people do in firms is sucking it up.

Bravery = purpose minus fear

Would you get close to a venomous spider? Maybe not. How about when that spider sits next to a sleeping baby? Would that encourage you to act? Perhaps!

Bravery is purpose minus fear. The stronger your purpose, the braver you’ll be.

Don’t waste your bravery for small things with little impact. Pick a cause where you can make a substantial difference. That one business idea you always had. That innovative way of serving customers better. A true purpose.

When is your moment to be brave?

(Updated March 2021 with new research facts)


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