It’s been a long and interesting journey from paralyzing stage freight to a sought-after international keynote speaker.
I’ve spoken at events ranging from customized talks and coaching for companies like IDEO, Apple, Google, Amazon, The Home Depot, GE and many more; to large international keynotes at SXSW, HOW Design Live, Awwwards, Pausefest, FUSE, Tech Open Air, Fifteen Seconds Festival and more alongside speakers like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Nest founder Tony Fadell, Martha Stewart, Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, and John Maeda.
My talks are consistently scored by attendees as one of the best at every event by as much as 4 times other speakers because I give honest and actionable takeaways the audience can immediately implement. I’m the only speaker named an Adobe MAX Master, voted by attendees as one of the top 20 speakers at the conference, for 4 consecutive years with those sessions receiving an average score of 4.9 out of 5 from over 8,000 attendees. I have been chosen for solo keynotes at SXSW for two consecutive years, gave the highest rated keynoted in the history of HOW Design Live and more.
I also love working with universities having been a guest lecturer at Yale, Princeton, MIT International Design Center, School of Visual Arts, Parsons and more. I am also an IDEO trained Design Thinking teacher and Lynda.com instructor.
If you’re interested in having me speak at your company, see how I can help coach your team, or speak at an upcoming event please contact me and I will be happy to provide references, attendee scores from past events and pricing. I do often book up months in advance to please contact me as early as possible. Contact me now so we can discuss how we can work together.
I’ll be speaking at these upcoming events
Please check my social media channels for the latest webinars as they are announced frequently. I will announce new dates for in-person keynotes and talks when travel is possible again.
I’m an IDEO trained Design Thinking instructor.
I have used, taught, and led teams using Design Thinking to produce world-class creative and help change companies. I’m a trained IDEO Design Thinking instructor who has worked with senior members of IDEO to build a custom curriculum and content which I’ve taught a variety of intensive workshops alongside their team and on my own to thousands of people all over the world.
Watch my talks in action
This is a sampling of some of the international keynotes I have given at major conferences and events over the past few years. You can see more of my talks and interviews on The Crazy One YouTube channel.
Watch my keynote opening for Steve Wozniak at NICE Interactions 2014
I was honored to deliver the opening keynote at NICE Interactions before Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The talk focused on what drives social media and its role in customer service.
I’ve taught at these companies and more on leadership, creativity, career development, culture, and other topics.
Lynda.com instructor ‘Running a Design Business: Leading a Creative Team’.
Leading a creative team comes with a unique set of challenges that must be navigated with care in order to get reports to be able to perform at their best. In this course, I break down the tenets of impactful leadership for creative professionals. Covers how creative leadership is unique, why it’s important, the ways leaders can improve what they are doing, and how to help foster the kind of culture that is most beneficial.
What attendees say about my talks
“I’ve been attending industry conferences and company off-sites since the early ’90s, and have heard everyone from Seth Godin to Jared Spool to Guy Kawasaki to Malcolm Gladwell and countless people in between but can honestly say Stephen was far and away and without reservation one of THE best presentations I’ve ever seen.”
“Amazing day at Lands’ End with Stephen Gates and can’t wait to have him back. If you want to be inspired, challenged, get a good dose of reality and get help having a voice of change get a hold of Stephen, You won’t be disappointed.“
– Dan Hetzer, Creative Director at Land’s End
Watch my keynote at the 2018 Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz, Austria
This keynote called “The power of crazy: How you can inspire creativity and innovation in anyone” looked at how every company wants more creativity and innovation from its teams, but few understand how to create a culture that fosters leadership, drives innovation, and delivers results. This keynote shared unique insights on creativity and innovation that I have learned through leading creative teams for some of the world’s biggest brands and working with senior teams at Apple, Google, Facebook, and more.
I’ve been a guest lecturer at these universities.
I’ve spoken at these events and more
SXSW solo keynote
2020 – Emerging trends in design, leadership and culture
2019 – Building an in-house design powerhouse
Pausefest – Melbourne, Australia
2019 – Opening keynote: Don’t underestimate the power of crazy
2017 – In-house powerhouse: building & managing an empowered internal creative team (scored 4.91 out of 5 by attendees)
– Building your personal brand (scored 4.89 out of 5 by attendees)
– Most attendees of any speaker at the entire event
2016 – Success Is a Choice: Building Creativity and Leadership in Your Team (scored 4.95 out of 5 by attendees)
– 1% Inspiration. 99% Design Thinking. (scored 4.9 out of 5 by attendees)
2015 – Beyond the Lightbulb: How to Concept, Design, and Prototype Great Ideas (scored 4.98 out of 5 by attendees)
– The Crazy Ones: How to Build a World-Class Career (scored 4.89 out of 5 by attendees)
2014 – The Crazy Ones: How to Be a Leader Who Inspires Creativity and Innovation (scored 4.87 out of 5 by attendees) press coverage
2013 – Secrets to Creating a Successful Mobile Roadmap, Apps, and Mobile Websites (scored 4.79 out of 5 by attendees)
2012 – Using Adobe’s Web Tools to Rethink Digital Branding (scored 4.8 out of 5 by attendees)
(watch the video on Adobe TV)
2012 – Create Anywhere
2019 – The Crazy Ones: How to make design core to every business
2018 –The future of digital design
2017– Design Thinking Workshop
2017 – Building Atomic Design Languages
2016 – The Future of Digital Branding is Proactive Storytelling
2016 – The Crazy Ones: How To Be A Leader Who Inspires Creativity and Innovation
2011 – How Starwood Hotels Creates Design Leads Brands Online press coverage
2010 – Memory Loss and Hamburger: Getting the Best From In-house Design Teams press coverage
REACH: Accelerating Creative Leadership
2017 – The Crazy Ones: How To Be A Leader Who Inspires Creativity and Innovation
Fifteen Seconds Festival – Graz, Austria
2018 – The Power of Crazy
2016 – The Crazy Ones: How To Be A Leader Who Inspires Creativity and Innovation
Design Thinkers Toronto
2017 – In-house powerhouse: building & managing an empowered internal creative team
Design Thinkers Vancouver
2018 – Creative powerhouse: Ho to building & managing an empowered creative team
Digital Design and Innovation Summit
2014 – How State-Aware Design is Going to Change Mobile
AdTech New York
HTML5 Changes Everything
Talks and classes on leadership and innovation at Apple, IDEO, Adobe L’Oreal, GE, Carrefour, and more.
Social Media Week NYC
2013 – Bringing Real Life Brand Experiences to Online Communities
Connecticut – The Crazy Ones: How to Be a Leader Who Inspires Creativity and Innovation
Online Marketing Expo – Barcelona, Spain
2013 – Opening Keynote: Agile is the new smart
NYC Creative xChange
2016 – The Power of Design Thinking
Usability Experience Professionals Association
– Putting Brand at the Center of UX Design
– What is ‘State-Aware’ Design and Why is it Going to Change Everything?
NYC UXPA 2013 – How To Succeed in Mobile When You’re Really Trying (scored 4.8 out of 5 | highest score of any presenter)
NYC UXPA 2012 – Become a Presentation Superstar (scored 4.7 out of 5 by attendees) – watch the video
NYC UXPA 2011 – How Starwood Build Emotional Connections and Brand Loyalty Online (scored 4.8 out of 5 by attendees) – watch the video
HOW Design Live
2020 – Overcoming barriers to creativity and change (main stage keynote)
2019 – The future is creative (main stage keynote)
2019 – Why innovation is rarely authorized (panel)
2018 – In-house powerhouse: How to build and manage an empowered in-house creative team
2021 – The age of consequence design
2018 – How to lead an empowered creative team
InVision Design+ Series
2017 – Design + Finance – watch the video
Adobe Tech Summit
2017 – Inventing the future keynote
2016 – 1% Inspiration. 99% Designing, Prototyping, and Testing
2017 – ‘Who Owns Creativity’ panel
World Usability Day
Building Brands with Every Interaction
Engage: NYC Digital Storytelling Conference
2015 – Inside Successful Interactive Storytelling
2016 – Experience is Not Enough
Saatchi & Saatchi
Experience and Wellness through Design panel
The Future of Crowdsourced Branding
World Future Trends Summit
Using Global Travel Trends to Create Award-Winning Mobile Experiences
Private Brand Movement
Transforming from a Graphic Design Team to a Brand-Building Force
The Mobile Marketing Conference
Best Practices in Mobile Web Design
– NYC Open House
– NYC Creative Jam Judge
– Brooklyn Creative Jam Speaker
Social Media & Community 2.0
Non-traditional Insight-Driven Community Building
Client & Agency Summit Presented by FUSE
Reclaiming client-side creativity
Customer Contact East
Social is real. But is it it’s own channel? (scored 4.7 out of 5 by attendees)
Total Customer Experience Leaders
The Crazy Ones: How to be a leader that inspires creative and innovative customer solutions
Makers of Barcelona
How To Lead World-Class Creative Teams
Digital Luxury NYC
How Starwood Hotels Creates Unique Brands Online press coverage press coverage
2013 – Getting Your Mobile Strategy Off The Ground (scored 4.8 out of 5 | highest score at the conference)
2012 – Rebuilding and Revitalizing Your Brand (scored 4.8 out of 5 | highest score at the conference)