Charles Duhigg
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
Bestselling author: The Power of Habit, Smarter Faster Better

charles duhiggCharles Duhigg was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting as a member of The New York Times staff for the series “The iEconomy,” which examined Apple’s manufacturing practices overseas and what those practices can tell us about the American economy. Duhigg is also the winner of the National Academies of Sciences, National Journalism, and George Polk awards, and a frequent contributor to television and radio, including PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Dr. Oz, This American Life and various programs on CNBC and NPR. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and Yale College.

Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business has spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. The book contains specific strategies that can transform lives and workplaces. It details scientific studies on boosting willpower, replacing bad habits, and revolutionizing companies' productivity. Duhigg’s latest book, Smarter, Faster, Better (March 2016), applies the same relentless curiosity, deep reporting, and rich storytelling of The Power of Habit to explore the science of productivity. Duhigg illustrates his concept with compelling case studies from the U.S. Marine Corps, the FBI, and the Disney Animation team behind Frozen, among many others.

Duhigg’s inventive and practical books and his accomplishments as an investigative reporter for The New York Times have made him an in-demand speaker for organizations such as the UCLA School of Management, M.I.T., The Johnson Foundation and the Pasadena Art and Science Festival. Full of compelling narratives, Duhigg’s lectures draw on insights from the likes of Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO), Tony Dungy (Super Bowl-winning football coach), and Bob Bowman (coach of Olympic legend Michael Phelps).

Karen Martin
President, The Karen Martin Group Inc.
Author, The Outstanding OrganizationClarity First (forthcoming)

karen martinKaren Martin and her team provide Lean transformation and business performance improvement support to industry, government, and the not-for-profit sector. Karen’s broad understanding of operations design and business management stems from her experience building the operational infrastructure for several rapid-growth operations that each grew into multi-billion dollar companies. Her expertise also includes a keen understanding of customer value, which she honed while serving in sales and marketing roles—and extensive experience with legal and regulatory issues. She has provided support to organizations in a broad range of industries including construction, distribution, energy, financial services, government, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, military, publishing, research and development, and technology.

Karen’s quality and process orientation evolved from her early career as a scientist (B.S. Microbiology, Pennsylvania State University) and was formally developed while serving as the Director of Quality Improvement for an organization that managed the healthcare for 22 million Americans, and the Director of the Institute for Quality and Productivity at San Diego State University, where she oversaw the university’s sell-out Lean Enterprise and Quality Business Practices programs.  Her passion for organizational learning and workforce development led her to a graduate program in adult learning (M.A. Education), California State University, Bakersfield).

As a consultant, Karen is known for her keen diagnostic skills and rapid-results approach to meeting client needs. A skilled change agent, Karen builds energy within work teams by helping them focus an organization’s key performance goals—faster delivery of higher quality products and services at lower cost—while simultaneously building organization-wide problem-solving capabilities and boosting employee engagement. Clients also give Karen high marks for teaching them to fish for themselves so that they become self-sustaining as quickly as possible.

Karen’s healthcare-rich background includes clinical, administrative, and regulatory work in hospitals, post-acute care settings, payer services, medical research, clinical laboratories, physician practices, integrative medicine and behavioral healthcare.

Karen is a highly-rated speaker who wows her audiences with high-energy presentations containing practical takeaways. She’s also an instructor for the University of California, San Diego’s Lean Enterprise program and an Industry Advisor for the University of San Diego’s Industrial and Systems Engineering program.

She’s the author of The Outstanding Organizationwhich addresses the missing fundamentals that are key success factors in organizational transformation (McGraw-Hill, 2012), and co-author of Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational TransformationThe Kaizen Event Planner: Achieving Rapid Improvement in Office, Service and Technical Environments and Metrics-Based Process Mapping: An Excel-Based Solution (both by Productivity Press).

Bradley Staats
Associate Professor of Operations, University of North Carolina
Author, Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself, and Thrive (spring 2018)

brad staatsBrad Staats examines how individuals and organizations learn and improve in order to stay relevant, innovate and succeed on an ongoing basis. His teaching focuses on learning and analytics. In addition to teaching on these topics at UNC Kenan-Flagler, he works with many companies around the world on their learning and analytics strategies.

Dr. Staats integrates work in operations management and human behavior to understand how and under what conditions individuals, teams and organizations can perform their best. His field-based research in such settings as health care and software services, consulting, call centers and retail, uses archival data and field experiments to provide an interdisciplinary perspective to improve both operations’ theory and practice. He publishes frequently in both leading academic journals and practitioner-focused journals. He is an associate editor at Management Science, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Production and Operations Management.

Dr. Staats leads the Business of Health Care Initiative (BOHC), a cross-disciplinary initiative targeting some of the biggest health-care challenges of our time, at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Although the business school is leading efforts to establish and grow the BOHC Initiative, it is by design a pan-university effort that draws upon the wide health sciences strengths across campus including our top-ranked schools of pharmacy, public health, nursing, dentistry, arts and sciences, medicine and business. By building on this collaborative powerhouse of resources and talent through the BOHC Initiative, UNC Kenan-Flagler seeks to distinguish both itself and the University as one of the leading national voices in education, research and thought leadership in the business of health care.

He received his DBA in technology and operations management and MBA from Harvard Business School. He received his BS with honors in electrical engineering and his BA with high honors in Plan II and Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin.

Past keynote speakers

  • 2017

    Don Sull, faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; co-author, Simple Rules

    Debra Jasper, CEO, Mindset Digital

    Urban Meyer, Head Football Coach, Ohio State Buckeyes

    Chris Yeh, entrepreneur/investor; co-author, The Alliance

  • 2016
    • Ben Cook, Program Director, Performance Instruction & Training
    • Francesca Gino, Professor, Harvard University; author, Sidetracked
    • Joe Murli,  Founder, The Murli Group
    • Todd Henry, author, Louder Than Words, Die Empty
  • 2015
    • David Marquet, ret. U.S. Navy Captain; author, Turn the Ship Around!
    • Huggy Rao, professor, Stanford University; co-author, Scaling Up Excellence
    • Rich Sheridan, CEO, Menlo Innovations; author, Joy Inc.
  • 2014
    • Chip Heath, co-author, Switch, Made To Stick, Decisive
    • Cameron Mitchell, CEO, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
    • Helen Turnbull, Founder/CEO, Human Facets
  • 2013
    • Charles Duhigg, author, Smarter Better FasterThe Power of Habit
    • Craig Morrison, CEO, Hexion
    • Susan Moffatt-Bruce, Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, Wexner Medical Center


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Matt Burns
Manager, Marketing & Communications