Simon Banks is an author, podcaster and international speaker on creativity, innovation and design and a happily recovering artist. He describes his geek-out spot as the intersection of creativity and design, learning, people and passion which he sees as essential building blocks for future leaders and developing a culture of innovation. His Big Why? To use his artist’s curiosity combined with his 20-year corporate career to build a more creative world to enable people and business to thrive in the Modern Age.

Simon has substantial experience, with over 1300 events facilitated across Europe, Asia, America and Australia across a diverse array of sectors and organisations. These include Keynotes, visual storytelling programs, exploring and developing strategy, innovation programs, rapid prototyping and design sprints and design thinking workshops.
He’s worked to turn creative thinking up to 11/10 and bring innovation out of teams with companies that include: EY, The Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, BHP Billiton, Google, Sportsbet, Geoscience Australia, NAB, Carat Media, University of Technology Sydney, Laing O’Rourke, and Volkswagen, to name a few.
Simon is also a talented professional artist, exhibiting both in Australia and the UK, has lectured at the National Gallery of England and has developed programs for institutions such as The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The ‘Simon effect’ is a unique combination of his ability to meld the corporate and creative sectors, bringing a completely different perspective to curly business conundrums. His way of shifting thinking galvanises forward-moving, creative outcomes which outperform business-as-usual thinking every time (and it’s the asset that clients buy).
His particular skill is audience engagement – a critical piece of the event jigsaw. Simon keeps the energy in the room at a high, putting the audience in a great place so they stay fascinated, smiling and happy.

Drawing on his arts background, Simon is a masterful illustrator and uses these skills across all of his work including live on stage in a keynote, creating rapid visual representations of ideas and using it to hone and shift people’s thinking, especially in an innovation or strategic setting. This talent makes complex problems simple to understand, and gives people a tool to use to solve wicked problems. His rapid-fire pace means feedback is instant, moving the event along at a cracking pace towards solutions, while keeping everyone engaged.

He marries his creative abilities with his in-depth knowledge of the corporate world to ignite fresh, innovative thinking in his audiences…and help you create a unique event, one that will engage your people not just for the event, but for a long time afterwards too.

His book, A Thousand Little Lightbulbs: How to kickstart a culture of Innovation in your Organisation, is out now and provides a guide to leverage the greatest innovation tool in your business: your people. His podcast, The Occupational Philosophers is a not-so-serious business podcast to spark imagination, creativity and curiosity and is downloaded across the globe.
Simon brings a fresh set of eyes to any conference, workshop or event. From designing the whole day’s agenda, to assisting with presentation preparation, development of interactive programs and breakout sessions – whatever you need, Simon can work through it with you and design a bespoke, creative solution.

If you’re after an MC, keynote speaker, event facilitator or innovation maverick who can help your organisation embrace their creative potential with the professionalism, creative flair and energy your audience expects, you’ve found him.

Speaking topics

Reimagine

It’s the key to thriving in uncertain times (right now)

Over the last two years, we have heard so much about the ‘re’ words – resilience, rebuild, recover – but we can’t do any of those unless we embrace another way of thinking: Reimagine.

So often it can feel like we are an actor in someone else’s story. Things are going on around us and we just have to go along with it. Unless we tap into a new way of thinking (which isn’t hard to do), we won’t be able to reimagine what’s possible or reimagine how we thrive in slightly upside down times we are in. When we engage our curious and creative mind and reimagine what’s possible, we can be the writer of our own stories and not just be an actor in someone else’s narrative.

Yes, times are a little different (tell us something we don’t know!) and we need new ways of thinking and operating to not only just get by, but to thrive.

Key outcomes:

  • New tools and frameworks to shift your thinking and reengage you imagination
  • The ability to look at the world around you with a different set of eyes
  • A refreshed soul and smile on your face as you engage and reconnect with your creativity
  • How to create an ecosystem where imagination and fresh thinking thrives
  • How to build resilience in times of stress by tapping into the creative resources we all have

This is an interactive keynote, designed specifically for that online “Zoom snooze” environment. You follow along with your team with a bunch of fun exercises that reengage your imagination and open up your mind to the possibilities that exist all around us (and it’s also a killer face to face as well)

Future Skills

It’s time to be human

Business as usual is not the new normal... The future (starting right now) requires a more innovative way of thinking, working and behaving.
As IQ can now easily be bought (data/Ai/metrics/google), and automation and machine learning take away the repeatable and mundane, there’s a complete renaissance shift in the skills we need to thrive.

Bye Bye IQ, hello EQ and Creative Intelligence.

Welcome to the workplace of the future. It’s a new way of thinking, being and working – built around human connections, creative leadership, empathy, multidisciplinary thinking and curiosity. The value of these skills is rapidly growing every day.

The great news is that human beings are hardwired to smash it in one of the most exciting business environments we have ever had. This innovation stuff is in our blood. Discover how to make it work: it’s time to be human.

Key outcomes

  • A team equipped with and confident in the essential human skills needed to thrive in the 21st Century
  • The ability to see more possibilities than ever before, and how to implement these into both business and daily life
  • The tools you need to embed these skills in your workplace for a thriving team
  • A team that can discern and then fulfil their unlimited (yes, unlimited!) creative potential to drive business forward
  • The satisfaction of a creatively fulfilled team whose unique talents are being fully harnessed, along with the great staff retention, high morale and goal smashing magic that happens when a team really ‘gets’ this stuff

Busting Assumptions

How people and human connections (and not just technology) can drive innovation in your organisation

Truthfully, almost every person knows that ‘disruption’ is here. Technology is empowering more business and growth possibilities than ever before.

However, technology by itself is not enough.

The intersection of humanity and technology is the most exciting part, and where we’ll see revolutionary strides ahead.

All the ingredients to kick start Innovation already exist and they’re right in front of you; the solution’s not just a technology platform either. It needs you; it needs your team; it needs people.

Digital transformation and human transformation go hand in hand. Are you set up to embrace what’s possible?

Key outcomes

  • Understand how the intersection of technology and people drives human potential
  • Understand how the traits of creativity, curiosity and imagination will define success in the future as technology brings about rapid change
  • Learn the importance of culture: how a technology company redefined an industry by creating a culture that allowed people and their creative talents to thrive
  • Explore how the humans are at the heart of a culture of Innovation, and how you can make it work in your organisation
  • Master the three key steps to thriving in a world of disruption

A Thousand Little Lightbulbs

How to Kickstart and build a culture of Innovation in your organisation – in any industry

Kickstarting a culture of innovation can feel pretty hard. Let me tell you, it’s not that hard.

You don’t have to ride a unicycle or start eating kale salads, I promise (though I won’t stop you if you want to). Small steps can make a huge difference. If you’re looking to kickstart a culture of Innovation, fulfil your potential and have a constant stream of little lightbulb moments that lead to massive forward motion, this keynote is for you.

Key outcomes:

  • Reframe the Innovation Challenge: Move innovation from pretty hard to completely normal
  • Shift your culture: Create a culture where people and innovation thrive, along with brilliant ideas, market-leading thinking, products and results
  • Inspire your team: Understand how to enable your team to thrive and fulfil their innovation potential so they see more possibilities than ever before
  • Recognise three common Innovation handbrakes and how to release them (without spending a cent)
  • Learn how to develop a constant stream of ideas, from all over your organisation that turn into concrete action

Crafting stories

shift your communication, develop and deliver cut through messages that connect with your people

Humans have been telling stories since day one. They are an essential part of our communication. A good story makes us think, feel, and speaks to us in ways that numbers, data, and presentation slides simply can’t. Most importantly, it puts information in a way that our 21st Century minds crave – simple, meaningful and engaging. Whilst technology can spice up storytelling, it’s the most basic human traits of human connection that drive a story and its ability to cut through.

If you’re after a session that busts through your company’s addiction to corporate speak and teaches you how to do it too, this one’s for you.

Key Outcomes

  • Understand the neuroscience of storytelling and why we need to put storytelling into factual presentations to engage the brain
  • Be able to craft and create simple and compelling visuals to explain complex problems
  • Develop a framework to tell a purpose-led story about yourself and your company in a way that is engaging and captivating
  • Present with energy and positivity and always leave a positive emotional legacy
  • How to put storytelling at the heart of your culture and the way you connect with your clients 

Getting to Yes

How to get your team to a place where great conversations, stories and great ideas exist every day.

Ideas can get stuck or shut down all too easily.

It’s hard to keep it simple and have conversations that lead to more action and thriving business in a world of meetings and email after email.

It can seem like having fruitful connections with people in your organisation is an impossible dream.

Not anymore! Shift your normal way of operating, and get your team into gear.

This is a highly interactive keynote session that uses the principles of improv theatre, storytelling and Simon’s unique delivery style to enable delegates to move to a place where rewarding conversations, captivating stories and great ideas exist every day. If you like to snooze at the back, bad luck as you’ll certainly be out of your seat for this one!

Who said learning had to be boring?

Key Outcomes

  • Find your creative flow to help your team move forward every day
  • Get the skills to spiral ideas upwards and keep ideas alive, even in a world of 500 emails a day and meetings you don’t want to be in
  • Get rid of the go-to responses that kill great ideas in their tracks, and watch your team bloom
  • Understand the importance of active listening and get skilled up in how to do it
  • Discover how to manage your energy and state, how that affects your team, and how to keep it high so that your whole team benefit

NOTE: This keynote is in person only!

Testimonials

We were very happy with how the conference went and your work was great in keeping them all pumped over 2 days. Everyone enjoyed your session and found it valuable. Feedback shows it was the best conference they had attended. Thank you so much I hope we can work together again soon.
- Practice Manager, Hayes Knight (SA)

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for work at the conference last week, the day was excellent and the feedback we are receiving about you and the overall day is the best ever! I think you were a great addition both years, you kept the exercises different each time which certainly helped and I think staff were all really happy, particularly the way you managed the event.
- Manager Marketing and Media, Marketing and Sales QLD TAFE

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the work you did – before and during the CEO Forum. Simon, you made the day loads of fun for everyone. I am looking forward to finding more wonderful ways we can use your talents going forwards.
- Internal Communications Specialist, Lumo Energy

The feedback has been nothing short of fantastic. Again thanks Simon for pulling off what will be a memorable night and of course now the bar for next year’s conference is set very high. Great job and really enjoyed working with you
- General Manager Small Business Programs & Services, Telstra

The feedback was fantastic from the conference. Thanks so much for your work with our sessions Simon. You were exceptionally professional, fun and really nailed the brief.
- Australian Wholesale Marketing Manager, Flight Centre Travel Group

I would like to thank you for your role as facilitator and MC at the Department of Transport and Main Roads DG Customer Led Innovation Challenge. Your role was integral to making the day a success and was greatly appreciated by myself and all the participants.
- Director General, QLD Department of Main Roads

We called on Simon to help us with an internal event we held recently. From the outset he was brilliant, from thoroughly understanding our needs through to fulfilling his role as MC. Simon was able to engage the audience, inject energy and keep everyone entertained. The feedback from attendees was exceptional and left the crowd wanting more.
-Agile Coach - Digital, Commonwealth Bank

Simon supported me in a bid for new work. His creative skills and imagination helped us communicate our proposition in a highly effective way and I believe this helped differentiate us from our competition. He was very professional, organised and flexible which helped us meet a very tight deadline. I look forward to working with him again soon.
- Executive Director, Ernst and Young

I tasked Simon with the job of MC and session facilitator at a national conference for accountants - Not the easiest of audiences, yet Simon’s unharnessed energy ensured the room remained engaged for the entire 3 days. Simon’s is fun, dynamic and forces the listener to move outside their comfort zone (in the right way). I have had the pleasure of working with Simon on numerous occasions and would personally recommend him to anyone seeking a speaker with a difference.
-Practice Manager, Hayes Knight (SA)

Simon facilitated our inaugural innovation event in September 2016 in Melbourne, where over a dozen teams participated. He brought great energy to the session, engaged the teams very well, coached us along the way, and made the event fun. Simon is a great presenter and facilitator and I would recommend him for other organisations looking to run innovation sessions, hackathons, or similar events.
-Head of Insights, eNett

Simon Banks speaker

Speaker Video

Simon Banks - Speaker showreel

Simon Banks - Speaker showreel

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CO-LAB - Collaborating on road safety - Part 2
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Simon Banks - Corporate Emcee Bio Whiteboard Animation

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