Margaret Heffernan

CEO, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post Columnist and Author

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive and author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned dozens of documentaries and dramas.

As a television producer, she made documentary films for Timewatch, Arena, and Newsnight. She was one of the producers of Out of the Doll's House, the prize-winning documentary series about the history of women in the twentieth century.

She designed and executive produced a thirteen part series on The French Revolution for the BBC and A&E. The series featured, among others, Alan Rickman, Alfred Molina, Janet Suzman, Simon Callow and Jim Broadbent and introduced both historian Simon Schama and playwright Peter Barnes to British television. She also produced music videos with Virgin Records and the London Chamber Orchestra to raise attention and funds for Unicef's Lebanese fund.

Leaving the BBC, she ran the trade association IPPA, which represented the interests of independent film and television producers and was once described by the Financial Times as "the most formidable lobbying organization in England."

In 1994, she returned to the United States where she worked on public affair campaigns in Massachusetts and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. She developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors and The Learning Company.

She then joined CMGI where she ran, bought and sold leading Internet businesses, serving as Chief Executive Officer for InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and iCAST Corporation. She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her "Tear Down the Wall" campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE award for public relations.

Her third book, Wilful Blindness (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Bloomsbury in the US, Doubleday in Canada) was a finalist for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book award. In 2014, the Financial Times named it one of its "best business books of the decade.” Her next book A Bigger Prize (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Public Affairs in the US and Doubleday in Canada) won the Transmission Prize. Her most recent book Beyond Measure : The Big Impact of Small Changes was published in 2015. Her TED talks have been seen by over 3 million people. She is a Trustee of the London Library and sits on the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as one the boards of several private companies. Margaret blogs for the Huffington Post in the US and the UK and for Inc.com. and mentors senior and Chief Executives. 

To book Margaret Heffernan call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Business Culture, Business Motivational, Business Performance, Employee Retention

  • Travels From:

    Massachusetts

  • Price:

    $20,000 - $30,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
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  • Testimonials
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Margaret Heffernan: Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive and author. She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned dozens of documentaries and dramas.

As a television producer, she made documentary films for Timewatch, Arena, and Newsnight. She was one of the producers of Out of the Doll's House, the prize-winning documentary series about the history of women in the twentieth century.

She designed and executive produced a thirteen part series on The French Revolution for the BBC and A&E. The series featured, among others, Alan Rickman, Alfred Molina, Janet Suzman, Simon Callow and Jim Broadbent and introduced both historian Simon Schama and playwright Peter Barnes to British television. She also produced music videos with Virgin Records and the London Chamber Orchestra to raise attention and funds for Unicef's Lebanese fund.

Leaving the BBC, she ran the trade association IPPA, which represented the interests of independent film and television producers and was once described by the Financial Times as "the most formidable lobbying organization in England."

In 1994, she returned to the United States where she worked on public affair campaigns in Massachusetts and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. She developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors and The Learning Company.

She then joined CMGI where she ran, bought and sold leading Internet businesses, serving as Chief Executive Officer for InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and iCAST Corporation. She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her "Tear Down the Wall" campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE award for public relations.

Her third book, Wilful Blindness (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Bloomsbury in the US, Doubleday in Canada) was a finalist for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book award. In 2014, the Financial Times named it one of its "best business books of the decade.” Her next book A Bigger Prize (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Public Affairs in the US and Doubleday in Canada) won the Transmission Prize. Her most recent book Beyond Measure : The Big Impact of Small Changes was published in 2015. Her TED talks have been seen by over 3 million people. She is a Trustee of the London Library and sits on the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as one the boards of several private companies. Margaret blogs for the Huffington Post in the US and the UK and for Inc.com. and mentors senior and Chief Executives. 

To book Margaret Heffernan call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

Willful Blindness or the 20/20 Company?

The biggest challenge we face is knowing what is happening in our companies and in our industry. Time after time, we either miss major opportunities, market shifts or warning signs. How does that happen? The disasters are often explained as ‘bad apples’ but the truth is that the hardest aspect of leadership is gaining true insight into the business and the environment in which it operates. If Microsoft could miss the Internet, Pepsi could miss water and Nokia could miss smart phones, insight isn’t just about hiring smart people. It’s about understanding the obstacles to transparency and putting the structures, process and culture in place to surface mission-critical information.

Margaret Heffernan draws on a century of psychological and organizational research, together with her own experience running companies, to investigate how business leaders can be better sighted, alert to the external and internal threats that challenge their very existence. In a provocative and entertaining presentation, she outlines the key social and neurological reasons why we can’t see what ought to be obvious, why we ignore what we most need to see and why most of those around us do likewise. With examples drawn from organizations worldwide, audiences will learn how better to manage internal intelligence and external networks to ensure that they don’t get blind-sided.

In this provocative presentation, Heffernan analyzes

  • the major causes of personal and institutional blindness
  • what leads to leaking and whistleblowing
  • personal and structural strategies for building a sighted, informed organization
  • processes for testing hypotheses and making sense of mission-critical information

Talent, Conformity, Culture: Getting the Best from People

To build the best, smartest workforce requires hiring a broad range of diverse, talented individuals. But if that’s all it takes, why is it so hard to increase productivity? Why has productivity fallen for the last 50 years? Why is creativity and innovation something employees seem good at when they’re on vacation, but not when they’re at work? If they’re leaving to become entrepreneurs, why couldn’t they be inventive where they are now?It turns out that hiring diverse people is the easy part. Keeping them diverse, creative and engaged is the hard part. In this provocative presentation, Margaret Heffernan outlines the social, neurological and psychological reasons why we so rarely get the best out of the smart people we hire. And she proposes numerous strategies for hiring the best – and keeping them that way.

In this entertaining presentation, you will learn:

  • why risk takers lose their creativity in large organization
  • how to get a better ROA from the people you hire
  • how to keep the entrepreneurs inside

Money and Motivation

Does money motivate people or not? Psychology experiments prove that it does – and it doesn’t. Not much help if you’re trying to incentivize your workforce. So how does money work in organizations? What are the unintended consequences of over-pay and under-pay? What role does money play in getting the most from your people?In this presentation, Margaret Heffernan examines the complex psychological and neurological attitudes we display towards money and proposes ways in which it can be used more effectively to galvanize and focus the talent in your team. She argues that money is the most powerful tool that companies regularly misuse, and proposes ways to get it to work for you instead of against you.

In this illuminating presentation you will learn

  • the unintended consequences of pay
  • the fundamental needs of your workforce
  • better, cheaper ways to motivate smart people
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