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Cy Wakeman

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A great Tell It Like It Is Speaker!
Cy Wakeman is a dynamic national keynote speaker, business consultant, New York Times bestselling author, and trainer who has spent over 20 years cultivating a revolutionary approach to leadership. Grounded in reality, Wakeman's philosophy teaches people how to turn excuses into results and transform unhappy employees into accountable, successful members of the workforce.

Fee Range: $30,001 – $50,000
Phone: 800-328-6008

Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, global thought-leader, and New York Times best-selling author who is recognized for cultivating a counter-intuitive, reality-based approach to leadership. Backed by over 25 years of unparalleled experience, Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can shift their attention inward, sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and uncover their natural state of innovation simply by ditching the drama.

Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace,” Wakeman has helped companies such as Google, Facebook, Viacom, Uber, NBC Universal, NASA, Pfizer, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Keurig Dr. Pepper, AMC Theatres, White Castle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and countless others learn to navigate our rapidly changing world using good mental processes to harness energy wasted in workplace drama and reinvest that effort into achieving profound business results.

As a highly sought-after conference headliner, Cy Wakeman holds a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speaker’s Association, placing her within the top 3% of speakers. She’s been featured on the TODAY Show, the AskGaryVee Show with Gary Vaynerchuk, Cheddar TV, The New York Times, Business Insider, The Daily Muse, and many more. Cy Wakeman was voted in the top 100 leadership professionals to follow on twitter for 7 years in a row. In 2021, 2022, and 2023 she topped the Global Gurus list of Top 30 Leadership Professionals across the globe, coming in at #1.

Wakeman has published four books, the latest of which is Life’s Messy, Live Happy (2022). Cy also hosts her own No Ego podcast, and has a bi-weekly newsletter to address leaders’ biggest challenges in the workplace.

Speech Titles and Descriptions:

No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Drama, End Entitlement and Drive Big Results

Most leadership philosophies are grounded in two completely faulty assumptions - “change is hard” and “engagement drives results.” Those beliefs have inspired expensive attempts to keep change from being disruptive to employees. What these engagement programs actually do is create and reinforce feelings of victim-hood and leave employees unprepared to adapt to real changes that are necessary for the health and profitability of their enterprises. Rather than driving performance and creating efficiencies these programs fuel the Emotional Waste, Entitlement, and Drama that drags down organizations. This is backwards. And expensive.

Over the past three years, Reality-Based Leadership, in partnership with the Futures Company, conducted proprietary research in our client organizations such as Cisco, Medtronic, New York Presbyterian, The Nebraska Medical Center and Bayer. The findings affirm what we’ve observed in our 20+ years of experience doing RealityBased work in hundreds of organizations: when employees indulge in distracting drama, learned helplessness, low accountability, lack of self-awareness, and ego-driven behavior it comes at a significant cost to their organizations. We now know it can easily consume up to three months per year of each employee’s time — potentially billions of dollars annually in the U.S. alone. That's the Drama Quotient.

At Reality-Based Leadership, we propose a radically different approach to leadership. Changing the ways leaders think and the strategies they use in their work is a serious and critical economic issue. A leader’s role shouldn’t be — cannot be — to motivate employees. That is a choice employees make. Instead, a leader helps others develop the great mental processes they need to eliminate self-imposed suffering and choose to be accountable for driving results.

Program Objectives:

  • Discover strategies for eradicating entitlement with great tools such as the Engaged Action Planning Tool, and the Negative Brainstorming Tool which changes the energy of entire group meetings from “Why we can’t” to “How we ”
  • Develop highly effective mental processes in their teams that hold all team members accountable to quality and excellence
  • Comprehend a list of questions that can be implemented immediately and used for self-reflection and awareness
  • Understand engagement from an entirely different perspective, one that is based upon listening to the highly accountable employees
  • Compelling research showing that current leadership strategic direction and foundational philosophies regarding change management, engagement, accountability and leadership development are flawed and causing significant waste in the workplace.
  • Uncover modern approaches to engagement and change management

It is time to redefine leadership with science and research, to teach leaders strategies and tools that will actually work in their modern workplace. Leaders and organizations deserve to have a new understanding of what greatness looks like and how it can be fueled. No Ego delivers that call to greatness for all. It provides the roadmap to thinking differently about leadership and employee roles and actually delivering results, not in perfect circumstances but in today’s world.


Reality-Based Leadership – Ditching the Drama and Turning Excuses into Results

We are certainly in challenging times in our business world today. We have been in challenging times in the past and we will be faced with challenging times again at some point in the future. Here’s the reality check - The fact that times are challenging is not the source of our pain. The source of our pain is the absence of great leadership based in reality.

We must become willing to admit that our way of leading is simply not working – not creating the results or the quality of life that we would like. These times are calling for a new type of leader. We need leaders who are willing and able to recreate mindsets - their own and the mindsets of others - in order to change circumstances and lead in a new and revolutionary way.

A Reality- Based Leader is one who is able to quickly see and radically accept the reality of the situation, conserve precious team energy, and use that energy instead to impact reality. Better yet, a great Reality-Based Leader anticipates the upcoming changes and capitalizes on the opportunity inherent in the situation without drama or defense. In this session, participants will be introduced to a new wave of leadership principles - Reality-Based LeadershipTM. Which include:

  • Reality Based Leaders Refuse to Argue with
  • Reality Based Leaders Know that the Stress in Life Is Caused by Thoughts, not
  • Reality-Based Leaders Greet Change with a Simple “Good to ”
  • Reality Based Leaders Value Action over
  • Reality-Based Leaders Work with the
  • Reality Based Leaders Lead First, Manage
  • Reality Based Leaders work to Bullet Proof Employees so that They Can Succeed, regardless of the Circumstances
  • Reality Based Leaders Make the News Rather Than Report the
  • Reality Based Leaders Are Very Careful About What We Think We Know for
  • Reality Based Leaders Work to Be “Happy” Rather Than to Be “Right.”

Program Objectives:

  • Develop and utilize metrics to evaluate leadership’s contributions to the achievement of the organization's strategic goals and
  • Identify the reasons the current leadership model is failing and provide professionals with an innovative and revolutionary new look at their roles in the
  • Understand the principles of Reality-Based LeadershipTM and how to apply them in your work place and in your coaching
  • Re-evaluate the work leaders have done to date in their companies so that they can transform their tools, programs, and philosophies into ones that actually work and that leaders will actually


Hardwiring Accountability into Your Workforce and Coaching for Great Performance

Everyone is talking about accountability, but few organizations are actually successful in ensuring that personal accountability is hardwired into their talent and everyday business operations. Accountability has been illusive for many organizations, as they have not yet come to understand how to calculate the true value of an employee, how to drive it through great leadership, and how to measure the results.

The true value of an employee is no longer determined just by their technical skills, expertise or current performance. The value proposition in our organizations today is far more complex in our new realities and must take into account one’s accountability level, one’s willingness to change and to align with the organization. Total value is determined by one’s current performance PLUS their future relevance MINUS their emotional expensiveness to the institution! In this session, participants will learn key strategies for getting the most out of this new value equation.

In order to ensure that all talent will remain relevant and accountable far into the future and that plenty of bench strength exists in the organization, leaders must renew their focus on the coaching and development of their people. True development is the result of an individual being called to greatness, given challenging experiences and provided with coaching, support and feedback throughout. In this session, participants will learn the key elements of development and coaching along with many strategies for fast- tracking the development of future leaders.

Join the Reality-Based Revolution as we break down the core competency of personal accountability and give you no nonsense, workable strategies to hire for, coach for, and develop for accountability in your workforce!

Program Objectives:

  • Learn how our Ego avoids accountability at all cost and how Ego responds in challenging times at work and cause us to step down and blame
  • Discover techniques and strategies to bypass the Ego to get employees into self- reflection – the key driver of
  • Recognize that engagement alone does not drive results, accountability actually leads to engagement and
  • Understand the four factors that drive accountability (Commitment, Resilience, Ownership and Continuous Learning) and how to coach themselves and others through those four factors in the
  • Learn how accountability is actually developed, sustained and
  • Be equipped with accountable coaching tools and strategies to help people through the 'Change Sequence' and be able to recognize where individuals may step out of accountability and how to call them back to


Business Readiness: Ensuring Our Teams Are Ready for What’s Next

Are your employees still requesting time to 'grieve' when the organization makes necessary changes to stay competitive? Are they complaining of change fatigue? That change is too hard?

For over 30 years, leaders have been taught how to soften hard news to reduce resistance and get “buy-in” to key strategic initiatives. Perhaps you’ve felt compelled to apologize for the “all the change” that constantly rocks your organization. You’ve spent hours perfecting a process to approach, communicate and reinforce a new process, project or work situation, and yet our teams are at times battle fatigued, remaining unaligned with overall strategic objectives and ill-prepared to deliver on organization goals of the near future.

Resistance to change is among the top five generators of drama and emotional waste, and according to our research, it adds up to almost 2.5 unproductive hours per day per employee. To this, I issue a new call to greatness for readiness, which can be achieved by debunking the change myths that have fueled the need to sympathize with and coddle employees, preventing readiness for change.

So, what’s next? How can leaders stop making change least disruptive to their people and instead deliver up ready, willing and able teams who ensure that change is least disruptive to the business? How can leaders move their teams beyond surviving change and call their teams to thrive in changing times and fuel innovation? Abandoning “change management” and focusing on “business readiness” gets people fluent in the now and ready for what’s next – vital to creating and sustaining great results.

This high energy session will reveal the modern leader’s role to deliver teams and talent that are ready for what’s next. Leaders will walk away with simple tools and practical strategies to ensure their teams are able to greet change with a “good to know,” quickly adapt, and deliver on the needs of the organization to meet the competitive demands of the market and customers. After all, change isn’t hard – it’s only hard for the unready.

Program Objectives:

  • Modernize the leadership philosophy to focus on business readiness and dispel the myths and traditional theories of change management
  • Provide strategies to ensure that leadership focus is to ensure change is least disruptive to the business rather than attempting to make change least disruptive to the people
  • Embrace a “pyramid of readiness” – a game-changing approach to transforming cultures that respond well to adversity and drive innovation and results
  • Facilitate understanding of the causes and anecdotes to “change fatigue” and provide ways in which leaders can conserve team energy for highest possible ROI
  • Provide practical techniques and tools for leaders to incorporate in their daily practices to align their teams with organizational direction and shift energy from “why we can’t” to “how we could”


Employee Engagement is Broken: Unlocking the True Driver of Employee Performance

For years, our organizations have been investing time, money and energy into engaging our employees based on the promise that engagement drives results. But, many organizations report that despite their best efforts, engagement just hasn’t delivered as expected.

While engaging our employees is critical, it turns out that engagement isn’t enough. Engagement without accountability is chaos. It is the organizations that cultivate a culture of personal accountability who are truly winning. It’s when engagement and accountability meet that breakthrough performance occurs.

In this dynamic, provocative and groundbreaking presentation, you will learn to see the science of employee engagement in a completely new way. You will understand why the way we have historically measured employee engagement is fundamentally flawed. You will discover that many of the ways we have been working to drive employee engagement may be actually hurting the company’s performance. And, most importantly, you’ll learn what to do about it. You will be introduced to the concept of Reality-Based Engagement, where accountability and engagement intersect to produce awesome results. This will include some practical guidance for how to cultivate the power of personal accountability within your organization.

Program Objectives:

  • Uncover three key flaws in how the traditional employee engagement survey process is designed and implemented. Learn how these flaws are the reason that many company’s engagement efforts are not producing the desired
  • Discover that personal accountability is the true driver of both employee engagement and company results. Gain a deep understanding of the four factors that make up a personally accountable mindset.
  • Take away specific action steps for how to fix your employee engagement process by introducing a focus on the cultivation of accountability within your


Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace - Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier at Work

Nearly 68% of Americans report that their employers have taken steps such as putting a freeze on hiring or wages; laying off staff; reducing work hours, benefits or pay; requiring unpaid days off; or increasing work hours. Tough economic times have left fewer people to do the same amount of work. Jobs you used to love have become overwhelming; jobs you never loved have become intolerable. Employees have come to believe that suffering is now part of working life, and they are suffering more than ever.

What if you could go to work feeling energetic and excited? You could be valued and appreciated – even a favorite at the office. You could go into work everyday and have fun, be productive, and return home at peace, with energy left over for your family and friends. What if the things that are currently making you unhappy simply lost their power over you?

All this is possible and more. Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace has helped thousands of employees awaken to a different way of approaching their reality. They’ve come from feeling dejected and undervalued to a place where they are calm, creative, and freed from anxiety and resentment. Not because they work harder, or surrendered to the “man”, but because they’ve committed to changing their mindsets.

In this session, participants will be introduced to the five reality-based rules of the workplace – rules that will allow you to join the ranks of happy high performers.

Consider these rules as your roadmap to higher ground.

The 5 Rules:

  1. Your level of accountability determines your level of happiness, so DON’T HOPE TO BE CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY.
  2. Suffering is optional, so DITCH THE DRAMA!
  3. Buy-in is not optional. YOUR ACTION, NOT OPINION, ADDS
  4. Say “yes” to what’s next: CHANGE IS
  5. You will always have extenuating circumstances. SUCCEED

By using Reality-Based techniques to face your challenges, you can turn the job you already have into the job you want. Stop asking yourself, “Is it worth it?” and start asking, “Am I worth it?” If you follow the Reality-Based Rules, your answer to that question will be a resounding, “Yes.”

Program Objectives:

  • Employees will gain clarity on ways to add true value to an organization and enhance fluency on navigating changing times.
  • Learn how to use the new Employee Value Formula for measuring worth by quantifying factors such as current performance, future potential, and emotional expensiveness.
  • Understand the five reality-based rules of becoming a happy top performer and how to apply those principals in the workplace.
  • Participants will gain excitement about driving for organizational results through changing mindsets and the empowerment to take charge of their own

No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results 

No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results: Wakeman, Cy: 9781250144065: Books

Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results

Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results: Wakeman, Cy, Winget, Larry: 9780470613504: Books

The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier

The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier: Wakeman, Cy: 9781118413685: Books

Life's Messy, Live Happy: Things Don't Have to Be Perfect for You to Be Content 

Books - Reality-Based Leadership

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