Speakers Bios & Abstracts

Platzhalter Speakers
Nilofer Merchant

Writer, "The Jane Bond of Innovation"


Because it is unique, you might want help to know how to say the name. Any chance you remember those cookies that Nabisco creates called Nilla-wafer’s? That will help, cause the name sounds a lot like that but with an o in the middle. It’s Nil – O – fer.  (Just don’t call her NIL or FUR, okay?)

As someone who has grown businesses — from Fortune 500s and silicon valley web start-ups — for 20 years, Nilofer knows how to piece together exactly and only the parts that matter (frameworks, strategies, and cultural values) — to get the needed results. Somewhere along the way, people started giving her monikers like “The Jane Bond of Innovation” because of her ability to guide companies through impossible odds, and that one stuck.

She has personally launched more than 100 products, netting $18B in sales. She’s worked for major companies like Apple, and Autodesk, and startups in the early, early days of the Web (Golive/ later bought by Adobe). Over the years, many blue chip brands have turned to her for advice. Logitech, Symantec, HP, Yahoo, VMWare, and many others have turned to her guidance to develop new product strategies, enter new markets, defend against competitors, and optimize revenues. And, Merchant is one of the few people who can say they’ve fought a competitive battle against Microsoft and won, for Symantec’s Anti-Virus $2.1B annual business. Her market expertise in European, and US markets.

CNBC has called Nilofer a visionary. Her ideas are shaping the future of many organizations. Thinkers 50 short listed her in 2013 as a “Future Thinker” one should pay attention to…and she was named the #1 person most likely to influence the future of management.

“The Future is not created. The Future is Co-Created.” That’s the central thesis of her first management book, published by O’Reilly Media in 2010 and something she learned the hard way. Her 2nd book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra, was released in the Fall of 2012, by Harvard Business Press. It was chosen by Fast Company as one of the Best Business Books of 2012.

Nilofer reconciles things that are often considered opposing forces—doing right by people and delivering results, collaborating and keeping focus, having a social purpose, and making money— because they are really not in opposition. They never have been. But it does take a more sophisticated approach to understand business models where making a profit doesn’t mean losing purpose, community, and connection. Finding the right balance between them is the key. And what is created will be rich in many senses of the word.

This Yes & Know blog has been around since 2003. You’ll find ideas that are both “provocative and yet practical” as Seth Godin has said. Nilofer has been featured in the WSJ, written innovation columns for BusinessWeek and Forbes. You’ve probably seen her byline and ideas in publications like the Harvard Business Review, Wired, and Oprah.  A TED speaker, she shares the stage with luminaries regularly, including Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, and Bono (yes, THAT Bono). Her ideas resonate. Find out for yourself by subscribing.

Wife and mother, a wilderness backpacker in the summer, and an avid hiker year-round – she gets around. She is an unfortunate addict of caffeine, poetry, dark-chocolate-covered-orange-peels that are best when eaten in France, and all-things-bacon. While most blog posts at Yes & Know are not personal, some of her stories are shared here.


Creating the Future

Many frameworks taught in business school are obsolete and there are new rules of business performance that create scale. But you know that. You know change is required. But what is it you'll need to unlearn that which you deeply believe in? The way forward will require us to unlearn in order to create the future.