John Kotter

New York Times Best-Selling Author and Leadership and Change Management Authority

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John Kotter Speaker Biography

New York Times Bestselling Author and Leadership and Change Management Authority

A highly regarded authority on leadership and change, Dr. John P. Kotter is a New York Times best-selling author, award winning business and management thought leader, business entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and Harvard Professor. His ideas and books, as well as his company, Kotter International, have instructed people around the world to better lead organizations and their own lives, in an era of increasingly rapid change.


An MIT and Harvard scholar, Professor Kotter has a life-long passion for educating, motivating and helping people. He became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1972. By 1980, at the age of 33, Kotter was given tenure and a full Professorship—the youngest person ever to have received that award at the Business School. Over the past thirty years, his articles in The Harvard Business Review (HBR) have sold more reprints than any of the hundreds of distinguished authors who have written for that publication during that time period. Most recently, his HBR article “Accelerate!” won the 2012 McKinsey Award for the world’s most practical and groundbreaking thinking in the business/management arena. Today, he continues to deliver seminars in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programs, which are sometimes regarded as life-changing by his students.


Kotter has authored 18 books to date—twelve of them bestsellers. His books have reached millions, and have been printed in over 150 foreign language editions. Arguably his most popular book, Our Iceberg is Melting, was released in 2006. This New York Times bestseller helped launch to a large audience the 8-step philosophy behind Kotter International. Written as an allegory, it is a simple, yet unforgettable story about a group of penguins on a melting iceberg and the changes they undertake to survive and thrive amidst an unclear future. This story connects with a broad range of people needed to effect major organizational transformations in an easily understood, clear way. Kotter International aims to do the same. Other widely read books include A Sense of Urgency, The Heart of Change, and Leading Change, which Time magazine selected in 2011 as one of the 25 most influential business management books ever written. His latest book is That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again


To supplement his books and expand on his ideas, Kotter has released several videos on his teachings, most of which are accessible to anyone interested in his work via YouTube. His “Succeeding in a Changing World” video was awarded Best Video Training Product of the Year by Training Media Review and also won a Telly Award. His YouTube videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands and continue to be a helpful tool for anyone from students to high-level executives in the business world.


Kotter’s research and pursuits in education, business, and writing over the past 35 years have earned the respect of his peers, helped transform organizations around the world, touched countless lives, and still inspires others to adopt his methods and spread the word. He continues to work tirelessly to achieve the goal of “millions leading, billions benefiting.”

Kotter is a proud father of two and resides in Cambridge, MA with his wife Nancy Dearman.

John Kotter Speaking Topics

Leadership vs. Management

Many organizations today are over-managed and under-led because people do not know the difference between management and leadership. There are significant differences and each have an effect, both negative and positive, on a company's performance. John Kotter will explain and motivate the vital importance of the right leadership needed for a company's success.

A Sense of Urgency

Most organizational change initiatives fail spectacularly at worst or deliver lukewarm results at best. In this thought-provoking presentation, speaker John Kotter shines the spotlight on the crucial first step in his framework: creating a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change. Why focus on urgency? Without it, any change effort is doomed. Kotter reveals the insidious nature of complacency in all its forms and guises. He explains: how to go beyond "the business case" for change to overcome the fear and anger that can suppress urgency; ways to ensure that your actions and behaviors—not just your words—communicate the need for change; and how to keep fanning the flames of urgency even after your transformation effort has scored some early successes.

Leading Change

This speech focuses on the eight-step process of implementing successful transformation. You will learn how companies can achieve their goals and how important it is to have successful leadership in order to make change happen. With personal attention to a company’s efforts and failures, John Kotter can help to create lasting change as well as successful leaders.

Our Iceberg Is Melting

When change is needed in an organization, sometimes the hardest part is getting everyone to believe it. John Kotter will introduce his eight steps for successful change in an easy-to-understand format. By providing the guidance needed in an ever-changing world, audiences will begin to see how dealing with the challenges of change can be compelling when presented in the right way.

Succeeding in a Changing World

As the economy and world change, so must organizations. The pressure for organizations to modify their business will only increase in the years to come. Many times a good plan can get lost in the midst of implementation. The methods used to restructure or reorganize often fail due to complacency, loss of traction, lack of leadership and other barriers. Learn from John Kotter how great companies succeed where others fail to achieve lasting change in today’s world.

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down

You've got a good idea. You know it could make a crucial difference for you, your organization, and your community. You present it to the group, but get confounding questions, inane comments, and verbal bullets in return. Before you know what's happened, your idea is dead, shot down. You're furious. Everyone has lost: Those who would have benefited from your proposal? You. Your company. Perhaps even the country. It doesn't have to be this way. In this presentation, John Kotter reveals how to win the support your idea needs to deliver valuable results. The key? Understand the generic attack strategies that naysayers and obfuscators deploy time and time again. Smart, practical, and filled with useful advice, Kotter's presentation explores a fresh and amusing narrative showing attack strategies in action.

John Kotter Books

That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again
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Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World
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A Sense of Urgency
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Our Iceberg Is Melting
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The Heart of Change
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What Leaders Really Do
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Leading Change
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The New Rules
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John Kotter Videos

John Kotter Speaker Testimonials

Many thanks for extending your Asia trip to attend our recent conference. All the feedback suggests that you were the highlight of the two days and you have kicked off our change programme magnificently.

- | BBC

I want to thank you again for your outstanding presentation . . . I believe you were successful in taking us to a new level of understanding of the dynamics of leadership and in motivating many of us to ‘practice’ on a more emotional level.

- | Celanese

Thank you for the brilliant job you did for us at Boca! You are exceptionally skillful at conveying a powerful leadership message.

- | EFI

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Recent Books

That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again
Purchase Book
Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World
Purchase Book

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