Erika Napoletano – not your typical keynote speaker

Erika at TEDxBoulder 2012

TEDxBoulder is one of the largest independently organized TED-branded events in the world. With roughly 2000 attendees, its audience surpasses even that of the annual TED conference. I was honored to be among the speakers at the 2012 event and garnered the event’s only standing ovation (I might have both done a spastic dance and cried). In a tale woven together by Sarah Palin, purple skirts, pie charts, and polar bears, have a look at how I extend you a personal invitation to rethink what “unpopular” means. My talk was also called out by the national TEDx organization as one of their Editor’s Picks, where they highlight 4 videos per week out of hundreds.

How (and why) Erika Does What She Does On Stage

When I was a kid, I was that kid — the one always being told to shut up, simmer down, dial it back, rein it in. So I did. For seventeen years of my professional career, I did all all of those things. And I found myself one tax day with 17 (yes, seventeen) W2s and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that told me something had to change. Soon.

Well, soon became now. I walked away from a mad six-figure job and since that day in early 2008, I’ve never once simmered down, dialed it back, or reined it in. I let it all out, turned up the volume, and gave myself permission to be the one thing that no one else in the world could be: ME.

The only way I was ever going to be happy or find success was to:

  • Start being honest with myself about who I am and what’s important to me, and
  • Stop apologizing for who I am and what I love.

In seventeen years, I can tell you what I never found: permission. Permission to be myself.

But in the years since that day in 2008 when I upended the table, I’ve found ME. Imagine waking up in the morning and never wishing you were anyone but YOU.

That’s WHY I do what I do on stage. But HOW do I do it?

I’m an edutainer. I believe these crazy roller coasters called life and business (for some of us, they’re the same roller coaster) aren’t worth riding unless we have fun in the process. Through an artful combination of humor, vulnerability, and no-holds-barred and blunt advice, I give audiences permission to build the best self, company, and brand they could possibly build…

…and for the right audience. Because frankly, the right audience is the only audience that matters.

Audiences laugh — holy hell, do they laugh! They take pictures of my slides and I eventually find them all over Twitter and Facebook attached to one conference hash tag or another.

I take audiences out of their comfort zonebecause nothing awesome ever happens where you’re comfortable.

But most importantly, audiences end their time with me in full possession of the permission required to be their true selves. They exit doors and re-enter the world to go build lives, companies, and brands that are honest and unapologetic.

And sometimes (well, quite often), they even yell “F&*K YEAH”.

Shouldn’t you feel that way every time a you see a speaker? Here’s what folks have to say about hiring me for their events:

Don’t Take My Word for It – Testimonials

“Here’s what surprised me about Erika: she gets a lot of press for being irreverent and direct and some grief for being controversial but what I didn’t expect was that she would be so engaging with our audience (rather than divisive), disarming (rather than defensive) and inviting, intelligent, and a thought-provoking agent of self-disruption who moves you beyond comfortable in a way that shakes your core. My email inbox blew up after having her speak to our group and not because the attendees left offended, but because they left inspired to change.”Bobby Lehew of Oklahoma City’s American Marketing Association

“Erika was the perfect speaker to have at Serious Business 2013 in New Orleans. We had a packed house and she was embraced with open hearts and minds. I’ve never experienced such an enthusiastic and heartfelt standing ovation EVER! It wasn’t one of those “stand because everyone else is” type of standing O’s. It was a “Hell Yeah” standing ovation!”   – Carol Augusto of Neill Corp., Producer – Serious Business Conference

“If you crossed the look/humor of Tina Fey with the branding and business development skills of Tristan Walker, you’d have Erika Napoletano.” – audience member at Entrepreneur Magazine’s GrowthCon Dallas 2013

“Erika graciously agreed to be the emcee for the 2012 Public Relations Society of America Colorado Chapter’s annual awards program, Gold Picks, and two words describe her participation: kick ass. Erika brought much-needed energy, humor, and creativity to the evening and we received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback for inviting her to be part of the night. Thank you, Erika for sharing your wit and intelligence and spicing up our event. You rocked it!”  – Erin Pursel & Sarah Gianti, 2012 PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Co-Chairs

“If I weren’t gay, I’d marry her.” – Alan/Bill/Brian/Mark at the 2013 Serious Business Conference, New Orleans

“We have asked Erika to speak at several of our national Entrepreneur Magazine Growth Conferences and couldn’t ask for a more informed, entertaining presenter. Her sessions are always standing-room only and the line of guests seeking to meet and talk with her after the event is a testament to her ability to connect with her audience.” – Mike Ludlum, SVP Operations – Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

“I’ve both been on panels with Erika as well has had her as a guest speaker at various events my company has hosted. I know with Erika, I’ll get a knowledgeable, well-prepared and entertaining speaker or panelist every single time. Best of all, she calls ’em like she sees ’em —  generous with compliments and not shy about criticism when warranted. She’s a black swan in what is sometimes a very vanilla field.” – Doyle Albee, Principle – Metzger Associates Public Relations

“We’ve simply never had a speaker make as much of an impact as Erika did. I encounter an attendee almost weekly still raving about the experience. Her honest and unique presentation style was a welcome change to that of the regular authors who come through town, which is exactly why we wanted her to begin with. You see, we were longtime fans of her blog and thought we knew what to expect. Little did we know she’d be even better in the flesh. She made the effort to really engage with our members — from being available in advance as a guest on our podcast to hanging out with a group of us after the event itself. We may have a riot on our hands if we don’t bring her in annually from now on.” – Mykl Roventine, Director – Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul

“I hired Erika for the keynote address at a social media conference in Cheyenne, Wyo. Erika impressed with her easy going approach to the project in the first conversation. She impressed me again with her responsiveness throughout the development of the conference. And finally, Erika impressed me with her eagerness and willingness to share her knowledge. In my experience attending conferences and coordinating SocialWyo 2011, it’s unusual to find someone with so much to offer who also is willing to share her knowledge so easily, much less the ability to ignite passion in a crowd. The reviews were outstanding, and I wouldn’t hesitate a bit to brainwash all of this year’s attendees and bring Erika back again next year. Actually, they’d probably love to hear from her again!” – Juliette Rule, founder and organizer of SocialWyo

Book Erika to Speak

Ready to get the ball rolling? That is sweeter news than hearing that the contractors are coming to put blown-in insulation into your ceiling so you don’t have to hear your upstairs neighbors having sex. Again.

Maybe that’s just sweet news to Erika.

Click here to contact me directly for bookings. I handle all of my bookings directly.


Upcoming Speaking Engagements

AFFTA Dealer Summit – Aspen, CO
October 20-22, 2014

Entrepreneur Magazine: Winning Strategies (keynote and panelist) – New Jersey
October 23, 2014

Ungagged (host and day 2 opening keynote) – Las Vegas, NV
November 15-17, 2014

Recent Speaking Events

2014 World Alliance Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (featured speaker) – San Antonio, TX
April 26-29, 2014

Northeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (NEW AITP) – Appleton, WI
April 16, 2014

IBD Summit (opening keynote) – Monterrey, CA
April 8-10, 2014

Fort Collins Board of Realtors (keynote) – Loveland, CO
February 19, 2014

CAPS Calgary (keynote and workshop) – Calgary, Alberta CAN
November  16, 2014

Awesomeness Fest 2013 (featured speaker) – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
November 7-10, 2013

Colorado Librarylanders Conference (panelist) – Fort Collins, CO
October 17, 2013

Colorado Association of Realtors Annual Conference (featured speaker & workshop leader) – Denver, CO
October 14, 2013

MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2013 (workshop instructor & 7 Minutes of Awesome featured speaker) – Boston, MA
October 9-11, 2013

Outdoor Industry Association Rendezvous 2013 (Get UNstuck Workshop and Custom Branding Panel/Workshop) – Coronado, CA
September 30 – October 2, 2013

Type-A Parenting Conference (closing keynote) – Atlanta, GA
September 27-29, 2013

INBOUND 2013 (speaker) – Boston, MA
August 19-22, 2013

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Thought Leaders LIVE (presented by Porsche) – Chicago, IL
August 9, 2013

Private Branding Workshop – Boulder, CO
August 1-2, 2013

Content Marketing: Beyond the Blog – TheNextWeb Academy
July 30, 2013

Y’all Connect (keynote and workshop instructor) – Birmingham, AL
July 23, 2013

Private Branding Workshop – Boulder, CO
June 27-18, 2013

Private Branding Workshop – Boulder, CO
May 24-26, 2013

Get UNStuck Workshop at Boulder Startup Week 2013 – Boulder, CO
May 15, 2013

The Art of Business (Get UNstuck Workshop) – Denver, CO
April 30, 2013

Get UNStuck Workshop with SheSays – Boulder, CO
April 24, 2013

Association of Independent Information Professionals(AIIP) (keynote) – Denver, CO
April 5, 2013

AgentPress Real Estate Strategies Conference – Marina del Rey, CA
March 21-22, 2013

Oklahoma City Social Media Club (keynote) – Oklahoma City, OK
March 14, 2013

Houston Social Media Breakfast (keynote) – Houston, TX
March 8, 2013

Houston Interactive Marketing Association (keynote) – Houston, TX
March 6, 2013

Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Alumni Association dinner (featured speaker) – Houston, TX
March 6, 2013

Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at The University of Houston – Guest Lecturer-in-residence
March 5-7, 2013

Get UNstuck – A Workshop for Entrepreneurs – Startup Denver Female Entrepreneurs
February 19, 2013

How to Cultivate Your Community: Your Customers Are Talking & Are You Part of the Conversation? – Panelist
February 12, 2013

Serious Business Conference — New Orleans, LA
January 20, 2013

5th Annual Entrepreneur Magazine Growth Conference — Dallas, TX
January 10, 2013

ad:tech New York (speaker, book signing) – New York, NY
November 8, 2012

FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) School of Business – New York, NY
September 26, 2012

Digital Book World Discoverability & Marketing Conference – New York, NY
September 24, 2012

TEDxBoulder – Boulder, CO
September 22, 2012

Keynote – NEMOA (National Etailing and Marketing Association of America) – Mystic, CT
September 19-20

TechStars Seattle (guest mentor) — Seattle, WA
August 30, 2012

Third Place Books, Lake Forest — Seattle, WA
August 29, 2012 at 7pm

The Rift Raft, Guest Speaker — Sacramento, CA
July 28, 2012

Branding Yourself in a 2.0 World: Fesmfeshionals Denver — Denver, CO
May 9, 2012

The Power of Unpopular – Denver, CO: Book Signing Event, The Tattered Cover, LoDo
May 9, 2012

PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Awards – Master of Ceremonies/Emcee: PRSA Colorado at the Denver Art Museum — Denver, CO
May 3, 2012

The Power of Unpopular – Boulder, CO: Book Signing Event, Boulder Book Store
May 1, 2012

Judging a Book By…A Guide for Changing the World, One Unpopular Thought at a Time: Colleague Connection, University of Denver
April 26, 2012

The Power of Unpopular – Atlanta, GA
April 25, 2012

Branding: The Inherent Power of Unpopular – Birmingham, AL
April 24, 2012

What Superheros Can Teach You About Branding – Denver, CO
April 22, 2012

The Social Slot Machine: Strategies for Maximum Payback (panel): University of Colorado – Denver
April 19, 2012

South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) – The Power of Unpopular, Book Reading & Signing Session — Austin, TX
March 11, 2012

Guerilla PR Tactics – University of Colorado School of Law/Silicon Flatirons — Boulder, CO
February 20, 2012

Public Relations Society of America, Colorado – Why Bloggers & PR People Butt Heads (panel) — Denver, CO
January 15, 2012 (follow-up video)

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth Conference (featured presenter) – Long Beach, CA
January 11, 2012

SocialWyo (keynote) – Cheyenne, WY
October 13, 2011

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Winning Strategies Conference (featured presenter) – Miami, FL
September 21, 2011