Inspirefest 2017

Nilofer Merchant

Former tech executive & bestselling author

Nilofer Merchant is a master at turning seemingly ‘wild’ ideas into new realities, and showing the rest of us how we can, too. A bestselling author on innovation and collaboration, a TED main-stage speaker and the recipient of the Future Thinker award from Thinkers50 (which also ranked her in the top 50 management thinkers in the world), Merchant reveals new ways of connecting our ideas to the world in an era when the potential to make a difference is wide open. Her famed TED talk, ‘Got A Meeting? Take A Walk’, has been seen by nearly 3m viewers.

Merchant began her career in business 25 years ago as an administrative assistant, quickly rising to division leader, CEO and even board member of a NASDAQ-traded company. Along the way, she gathered monikers such as the ‘Jane Bond of Innovation’, for her ability to guide organisations through impossible odds. She has personally launched more than 100 products, netting $18bn in sales, and has held many executive positions; from Fortune 500 companies such as Apple and Autodesk, to start-ups in the early days of the web such as GoLive, which was later bought by Adobe.

Logitech, Symantec, HP, Yahoo, VMware and many others have turned to Merchant for guidance on new product strategies, entering new markets, defending against competitors and optimising revenues. She is one of the few people who can say they’ve fought a competitive battle against Microsoft and won (she bid for Symantec’s antivirus $2.1bn annual business).

Her second book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra, was chosen by Fast Company as one of the best business books of 2012. Merchant’s newest title, The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World, reveals proven strategies to unleash the power of a new idea, no matter how weird or wild it may seem.