Bret Waters delivers speaking engagements at select events. A lifelong Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor, he currently teaches at Stanford University and has given guest lectures at universities and conferences around the world. He’s been a keynote speaker at London Tech Week, The Europe Innovation Summit, the European Innovation Academy, and TEDx Basel. Contact us.


Global Innovation Trends 2020

Each year I interview leading innovation executives and venture capitalists for my annual Global Innovation Trends Report. 2020 will be filled with extraordinary innovation as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century. The World Economic Forum says we are now experiencing the 4th Industrial Revolution – a profound era of innovation that is combining the digital, the cognitive, and the biological in ways that are fundamentally changing the world. Unlike the first three industrial revolutions, this one isn’t centered around one geography – it’s happening in clusters all over the world. In this talk I explore what this means for all of us, and the opportunities and challenges ahead.


History of Silicon Valley

I grew up in Silicon Valley and have spent my whole career here, so I’ve been lucky enough to have a front-row seat to watching this valley become a global innovation powerhouse with an economy larger than most countries. How did it happen? The story starts with a railroad entrepreneur, Leland Stanford, continues with a Palo Alto guy named William Shockley who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the development of the transistor. Then Fairchild Semiconductor and a 16-year old kid named Steve Jobs who called up Bill Hewlett, the co-founder of HP. What can we learn, and what will the next chapter in global innovation look like? (See a version of this talk I gave at Santa Clara University).


Characteristics of High Achievers

We all know smart, interesting people. But why do a small subset of them seem to be super high-achieving at everything that they do? What are the common threads that run between high achievers? Silicon Valley seems be be full of these people, so I did a research project around this topic. I explored the body of existing literature and I interviewed various high-achievers across several sectors. In this talk I present my findings, and what we can learn from them.


The Secret History of Design Thinking

You probably know that Design Thinking has become a leading methodology for developing products that succeed. And you may know that Design Thinking emerged from Stanford’s d.school, based on the work of IDEO. But did you know that the origins of it can be found in the greatest new product failure in history? Or the work of an engineering professor who went rogue? Understanding the history of Design Thinking adds to its power to help you to create innovative products that succeed.


Innovation in Social Ventures

Around the world today, social ventures are creating positive change, as traditional charity is being enhanced by organizations which are harnessing the power of markets while making the world a better place. These purpose-driven organizations are operated for social impact while also having an economic engine that gives their work the sustainability and scalability that traditional charities often lack. What is the future of the Social Sector? (see a version of this talk I gave at California College of the Arts).