David Weitzner

Professor of Management, Ethicist, Author of Wise Up (forthcoming with University of Toronto Press)

David Weitzner is at heart a philosopher who briefly became a music industry executive and has since spent fifteen years as a professor of management at York University. His education includes a PhD in Strategy, MBA in Arts and Media Management and Hon. BA in Philosophy. His academic work has appeared in top journals like The Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of Management Inquiry. He is the author of Fifteen Paths (ECW Press) and the forthcoming Wise Up: Using Ancient Teachings to Unlock Meaning, Connection and Awe in Everyday Work (University of Toronto Press). He has presented at a host of international conferences, including Academy of Management, Business Ethics Society and Business as an Agent of World Benefit co-sponsored by the UN Global Compact. His work has appeared in popular media outlets like The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Quillette, and Spirituality & Health.

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Keynote Lecture Topics

  • Rock and Roll Lessons for Business

    After nearly two decades as a business school professor, David stepped out of his comfort zone to explore how to deal with the biggest challenge facing businesses today – a competitive environment characterized by unprecedented dissonance and disruption. He spent a year interacting with improvisational artists, watching them create and learning from their successes, which formed the basis of his book Fifteen Paths. There is much for business people to learn from successful artists. Above all, the un-self-conscious romanticism is the hallmark of many artists can help businesses thrive amid the chaos. Lessons include commit to the journey, not just the outcome; embrace discomfort to create something transformational; and why the customer comes third. These ideas have allowed artists to commit to ambiguous creative journeys and put their vision first, leading to creative success that has changed our culture. It can do the same for your business.

  • Beyond the Mindful Mess

    The billion dollar mindfulness industry has not so subtly changed the way many of us think about spirituality. While there is an important place for mindfulness, an inward, passive, nonjudgmental spirituality is insufficient for our current working needs. Based on his new book Wise Up, this talk explains why making effective decisions in the fast-paced and always changing contemporary work environment requires drawing on our spiritual faculties. Starting points include internalizing the notions that spirituality is more than inward bliss; ethics is more than altruism; work is more than being exploited. We need to think about how we can tell the best possible story of what we do every day in work. Spiritual work means finding partners with whom to cooperate in the hopes of bringing about endlessly surprising change. Through this guiding paradigm, we can use ancient teachings to unlock meaning, connection and awe in the everyday work of our disruptive digital age.