Keynote Speaker
Jon Picoult

Watermark Consulting Founder Jon Picoult has spoken to audiences around the world, sharing his approach for cultivating loyalty in both the workplace and the marketplace. He has earned rave reviews for his thought-provoking and entertaining programs.

The Best Service Recovery Story... Ever!

Jon Picoult

Jon Picoult helps businesses impress their customers and inspire their employees, creating raving fans that drive business growth.

As the founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon is a sought-after business advisor and speaker whose insights have been featured in dozens of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and Inc. He has worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, helping organizations capitalize on the power of loyalty – both in the marketplace and in the workplace.

Jon’s philosophy is simple: With every interaction, businesses win or lose share. Each touchpoint – be it with consumers, sales intermediaries, or even employees – presents an opportunity to either build brand loyalty or erode it.

He helps companies capitalize on this concept by creating end-to-end brand experiences that don’t just satisfy, but impress.

Prior to founding Watermark, Jon held senior executive roles at Fortune 100 companies – leading service, operations, technology, sales and marketing. He has developed award-winning branding strategies, delivered on sales plans exceeding half a billion dollars, shaped distinctive service solutions for millions of consumers, and engineered industry-leading technology platforms.

Early in his career, Jon earned the distinction of becoming the youngest executive officer in the over 150-year history of a leading, global financial services company.

Jon received his A.B. in Cognitive Science from Princeton University and his M.B.A. in General Management from Duke University.

Jon is frequently
featured in the media:

Why select Jon Picoult for your next company meeting or conference event?


He’s not your “textbook” speaker.

Jon’s not a career academic or consultant. Most of his background is in senior executive roles, helping companies to grow their business and their talent. So when Jon shares his strategies for cultivating customer and employee loyalty, he’s not just speaking from a textbook… he’s speaking from experience.


He’s walked in your audience’s shoes.

Jon brings a unique level of credibility to his programs, because his business experience cuts across many functional areas. Having led sales, marketing, service, operations and technology for Fortune 100 companies, Jon can truly relate to the opportunities and challenges faced by most any audience.


He appreciates the importance of the day after.

The most important day of your event is the day after it ends. Will people apply what they learned, or get distracted by the whirlwind of day-to-day business? Jon won’t leave your audience with platitudes – he’ll captivate them with engaging examples, entertaining business stories and actionable advice that they can truly put to use back in the office.


He saves you time.

Jon’s clients frequently comment on how effortless it is to work with him. He attends to every detail, communicates frequently and clearly, and simplifies the entire process of speaker engagement, from contracting to delivery.


He customizes programs beyond mere window dressing.

Lots of speakers claim to customize every program they deliver, but Jon’s clients are often stunned by the amount of time he spends learning the intricacies of their business and tailoring his speeches accordingly.

Speech Topics

Jon’s speeches focus on how to turn everyday people into loyal brand advocates for your business.

He offers keynote speeches as well as half-day and full-day workshops. Topics covered by his programs include: branding, customer experience, customer insight, talent acquisition, employee engagement and leadership.

Below are descriptions of Jon’s programs:

The Art and Science of a Great Customer Experience

How do you get your business to stand out from the crowd? Many sources of competitive differentiation can be fleeting – product innovations can be mimicked, technology advances can be copied, and cost leadership is difficult to achieve let alone sustain.

But as Jon Picoult describes in this presentation, a great customer experience can deliver tremendous strategic and economic value to a business, in a way that’s difficult for competitors to replicate.

Filled with compelling statistics and fascinating case studies, this program will give your audience very specific, actionable ideas for enhancing their own organization’s customer experience.

Topics covered include:

  • What the “customer experience” is and what’s so special about great ones.
  • How great experiences boost financial results and accelerate business growth.
  • The current state of customer experience in your industry.
  • The link between a company’s employee experience and its customer experience.
  • Twelve essential principles for achieving customer experience excellence.

Don’t Just Make It Easy... Make It Effortless!

Lots of companies fly the “easy to do business with” banner. Few ever actually fulfill that promise, as most consumers can attest.

In this fascinating talk, Jon Picoult will challenge your audience to raise the bar – so they seek to make it not just easy for customers to do business… but effortless.

Using eye-opening statistics and amusing real-world examples, Jon explains why an effortless customer experience is such a rare and powerful competitive differentiator.

Topics covered include:

  • What is bad “customer effort” and why does it sap brand loyalty?
  • How can you detect drivers of bad customer effort, in sales and service interactions?
  • What is the financial gain from an effortless customer experience?
  • How can you create a more effortless experience – quickly and cost efficiently?
  • What is the connection between “employee effort” and “customer effort”?

The Forgotten Customer: A New Perspective On Winning The War For Talent

Many businesses are routinely ignoring one of their most important customers. As a result, they’re not only tarnishing their brand, but they’re also losing the war for talent.

Based on Jon Picoult’s popular New York Times feature, this presentation offers a compelling case for viewing employment candidates as customers. It illustrates how companies can turn administrative recruiting touchpoints into persuasive marketing opportunities that help draw talented people into an organization.

The program also highlights the often overlooked connection between job applicants and actual customers, demonstrating how recruiting interactions can influence your company’s brand and shape consumer perceptions.

Topics covered include:

  • Why the “applicant experience” is broader and more influential than you think.
  • Why talent acquisition is a business like any other – product, provider and customer.
  • What job applicants think of companies’ current recruiting experiences.
  • What companies have to gain from a great applicant experience.
  • How customer experience management principles can be applied to the recruiting arena.

Lessons From The Apocoflix: Navigating People Through Change

It was the day Netflix customers saw red – July 12, 2011. That’s when the company announced a series of changes, including an increase in prices and a spin-off of its DVD rental business.

Customers revolted against the moves, and Netflix employees weren’t too happy about it, either. Within three months, the firm lost nearly a million customers and saw its stock price plummet by over 75%.

In this fun and interactive presentation, Jon Picoult uses the Netflix debacle to illustrate key principles for successfully navigating customers and employees through significant change.

Topics covered include:

  • Why people typically reject change.
  • Twelve essential strategies for helping people embrace change.
  • How to inspire people to change, rather than force them through it.
  • How personal leadership behaviors can remove obstacles to change.
  • The importance of “choreographing” the change experience.

The Solution To Your Growth Challenge

What if the key to growing your business was right under your nose, but you didn’t realize it?

It might sound outrageous, but it happens all the time. Many businesses, when trying to solve their growth equation, focus almost exclusively on acquiring new customers. But what they fail to recognize is how their existing customers – people they’re already working with – can help propel the business to new heights.

In this program, Jon Picoult explains how you can harness the power of loyalty within your own business, fueling growth in even the most challenging environments.

Topics covered include:

  • Why advances in customer loyalty trigger a disproportionate rise in revenues and profits.
  • Why loyalty leaders never focus on satisfying and retaining customers.
  • The right way (and wrong way) to gauge customer loyalty.
  • How to unlock growth opportunities by tapping into the insights of existing clientele.
  • The surprising connection between customer loyalty and insight.

It’s All In Your Head: Cognitive Science And The Customer Experience

The mind works in mysterious ways. When people interact with a business, their satisfaction and loyalty is shaped by how they perceive, process and remember those experiences.

In this fascinating presentation, Jon Picoult describes how companies can capitalize on cognitive science to create a stronger, more memorable customer experience. From improving sales close rates to building positive word-of-mouth to enhancing employee engagement – you’ll find the principles outlined in this program to be invaluable.

Topics covered include:

  • How memories are formed and then shape customer perceptions about your business.
  • Why some business brands inspire intense consumer appeal, while others fall flat.
  • How customers can be satisfied – even if your customer experience is far from perfect.
  • How service failure can turn everyday customers into loyal brand advocates.
  • How common cognitive biases can be turned into competitive business advantages.

Five Surprising Truths About Great Customer Experiences

Many businesses think they know what it takes – and costs – to create a great customer experience. It’s all about delivering great service, satisfying customers and improving retention – right?

Not exactly. These are just some of the common misconceptions that often derail companies’ efforts to enhance their customer experience.

In this eye-opening presentation, Jon Picoult dispels these myths by revealing five surprising truths about what’s really involved in differentiating your business’ customer experience.

Topics covered include:

  • Why customer experience is not the same as customer service.
  • Why aiming for customer satisfaction is like aspiring to mediocrity.
  • Why customer retention is nearly meaningless.
  • What it really takes to delight a customer.
  • How great customer experiences can actually reduce expenses.

Rave Reviews

What are people saying about Jon Picoult’s speeches and workshops?
Here’s a sampling of client feedback:

“Jon Picoult has been a cornerstone of our leadership program and one of our most highly rated and highly respected speakers. He does his homework to ensure he knows the audience and tailors the content to be fully relevant and insightful. The breadth and depth of the knowledge, perspective, and insight he brings has been invaluable to our leaders. Jon is an impressive, inspiring, and engaging presenter... a true professional in every sense of the word. ”

Debbie Storey Senior Vice President of Talent Development, AT&T

“Hire him! As our keynote speaker, Jon Picoult spoke with such authority, such passion and such authenticity, that our membership, mainly senior insurance marketing executives, shared that his hour talk was worth their two day conference admission. Hire him! If you are looking to engage your audience with insightful, purposeful, and actionable concepts, you have that in Jon. Hire him!”

Richard Look President, Insurance Marketing & Communications Association

“Jon was fantastic! His presentation was extremely informative and highly entertaining. He gave us invaluable insight into what it takes to create a great customer experience – not only in terms of how we interact with our customers, but also how we interact with each other. He’s one of the best outside speakers we have ever brought in. ”

Robert O’Leary President and CEO, Philadelphia Insurance Companies

“As our keynote speaker, Jon Picoult absolutely captivated our entire audience of senior leaders with his practical, pragmatic and humorous session. His experience was real and he gives excellent takeaways that are immediately actionable. If you want a speaker who ‘gets it’ and has instant credibility – do not hesitate to call Jon. ”

V. Vanessa Williams Vice President, Sun Life Financial

“Considering bringing Jon Picoult to your team? You won’t be sorry – he is truly impressive! Jon engaged and inspired our managers, focusing them on business strategies in a way that wasn’t theoretical or academic – but fun, entertaining, practical and actionable. I’m glad we had the chance to work with Jon and I highly recommend him!"

Ken Fenoglio President, AT&T University

“As an entrepreneur, I enjoy hearing from speakers that inspire me to continue providing the highest level of customer service to my clients. Jon Picoult delivers on stirring that emotion! I’ve heard Jon speak at several events, and after each time I leave with ideas I will implement. He nails the importance of entrepreneurs delivering both substance and sizzle. ”

Ron Carson Founder and CEO, Carson Wealth Management & Peak Advisor Alliance

“It is extremely rare to see someone captivate an audience every minute of a keynote – but Jon Picoult did it. His passion and purpose was extraordinary. Our audience of high end financial services and risk management professionals found Jon’s program incredibly valuable. His message was spot on and his delivery was impeccable. ”

Scott Addis President and CEO, The Addis Group

“We have invited Jon Picoult to speak at our National Planning Meeting for the last three years, and our Management team always wants more! Jon is a fantastic presenter, who is able to entertain as well as communicate his message of how we can improve our customer experience. Every company talks about superior customer experience, but Jon is able to provide a clear roadmap for success. We enthusiastically recommend Watermark Consulting if you want to turn your customers into loyal brand promoters. ”

Brian O'Reilly EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Philadelphia Insurance Companies

“Jon Picoult's keynote was honestly one of the best closing presentations we've had in a long time at a Barron's Conference. We continue to hear rave reviews about it.”

Jenna Sabia Mathis Advisory Content Manager, Barron's Conferences

“Jon Picoult did an excellent job of relating the content of his customer experience workshop not just to our industry, but to our company. His material, along with comparatives to well-known organizations, really had an impact on our team. I have no doubt the time we invested in the program will make us a better company.”

Gary Berger President and CEO, HMS Insurance Associates

“Jon Picoult has a unique style that blends front-line and executive know-how with highly proficient customer satisfaction case studies. With an unassuming and direct approach, he is able to impart the wisdoms of customer experience in a way that hits home with a wide audience, from customer service representatives to senior management. Time with Jon is time well spent.”

Frank Memmo President & CEO, Andesa Services

“Jon Picoult was an outstanding contributor to our recent conference. His presentation on differentiating one's brand by refining the service philosophy was insightful, inspiring, and intellectually provocative.”

Sterling Shea Head of Advisory Programs, Barron's Magazine

“Jon Picoult is an excellent speaker who infuses his presentations with an energy that is contagious. He can simplify even the most complex subject matter, helping people focus on things that really make a difference. When you go to a Jon Picoult presentation, you don’t soon forget it.”

Anne Melissa Dowling Senior Vice President, Fortune 100 Financial Services Company

“As keynote speaker at our annual client forum, Jon delivered a powerful performance, wowing our audience with his passion, insight and energy. Jon’s business philosophy centers around impressing customers – and, boy, did he impress us. Every interaction we had with Jon exceeded our expectations and left us delighted.”

Rich Yeni Vice President, Business Development Andesa Services

“Jon Picoult delivers the one-two punch you hope every speaker will land – original material combined with palpable passion. Jon closed our TEDx event and left the audience uplifted and ready for action. I highly recommend Jon to open, close or present anywhere within your agenda where you desire to stimulate your audience's minds and senses.”

Carol A. Harnett Co-Chair & Host, TEDx Conference

“Jon Picoult provides keynote content that is both entertaining and practical. While many speakers can engage during the presentation, it isn't often that you are still thinking about – and, more importantly, changing your behavior – after a keynote. Jon inspires this change and provides the tools to implement it.”

Jennifer Keohane Business Outreach Librarian, Connecticut Public Library

“Jon Picoult’s presentation to our organization was insightful, motivational and a lot of fun. He tailored his program perfectly to meet the needs of our audience and we truly hope to have him back sometime in the not too distant future.”

Deb Erickson Chapter President, Staffing Management Association

“Jon Picoult's presentation at our conference was lively, informative and humorous. Our audience enjoyed his insight on understanding your customer, nailing the basics, delivering pleasant surprises and more. In fact, ten minutes into the talk I wished my entire department had been there!”

Adrianne Nelson Director, Membership Services Staffing Industry Analysts

“Jon Picoult delivered an exceptional presentation to our organization. From service to branding to hiring, Jon shared his insights with wit, humor and striking intelligence. Our audience rated Jon a ‘speaker extraordinaire’ and emerged from his talk energized and driven.”

Judith R. Rosenthal Program Facilitator, JETS Job Network

“Thank you for the presentation you so eloquently delivered this morning to our clients. Our audience was a very senior group of business leaders who are very discriminating consumers. The feedback I have received from my clients was exceptional.”

Anthony Avallone Managing Director, Reitman Personnel

“Thank you for both an extremely impressive and enjoyable presentation last night! I have not attended a presentation directly related to my area of expertise as impressive as yours in a long time, if ever.”

Judy Goldberg Chapter Board Member, Society For Human Resource Management

“In a keynote presentation during the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association’s Annual Meeting, Jon Picoult offered practical, insightful advice on delivering effective communications to our customers and keeping them tuned in. He is a lively, dynamic speaker who really takes the time to understand his audience and address their concerns.”

Linda Collins Executive Vice President, Insurance Marketing & Communications Association

“Jon Picoult’s dynamic and engaging presentation inspired our members to rethink how we treat job applicants. Many of our members commented that Jon’s presentation and delivery was as good or better than those they experience at major national conferences.”

Stuart Sidle Chapter President, Society For Human Resource Management

Here are more clips of Jon at recent speaking engagements:

Preview Reel – Keynote Session

A compilation of clips from one of Jon’s large venue keynotes.

Watch now »

Preview Reel – Breakout Session

A compilation of clips from one of Jon’s breakout workshops.

Watch now »

Lessons From and Wrap Rage

Jon illustrates what it means when a company truly manages its end-to-end customer experience.

Watch now »

TEDx Conference – Do What You Say You’ll Do

Jon reveals a decidedly low-tech but highly effective way to differentiate your company in the marketplace.

Watch now »