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 by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC News 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 customers, prospects, distributors, 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, technology, sales, marketing and distribution. 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, distribution 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 programs 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 some of Jon's most popular 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 great companies know about the difference between “customer experience” and “customer service.”
  • How great experiences boost financial results and accelerate business growth.
  • The current state of customer experience in the marketplace and the competitive opportunity it implies.
  • The link between a company’s employee experience and its customer experience.
  • Time-tested principles used by legendary companies to actively manage and differentiate their customer experience.

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 bad “customer effort” is and why it saps brand loyalty.
  • How you can detect drivers of bad customer effort, in sales and service interactions.
  • Why it costs less to deliver an effortless customer experience.
  • How you can create a more effortless experience – quickly and cost efficiently.
  • The critical connection between “employee effort” and “customer effort.”

Grow Your Business “On Purpose”

Many businesses focus on what they do, but fewer focus on why they do it.

In this presentation, Jon Picoult opens people’s eyes to the concept of a purpose-driven brand – that is, an organization whose “reason for being” goes well beyond the traditional measures of success (e.g., creating shareholder value or growing revenues). It’s an approach that’s worked exceptionally well for companies spanning a variety of industries – Patagonia, USAA, and Southwest Airlines among them.

The program includes mini case studies of those organizations and others which have established a compelling brand purpose that engages customers and employees alike. Topics covered include:

Topics covered include:

  • What is “purpose” and how does it differ from “mission”?
  • Why is purpose so vital – to leaders, employees and customers.
  • Why is purpose good for business?
  • How should an organization go about defining its purpose?
  • The “5 D’s” – a short list of essential principles for creating and fulfilling a purpose-driven brand.

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.

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.

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 development programs 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 Executive Vice President, 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

“Jon Picoult's keynote resonated with ALL the people attending our sales conference. He had everyone engaged and the presentation of his message was top notch. ”

David Grant Director of Customer Experience, Great Dane Trailers

“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

“Watermark's customer experience workshops were spot on and flawless. Jon Picoult’s thoughtful and persuasive approach convinced even the most skeptical attendees of the value of focusing on the customer experience. The sessions set exactly the right tone and mindset for the kickoff of a corporate three-year strategy focused on delivering consistently exceptional customer experiences. The operating principles Jon introduced to us were logical, specific and practical -- enabling our staff to immediately apply the learnings to their jobs. We had an ambitious goal for these workshops and those goals were exceeded. It was a job well done. ”

Stan Galanski President and CEO, The Navigators Group

“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

“Our conference audience was initially skeptical about listening to another presentation on how they could improve their customer service. But Jon Picoult’s well-researched and practical insights had them taking pages of notes on ways they could improve the customer experience in their own organizations when they returned home. His ability to tailor his comments to our industry made his presentation even more valuable. Jon’s keynote was definitely a highlight of our conference. ”

Gary Thompson President and CEO, Columbia Insurance Group

“Jon Picoult is an outstanding speaker for both large audiences as well as smaller, executive leadership programs. His preparation was professional and his impactful presentation was personalized to our needs. ”

Barbara Lucini Head of Group Leadership Training, Assicurazioni Generali

“Jon Picoult's keynote at our customer conference exceeded the expectations of nearly every person who attended. Jon has a unique ability to identify issues through solid research, and then provide concrete actions that can be implemented to address them. In post-event surveys, our attendees, ranging from C-level executives to front-line staff, said they were 100% confident that what they had learned in Jon's keynote could be applied to their own organization upon returning to the office. ”

Robert Oakes Founder & CEO, InsPro Technologies

“Jon Picoult's keynote at our leadership conference was entertaining and educational at the same time! He's an engaging speaker that effectively uses stories to bring his customer experience management principles to life. ”

Christina Metzger VP Customer Experience, Allstate

“Jon’s keynote presentation at our conference was outstanding. His energy, humor and ability to keep the audience engaged is truly impressive. He was the highlight of the entire event and received the highest rating on our feedback survey. ”

Susan Shepherd Senior Director, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

“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's keynote delivery was extremely professional. Conference attendees are guaranteed to leave your event with a great impression, as well as numerous ideas for their own professional improvement.”

Evan Mullin Marketing Manager, InsPro Technologies

“Jon Picoult has outstanding command of his subject. His delivery is engaging and thought-provoking, with effective use of examples to emphasize his point.”

Kathleen Overlin Agency Education Manager, Chubb Insurance

“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

“Watermark's customer experience workshop is a real winner. From the insights we gained through the client survey they conducted, to the concepts we learned at Jon Picoult's onsite program – we got very specific and actionable ideas for enhancing our client experience. I highly recommend the workshop to any organization that wants to impress its customers and build brand loyalty.”

William Rue Chairman, Rue Insurance

“Our strategic plan calls for significant growth in the coming years. It’s quite a tall order, but one that can be achieved through ‘different’ thinking. And that is exactly what we got from Jon Picoult's customer experience workshop. Our employees were engaged and intrigued by Jon’s dynamic presentation style and fascinating content. The workshop helped us see our business through an entirely different lens, and got us thinking about new ways to better engage our customers and accelerate our growth.”

Rich Trippe President & CEO, Avon-Dixon Insurance

“The workshop Jon Picoult conducted for our company was a tremendous experience. We learned a lot about what our customers value and how we could strengthen their loyalty to our firm. In addition, the customer survey Watermark conducted on our behalf was invaluable. By alerting us to issues that weren’t readily apparent, I’m quite confident the survey helped us turn a number of dissatisfied customers into impressed ones.”

Dan Gallagher Principal, Connor & Gallagher Insurance

“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:

Keynote Session Preview Reel

A compilation of clips from some of Jon's large venue keynotes.

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Have You Ever Been e-Snubbed?

How leaders can help create a work environment that fosters excellence.

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Why Customer Experience Is Bigger Than Customer Service

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

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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 »