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Keynote Speakers

Ross Shafer

Ross Shafer grew up in the Pacific Northwest and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington where he studied business management and played varsity football (linebacker). After college, he took a job as a training manager for a department store (Yard Birds) and was able to save $10,000. He took that money and launched his life as an entrepreneur. His first venture was as the owner/manager of America’s only Stereo and Pet Shop in the small town of Puyallup, Washington (population 5,000 at the time).

Cleaning pet cages wasn’t as appealing as it sounded to Ross, so after 3 years he closed the store and took a job as an advertising manager for the 28 store Squire Shops retail clothing chain in Seattle, Washington. Writing ad copy and concocting campaigns paid the bills, but at night Ross haunted local comedy clubs in search of a career in joke telling. After years of slogging around the comedy circuit, he won the Seattle International Comedy Competition and immediately became an opening act for performers like Crystal Gayle, Eddie Rabbitt, Nel Carter, Neil Sedaka, and Dionne Warwick.

In l985, Ross pitched a TV show idea to the NBC affiliate in Seattle (KING). It was a risky idea to emulate a local Letterman-like comedy talk show. Regardless, ALMOST LIVE was born and for the next 5 seasons Ross hosted the show while he and his team collected 36 Emmys. They won the Esquire Magazine dubious Achievement Award one year for attempting to change the Washington State song to Louie, Louie. During those years Ross also hosted an afternoon drive radio show on the 50,000 watt KJR-AM.

In 1988, Ross was wooed by the Fox network to take over The Late Show. The Late Show was a nightly talk show that competed with The Tonight Show and David Letterman. The show lasted a year and Ross next found himself in New York co-hosting Days End on the ABC network. It was here that he sat beside Matt Lauer and Spencer Christian as they interviewed the movers and shakers of New York and the world. Dick Clark told Ross, Always have a backup plan, my boy, TV is terminal and predictably Days End was cancelled. Ross always wondered what happened to Matt Lauer? Ha!

The next stop for Ross was hosting the revised Match Game on the ABC network. Love Me, Love Me Not followed and numerous TV pilot projects.

By this time, Ross was headlining all of the leading night clubs and casinos. He produced a highly acclaimed comedy album about the Clinton administration titled Inside The First Family. He also wrote a comedy cookbook that became a best seller; Cook Like A Stud - 38 recipes men can prepare in the garage with their own tools.

In 1994, Ross heard Bill Gates give a speech where he said, “Someday you will all be watching television on your telephones.” Ross took that message to heart and he made the decision to leave TV and get back to his corporate training roots. Human nature and the human condition were always fascinating to Ross because that’s what comedians do. They study the laughter and tears business. To date Ross has produced (14) Human Resource training films on Customer Service, Motivation, Leadership, and Peer Pressure and has authored the business books, Nobody Moved Your Cheese, Customer Empathy, The Customer Shouts Back, Are You Relevant?  12 Reasons Smart Organizations Thrive in Any Economy and Grab More Market Share: How to Wrangle Business Away from Lazy Competitors.

Today, Ross is one of the most sought after Keynote speakers and seminar leaders on the subjects of Customer Empathy, Personal Motivation, and Business Relevance. The father of two grown sons, Adam and Ryan, he lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Leah and their daughter Lauren.

Craig Karges

Craig Karges is truly extraordinary! The “extraordinist” is an award-winning entertainer, a nationally recognized speaker and an author. Karges has made over four thousand appearances in seventeen countries on four continents and in all fifty states.

Craig Karges combines the art of magic with the science of psychology and the power of intuition to create the impression that nothing is impossible. Tables float, minds are read, metal bends and your imagination is challenged because you won’t believe your eyes! Dennis Miller, comedian and media personality, put it this way after seeing Karges perform, “This weirds me out!”
Audiences may be mystified when it comes to understanding how Craig Karges accomplishes what he does on stage but his popularity is no mystery at all.

From the entertainment oriented Tonight Show to the news oriented Larry King Live, Craig Karges has made over forty national television appearances. You’ve also seen him on CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, CNBC, E! Entertainment Television, Lifetime Television, Wisdom Television and even SOAPnet! The extraordinist has starred in two, one-hour television specials. The sheer number and diversity of Karges’ television appearances is indicative of his widespread popularity.

Performance, the international touring talent weekly, named Craig Karges’ touring show, Experience the Extraordinary, one of the top five, variety/family shows in North America. Karges was in good company as the list also included the likes of illusionist David Copperfield and Disney on Ice. Performance magazine called the extraordinist’s performance “The next era in mystery entertainment.” American Entertainment Magazine named him one of the top five variety entertainers on the corporate circuit.
Craig Karges first became popular touring college campuses. He was named Entertainer of the Year six times by the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). Past NACA award-winners include Bruce Springsteen and Jay Leno. NACA’s campus membership also voted Karges as Variety Entertainer of the Year for twelve consecutive years. The independent Campus Activities Magazine named Karges Entertainer of the Year on four occasions. In addition to Entertainer of the Year, the magazine also named Karges Best Performing Arts Attraction, Best Male Performer, Best Solo Act and Best Novelty Act. The extraordinist was the fifth inductee into the National Campus Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Even Craig Karges’ peers find his work fascinating. He was named the top performer in his field worldwide by the international Psychic Entertainers Association. The National Speakers Association (NSA) honored him with the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation and the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Award.

Craig Karges says that he does not possess supernatural powers, nor does he claim to perform as a psychic or a magician. While he acknowledges that he is an entertainer, and showmanship plays a role in what he does, he insists that he does not prearrange anything with members of the audience. Skeptical? The extraordinist offers $100,000, payable to charity, if anyone can prove he uses stooges or confederates from the audience to accomplish his demonstrations.

Craig Karges’ corporate client list ranges from McDonalds to AT&T and from NASA to the Mayo Clinic. Corporations have relied upon the extraordinist and his unique abilities not only to entertain their employees and clients, but also to motivate them. “Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary results because we all possess extraordinary capabilities. I communicate that message both verbally and visually,” Karges says.
In a shift of focus from entertainment to empowerment, Craig Karges created Ignite Your Intuition. This one-of-a-kind presentation does more than simply amaze and entertain. Participants learn memory techniques; their intuition is tested; and they are taught how to tap into their subconscious mind to enhance creativity, intuition and decision making. Ignite Your Intuition allows participants to experience greater personal power and achieve success more easily.

Craig Karges’ success in this area led to Ignite Your Intuition, the extraordinist’s first book, published by Health Communications, Inc. (best known for Chicken Soup for the Soul).

Craig Karges’ second book, The Wizard’s Legacy – A Tale of Real Magic, marked his debut as a novelist. The Wizard’s Legacy is a work of inspirational fiction which uses magic as a metaphor for life’s mysteries and documents the student-teacher relationship Karges had with his enigmatic great-uncle, Alain “Doc” DeLyle, who taught the extraordinist his special brand of magic of the mind.

Craig Karges’ third book, Extraordinary Tales – Stories from the Road is a celebration of thirty years of life on the road. The book consists of twenty-four short stories gathered from around the world and is one part travel memoir and one part encyclopedia of the paranormal and the extraordinary.

From Sardinia to Singapore and from Cancun to Cairo, Craig Karges’ performing schedule has taken him around the world, appearing at corporate events, theatres, universities and casino showrooms. “No matter where I perform, I try to make my audiences feel they are a part of something they have never experienced before and hopefully will never forget. My goal is to entertain my audiences through the creation of mystery and to open their minds to unlimited possibilities,” says Karges.

Kevin Baer

Kevin has more than 24 years of professional corporate coaching experience. He has broad hands-on experience with small, medium and large companies in both the private and public sectors.

Speaking Style:
Baer’s basic philosophy is that each and every member of the organization plays a key role in the transformation process.

Kevin’s energetic manner generates an upbeat, lively environment for learning. He is known for his unique ability to use humor to engage and motivate his audience. He is able to get people to move out of their comfort zone and “think newly” about perceived obstacles.

Baer is never one to back down from the “dangerous conversations” that exist in every organization. His dynamic, high-energy style and interactive techniques create personal ownership of participants in the transformation process.

Personal data:
Age: 55
Interests: Golf, Basketball Coach, Church, Photography
Location: The Woodlands, TX (north of Houston IAH airport)

Sales Performance International
In 2002, Kevin was invited to join the SPI Leadership Team – the creators of the Solution Selling® Sales Training Methodology. SPI has trained over 600,000 sellers and sales managers worldwide. Key clients include Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and Bank of America.

The Mpact Group, Inc.
Kevin serves as Managing Partner of this Executive Coaching and Leadership Development firm based in Houston, TX. He leads the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development group. He has coached more than 275 executives and is an accomplished keynote speaker.


Kevin started his career in staffing as an outside salesperson in the temporary help industry in 1985 with a privately-held $40 million regional staffing firm in Houston. 

Corestaff Services acquired that company and Kevin was promoted to Regional Vice President. One year later he was promoted again to Division President with P&L responsibility for 23 states. Baer played a key role in the acquisition and integration of 23 privately owned regional staffing companies over the next three years.

Kevin was soon promoted to the position of Executive Vice President Sales/Marketing for Corestaff Corporation. There he helped the company grow to $900 million in annual revenue. In addition to leadership of U.S. Sales and Marketing, Kevin was also responsible for all training and development, new product development, niche services and branding strategies.

Baer served on the Executive Leadership Team for seven years.


Kevin accepted a partnership role with, a $32 million internet start-up company based in Denver. There he served as Executive Vice President of Sales/Marketing and sat on the Executive Board. Baer was responsible for the creation and execution of a national sales strategy for the internet recruitment firm. The company that was ultimately sold to

Karen Monks

Karen Monks is an Analyst in Celent's insurance practice and is based in Richmond, Virginia. She brings a broad range of insurance and consulting experience to her work as she has worked as a management consultant to and within insurance carriers and other financial services companies for over 15 years.
Ms. Monks’ research concentrates on life insurance technology and trends. A few of the reports she has written concentrated on new business and underwriting, mobile technology, and policy administration systems. She has been the coauthor of the past two Celent North American Insurance software deal trends reports. Recent consulting projects include a marketing and distribution management systems review and several small life insurance technology analyses.
Ms. Monks’ research has been featured in Insurance & Technology, Insurance Networking News, and Technology Decisions.
Ms. Monks began her career as a Financial Management Program Trainee for General Electric. After completing her MBA, she joined Coopers & Lybrand’s Financial Services management consulting group. She has also worked as a management consultant for John Hancock’s internal consulting division, focusing on strategic projects driven by IT and was a contract consultant for TowerGroup’s Consulting Services Group where she worked on various FS projects. Prior to joining Celent, Ms Monks was a financial analyst for a small Richmond, VA financial valuation firm.
Ms Monks has a BA, cum laude, in economics from Union College, Schenectady, New York and an MBA from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Karen Monks's LinkedIn profile
Follow Karen Monks on Celent blog

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