Dennis Brouwer

  • Deconstruction Artist
  • Proven Turnaround Leader and Certified Leadership Professional
  • Best-Selling Author of The Return on Leadership
  • Decorated Navy Veteran

Dennis Brouwer is passionate about taking things apart…but not in a destructive way. Over a three-decade career of achievement at the highest levels, Dennis has developed and leveraged a model of deconstruction to tackle the impossible.

At the height of the Cold War, Dennis used his model of deconstruction to enable a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to locate an “un-findable” Russian submarine in the north Arabian Sea.  As the leader of the $300 million Savvis Enterprise Cloud Network business unit, he leveraged deconstruction to out-maneuver significantly larger competitors and grow the business while others retrenched. Serving in executive roles in sales, product development, and operations, he has used his unorthodox approach to achieve what others could not.

Brouwer is the author of The Return on Leadership, in which he makes the case that a particular form of leadership – Creative Leadership - sparks business success by identifying and deconstructing the hidden barriers to growth in people, teams, and markets.

 

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Rave Reviews About Dennis Brouwer
An original thinker with a deep intuitive understanding of what makes a good leader, Dennis Brouwer does a fabulous job of translating his own life's experience into leadership best practices that cross industry boundaries.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Dennis Brouwer
  • Equinix
  • PublicWords
  • Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Minds On Marketing
  • Naval War College
  • Thrive Partners
  • BCM One
  • Midwest Book Review
  • Red Branch Media
  • Waterford2 Development
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Turnarounds in Tech - Disrupt or Die

When Dennis Brouwer was hired to turn around a specialized IT business providing services to global financial institutions, the prognosis was grim. Revenue was plummeting at nearly 10% per year, sales results had flat-lined and customers were leaving as fast as they could get out of their contracts. ...

When Dennis Brouwer was hired to turn around a specialized IT business providing services to global financial institutions, the prognosis was grim. Revenue was plummeting at nearly 10% per year, sales results had flat-lined and customers were leaving as fast as they could get out of their contracts. Just two years later, the business had been reimagined and re-launched. Revenue was growing, the sale of new services had exploded and customers were signing up for new, multi-year agreements.

To achieve this remarkable turnaround, Dennis and his team had to commit to an audacious goal – “Return to Growth – that was laughable at the outset. The challenge of breathing new life into a dying business required Dennis to draw on his entire range of experience – including serving as a mission commander in US naval aviation – to rally and engage a talented but demoralized team to imagine and build a new future for the business. By working directly with every aspect of the business, from front-line sales to the Board of Directors of a $1b public company, Dennis and his team did the impossible and found growth where others couldn’t.

Takeaways

  • Create context for sales and business goals by establishing a credible “Why” before digging into “How” they will be met or exceeded.
  • Translate sales and business goals into action plans that will enable you to engage a broader team in your plan to set new records for sales and revenue.
  • Anticipate the three most common types of “pushback” – the resistance to change and engagement that exists in every organization – and use this to strengthen your plans and execution.
  • Learn the system – known as Deconstruction - that Dennis has used to achieve competitive advantage, both as the leader of a business turnaround and as a Navy tactician.
  • Understand the neuro-science that limits our creativity, and how to routinely sidestep habits of thought that hold us back.

Facing the Competition - Drama on the High Seas and in the Boardroom

  As a carrier-based anti-submarine warfare tactician at the height of the Cold War, Dennis and his colleagues had one job – to protect USS Enterprise from potential attack by a bad guy. That bad buy was a Soviet cruise missile equipped nuclear submarine designed to do one thing and one thing only – ...

 

As a carrier-based anti-submarine warfare tactician at the height of the Cold War, Dennis and his colleagues had one job – to protect USS Enterprise from potential attack by a bad guy. That bad buy was a Soviet cruise missile equipped nuclear submarine designed to do one thing and one thing only – to incinerate the aircraft carrier that they called home.  Despite a lack of resources, a highly capable enemy and conventional wisdom that said what they were setting out to do was impossible, Dennis and his team led the effort that found a Soviet submarine in the one place it wasn’t supposed to be – two miles from USS Enterprise during flight operations in the north Arabian Sea.

It’s an exciting story that’s surprisingly relevant in our hyper-competitive world. In this talk, Dennis draws parallels between his team’s experience in the strategic cat and mouse game of submarine warfare, and the daily challenges faced by sales, product, marketing and business executives in their chosen markets and territories. In every case, success is a team effort and the difference between success and failure – and sometimes between life and death – is razor thin. Finding that edge – that competitive wrinkle or newly relevant assumption – is what this talk is all about.

Takeaways

  • Understand the constructive way to challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom as a path to growing sales, revenue and customer satisfaction.
  • Gain support for new “breakout” courses of action.
  • Apply creativity across daily business processes.
  • Identify opportunities for competitive advantage in assumptions and the behaviors they drive.
  • Understand the neuro-science that limits our creativity, and how to routinely sidestep habits of thought that hold us back.

“One Minute! One Idea!” – Experience the “Five Idea Guarantee”

In this electrifying talk, professional innovator Dennis Brouwer engages the entire audience in the search for bold, bright, worthwhile ideas, and GUARANTEES that every participant will leave with at least five ideas. Dennis is the creator of “One Minute! One Idea!”, the multi-media micro-podcast th ...

In this electrifying talk, professional innovator Dennis Brouwer engages the entire audience in the search for bold, bright, worthwhile ideas, and GUARANTEES that every participant will leave with at least five ideas.

Dennis is the creator of “One Minute! One Idea!”, the multi-media micro-podcast that cranks out one minute broadcasts with one high value idea every week. That requires him to generate hundreds of new ideas a year, and he’s now ready to share a few of the very best ways to get that ideation process started in your organization.

This talk is built around three things:

  1. Ideation cases studies including the fastest growing sports entertainment concept in the country, a top craft distillery that’s routinely outperforming the competition, and an unbelievable, real-word sea story from Dennis’ days as a carrier-based naval flight officer.
  1. Audience engagement in the ideation process itself. Through a series of hands-on activities, every attendee becomes part of the action and gains first person knowledge of how to search for and identify ideas with potential.
  1. The neuro-science and behavioral psychology that’s activated by the ideation process at the core One Minute/One Idea!

 

This talk blends all of these ingredients into one intoxicating, engaging package, adapted on the fly as the event develops. It feels like a great Italian dinner. There’s great conversation, everyone participates and you’re left feeling a little bit woozy from everything you’ve just consumed.

The takeaways? Five new ideas for every attendee – Guaranteed.

 

Ideation: TRANSFORMED    Ideation: ACCELERATED      Ideation: DECONSTRUCTED

Leadership: DECONSTRUCTED - A fresh leadership model to conquer adversity and accelerate growth

In today’s highly competitive and complex environment, traditional leadership approaches are losing their impact.  With the stakes higher than ever, an entirely new approach is needed to conquer our most pressing challenges and lead through both growth and adversity.  In this captivating keynote, be ...

In today’s highly competitive and complex environment, traditional leadership approaches are losing their impact.  With the stakes higher than ever, an entirely new approach is needed to conquer our most pressing challenges and lead through both growth and adversity. 

In this captivating keynote, bestselling author, U.S. Navy veteran, and multi-decade business executive Dennis Brouwer shows us a surprising path forward.  Brouwer shares his powerful and non-traditional approach of Deconstruction – a process of disassembling opportunities and challenges into their core components and then reassembling them in more productive ways. 

From life and death confrontations aboard an aircraft carrier to nine-figure corporate deal-making, Brouwer fascinates the audience with rich stories, laugh-out-loud humor, and unexpected research.  Attendees will leave energized and ready to deconstruct their own pressing challenges as they learn a clear-cut methodology and framework for execution. 

Leadership: ELEVATED.  Leadership: TRANSFORMED.   Leadership: ACCELERATED.

Leadership: DECONSTRUCTED.

High Performing Teams: DECONSTRUCTED - A practical approach to imagining new futures and making them real

The basic organizational unit of any elite organization is the team. Faced with accelerating rates of change, global competition and rapidly advancing technology, our best teams are challenged to deliver on a credible, sustainable vision for the future. As the market for products, and services becom ...

The basic organizational unit of any elite organization is the team. Faced with accelerating rates of change, global competition and rapidly advancing technology, our best teams are challenged to deliver on a credible, sustainable vision for the future. As the market for products, and services becomes more volatile and uncertain, it is more important than ever for high-performing teams to find new ways to get the job done.

In this thought-provoking keynote, bestselling author, professional innovator, and proven turnaround leader Dennis Brouwer delivers a remarkable perspective on high-performing teams – how they work, how they’re different, and how they seem to achieve the impossible.  Brouwer shares his unorthodox, yet practical approach to team development by illuminating the biases that undermine our personal perspectives, exploring the neuro-science of visionary thinking, and sharing startling case studies of what’s possible in seemingly dead-end, mature industries and organizations.

Attendees will leave with a new perspective on the importance of clarifying, communicating and creating a shared Vision of a new, desired future that’s worth fighting for.

Teamwork: ELEVATED.  Teamwork: TRANSFORMED.  Teamwork: DECONSTRUCTED.

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Biography

Dennis Brouwer is passionate about taking things apart…but not in a destructive way. Over a three-decade career of achievement at the highest levels, Dennis has developed and leveraged a model of deconstruction to tackle the impossible.

At the height of the Cold War, Dennis used his model of deconstruction to enable a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to locate an “un-findable” Russian submarine in the north Arabian Sea.  As the leader of the $300 million Savvis Enterprise Cloud Network business unit, he leveraged deconstruction to out-maneuver significantly larger competitors and grow the business while others retrenched. Serving in executive roles in sales, product development, and operations, he has used his unorthodox approach to achieve what others could not.

Brouwer is the author of The Return on Leadership, in which he makes the case that a particular form of leadership – Creative Leadership - sparks business success by identifying and deconstructing the hidden barriers to growth in people, teams, and markets. The book comes to life with examples from Ford Motor Company, global IT services, and his own personal experiences as a Fortune 500 executive, leadership coach and naval flight officer.  The social science, case studies, and three step plan are all designed to make you a better leader, your organization a better place to work and a more potent, creative force for sustainable, worthy growth in the world.

As a trusted keynote speaker, Brouwer blends a unique approach of rigor and creativity; research and instinct; thoughtfulness and passion.  His unique background and powerful deconstruction methodology are embraced by those who face imperatives to find growth where others can’t. His qualifications include:

  • Turnaround Artist – As the leader of a $300 million global services company, Dennis leveraged Deconstruction to beat significantly larger, better-funded competitors, while others retrenched. The business results? In two years the business went from laughing stock to leader.
  • Professional Innovator – Over a 20 year career, Dennis led sales, marketing and product teams that launched new services into the US and international markets. On his watch, cross-functional teams, propelled by a shared sense of urgency, worked side-by-side to develop and launch practical, profitable solutions.
  • Broad, Deep Experience – As a young naval flight officer, Dennis was twice recognized as a leading anti-submarine tactician. His corporate and entrepreneurial experience includes providing complex services, software and infrastructure to a wide range of industries, including finance, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, defense and agriculture.
  • Consistent Approach to Getting Things Done – In addition to his real world experience in business and the US Navy, Dennis is a graduate of Georgetown University’s prestigious leadership coaching curriculum. He is a master communicator, a natural team-builder, and has been evaluated as an exceptional leader by The Leadership Circle.