In John E. Quinlan’s recent speaking engagement with TEDx Wilmington, he connected to his audience with deep integrity and shared how his experience of living in remote Papua New Guinea synthesized lessons on humility, foolishness, worthiness and fear that he has since incorporated into his life.

The honesty to be open and vulnerable with oneself, without self-grandiosity or self rejection, leads to the development of vulnerability as a strength, and encourages empathy to deal with various cultures, whether they be organizations, family systems or differing societies and values.

Quinlan is a provocative, engaging thought-leadership speaker, who believes that “the uncharted inward journey, where there are no maps” is the key to invigorating, challenging and inspiring us to connect with the humanness of civilization. In this process, he finds that vulnerability isn’t something to fear, it is something to embrace.

As a speaker, Quinlan relates his discovery of the power of vulnerability to how to become more productive at work and happier in life in a funny, poignant and profound way.  He invites the audience to explore their own uncharted territory and leaves them with tools and strategies to cope with changes in life.

Interested in inviting John to speak at your event?

If you are interested in scheduling an event, please submit the inquiry form below. John reviews every request he receives. Please complete the fields below to help him understand the needs and goals for your event. He’s looking forward to your request.

  • Entrepreneurship lessons learned from starting a company, including an assassination attempt, in Papua New Guinea
  • The introduction and discussion of the 10 Alignment Strong components framed within Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man
  • The development of personal and strategic 5-year visions statements
  • Life charting out your life history to identify your personal and enterprise’s values
  • Failure: Friend or Foe
  • To understand and use the “talking stick” to build team trust and transparency
  • The introduction and application of integrated strategic and human centric strategic business planning for your enterprise
  • The tribal understanding and modern-day application of the “camp fire” and “hunting party” modes to build effective teams
  • To create a pragmatic and relevant mission statement for your company
  • The integration of the 5 Dysfunctions’ team model and Emotional Intelligence (EI) in a team building setting
  • How to use the power of vulnerable leadership through the use of the JOHARI window as an asset for effective teams and relationships
  • Personal and visceral yet humorous stories in motorcycling to transformation


What does vulnerable mean?

The latin translation, vulnerare means “to be wounded.” In a leadership position, it is the willingness to freely engage with your team by revealing not only your strengths, but weaknesses and potential blind spots. Another objective is treating vulnerability as strength, by creating enough physiological safety –  demonstrated by your willingness to expose your hidden area – that your executive team will feel more trusting and committed to go into the unknown as you build the organization to compete in the external marketplace.

What does empathy mean?

Empathy is the critical social competence required in the leadership repertoire for a CEO and/or senior manager. It is the ability to crawl up another person’s’ spinal cord and see through their eyes and hear with their ears and comprehend/sense another person’s feelings/emotions as well as to demonstrate an interest in their issues, concerns and personal vision. In addition to emotional empathy, cognitive empathy is required for vulnerable leadership. Cognitive empathy is the capacity to be patient and understanding the needs of your follower or subordinate, therefore having an internal gauge to respect another person’s learning speed.