Speaker Services, Innovation Speaker

Contact Info

Phone: Contact Speaker Services: 310.512.7779
E-Mail: info@SpeakerServices.com 
Website: www.TomFurst.net 
Availability: Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area); California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia; National


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Topics: Innovation, Business Building, College Speaking, Entrepreneurship

Travels from: California 

Title: Innovation Process Expert & Coach, Silicon Valley CFO/COO

Fee: $5,000 to $7,500; varies by event specifics
Free: Not-for-profits in the San Francisco Bay Area

InfoBest-fit Audiences:PresentationsBioTestimonialsBooks

Silicon Valley financial executive, involved in the creation of Siri and other high-impact innovations, tells investors and entrepreneurs how to build the skills and processes needed to effectively and consistently innovate.

“Innovation is the skill set that this economy is rewarding,” says Tom Furst, a former executive leader at SRI International who was involved in the creation of Siri. “Our world is being driven by a small number of well-known people who are creating the next big thing. However, everyone needs innovation skills. Whether you own a business, are working for an organization, or are attending college, innovation skills will help you to excel.”  

Why Tom Furst is unique: Tom Furst spent 20 years as an executive leader of SRI International, the most successful innovation engine on the planet. SRI is the organization that created Siri, the da Vinci robotic surgery system, Nuance speech recognition, and so many other world-changing innovations.  The Washington Times once stated, “As CFO of SRI International, Tom Furst oversees one of the great economic engines of Silicon Valley.”

Part of Tom’s executive role was building an organization that could innovate successfully and consistently. Today, Tom continues to teach innovation as a powerful speaker. “Effective innovation,” he states, “is having the right way of looking at the world, combined with a set of specific skills.” Tom breaks his insights down into simple steps that anyone can bring into their daily routine. He communicates them with the insight of someone who has been there, and he brings his message to life with real stories about how he and his colleagues ‘made it happen.’ He wraps up his talks with the story of how Siri was created, including parts of the Siri story that are not commonly known.

Tom’s audience gains the basic innovation skills that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists use to survive and thrive in today’s fast-moving economy. These skills can be applied by
any person or organization to become more successful.

What people are saying…
Tom gave an excellent primer on the topic of innovation, its importance, and how to do it, all brought to life through great stories and examples.  The audience was captivated!”
– Executive, Northrop-Grumman Corp.

Best-fit Audiences

  • Universities, Colleges, Schools
  • Business Off-Sites, Management Retreats
  • Conventions, Conferences, Trade Shows
  • Tech Events, Industry Associations
  • Corporations, Business Groups, Not-for-Profits
  • Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, Retirees


Tom’s speaking services are offered as keynotes, breakouts, seminars or workshops, retreats, trainings and webinars, and are customized for your group. He is also available as a panel guest or moderator. Tom will combine a talk with Q&A follow up.

Tom’s talks on innovation are packaged in one of two basic content formats, depending on the setting, the audience, and the goals of the organization. Talks typically include a 10 to 15-minute version of the inside story of Siri.  

Talk #1
Innovation is for Everyone

What is Innovation, Why it’s Important, How to do it Well

This presentation is designed for a social setting or a lunch or dinner keynote where the audience may include both those well-versed on innovation as well as those with little to no knowledge of the subject. The talk is made compelling through stories, anecdotes, pictures and examples, and is designed to inspire and educate. You’ll learn:

  • What is true innovation?
  • What are the current and emerging trends, directions, risks, and opportunities in our economy, and in the workforce, that require innovation skills to participate and to succeed?  
  • Why innovation is an essential skill to have in tomorrow’s economy
  • How to innovate: What are the key steps?
  • How Siri evolved, from her conception through the Apple acquisition

30 to 45 minutes; Tom will use 15 to 25 visuals/slides to bring key points to life. Tom adapts his material to the audience, to the goals of the sponsor, and to the venue.

Talk #2
Use The Five Disciplines of Innovation to Consistently Win

This presentation is designed for a business audience at which innovation is an important component of the meeting goals. The talk is designed to challenge the audience to be open to new ways of thinking about bringing innovation to their jobs or businesses. The structure is similar to Presentation #1, with less time spent on the “what” and “who” of innovation, and more time spent on the “how” and “why.” Tom also talks about the importance of leadership as the driving engine for successful innovation. The story of how these skills were employed in the creation of Siri is used to bring the Five Disciplines of Innovation to life.  How the Siri technology, and the market for it, were bought together into a powerful value proposition, organized into a start up, venture capital funded, launched on i-tunes, and sold to Apple.

In Talk #2, your audience will learn how to…

Implement the Five Disciplines of Innovation, either for a single customer or for an entire market. The 5DOI is a structured process approach to successful innovation based on these tenets:

1.Satisfy an important customer and market need. Successful innovators find and solve important problems, not just interesting ones.

2. Build an “NABC” for High Value Creation:

  • Need: Define the “must-have,” the big need being satisfied.
  • Approach: Outline your superior solution.
  • Benefits/$: Identify and quantify the advantages of your solution.
  • Competition: Describe why your solution is better.

3. Innovate with champions. Champions make things happen; they possess the requisite passion and commitment.

4. Assemble an awesome team; if effectively led, their collective IQ has no limits.

5. Create a supportive and nurturing environment; the proper setting is essential to allow innovation to emerge & flourish

30 to 60 minutes; 20 to 35 slides

Meet Tom Furst…

Primary Full-Time Working Career (1965 to 2014)

  • 18 years (1996 – 2014) as Sr. Vice-President & CFO/COO of SRI, birthplace of Siri; da Vinci robotic surgery, Nuance Communication speech recognition, and many other high impact innovations.
  • 5 Years (1991 to 1996) as the senior financial executive for Booz Allen & Hamilton’s World Wide Technology Business
  • 26 Years (1965 to 1991) in diverse management positions in 3 world class organizations
    * 14 years with PRC (now Northrop Grumman)
    * 9 years with HRB Singer (now Raytheon)
    * 3 years with RCA (now General Electric)

Since Retirement from Full-Time Work in 2014

  • Executive in Residence appointment at MIT; assisted the MIT Media Lab in delivering Translational Innovation
  • Strategic Advisor to the Silicon Valley Executive Network (SVEN) on Technology Commercialization
  • Board of Directors (and Audit Committee Chair) for the Gladstone Foundation; a medical research center of excellence in San Francisco that uses science to overcome disease
  • Business Strategy Consultant for the award-winning documentary The Bob Hoover Project: Flying the Feathered Edge that co-starred Harrison Ford
  • CSIRO (The Australian Government)  In 2019, Furst was competitively awarded a 3-year agreement to provide commercialization and technology translation services to Australia’s preeminent scientific organization
  • Speaker/Evangelist on the role of innovation in our personal, corporate, and national competitiveness. Audiences have included corporate, university, and government groups.

Fast Fact
While student body president at Villanova University, Furst met privately with Dr. Martin Luther King before introducing him to 5,000 people and a television audience.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at Villanova University on January 20, 1965. Pictured (left to right) is Villanova student body president Thomas J. Furst, along with Dr. King and the Rev. John A. Klekotka, OSA, Villanova University President (1959-65).

Source: Villanova University Media Room

What people are saying…

“My supply chain team at Northrop Grumman invited Tom Furst to speak at our annual innovation seminar.  Tom gave an excellent primer on the topic of innovation, its importance, and how to do it, all brought to life through great stories and examples.  The audience was captivated!  The following feedback from a few of those in attendance was representative of audience reaction:

“It was very enjoyable to hear Tom Furst speak… “
“I really enjoyed the presentation; learning about the background of Siri and about innovation in practical terms       that we can all relate to…”
“His experience being at the epicenter of groundbreaking technological development worldwide was remarkable…”
“He was very knowledgeable, passionate and eloquent in his presentation…”
“Though so extremely accomplished, Tom was very down to earth and relatable in his talk…”
“My take away was that successful products and organizations do not happen by chance; the many examples     he gave illustrated how being innovative was a big key…”
“You could tell by all of his stories that he was very passionate about his presentation and topics…”
“I learned from him that you can do anything if you reach out through the goals that you set.”

“I would absolutely use Tom again as a speaker, and I recommend him to any group that wants to hear about how real world innovation gets done, presented in a way that is interesting, understandable and fun.”
– Nicholas Michlig, Senior Manager Supply Chain Planning, Marine Systems, Northrop Grumman Corporation

“Tom is a superb CFO and COO. But what makes him unique is that he also deeply understands the process of value creation and innovation. He has helped create new companies, structure joint ventures, and assemble partnerships with leading global companies and government agencies. He is a true creative partner working with other senior executives on structuring and growing the business. Tom is an extremely articulate speaker, having given hundreds of presentations to leading company executives, government officials, and general audiences.”
– Dr. Curt Carlson, CEO, SRI International, 1998–2014; CEO, The Practice of Innovation 2014-Present

Books by Tom Furst