The only way to thrive in a rapidly changing world is to change with it. We know that. But the biggest barrier is in our heads. Neuroscientist and entrepreneur Beau Lotto shows why adapting – moving from A to B – means first moving from A to not-A. We need to let go of the assumptions and beliefs that keep us from seeing the world differently. A world-renowned expert in the science of perception, Beau reveals why trading certainty for doubt increases our capacity to adapt, lead, innovate, and thrive in the darkness of “I don’t know.”
A world-renowned expert in the science of perception, Beau reveals why trading certainty for doubt increases our capacity to adapt, lead, innovate, and thrive in the darkness of “I don’t know.”
A professor with deep academic credentials and critical scholarly works on the subject, Beau is also founder and CEO of two companies – Lab of Misfits, the world’s first neuro-design studio, and Ripple, which holds several highly influential patents in Augmented Reality (AR). A three-time mainstage TED speaker with over 9,000,000 views, Beau has spoken around the world, delivering totally unique, visually stunning, interactive, and fun presentations that help people act differently in the face of change. His message is an ideal conference kick-off – providing powerful, positive, creative context that sets a tone for the content and collaboration that follow. Beau’s latest book is Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently.
Born in Seattle, Beau Lotto earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1991. He then moved to Scotland, where he earned his PhD in Neuroscience from University Medical School, Edinburgh in 1994. He remained in Edinburgh for his first postdoctoral fellowship (with Professor David Price), and then moved to Duke University for his second fellowship, where he was mentored by Professor Dale Purves.
Beau was a professor at University College London for 20 years, and is now a professor at University of London, as well as a visiting scholar at New York University. He has mentored over 30 undergraduate, masters, and PhD students, as well as postdoctoral fellows.
In 2001, Beau Lotto founded the Lab of Misfits Studio, the world’s only neuroperception creative studio that is also a real neuroscience lab. The Lab’s goal is to foster adaptability and creativity. Their unique process of experiential experiments unites neuroscience expertise and measurement with digital technology and immersive design. They study humans “in the wild” – in theaters, public spaces, even across entire cities – using a combination of digital, virtual, and physical techniques and neuroscientific methodologies. By unveiling the essential truths that drive human decisions, their work deepens connections and creates innovations. Pragmatically, their insights are scientifically unique and quantified, commercially valuable to the stakeholders, and emotional and actionable to public audiences. They have since created public experiences around the world, including London’s Science Museum, Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank, and a public art installation in London’s famous Silicon Roundabout. Their past clients include Cirque du Soleil, L’Oreal, Asurion, Microsoft, Edelman, The UAE’s Crown Prince’s Court, and others. Lab of Misfits currently powers the neuroscience offering at Burson Cohn & Wolfe, one of the world’s largest public relations and communications firms.
Beau and his Lab have published over 70 peer-reviewed articles across multiple disciplines, including augmented and virtual reality (indeed, their involvement in the EU consortium of labs defined “presence” in the VR space), human perception, physiology, molecular and cellular development, animal (including human) behavior, digital music, graph theory, complex systems theory, computational evolution, artificial intelligence, architecture, theatre and design. His science lab received funding from a wide range of institutions including the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, and other scientific research funders.
Beau is also CEO and founder of Ripple Inc, which holds five highly influential patents in Augmented Reality (AR) with two further patents pending. Using its technology and exclusive patented IP, the Lab creates digital platforms and custom, proprietary digital interactions that layer the world with immersive digital content. Examples include the GPS-based AR apps Traces, Acoustigram and W_nder, all of which focus on location-tied storytelling, adding a layer of meaning to the world that has hitherto been impossible.
In addition to TED, Beau has spoken at the G8, Google’s Zeitgeist, Wired, World Economic Forum, Cannes Lions Creativity Festival, Burning Man, and the Oslo Freedom Forum, among many others. He has contributed to television, radio and podcast programs by the BBC, National Geographic, HBO, Wharton on Business Radio, and PBS. He is a frequent keynote speaker at major corporations including J&J, Warner Music, Universal, Viacom, Sainsburys, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and the UAE’s Crown Court, where he speaks about the fundamental barriers to thriving in uncertainty and how to overcome them.
“Once you understand how perception works, you can’t help but see yourself in the world in a different way and engage in it in a different way,” says Lotto, who is author of three books: Why We See What We Do, Why We See What We Do Redux, and Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently. He received the Josef Albers Prize for Disruptive Innovation at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and was the first Creator in Residence at Viacom.
“Beau Lotto is brilliant. He did an astonishing presentation at Conarec 2021, the World's largest CX event, at November 10th, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His approach about mind-set, perceptions and beliefs, and how we should understand the biases of our mind have been so hard to manage , that we need to change our stories and narratives to engage customers. It was incredibly valuable for CX leaders and CEOs of hundreds of companies that attend Conarec. Finally, he shared a quote that defined why we need to restore our socialization after pandemic: "The brain is social. And this was absolutely important to the evolution of human race". Thanks, Beau. Brazilian executives really appreciate your insights.”
Jacques Meir, Executive Director of Knowledge, Conarec Group
“Beau artfully challenged the perceptions of a large group of very knowledgeable and accomplished leaders. He is eloquent, humorous, and incredibly gifted at reframing people’s assumptions about what is true and what is possible, through a neuroscientific lens. Beau is the best speaker I’ve seen for helping leaders adopt the right mindset for transformation work.”
SVP Global Talent Strategy & Development at Warner Music Group
“Beau’s incredible session created a transformational state in the audience of leaders. In three hours, he provided the group dozens of new ways to think differently about their problems, how to successfully innovate and build effective teams. Beau wonderfully integrates neuroscience, psychology and perennial wisdom into an inspiring and practical set of powerful takeaways. He is one of best speakers we’ve ever seen.”
Jean Gomes (CEO of The Energy Project) after a Masterclass for the Senior Executives of Warner Music
"Thank you kindly for blowing the socks off our participants, and frankly, my colleagues and the head of Metro Vancouver (both CEO and politicians). Well done! You were ‘outside’ the box of the kind of keynotes we typically have for our Zero Waste Conference – and I felt you were going to offer just the right antidote to the crazy fear and uncertainty everyone has been feeling over the past few months. You were an answer to our uncertainty – and literally. Some of my colleagues and our regional government leadership were uncertain whether we should have someone that was not deeply rooted in the CE/Waste prevention issue. Wow, talk about everyone coming full circle into ‘certainty.’ People loved your presentation. Wish you could see some of the chat."
Senior Policy Advisor, Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council
“Beau was great to work with – very creative, highly ambitious and with incredible energy. His communications skills are quite something to behold: when dealing with the volunteers from the public for the experiment, he held them in the palm of his hand and infected them with his enthusiasm. Respected by his peers and looked up to by his students he is someone who people like to listen to and learn from. I’d love the chance to work with him again.”
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