About Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
ADAM SMILEY POSWOLSKY is a millennial workplace expert, international keynote speaker, and bestselling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough (TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House) and The Breakthrough Speaker.
Smiley helps companies attract, retain, and empower millennial talent, and he has inspired thousands of professionals to be more engaged at work, through speaking at companies like Unilever, IDEO, Salesforce, SHRM, Genentech, Deloitte, SAP, Facebook, Pinterest, MailChimp, and TED.
An internationally renowned motivational speaker, Smiley speaks about millennials, employee engagement, and intergenerational collaboration at Fortune 500 companies, business conferences, leadership trainings, and universities. His TEDx talk has been viewed 750,000 times, and he has done hundreds of speaking engagements, reaching over 50,000 people in 13 countries.
Smiley’s writing has been published in The Washington Post, Fast Company, Time, and Business Insider, and his work has been featured in USA Today, Mashable, Forbes, VICE, CNN, CNBC, Cosmopolitan, MarketWatch and the World Economic Forum, among others.
Smiley is the former director of community engagement for Hive, former director of the Bold Academy, mentor for StartingBloc, and a teacher at Esalen Institute and General Assembly. He is also a counselor for Camp Grounded, a summer camp where grown ups go to unplug and be kids again. He previously worked as special assistant to the director of global operations at the U.S. Peace Corps.
In 2017, Smiley launched The Women Speaker Initiative, a community that aims to increase the number of women and people of color speaking at conferences and companies, as well as ensure that women and POC speakers are paid competitively as compared to their colleagues. The group now has over 1,700 members.
Smiley is a proud graduate of Wesleyan University, and can usually be found dancing in Oakland, California (or in an airport en route to a speaking gig).
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My work is for anyone who ever heard, "That's not possible, you can't do that, you're not good enough, you're too young or too old, you don't have the money or the connections, it's too late," and took a deep breath, listened to their heart, and went out and did it anyway.
Six years ago, I quit my comfortable, well-paying job, with the intention of not living one more day failing to reach my full potential. Since then, I've embarked on a journey to pursue meaningful work and surround myself with believers who are also pursuing their dreams. I write and speak about the joys (and challenges) of living in alignment with your true self, working with purpose, and being a creative.
My purpose is to help all people find work they care deeply about. In doing so, I want to build transformative communities and companies where changemakers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and leaders, can create a more innovative, sustainable, and compassionate world.
It’s true that many millennials are very privileged, but I’m in the business of helping people use that privilege with intention. To take the opportunity, the knowledge, the access they have, and use it for something more than just earning a paycheck, for something more than just a 9 to 5, for something more than just a job, for something more than just a fat savings account and a round of golf at the age of 65. To realize that meaning comes not from personal gain, but from service.
Millennials already make up the majority of the world’s population, and will soon control the majority of its assets. Despite struggling with debt, recession, and the jobs crisis, millennials (who will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025) are not motivated by money. Rather, they are driven to make the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable.
We aren't the "me, me, me generation." We are the purpose generation, and we will be engaged with our work because we have to be. The challenges facing our generation are simply too serious to ignore. They are too serious to only worry about on the weekends or after five p.m.
I believe empowering millennials to find meaningful work is essential to solving the world’s most serious challenges; climate change, income inequality, access to health care and education and jobs, and the ability for everyone regardless of where they’re born to reach their potential.
I hope your quarter-life breakthrough (and third-life breakthrough, and mid-life breakthrough) bring you closer to who you are, the types of people and experiences that make you come alive, and the change you want for the world.
As part of my work as a speaker on millennials in the workplace, I am committed to helping increase the number of women and people of color speaking at conferences and companies, as well as ensuring that women and POC speakers get paid competitively as compared to their colleagues. Please join The Women Speaker Initiative to get involved.
I wish you all the best on your journey to meaningful work! Please let me know how I can help.