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Dave is a one-man retreat. He uses compelling stories, research, and humor to create a captivating experience that is dynamic, inspiring, and highly relatable. As the foremost expert in the revolutionary approach of mindful self-regulation, Dave illuminates the incredible human capacity for unconditional wellbeing – the ability to thrive and grow independent of circumstances. Moreover, he shows how we can leverage this capacity with simple daily practices that foster peaceful and powerful lives, relationships, and cultures.


Dave draws on his experience as a two-time cancer survivor, and more than thirty years of studying and teaching the practices and principles of mindfulness, well-being, and leadership. He combines modern science, enduring wisdom, and practical application in a way that is engaging, interactive, and transformative.


Watch Dave’s TED Talk Here


Here’s what people have to say about Dave’s  work:

Dave’s warm, genuine and engaging personality and style have allowed him to make meaningful and lasting connections with the individuals he speaks to. His open and joyful approach have made him our highest rated presenter. ~ Jill Webb, ISACS Director of Professional Development

Your keynote was the best in our history. The breakout was equally compelling and entertaining. I have received so much positive feedback. You are changing lives – I know you have changed mine for the better.~Matthew Briger, Owner, Sola Salons

We are so grateful for your visit. I don’t think we can overestimate the positive impact you have had on our community. I’ve received emails from parents saying the presentation was transformational, and I’ve had conversations with many others expressing the same. ~ Armistead Lemon, Upper School Director, The Harpeth Hall School

Dave is one of the most gifted speakers I have ever heard. He is inspirational, and in fact is one of the few people who inspires me to be a better person. One key to David’s natural leadership is the fact that he lives the life we all aspire to. ~Greg H. Kubicek, CEO, Holt Inc.

Dave is an engaging, thoughtful presenter who always involves participants in interactive, enriching experiences. I cannot recommend him highly enough. ~ Barbara Swanson, NYSAIS Director for Professional Development

Your workshop was the most valuable one I’ve ever been to; in addition to the fact that you’re an engaged and engaging speaker, I can’t think of another workshop I’ve attended that offered so much to make me a better person as well as better professionally. ~ Mike Stanitski, Colorado Academy.

You are a breath of fresh air and incredibly good at what you do. ~ Julie Amberg, Head of School, Cascades Academy

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Past Presentations

Applied Attention: How Awareness is Fundamental to Performance & Well-being

What do we mean when we say “pay attention”? This presentation will look at the neuroscience of attentional control and how we develop what may be the single most important skill in life. Attention is a limited resource – the skillful use of this resource is foundational to learning and to living well. How we pay attention affects how we think, how we feel, what we remember, and even our physical health. We will look at the myths and misunderstandings about the human attentional system. We will discuss specific ways to focus as well as the unintentional things we do that make focusing more difficult.

Unconditional Wellbeing: Practicing a Peaceful & Powerful Life in an Anxious & Distracted World

We live in a society that constantly tells us that the secret to a good life is getting your circumstances just right – owning the right stuff, living in the right place, getting the right amount of recognition and admiration, knowing the right people… This is a great message if you are trying to sell stuff, but it is not an effective strategy for living a deep, fulfilling, and meaningful life. The evidence from scientific research, lasting wisdom, and personal reflection is that the good life is a practice. It is the practice of working peacefully with what is outside your control and powerfully with what is within your control. We will look at the fundamental skills of unconditional wellbeing and how to practice them in daily life.

Mindfulness: The Myths, Realities & Practice

What is mindfulness? There are many promises and myths in the popular media about this simple practice. What does the research actually say? How can we integrate this our classrooms, advisories, and/or teams to enhance learning and growth? You will leave this session with helpful language and specific tools for helping students become more skillful in their use of attention.

Stop Trying to Feel Better: How the Pursuit of Comfort & Pleasure is Making Us Anxious & Insecure

Many of our efforts to avoid, suppress, or indulge discomfort fill our lives with struggle, heartache, and activities that are empty and exhausting. Organizing our lives in hopes of eliminating discomfort from uncertainty, failure, or loss can lead us to avoid worthwhile risks, meaningful pursuits, and loving connections. We can practice accepting feelings for what they are, identifying what matters, making small daily choices that serve our values, accepting responsibility for our choices, and learning from the consequences. We can do all of this with compassion for ourselves and others. We can live fully without being a slave to the compulsive pursuit of feeling better.

Tell Me More: Working Powerfully with Resistance, Challenge & Change

Resistance and disagreement are normal and useful. A healthy balance of affiliation and accountability is facilitated by working with resistance and disagreement gracefully and effectively. Awareness and acceptance of our internal reactions to resistance and disagreement allows us to be skillful externally. Participants with leave with an understanding of the neurobiology of resistance as well as specific, simple tools that they can use immediately to disarm resistance and build connections in the presence of disagreement.

Helpful, Not Right: Inclusive & Mindful Leadership

There is tremendous pressure on leaders to solve problems – to have the answer. Many well-intentioned leaders fall into the trap of designing solutions for others without creating the buy-in that will allow the solution to succeed. How do we leverage the value of including others? How do we find the courage to be transparent and decisive in the face of skepticism and resistance? We will discuss principles and strategies for building the skills we need to build high performing teams.

Uncomfortable & Important: The Art of Difficult Conversations

School culture is shaped by the conversations we are having and the conversations we are not having. The desire to avoid potentially uncomfortable interactions is completely normal. And, this choice has a significant impact on the culture of your team or organization. Having these conversations gracefully and assertively can be a game changer for a relationship, for a colleagues performance, and for the sense of community at your school. We will look at the elements of an effective conversation as well as the practices that build the courage and compassion to have them.

I Get It, And: Giving & Receiving Feedback

One of the most important factors in any learning or working relationship is sharing feedback about the effectiveness of effort and strategies. This goes both ways – giving and receiving. In fact, a powerful way to improve student or colleague engagement is to invite their authentic feedback about their experience. We will look at what the brain research tells us about the type and timing of feedback that maximizes the effectiveness of teaching, learning, and collegiality.

The Full Catastrophe: Finding Peace & Clarity in Chaos

As a leader, there are demands and distractions at every turn. People are constantly looking to you for answers and solutions. While you are often at the heart of the action, there are also many moving parts that are outside your control. We will address proven practices for accessing calm and connection in the midst of a busy life. In addition, we will discuss concrete strategies for communicating assertively and compassionately in challenging situations. You will leave this workshop with a set of tools for working fluidly rather than frantically.

Ouch!: The Power of Accepting the Discomfort of Failure

Learning and growth requires practice. Practicing anything deliberately includes failure. Not getting the result you want or expect is uncomfortable. Acceptance of discomfort as part of learning and growth is one of the most powerful skills we can practice. Understanding how the human brain is wired for both survival and growth can help us work effectively with discomfort and allow us to harness the power of failure.

I Think, I Feel, I Learn: Social-Emotional Intelligence as a Foundation for Intellectual Growth

We know that the cognitive, emotional, and social functions of the human brain are inseparable. There is no such thing as a purely intellectual or rational process in the human nervous system. Social-emotional practices have been shown to have a significant positive impact on cognitive performance as well as overall quality of life and even lifetime earnings. We will look at the research and discuss effective daily practices for addressing social-emotional growth.

Whether You Feel Like It Or Not: Why Self-Regulation is So Darn Important

The world is changing rapidly. The presence of technology and social media places ever-increasing demands on our attention. Access to abundant information changes the skills we need to be successful. Stress, anxiety, and depression are on the rise. How do we build the skills to deal with a world we cannot predict or control? We will look at the research related to the self-regulation of attention, emotion, and behavior. We will also investigate how we confuse skill and motivation and why this distinction is critical to our success.

Courage & Compassion: The Art & Practice of Emotional Self-Regulation

Despite the fact that we often treat them as obstacles or ancillary aspects of life, brain research tells us that emotions are fundamental to thinking and learning. The ability to understand and work effectively with emotions is one of the keys to choosing effective behavior. Anxiety and stress can be a significant drain on attention as well as cognitive and executive function. We can leverage this understanding to make our efforts more effective and our relationships more supportive. We will discuss specific strategies for cultivating positive emotional states and working peacefully and powerfully with challenging emotional states.

At The Very Center: Practicing Meaning & Purpose

What would you say is most important to you? One of the keys to self-regulation is having a focus – something to bring your attention back to when it inevitably wanders. When human beings accept that they are exercising their freedom to choose a response to life, they have a greater sense of autonomy and authentic confidence. This allows them to take healthy risks and rebound after setback. This session will identify specific strategies for gaining the clarity needed to take complete responsibility for our decisions and actions.

Impulsivity, Procrastination & Other Fantastic Beasts: The Practice of Behavioral Self-regulation

Why do human beings engage in behavior that does not work and avoid behavior that we know would be more effective? We will take a fascinating look at the way our evolutionary biology affects the choices we make everyday. We will also look at the incredible human capacity to make choices that are aligned with goals, values, commitments, and relationships – even when we don’t feel like it. We will identify specific strategies for discovering what we are actually capable of.

Kindness, Gratitude & Awe: The Neuroscience Behind the Benefits

The research is clear – the ability to form positive human relationships may be the single greatest predictor of health, happiness, and success. The ability to connect may be one of the most important skills that we can practice daily. This presentation will look at why positive internal resources such as acceptance, compassion, gratitude, and awe are central to peak performance and overall wellbeing. We will discuss the practices that help us cultivate these resources.

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