CALC Keynote Speaker: Ozan Varol '03

Rocket Scientist turned Professor, Bestselling Author, and Expert on Creativity and Critical Thinking. Check out the Ozan Varol '03 keynote from the conference that took place on February 17-19 in San Diego, CA.

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Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference (CALC) 2023 Keynote: Ozan Varol '03

Rocket Scientist turned Professor, Bestselling Author, and Expert on Creativity and Critical Thinking

Saturday, February 18, 2023, 3:45 – 4:45 p.m. PST

Ozan is a rocket scientist turned award-winning professor, #1 bestselling author, and internationally acclaimed speaker. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. He helps industry-leading organizations reimagine the status quo with moonshot thinking.

Ozan has been called a “true original” by Adam Grant and dubbed a “superhero” by Dan Pink. His work has been described as “must read” by Susan Cain and featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time, BBC, CNN, Washington Post, Fast Company, and more.

Ozan is consistently ranked one of the top speakers at conferences and private events. Audiences love Ozan’s blend of big ideas, witty stories, and down-to-earth humor. He’s a master at simplifying complex topics and delivering numerous “a ha!” moments. Ozan has the rare ability to get people to drop their phones and leave them with practical insights they can implement right away to level up in work and life.

Ozan’s diverse personal background (as a former rocket scientist turned lawyer turned university professor and popular author) allows him to connect with wide-ranging audiences. He’s delivered keynote speeches to small and large crowds at conferences, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies across numerous industries. He’s trusted by institutions like Microsoft, Intel, adidas, Accenture, Deloitte, Salesforce, General Electric, Google X, CVS Health, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S.Navy.

Ozan is the #1 bestselling author of Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life. The book has been translated to 20+ foreign languages and has received many accolades, including being selected as:

   •    One of’s “6 Business Books You Need to Read in 2020 (according to Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, and Adam Grant)”

   •    One of Amazon’s Top 20 business books of 2020

   •    Adam Grant’s # 1 pick of his top 20 leadership books of 2020

   •    One of 6 Groundbreaking Books of Spring 2020 (according to Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant).

A native of Istanbul, Ozan grew up in a family of no English speakers. He learned English as a second language and moved to the United States by himself at 17 to attend Cornell University and major in astrophysics. While there, he served on the operations team for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers project that sent two rovers–Spirit and Opportunity–to Mars. He built stuff that went to the red planet and wrote code that snaps photos of the Martian surface. Ozan then pivoted and went to law school. He graduated first in his class, earning the highest grade point average in his law school’s history.