Speaker Peter McGraw

Peter McGraw

Humor Speaker, Behavioral Economist, Professor at the University of Colorado

  • Speaker's U.S. Fee Range
    $10,001 - $20,000 i
  • Languages Spoken
    English
  • Travels From
    California, USA

Suggested Keynote Speeches & Programs

Dr. Peter McGraw is a:

Behavioral Economist 

Why Peter McGraw?

Peter McGraw helps organizations that are struggling to delight customers and failing to stand out in a cluttered marketplace. As a behavioral economist who teaches MBAs by day and decodes comedy by night, McGraw presents inspiring business insights gleaned from the practices and perspectives of the masters of comedy—and most creative rule breakers. His entertaining lessons help organizations uniquely solve problems, craft messages that are impossible to ignore, and create ground-breaking products and captivating brands.

McGraw offers three keynotes that pull back the curtain into the creative world of stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy to reveal cutting-edge organizational insights. 

And he will never ask you to tell a joke.

McGraw is an expert in the interdisciplinary fields of judgment, emotion, and choice. His research has answered questions, such as “How do feelings affect the ways people spend money?,” “Can people feel happy and sad at the same time?,” and, “Why does the TSA suck?” 

His work has appeared in Management Science, Psychological Science, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

McGraw received a B.A. in psychology and M.Ed. in educational psychology from Rutgers University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from The Ohio State University. His post-doctoral training was conducted at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he was mentored by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.

Global Humor Expert

McGraw has spent more than a decade examining the antecedents and consequences of humor—work that has moved the study of humor from the niche to the mainstream. One advantage that he has over his predecessors is his ability to conduct state-of-the-art experiments with the help of the team he directs at the Humor Research Lab (aka HuRL), a laboratory dedicated to the experimental study of humor, its antecedents and consequences.

He is the co-creator of the Benign Violation Theory, and more than a 800,000 people have watched his TEDx talk, “What makes things funny?”.

In 2014, McGraw co-authored The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. He has written for Slate, Wired, Fortune, and Huffington Post. His work has been covered by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC, TIME, Wired, CNN, The Atlantic, and Harvard Business Review.

McGraw hosts I’M NOT JOKING, a podcast called that looks at the lives of funny people from entertainment, business, science, and the arts. 

Look for his forthcoming book on April Fools’ Day 2020: Shtick to Business: What the Masters of Comedy can Teach You about Breaking Rules, Being Fearless, and Building a Serious Career.

B-School Professor

McGraw is a marketing and psychology professor at the Leeds School of Business and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of Colorado Boulder.

He teaches a PhD seminar in behavioral economics and courses in marketing management, consumer behavior, and advertising for the University of Colorado Boulder. He also teaches MBA courses at the University of Colorado Boulder, University of California San Diego’s Rady School, and London Business School.

Entertaining Keynote Speaker

McGraw helps organizations struggling to delight customers and failing to stand out in a cluttered marketplace. As a behavioral economist who teaches MBAs by day and decodes comedy by night, his keynotes present cutting-edge business insights gleaned from the practices and perspectives of the masters of comedy—and most creative rule breakers. 

The entertaining and inspiring lessons help organizations uniquely solve problems, craft messages that are impossible to ignore, and create ground-breaking products and captivating brands.

He gives talks at prestigious universities (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, Cambridge University) and Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Google, Viacom, PayPal) around the world.

Part-time Adventurer 

Dr. Peter McGraw is not your typical b-school professor. Though he possesses the pedigree of a serious academic, he has an adventurous side that is evident in his approach to scholarship and life.

McGraw is willing to leave the ivory tower to delve more deeply into research questions – whether trying his hand at stand-up at a dive bar, attending a funeral director convention, posing as a shopper at a gun show, or singing hymns at a Fundamentalist Baptist church. 

And for fun, he created a comedy game show—Funny or True?—which pits scientists against comedians to see who has the best blend of brains and funny bone.

Testimonials 2

  • “When you work in the cable industry, you need a little humor infused with your business. Peter spoke to our corporate teams in the midst of our intense accelerator program. He helped our teams by introducing lessons they could use when talking to Fortune 500 companies and in their growing startups as well. It was actionable, insightful, fresh, and of course, funny.”

    Rachel Biesel

    CMO and SVP, CableLabs

  • “His talk earned rave reviews. Peter uses the lens of comedy to illuminate actionable and surprising insights about creativity, marketing, and business. As a speaker, Peter combines academic rigor with a joyful sense of humor and engagement. Post-event feedback from our audience described his work as ‘different, interesting and immediately rewarding,’ and assessed the content overall as ‘excellent’ and ‘compelling.’ Peter is easy to highly recommend as a speaker.” 

    Brad Bernthal

    Leadership Team, Silicon Flatirons

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