Tel: +44 (0)20 7607 7070

Biography: Caspar Berry

Caspar Berry

Speakers Corner says

“Every time I hear Caspar speak I learn something new, he has a deep understanding of the human psyche.”

Others say

"Our audience are used to hearing some of the best speakers on the circuit but comments after Caspar Berry's talk were universal praise."
Events Committee IOD

"Caspar has excellent and well thought through material. It certainly challenged the group to think differently."
Brand Learning Partners

"Caspar is individual, charismatic, energetic doesnt need to try at being bright he just is! He has a real presence, he makes you want to learn and listen."
Hudson

"Takes the wraps off risk taking and decision making offering a completely new angle for me. Very helpful."
Surrey Police

Professional poker player and entrepreneur, Caspar Berry’s take on business is unique, insightful and refreshing. His eye-opening comparisons between playing cards and running a business incorporate innovating, risk-taking, communicating, and decision-making.

Casper’s career in the spotlight began as the lead character in the first BBC 1 series of Byker Grove, alongside TV presenters Ant and Dec.

After graduating from Cambridge with an Economics and Anthropology degree, Caspar had his first screenplay produced by Film4, and by the age of 23 he was writing for Miramax and Columbia Tri Star. The bright lights called, but movies were not his focus – at the age of 25, Caspar made the life-changing decision to move to Las Vegas and become a professional poker player for three years, pitting his wits against the top players on the circuit.

"I came away feeling energised and entertained. I would recommend this to anyones it really gets you to think about your own mind-set in a very different way."
Berwin,Leighton Paisner

Caspar returned to the UK to co-found Twenty First Century Media which became the fastest growing audio visual media company in the North East of England. As a fully-fledged businessman with access to tales and experience from life at the poker table and on TV, Caspar began inspiring companies with his acumen and charm, as a keynote speaker.

He also expounds his wisdom on TV, as presenter of Poker Night Live, voted Britain’s best poker show; and Sky Poker, the country’s premier nightly poker show. Caspar's most recent film credit was as the poker adviser on the James Bond movie, Casino Royale.

Caspar takes a fresh look at the way organisations take decisions and communicate so that they can achieve a competitive edge. He emphasises that breaking patterns and changing behaviours is key to motivate teams in the most challenging and productive way.

He uses the metaphor of poker - always fun and original – and ensures an engaged response and a starting point from which to explore business themes, and he often ignites passion, a competitive edge and team bonding with a poker game after his talk!

For further information or to book Caspar Berry, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

Interview with Caspar Berry

Question:

How did the corporate speaking start?

Answer:

I came home from Vegas after three years as a professional poker player and decided to set up and run a film production company in Newcastle upon Tyne – from where I hail. We were lucky and had a degree of success and I was asked to speak at a number of networking and business events. Even when I was playing poker, I knew that I was inherently fascinated by the relationship between poker and business – having studied economics at university the parallels seemed numerous and obvious - and I decided to choose that as my subject matter. Thinking about it in advance of my first speech, I realised that I had unconsciously taken the things I learnt as a poker player about risk-taking and decision-making into the business arena and that much of our success was a result of that. Anyway to cut a long story short, every time I spoke I was asked by someone in the audience to do it again and that pretty much continued until the present day when – 7 years later – I am now a full-time professional speaker. We sold the film company in 2008 to Bob Geldof’s media empire, Ten Alps Plc! In the early days, I talked more about the poker and related it to business. For the last five years or so, I have focussed on the business (and indeed the personal realm) using poker as more of a vehicle or metaphor for my main messages.

Question:

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

Answer:

Vividly! I was so scared I thought my legs might give way. I had been a professional actor as a teenager but much of my work was on television, most notably as the lead in the first two series of Geordie Teen Soap, Byker Grove. My limited theatre experience left me pretty shaken as I had difficulty learning my lines and anyone who has ever dried up completely in front of an audience never ever wants to relive that experience so I remember I wrote my entire speech (in note form) on 60 cue cards! I don’t think I ever looked at my cue cards once but I kept using them for the first 20 speeches or so. Don’t worry, I don’t use them anymore! I still remember how good I felt after that first speech. Long before I heard the positive feedback I just sort of knew somewhere in my tummy that this was something I wanted to do a LOT more of!

Question:

And your last event?

Answer:

Vividly! But that is mainly because it was just yesterday. I am very lucky, I get to do this job about 2.5 times a week on average so I have now delivered my main speech over 500 times – in addition to the 500 or so training sessions I have delivered for other companies using their IP. Interestingly, it is only recently that I passed the point of being able to remember every single job. I used to be able to think of any client and recall every job for them including the venue and faces in the audience. Inevitably, with so many jobs under my belt now (and the onset of years) there are some holes in my conscious memory these days but I can still remember most of them. I am very hard on myself after each job and replay it in my mind wondering what I can learn from it so I think this helps to anchor the memory in my mind.

Question:

Which event has been your favourite and why?

Answer:

I realise this sounds lame but I have so many favourites that it’s hard to pick just one. In the same way that when you try and recall your favourite meal you’re torn between the best food or the most romantic venue or the most enjoyable company... I’m torn between so many different kinds of favourites in different categories. I want to pick four, sorry:- The first was my very first speech because the high afterwards (as I describe above) was such a heady mix of adrenaline and dopamine that it will be hard to beat. Ever. - The second was a job in 2006 for the board of one of Britain’s biggest and best known financial institutions with whom I worked for a whole day. According to their own testimonial, they found it excellent and one of the best such days they have ever run. That showed me that I could hold my own with the most demanding audience and gave me tremendous confidence. - The third was a job not so long ago in a huge conference centre for nearly a thousand delegates. While I would like to think that I always do a good job, on this particular occasion, the planets aligned and I was – as sportsmen say – completely in the zone. It felt like an out of body experience and while many many jobs have come close to it, none have quite touched the almost spiritual nature of this particular job. - My last favourite was a conference at which I spoke recently for a public sector organisation. It was one of my new speeches which focuses on the role of luck in our lives – good and bad – and asks how we react to the events which befall us. After the speech the soundman came up to me to remove my microphone with tears in his eyes. He gave me a big hug and explained how his one of his children had recently died and that – obviously – life had been unbearably hard. But he said that the things that I had said had changed the way he perceived it and wanted to rush home to share his feelings with his wife. He thanked me. But I didn’t really know what to say. It’s hard to describe how something like this makes you feel except to say that it’s a privilege to have a job that gives you that kind of meaning and connection with people.

Question:

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

Answer:

I have never really thought about this until now. I think sometimes jobs surprise you. I love big audiences and small intimate jobs in very different ways. Who knows where and when you’re going to get a chance to speak to you a wonderful, attentive, engaged audience of people who are up for being entertained, engaged and moved to take action in some sphere?

Question:

Who would you most like to share a platform with?

Answer:

I think there is a difference sharing a platform someone and just wanting to sit and listen to them speak. Right now as a speaker, I like sharing platforms with people who are fun, generous, real and iconoclastic. But if I could sit and listen to anyone speak I think, like anyone, I would want to listen to those whose lives defined their times in various different ways particularly the twentieth century; people of substance and wit: people like Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Eddison and Henry Ford.

Question:

On average, how many times a year do you speak at corporate events?

Answer:

I speak at about 120 events a year.

Question:

Do you use powerpoint?

Answer:

I do. Although in saying that I feel like a member of Powerpoint Anonymous at the beginning of a 12 step programme. I think powerpoint is like any tool in the world: its impact and efficacy depend on the way you use it. As a former TV commercials director, I like to use powerpoint to create a visual underscore to my stories and message. In an average hour-long presentation I get through about 130 slides, only 15-20 of which have any text. The rest are photos and images which hopefully amuse and move an audience and complement the sounds created by my speech itself.

Question:

Are you as happy speaking to 50 as to 1,000 people?

Answer:

Yes. I am as happy speaking to 10 people as 1,000. But they are very different sessions which require very different skills in my opinion. In fact, I think there are three different kinds of sessions: those of 20 and below; those of around 20 – 60 and those of 100+.

Question:

How do you like to be introduced?

Answer:

While I am happy to be introduced anywhichway, I have found, in my experience, that a lengthy introduction which details my life story does not kick my speech off in the best way. One of the reasons for this is that I give an overview of my life story during the speech itself and sometimes an introduction pre-empts some of the facts kills my jokes! While I am more than happy to be introduced with just one line, something like the following also works well: “Risk is obviously something that has been in the news a lot recently. It’s certainly something that it is important to us all here at ______. With this in mind, our next speaker has a very different take on this subject. His first contact with the subject of Risk was at Cambridge University where he studied economics and anthropology. But it was all made very real for him when – at the age of 25 – he decided to leave a successful career as a screenwriter, move to Las Vegas and become a professional poker player! Please welcome author, entrepreneur and poker advisor on Casino Royale, Caspar Berry.”

Question:

Do you always like to do a briefing call before the event?

Answer:

It is a strong preference yes. I have done jobs without one but usually this is where I know the client well already. Crucially I like to know the answer to one key question: “In an ideal world, what do you want your audience to think, feel and do differently as a result of my presentation?

Question:

What are the most asked for topics?

Answer:

In the last 18 months, I have created a menu of eight main speeches and four seminars. While these have been specifically created to address the subjects of risk-taking and decision-making from different directions, they all address these two main themes in some way. While my newer speeches are receiving excellent feedback, I would still recommend my oldest speech – Risk Taking and Decision Making in Poker Business and Life for all new clients. Broadly speaking, this is because it is a speech which has been honed over the course of 500 presentations and – while every delivery is a little bit different from the last – it has a guarantee that it will connect with (and move) any audience. If you, like me, want to embrace more of a risk, however, I would recommend my speeches on Luck (which is about developing a proactive mindset in the face of fortune) and Decisive Leadership (which is about the willingness to sacrifice self for the greater good.) The final seminar – which is worth mentioning because it is slightly different to the others but often demanded by clients – is my innovation and creativity seminar. This empowers participants to overcome inhibitions and achieve a really playful, imaginative mindset and embrace a set of specific creativity tools with the intention of generating a plethora of new ideas for their business, the value of which can be incalculable.

Question:

Do you have any key messages that run through all your presentations?

Answer:

Yes, quite a number although many of them are very challenging and hard to explain in detail in the absence of the speech itself. Broadly speaking, though, they include the following: 1) Decision-making is not just a process in which we engage everyday, it is also a skill which can be learnt. There is a science of decision making with some very profound implications for the way in which we decide anything and indeed live our lives. 2) This is based on the notion that ALL decisions are investment decisions – in which we invest scarce resources like money, time, comfort, status and reputation into a series of opportunities with which life presents us. An economist’s definition of a decision is the allocation of scarce resources under conditions of uncertainty. 3) I often use poker as a fun metaphor to explain this process because all a poker player is doing is allocating his or her scarce resources under conditions of uncertainty. Indeed a poker player has to make a decision every 90 seconds and it was the process of doing this everyday for 3 years that cultivated my fascination with the decision-making process. 4) Uncertainty – both the state of mind and the impacts of it – affects us all constantly. Not only does this mean that we are constantly wrestling with it at the point of every decision it also means (and this is fundamental) that while we do everything we can... the actual outcome and results of most decisions are out of our hands! This requires some evidence and argument at first but constitutes the first great leap of understanding for participants. 5) The implication of this is, oddly, that a decision can be adjudged to be good or bad in the absence of the outcome of that decision. Indeed it can only be assessed in the light of the information that the decision maker had at the time. 6) This is a very counterintuitive message for business but extends even further when I show that even decisions which fail most (even the vast majority of the time) can be excellent, highly profitable decisions in the long run. Furthermore, I show that many of the most profitable decisions – which maximise ROI – are those which fail more often than the norm. This is often expounded as a theory but the science of risk holds the clue to the reason for the truth of this. 7) Crucially, my presentations are not exclusively – or even predominantly – about poker. Poker is just one of many metaphors I use and is secondary now to the examples of the ways in which the theory is applied to business and life decisions made by real people, some famous, some not so. 8) I also address the fear of failure – which is of course the elephant in the room whenever we talk about risk: how to understand it, how to make friends with it and embrace it as a positive motivating guiding force in our lives.

Question:

Is your speech interactive with audience participation?

Answer:

The simple answer to this is yes.... but with a number of caveats. Firstly as a facilitator – trained and accredited by the excellent Mind Gym in 2005 – I am highly experienced and skilled in audience interaction and hugely value it as a component of great learning. Most of my 45/60 minute presentations however do not have a great deal of audience participation, however, beyond the use of provocative questions and a couple of “think-pair -share” interludes. In sessions of 90 minutes and above, however, most of the additional time is given over to participation and interaction with the specific intention of making the material relevant, real and useful to the participants. The simple reason for this is that most of what I speak about is usually quite challenging to the audience

Question:

Do you have any funny/embarrassing speaking anecdotes you care to share?

Answer:

Not really. Is that bad?

Question:

What was your favourite game growing up?

Answer:

Snooker/Pool, Golf, Monopoly and apparently – according to my friends although I don’t remember it – I was also a pretty keen poker player when I was very young.

Question:

Your favourite film?

Answer:

I have a pretty set top seven which – like X factor results – I will give in no particular order: Schindler’s List, Cinema Paradiso, Annie Hall, E.T., Kramer vs Kramer, Citizen Kane, Twelve Angry Men

Question:

Favourite book?

Answer:

Fiction: The Catcher in The Rye. Non Fiction: Blink and Influence The Science of Persuasion.

Question:

Favourite holiday destination?

Answer:

I am obviously very bad at choosing favourites! For relaxation: The South of France. For Parties: Las Vegas and Shanghai.

Question:

What’s your tipple – wine, beer, champagne?

Answer:

Not fussy as long as you’re buying.

Question:

Country or townie?

Answer:

In my heart I am a country. But in my house, alas, I am a townie

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