Steve Haffner





Steve Haffner helps professionals recognize and overcome hidden mind traps, mental shortcuts, and cognitive biases that are barriers to trust, effective leadership, handling disruptions successfully, optimal performance, and great decision making.

Steve’s background and experience is quite unique. He had a successful 30 year career as a corporate professional and executive, creating I.T. solutions as a programmer/analyst, systems engineer, business analyst and vice-president for organizations such as EDS, Mercer and Humana.

In 2011 Steve launched his own performance and speaking business. As an entertainer he presented magic and mentalism shows for family and corporate audiences, including 3M, Amazon, and Edward Jones. As a decision performance specialist, Steve’s clients include businesses and associations in a wide variety of industries and disciplines, serving business owners, executives, educators, HR professionals and more.

Through his study of magical illusion Steve learned the secrets to deceiving the human brain. As a speaker, he shares how those same mental distortions that create illusions affect our everyday thinking, perceptions and decisions as well.

His keynote and breakout programs draw from not only his own experience, but also from research in the fields of psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics. This combination of insight and experience allows Steve to help professionals improve their decision-making, trust-building, productivity, and ability to handle disruption.

Steve’s one-of-a-kind presentation style combines useful content with humor, personal stories, and magical effects. He shows the audience how their attention and perceptions are easily manipulated, then shares strategies for preventing those mental errors from undermining their performance as professionals. The audience experiences a program that is not only educational, but fresh, engaging, and uniquely Steve.

Keynote Presentations

The Trust Advantage – Unmasking the Illusions That Undermine the Astonishing Benefits of Trust

The leadership trait that most directly contributes to our success is trust. Unfortunately, surveys show that trust in institutions and organizations is at an all-time low.

As leaders and professionals, we need to recognize the causes of low trust, which often originate as illusions produced by the human brain. These mental distortions, shortcuts, and cognitive biases can be enormous barriers to trust. In this compelling and entertaining program, audiences learn how magicians leverage trust, and how they can use similar methods to increase customer and employee trust.

Key take-aways include:

  • Learn strategies for overcoming the illusion of distrust and suspicion that derives from our brain’s impulse to keep us safe and undermines our professional relationships.
  • Discover how easily our attention, time and energy can be misdirected and how to re-direct our resources back to our goals, priorities, and values.
  • Learn to recognize the illusion of the “overconfidence bias” which allows faulty self-assessment and false certainty to subvert our trustworthiness.
Disruptions, Deceptions and Decisions Outsmarting the Hidden Illusions That Change and Stress Unleash on Your Decision Performance

Studies show that the stress from major disruptions has adverse effects on our thinking, focus, and decision-making abilities. Cognitive illusions such as status quo bias and attention distraction can keep us from successfully adapting when a major change confronts us and our work. Steve demonstrates how the mental distortions that make magic tricks look real also affect our decision making – especially in times of stress, change, and uncertainty.

Learning objectives include:

  • Learn from studies in the fields of neuroscience and psychology that demonstrate how the brain changes its functioning and effectiveness in times of prolonged stress.
  • Discover how to overcome our over-reliance on habitual behavior during stress and the tendency to over-emphasize status quo.
  • Learn strategies that counter disruptions’ interference with our ability to identify
From A-ha to Ta-da! - Unleash Your Magical Potential by Busting Through Your Hidden Self-Deceptions

Each of us has amazing performance potential, but to reach it we must recognize and break through the hidden illusions that are barriers to our success. In this motivational and entertaining program, learn from a former professional magician how to achieve “Ta-da!” self-improvements by recognizing and overcoming the false beliefs and stories that can trick us into negativity, fear and settling for the status quo.

Key take-aways include:

  • Challenge what you believe about yourself, your limitations, and your own motivations
  • Learn when to trust your intuition – and when to question it
  • Perform at your best by defeating irrational “lizard brain level” fear and negativity

Steve Haffner Testimonials

“It was an engaging and interesting presentation. Something you don’t think about – how your subconscious mind controls your day-to- day thinking including in the workplace. The HR professionals were really engaged. They liked that it was a different type of presentation than they are normally used to, and they can apply the information in several different ways. We loved having him and he was a great part of our conference.”
Robbie Perkins, President IPMA-HR, Kentucky Chapter

“Steve did an absolutely fantastic job entertaining our group, getting us to delve deeper into our thoughts, and decision making, there were quite a few laughs. Everyone left feeling mesmerized by Steve’s ability to get deep into our minds and think about our own thoughts. His content and presentation were excellent.”
John Bodle, IT Finance Dept, Bloomington Indiana

“It was extremely entertaining, it was funny, but more importantly it uncovered some things we didn’t know about ourselves and how we think about many things that are in everyday life and how we’ll think about them differently. I highly recommend it. It was a great presentation and very educational.”
Andrew Backen, Executive Vice President, Touchstone Merchandise Groupr

“Steve’s program was an awesome session! It made me think, it was fun, it was engaging. I still haven’t figured out how he did everything, but he did tell us a lot about our lizard brains.”
Marchal Hudson, Project Management institute, Central Indiana

“Steve did an amazing job. We laughed, we were in awe, and we loved that he brought illusion and neuroscience together to show us how we can overcome mind blocks, and we can apply that information to our clients as well.”
Janice Smith, President, Kentucky Speech-Language and Hearing Association

“It was wonderful! Steve really related how the brain can be tricked into making certain decisions in a certain way. I was impressed how he built from one model to the next and the next, and it made sense how he related it to real world decisions and evaluations. It was excellent – I was really impressed with it.”
Roger Buskill, Association for Talent Development - Kentuckiana Chapter

“Steve’s keynote was very informative but entertaining at the same time. It kept the audience well engaged while teaching them to overcome their invisible mind blocks …and different ways to think about how they think about things.”
Laura Cole, Director of Program Development, Kentucky School Boards Association

“It was incredible – mind blowing! It woke us back up after lunch. We don’t even know where to go from here! We want him to come back – we wanted him to keep talking!”
Sonia Huff, Kentucky School Counselors Association