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

Problem Solving Is Tricky Business - Crack your toughest problems by unmasking your brain's hidden illusions

Problem solving is an essential ingredient for success. Unfortunately, we often take an unstructured approach to solving problems—primarily relying on our own intuition and experience to find solutions.

As a former professional magician, my job was to disrupt the audience’s problem solving mechanisms to prevent them from discovering the solutions to my tricks. I learned how to engage the brain’s subconscious weaknesses and shortcuts and how those same mental illusions thwart problem solving in our work as professionals.

In this program, audience members become better problem solvers by learning proven techniques for mitigating our hidden assumptions, misperceptions, biases and other cognitive obstacles. Steve engages attendees by illustrating how magicians create the impossible by interfering with their audience’s problem solving processes.

 After this session attendees will be able to:

– Ask the questions that are essential for success at each step of the problem solving process

– Use the “Climb Up/Look Down” method to identify core and associated problems

– Examine and adjust their current approach to gathering and assessing information

– Apply a more systematic approach to their problem solving process

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

Whether you are struggling with employee engagement and retention, productivity issues or getting more business, many of the problems faced by professionals and businesses stem from a lack of trust. Elevating trust will make an enormous difference in every aspect of your work and life. The problem is that our safety-seeking brains prefer mistrust over trust.

In this insightful and entertaining program, Steve, a former professional magician, gives a new perspective on trust. He shows how magicians build trust with an audience that doesn’t trust them, and how the brain’s subconscious illusions, distortions, biases and misperceptions create mistrust.

Most importantly, Steve provides strategies for overcoming these common illusions that lead to mistrust.

Key Take-aways include:

– Learn strategies to recognize and overcome the illusions that create mistrust and suspicion.
– Build trustworthiness by keeping your resources aligned with your goals, priorities, and values.
– Explore how to avoid the “false certainty” bias that subverts your credibility.

Disruptions, Deceptions and Decisions Outsmarting the Hidden Illusions That Change and Stress Unleash on Your Decision Performance

Research shows that the stress from major disruptions has adverse effects on our thinking, focus, and ability to make great decisions. In times of major change and uncertainty, the induced stress amplifies our cognitive illusions and distortions, making it difficult to think clearly and make optimal decisions.

These illusions also negatively influence our ability to adapt and embrace change at a time when adaptation is vital.
In this thought-provoking program, Steve uses magical illusions to demonstrate how the mental distortions that make magic tricks look real also affect how we think and decide in our work as professionals. He provides tactics for recognizing and overcoming their effects so we can perform at our decision making best, especially during times of disruption.

Key take-aways from Disruptions, Deceptions, and Decisions:

– Learn how disruption misdirects our attention and how we can re-direct it.
– Discover how to overcome over-reliance on habitual behavior and the status quo.
– Explore decision making strategies that produce better results under stress.

From A-Ha To TA-DA! Magically Level Up Your Performance By Breaking Through Your Invisible Mind Traps

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 how to achieve “TA-DA!” moments of success and self-improvement by recognizing and overcoming the false beliefs and stories that can trick us into negativity, fear and settling for the status quo.

Audiences will be able to:

– Learn the secrets of attention control to better defeat distraction and misdirection
– Prioritize and leverage the massive advantages of high trust relationships
– Step out their comfort zone by recognizing and mitigating the status quo bias

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