World-Renowned Authority on Innovation, John Kao, Named Keynote Speaker for 2012 Global Spa & Wellness Summit

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Creative Presentation Integrating Jazz Piano Will Demonstrate How to “Get Innovation Done”

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As spas and medically-based rejuvenation mash up with the realities of an aging Boomer population and a new wave of innovation in the wellness arena, the opportunities for re-imagining the industry are significant

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS), the leading annual event for spa and wellness industry executives, today announced that John Kao, one of the world’s thought leaders on innovation and enterprise transformation, will be a keynote presenter for the event being held in Aspen, Colorado from June 3-6, 2012. Kao, dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, is the author of global bestsellers on innovation and business creativity, serves as an advisor to numerous Fortune 500 companies and governments, and is one of the most sought-after speakers on the topic of innovation in the world.

With the 2012 Summit theme of “Innovation through Imagination,” Kao’s keynote, “Jamming: The Art of Getting Innovation Done,” will serve as a vivid call to arms for Summit delegates: establishing not only why innovation is so critical for the spa and wellness industries, but how to practically unlock it and translate it into concrete, strategic value and new business models. An accomplished musician, he will use demonstrations from jazz piano to illustrate the processes of innovation.

“I’m getting more and more excited about presenting to leaders from the worldwide spa and wellness industries,” said John Kao. “As spas and medically-based rejuvenation mash up with the realities of an aging Boomer population and a new wave of innovation in the wellness arena, the opportunities for re-imagining the industry are significant.”

About John Kao: Kao’s career is itself a study in innovation. He received a BA from Yale (in philosophy), an MD from Yale Medical School (with a specialty in psychiatry), and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he went on to serve as a professor specializing in enterprise creativity for 14 years. He is the author of numerous books, including the best-selling Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, and Innovation Nation: How America is Losing its Innovation Edge, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do To Get It Back – and his work has also been featured in major publications from The New York Times to the Harvard Business Review. For two decades he has served as an advisor on innovation strategy and execution for public and private sector leaders, including the governments of Finland, Singapore and the U.S.; the Clinton Global Initiative; and firms like Nike and Intel.

Kao is past Chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Advisory Council on Innovation and Chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation (a community of national chief innovation “czars” from some 41 countries). He has presented keynotes at leading conferences and organizations worldwide, from the TED conferences, World Economic Forum and European Union Innovation Team, to Citibank, IBM and the U.S. Navy. He is also an angel investor in emerging technology companies and a Tony-nominated producer of film and stage. A jazz pianist at heart, he spent the summer of 1969 playing keyboards for rock legend Frank Zappa, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art and honorary Vice President of Arts & Business in the U.K. He was recently named a Yamaha innovation concert artist.

“I can think of no more perfect speaker for our 2012 agenda of ‘Innovation through Imagination’ than John Kao. His experience in helping businesses to not only understand the importance of innovation, but, more crucially, to learn how ‘to get that innovation done,’ is simply unmatched,” said Philippe Bourguignon, co-Chair of the 2012 agenda and Summit Board Member. “He has an extraordinary ability to demystify the creative process and show how innovation is, in fact, a process that everyone can learn, replicate, teach and manage.”

Kao joins six other high-profile keynote speakers previously announced by the Summit. Also presenting on topics surrounding “innovation” are:

  •     Dr. Richard Carmona: 17th Surgeon General of the U.S. and Vice Chairman, Canyon Ranch
  •     Jose Maria Figueres: Former President of Costa Rica, and expert on global environmental practices
  •     Mariel Hemingway: Academy Award-nominated actress & wellness advocate
  •     Peter Rummell: Former Chairman of Disney Imagineering, and current chair of the Urban Land Institute
  •     Elizabeth Stephenson: Partner at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company
  •     Philippe Bourguignon: Vice Chairman, Revolution Places; Former co-CEO of the World Economic Forum (Davos)

Additional keynotes will be announced in coming weeks. The 2012 GSWS promises to be the most unique event in the organization’s six-year history. It’s being held in collaboration with the prestigious think-tank, the Aspen Institute, and will feature a robust three days of presentations and panels squarely focused on the most innovative strategies that can propel the $2 trillion global spa and wellness industries forward.

To register, or to learn more about attending or sponsoring the Summit:

Note to Editors:

About the Summit: The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) is an annual event that attracts executives and leaders from around the world with an interest in the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors, including the hospitality, tourism, finance, medicine, real estate, manufacturing, technology, consulting and product industries, attend this intimate, invitation-only gathering focused on advancing the spa and wellness sectors. The Summit has been responsible for some of the most important recent spa industry research, including the “Global Spa Economy Report” and “Spas and the Global Wellness Market” (conducted by SRI International), as well as “Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where Do Spas Fit?” The organization recently launched a breakthrough research tool,, the world’s first online portal to the medical evidence for common spa/wellness therapies. The GSWS was honored as "Spa Event of the Year" for 2009, 2010 and 2011 by AsiaSpa magazine’s awards program.

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Beth McGroarty
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