Every time Darden Smith gives a keynote address, he brings 30 years of songwriting, storytelling, and performing experience to the stage.

Each keynote shares lessons Darden learned from surviving as a songwriter and musician, remaking himself as non-profit founder and entrepreneur, and evolving as an artist. His unique perspective on life, and creativity, and connecting with our world is delivered with the dry humor of a Texas poet.

In many keynotes, Darden engages the audience in a collaborative songwriting experience. Before each keynote, he will work with group leaders to explore topics that are important to the session. During the presentation, he leads the audience in creating a song that delivers this message. The song is then recorded and can be delivered to participants. The result is a truly moving and memorable experience. Watch as he writes a song.


Though no two talks are exactly the same, some keynote topics include:

EMBRACING CHANGE — Life rarely works out the way we think it will. Darden shows how he has dealt with change in his life and work and creativity. He gave this talk at the Business Innovation Factory (BIF10) Conference.

COLLABORATION FOR LONE WOLVES — The words “solo artist” give a good picture of why Darden wasn’t a good team player early in his career. He thought he had to do everything himself. As his life, and work evolves he sees how the collaborative process gives him more ability to, use his gifts, and bring about a positive effect on his world and the people he works with.

FEARING YOUR GIFT — Based on a TEDX Talk he gave in 2013, Darden talks about how we sometimes hold back from being our best self, because of the potential chaos and change that it will bring on around us. His story, one of change and embracing new horizons, constantly seeking new ways to use songwriting in his work, and where that has led him, illustrates why it’s worth being yourself!


I have seen some extraordinary speakers, but none more engaging, authentic and compelling than Darden Smith.
— Mike Williams, CEO
Texas Electric Cooperatives

Darden. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am forever grateful for our connection and for your contribution to making BIF10 amazing. Your story was inspiring and helped catalyze exactly the reaction the entire BIF community needed and wanted. You nailed it.
— Saul Kaplan, Founder/Chief Catalyst
Business Innovation Factory

The session was excellent, as you could feel from the engagement and reception – we got great comments afterwards like ‘that’s the best thing I’ve had in a GE meeting in 18 years.’
— Roland Rott
GE Healthcare