Mary Kelly

Watch Mary Kelly

CSP, CDR, US Navy (retired)

Travels From: Denver, CO

Topics: Leadership, Succession Planning, Productivity, Econ, Futurenomics, Communication, Remote Leadership, Business Growth

Mary Kelly
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About Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, CDR, US Navy (ret) is an internationally known economist and leadership expert, specializing in productivity, communication, and business profit growth. 

Mary is the CEO of Productive Leaders, with sites in Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado.

Mary has been quoted in hundreds of periodicals including Forbes, Money Magazine, Entrepreneur, Yahoo Finance, Success, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of business journals.

A MENSA member, Mary has received several accolades speaking accolades including the Air Force Academy Instructor of the Year, Outstanding Educator Award, National Speakers Association-Colorado Member of the Year, and the Navy League Leadership Award, in addition to her military awards.

Mary is the author of 11 books, including:

  • Master Your World:10 Dog-Inspired Leadership Lessons to Improve Productivity, Profits, and Communication
  • 15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy and
  • 360 Degrees of Leadership
  • Stop the Barking
  • Money Smart: How Not To Buy Cat Food When You Don’t Have a Cat 
  • Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success  

While in the Navy, Mary served as an intelligence o cer, and she later specialized in running military bases. With extensive experience in human resources, finance, insurance, organizational leadership, strategic planning, and project development, she focuses on building successful strategies for business leaders at all levels of an organization.

Mary earned a BS from the United States Naval Academy, an MA in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in History and Foreign Policy from the University of Hawaii, and a PhD in Economics from Greenwich University.





Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy

Competitive, challenging, and constantly shifting – that is today’s marketplace. To successfully compete, organizations need to build depth of experience, perspective, and increase the knowledge base of their leadership bench.

Leaders and organizations need to start planning now to: 1. Invest in attracting top talent 2. Develop leadership skills 3. Design a succession plan that gets results

With more than 75 million baby-boomers reaching retirement age, you need to be managerially prepared. You need answers to important organizational and leadership questions:

What will the new roles and responsibilities look like in the future? What do we need to build an organizational plan for new challenges? Who is going to move into more senior positions? Who comes next?

Dr. Mary Kelly and Meridith Elliott Powell have developed an innovative, high-energy keynote based on their succession planning book, Who Comes Next?

They share what it takes to build a strong talent pipeline, develop your future leaders, and create a succession plan that gives you clear competitive advantage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proven methodology for building your leadership bench
  • Powerful techniques to build long, loyal and highly engaged leaders
  • Secrets to aligning your succession plan to your strategic objectives
  • Innovative strategies to get you out of the “urgent” phase, and into a culture of continuous leadership development
  • A customized succession plan ready for immediate implementation  

Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success

Thousands of leadership programs tell you how to be a great leader. Far fewer delve deeper into the surprisingly common mistakes supervisors, managers, and even CEOs unknowingly make that derail their team’s effectiveness and productivity. Using real scenarios and examples collected through their combined years of leadership and management expertise, Mary Kelly and Peter Stark examined data from over 100,000 employee surveys to pinpoint the 7 most common reasons some managers fail while others are so successful. Whether in your first year of management or your 30th, Why Leaders Fail shows participants hidden pitfalls and how to avoid them. 

The program also outlines specific actions that ensure success. Based on the book of the same title, this content-rich, data-based program is also entertaining and full of actions that participants can use to further develop their leadership skills, outcomes, and organizational morale.

  • Gain insight into behaviors that may be sabotaging the loyalty of your direct reports.
  • Understand why your top talent may not be performing up to their potential.
  • Gain tools to help you align team goals with the organizational mission.
  • Gain awareness of how you are perceived by your direct reports, peers, and supervisors.
  • 49 actionable prescriptions for success.
  • Free access to a personalized leadership assessment to identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses.  

FutureNomics for Associations – What Associations Need To Do to Be Invaluable in 2025

Mary is the bridge between economics and leadership. She has several interactive leadership programs, and her keynotes are full of actionable takeaways.

Her program, Futurenomics: An Economic Snapshot and What To Do Next, gives leaders and managers economic information in a fun and informative way, as well as leadership recommendations to improve productivity and profitability. It is VERY different, and audiences love it.

Mary’s programs are most popular with organizations and industries that value economic information that is presented in a useful and entertaining way, such as credit unions, banks, insurance companies, and medical practices.  

Master Your World: 10 Leadership Strategies to Improve Productivity, Profits, and Communication

Leadership is creating a vision as well as executing the strategy. Leadership is also why people, and companies, succeed or fail. Some people believe leadership is limited to the people at the top, but real leadership happens at all levels in every organization. True leaders strategically plan and implement long-term programs to take advantage of talent and increase morale throughout the organization.

Everyone benefits when leaders apply three core techniques and then refine them with seven critical applications. Engaging and immediately applicable, this inspirational program is packed with templates and tools so leaders can achieve optimal results.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn what most employees are not getting from their leaders and managers that they need to be more effective.
  • Implement actionable items to create cohesive teamwork and better engage those around you.
  • Improve personal and professional productivity with less stress.
  • Discover how to best use your networks and relationships to further your influence and your business.
  • Find the keys to being happier and more productive at work (and at home) by applying the Master Your World techniques.  

A.R.M.E.D. Getting people to work together is challenging. Office tension, competition, gossip, personal agendas and pettiness reduce morale and productivity.

How to Attract, Recruit, Mentor, Evolve and Develop the Next Generation of Leaders for corporations and associations. By 2020, millennials will be 50% of the American workforce. That number jumps to 75% by 2025. Is your organization attracting and keeping the talent you need to lead into the future? Do you have a succession plan for your senior people? Are you ready for the shifting workforce?

U.S. unemployment levels are at record lows. Ten thousand baby boomers are retiring every day. Thousands of human resource directors are struggling to fill the 6 million vacant job opportunities in the US as competitors race for employees. Once they are hired, how do you keep them? How can you ensure that your employees, both new hires, and your current team, are ready for upcoming roles and responsibilities?

In this highly interactive session, Mary discusses how to Attract talent by being attractive to current and prospective team members, how toRecruit the right people, how to Mentor and manage emerging employees, how to Evolve, structurally and culturally to stay relevant, and how to Develop the next tier of talent for future success.  

Top Secret Leadership – Military Leadership You Need Now

Getting people to work together is challenging. Office tension, competition, gossip, personal agendas and pettiness reduce morale and productivity.

Do you ever wonder how the military recruits people from diverse environments and coalesces them into cooperative, fighting teams? Find out how you can use military approaches to enhance communication and teamwork, develop integration, and facilitate a positive work environment.

  • Learning Outcomes:
  • Be more productive in less time
  • Work together to accomplish more
  • Communicate clearly among all levels
  • Set and exceed expectations
  • Conquer the obstacles that create barriers to effective teamwork.
  • Cross generational gaps and use the strengths of the people you work with  

The military forges cohesive teams and leaders and you can too!  

15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy

You are wonderful with clients, you understand what you need to do to stay current in your field, and you have a great staff, but running a business is tough. Working in the financial profession today involves all kinds of other tasks as well. In this fast-paced, dynamic, and fun session, Mary incorporates workable solutions for today’s tough business problems. Learn how to maximize your time and resources for greater productivity and profits.

Learning Outcomes:

Learn how to put together a dynamite, well-organized business plan that defines your business strategy with Mary’s easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank templates. Discover how to use your business relationships to further your business with a structured referral system. Be able to track the strengths and weaknesses of your teams to best assign tasks, align goals, and achieve optimal outcomes.

Implement actionable items to create cohesive teamwork, improve personal and professional productivity, and better engage those around you using a daily tracking tool.

And 11 other actions that grow your business. 


 Wow, I just spent one of the most productive hours of my life with Mary Kelly. What a knowledge bomb! My fingers couldn't type fast enough to capture all of the amazing ideas and advice I received during just one hour of coaching. I measure the value of my time spent with a coach by how much I can implement and monetize. My cup runneth over and I can't wait to put her wisdom into practice and soar!” - Debbie Sardone, Speed Cleaning  

“Mary recently spoke at our Executive Leadership event, and was terrific! She was the last session of the day, and not only got butts in seats, but kept them engaged and laughing. The feedback from attendees has been nothing but positive, and she was so easy to work with. Between her extensive (and very intriguing) background as well as her dynamic personality, I would absolutely recommend her as a speaker for your next event. - Megan Passinger, /National Waste & Recycling Association  

“Leading a team, regardless of setting, is difficult and Mary helps provides those leaders with additional tools to carry in their tool belts! After all, not all problems/situations are "nails" requiring a hammer! I would highly recommend that Mary become part of your arsenal of tools!” - Drew Brassfield, City of Fritch  

“Mary came to the AIA Wyoming Conference in Laramie, WY and she was AWESOME! She was funny, knowledgeable, engaging, serious (when she needed to be), and to the point. Her topics of discussion totally hit home with my business and I am looking forward to seeing her future webcast. I would highly recommend Mary as a speaker for any organization.” - Ron Shosh , Amundsen Associates  

“Mary is the absolute best! She ALWAYS delivers informative and engaging sessions. Only problem . . . finding a room large enough to hold everyone who wants to hear her. What a great problem to have!!” - Jody O'Neil , Virginia MGMA  

“Mary was the featured speaker at Clarke's annual leadership conference, held at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Her message, following the book "Master Your World" was perfectly on point with the theme of our conference, Winning Together. She captivated the audience! In addition to her presentation, Mary spent the previous evening with our top leadership, and attended the entire next day's conference, which really helped the attendees connect with her, and to drive the message home. Thank you, Mary!” -George Svaranowic , Clarke Power Services  

“Mary is dynamic, knowledgeable and effective. Her academic and professional credentials are impressive. Mary delivered award winning leadership and communication instruction to more than 200 members of the Utah Local Governments Trust. Her lifetime of high-level experience keeps everyone interested and engaged. Thanks Mary!” - Steven Hansen, Utah Local Governments Trust  

“She knows her stuff. She communicates. She locks in her audience so they learn. She's funny. No one can be bored because she draws participation. She deals in reality not fantasy. She raises people up. She uses life examples. Stop analyzing, put her on your calendar.” - Joe Liss, Vistage Chair  

“I heard Mary speak at this year's Bryant Summit. I was first inspired by her dedication. She was recovering from emergency surgery and did the program via Skype. Then I was impressed by how engaging she was - even more than I have experienced at other seminars - and she wasn't even in the room with us! Her insights were right on, and gave me much food for thought. My only regret is that the seminar ended too soon - she had much to say, and I wanted to hear more!” - Natalie Benkovich, AIPSO  

“Mary was by far the most engaging speaker our organization has had to date. From start to finish, Mary was extremely easy to work with and during our meeting found her to be present, engaging and actively involved with all of our conference sessions. Her sessions were interactive, fast-paced, and the content was nothing short of outstanding. Thank you Mary!” - Melissa Klingberg, North Carolina MGMA  


Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, CDR, US Navy (ret) is an internationally known economist and leadership expert, specializing in productivity, communication, and business profit growth.