After podcasting with David Olney 3 times, and being blown away each time by his unique insights, I asked him a fateful question:

‘David, since you’re blind, what other abilities of yours have become heightened?’

David told me that he can assemble information from multiple sources and see the connections quite readily.

I have since hired David to consult with me on business development and crisis management for several months now, and his insights are incredibly useful and actionable.

I daresay David has already helped me avoid an attack that easily could’ve jeopardized and destroyed one of my major projects. David has also provided insights that will lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in added profit over the next year to my businesses.

As I have told David several times: “I want you to talk to and consult with everyone I know!”

David has also consulted with 3 separate team groups in my organizations; literally every person he has spoken to has come away enthused, informed, and changed for the better by his insights.

Whether you run a government agency, a corporation, or you simply want strategic insights on how to improve your thinking and your situation, David can diagnose and help you quickly and powerfully.

He’s a tremendous asset.

Richard Jacobs
President, Speakeasy Marketing Inc.
Host, Finding Genius Podcast
Executive DIrector, Finding Genius Foundation

 

David has impacted my life for the better by demonstrating what it means to live by evidence-based principles. Although he is given to heat and passion, his reflections are grounded by deference to repeatable, quantifiable evidence. His insights provide a reliable True North through any storm or blizzard of doubt; which has a calming and emboldening effect on those willing to listen and respond to his utterances. David Olney is our modern day sage amid the shallow, shrill noises of mass and social media.

Steve Davis MBA Mktg Mgt, FAMI CPM
Principal, Marketing & Communication Consultant
Talked About Marketing

 

David is an incredible strategist, thinker and communicator.

Aside from his phenomenal expertise on security, military, and geopolitical issues, David’s analytic skills, understanding of complex decision-making and strategic thinking make him a world-class
educator, mentor, philosopher and consultant.

I cannot recommend David more highly to any government agency, corporation, or individual that is seeking any strategic, communication or advisory services. His insights and expertise will provide the “edge” you need, whatever outcomes or objectives you are seeking.

Mercedes Page
Founder and CEO, Young Australians in International Affairs

 

I have known David for almost ten years and have been his student for three, although in truth I have always taken away learning from our conversations.

David’s ability to create and enforce individual frameworks for self-directed inquiry based learning enables anyone with at least mild intellect to undertake complex problem solving in a complicated environment. David categorises this unique skill as an insight, which simplifies an understanding of cognitive reasoning and frameworks for thinking that often eludes even seasoned practitioners.

I would recommend David to any Australian government agency or corporation seeking strategic insights or uplifting capability within their own employees to better understand, breakdown, address and ultimately solve complex problems.

I owe and attribute much of my success to David.

Rowan Sanders

 

David has been my teacher and mentor since 2015, since teaching me ‘Complex Problem Solving,’ and ‘Strategic Culture’ and ‘International Security After the Cold War’ at the University of Adelaide. It’s difficult to put into words the profound effect that David has had on my personal and professional trajectory during this time. He has taught me to become a more creative problem solver, a more effective leader, a better academic, a stronger communicator and a more well-rounded person. I have no doubt that he would have this effect on others too.

In terms of a metaphor, David is like a guiding light. He doesn’t give all the answers, but he will show you how to find your own. I cannot recommend David highly enough for any complicated problems you, or your organisation, might be facing.

Jessica Freund

 

If you guys are going to take away any lesson from today’s lecture, let it be that military and strategic lessons always get learnt but the overarching political lessons never do”. This was my first
ever lecture with David and I remember it word for word (well, nearly). I took this course four years ago but I still remember the lessons from Intelligence and Security with great clarity.

I think it’s rare for students to recall lessons their lecturers taught with such clarity. But, not with David. It was this ability to articulate, drawing on an encyclopaedic knowledge, that made David such a terrific lecturer. One of the only lecturers that could keep a class fixated on every word for nearly two hours.

I took all of David’s courses, practically moulding my degree after the subjects he was teaching. For this, I am eternally grateful. Not only did it give the clarity I lacked in my degree but it also led to an enrolment in Complex Problem Solving – which was the most useful course I have ever taken to date. Through the course, which was like a hybrid of an MBA Course mixed with Duntroon mixed with Marcus Aurelius (don’t question the analogy), I learnt a lot of practical tools that I readily employ in my academic and day-to-day life.

I have always read about great teachers. The people who sparked and educated the great thinkers of this world. David is one of those teachers. He set me on a path towards an unquenchable love of
learning that I am forever grateful for.

Kalindu Dahanayake
Former Student, University of Adelaide

 

I was a student of David’s in a course called Complex Problem Solving in 2019. This course is easily one of the best decisions I made during university. As a student in Sociology, my studies were
saturated with abstracts and theories. David’s course was a breath of fresh air, as he taught us many actionable tools and transferrable skillsets for tackling increasingly complex and ‘wicked’ problems.

As I continue with my postgraduate studies, the content of my thesis and the thesis itself have become two specific wicked problems in their own rights. I still find David’s lessons meaningful in making sense of the research topic/problem, before devising and delivering a logical and actionable argument and research design.

I have since shared what I’ve learnt from David’s course with my friends, all of whom seem to have a similar reaction that goes along the lines of: “How come I didn’t know about this course when I
needed it?!”

David’s course resonates with us, in that it is not just about how to solve complex/wicked problems, but also how to learn, think, understand, and ultimately develop insights – something that we all need desperately in times of uncertainty.

Laura, Ngoc Lan Tran

 

David Olney was my lecturer for Complex Problem Solving and Strategic Cultures, and was without a doubt the best lecturer I had at University. Encouraging us to think independently and outside the box, David’s unique experience and perspective on life really does influence those he interacts with to look at life from a different angle. David’s love for intelligent and deep conversations weren’t limited to lecture theatres though, having spent most of my hours post-lecture at a pub continuing the conversation for as long as you need, always offering help and guidance to those who needed it. This speaks volumes about his character and love for those around him, and his desire to make the world a better place. This can also be heard first hand from his podcast Blind Insights where he tackles issues dealing with the fundamentals of our lives and how we can best take advantage of our situation to encourage self-help. If you ever need guidance from someone with a generous heart and a great mind, it is David you’ll be dialling first!

Gabriel Chirnside
Former Student, University of Adelaide

 

I first met David as a student of his 2013 University of Adelaide Strategic Studies masters course. This course was run more like an academy than a modern university class, in which David attained the buy-in of students to the course content and cohort. In delivering his course David distinguished himself as beyond an educator, for his mentoring of the cohort.

To great appreciation this mentoring has continued for myself and numerous other graduates. This moral and intellectual guidance has significantly added value to the human performance of a vast unofficial alumni, now spread across Australia’s academic, civil service, corporate and non-government organisations.

Fortunately now, new communication technologies and travel opportunities are expanding access to David’s work. For anyone seeking to improve their individual or organisational performance, David’s advice, and ethos towards value-adding to the performance of others, represents a great opportunity.

Douglas
Former Student – University of Adelaide

 

I first met David in 2014 when I took his course Strategic Cultures and Unconventional Conflict. David was an excellent tutor and I enjoyed my semester with David. He takes an interest in each and every student in his class. He is an excellent tutor and is able to explain and demonstrate concepts in a variety of ways for a variety of different learners. He has become my mentor and my friend.

He has taken an interest in my career development and has been very supportive in my career endeavours. David is a very knowledgeable, patient, compassionate, empathetic, kind hearted person who will go out of his way to support and bring the best out of a person. Anyone who hires David will find him to be a valuable asset. He will be a great leader and an excellent team player.

Sharmini Nathan
Researcher
Monash University Malaysi

 

I first encountered David when on a whim I enrolled in Complex Problem Solving at Adelaide University. Within the first lecture I was instantly captured by David’s insight into the persisting
issues of the world and the empowerment through competence building he imparts on his students.

David’s approach to teaching made it almost impossible to not enter a flow state through his encouragement of creative thinking and demonstrations of how one person can radically alter their
goal outcomes with the adoption of simple intellectual tools and mindset changes to appropriately handle a variety of circumstances.

Having since completed a small research project under David’s supervision. David’s lessons on the importance of individual autonomy in teamwork scenarios and his strategic approach to rebuilding competence in old pastimes and skills has changed the way I pursue learning.

Be it through his various podcast appearances or book recommendations, David’s insight and wisdom are something I will routinely suggest to anyone who will listen.

Jack Holloway

 

Like many other testimonials on this website, I met David through my time at the University of Adelaide. David was a lecturer and tutor of mine in International Security, Strategic Studies and
Complex Problem Solving. In addition to these, David has been a personal mentor of mine for many years, for which I am very grateful. Despite having graduated in 2018, I continue to speak with David on a semi-regular basis and whenever I believe I’d benefit from his wisdom. To this day, I continue to be amazed by the quality and depth of David’s insights. David would be an invaluable asset to any organisation, and I would recommend him highly.

To be more specific, there are two pieces of wisdom David has imparted on me that I put to use every day throughout the course of my professional duties. The first of these teachings was to break down silos in order to optimise output. While this may not seem like a unique concept, as a third year university student, this professional concept was not one that I had been exposed to. I believe learning this skill early in my academic career held me in good stead upon entering the workforce. Whether the task at hand is to consult a wide range of stakeholders on an issue, develop or implement a novel policy, scrutinise legislation or simply provide general advice, the skill to break down silos and work across networks to achieve common goals has been invaluable. The second of David’s teachings that I utilise daily is the notion of maximising vs. satisficing. Again, while a simple concept in theory, this was mind-blowing for a university student with no prior professional experience.

While it may sound like an exaggeration, I do indeed use this skill every single day at work. This concept has shaped how I approach tasks and allows me to triage my work more effectively. In all my reading and professional development outside of work, I have not yet come across a similar concept. I am certain that without having taken David's courses at university, I would approach work and life very differently. I am also certain that I would not be the Commonwealth Officer I am without his teachings to bolster my thinking and approaches to work. I encourage all those reading this to employ David’s services whenever the need arises.

To be precise, I’d be more than happy to bet on the fact you absolutely will not regret requesting his second counsel on any conundrum you, your business, or your government agency may
face.

Jay
Former Student, University of Adelaide

 

David takes people with passion and energy and helps them to direct that into real action. He has a formidable grasp of diverse mental tools that you are able to use in order to be more effective in your life, and at a personal level cares about meeting you where you are and helping you specifically to discover and reach your goals. This level of engagement is invaluable and rare, and I cannot
recommend engaging with him highly enough.

My time in David’s classes in University and in our continuing relationship has been instrumental in making me who I am. Thanks in no small part to him, I feel prepared for whatever life throws at me, and fully in tune with who I am.

Xavier

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