To everyone who has written me a testimonial, I would like to say thank you very much. I am rarely short of words, but the kindness and thoughtfulness of your testimonials left me temporarily silent. Your testimonials will help people to find what I do, as well as providing them with different ways to appreciate the value of what I do, and I am very grateful for the time and effort you put into writing them for me. Your testimonials will be up on my testimonial page soon.
Several people have asked me what sort of things they should write to be most helpful, and I have said that they should write what feels right. If you have gained something valuable from studying with me at university, or from my consulting and mentoring, or from listening to me on a podcast (or the radio), then please consider writing me a testimonial. You can send your testimonial to me via the “Touch base with me” section on every page of my website.
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
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.
David has helped me enormously, both in his capacity as a university instructor and following my graduation.
As a lecturer of security studies, David was able to concisely present a wide array of topics and ideas. Through this my understanding of not only security, but also politics, philosophy, and the wider world was drastically expanded. This was a fantastic experience that greatly assisted me in the rest of my studies. Since finishing university, David has remained a valuable mentor and always has wise counsel to impart.
David’s wide range of knowledge means that he would be a great asset to any individual or organisation and I can recommend him highly.
The University of Adelaide.
“If you guys are going to takeaway 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.
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!
Former Student, University of Adelaide
I met David in my Honours year at the University of Adelaide where he agreed to be my supervisor for the International Studies Honours course, looking at Strategic Culture and Approaches and Issues in International Studies.
As my supervisor, David was an invaluable source of support and information. Throughout the year he assisted me, through explorative conversations and new critical thinking approaches, to look in-depth at the role of social capital in post-1945 European society. Through his teaching, he expanded my knowledge of essay writing, editing and constructing an academic argument, as well as my research skills and awareness of key experts in this field.
His supervision helped me construct a well-researched, in-depth piece of academic writing, which received a high mark, and gave me a deeper appreciation for the subject. David is an inspiration through his approach to life and the way he achieves his goals, and I was grateful for his guidance throughout the year.
David is highly skilled in critical thinking, coaching and communications. He would be able to assist any individual or group looking to expand their critical evaluations, hone messaging strategies or improve their written and verbal communication skills with positive outcomes.
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.
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.
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.”