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Your students will neither laugh as much nor get a heavy dose of real talk about student leadership from one speaker as much as they will from James Robilotta.

Having worked in higher education for 10 years, James can say he truly loves the crucial moment of growth when college students figure out why they are who they are, and he’s hitting campuses across the country to help them do just that through his leadership keynotes.

One thing students notice right away about James is his charismatic nature…and that’s when he’s got them! James’ background in improv comedy helps him riff with young people, making them feel more comfortable and building a rapport that comes quick and easy. Because his keynotes are thought-provoking, filled with self-awareness and laced with comedy that a college student can appreciate, James’ audiences stay engaged from beginning to end.

James was so REAL, and very down to earth. He radiated a genuine spirit that made the students feel they could share with him and related to him, and they did! There was a line of people waiting to talk with him and get photos taken with him afterward. It was like he was a Hollywood celebrity. It was wonderful to have him on campus--I am so glad he was available to come to our campus.

Kelly Ryan, Clarion University

Thanks for coming in. It was hilarious and inspirational at the same time!

Roger Maxwell, Student leader , New York Institute of Technology

I attended the Leadership Conference at Quinnipiac University and I wanted to thank you for your amazing presentation on authentic leadership. I found your presentation to be very candid, humorous, informative and inspiring! I will definitely take P.E.O.R.M back to my friends, peers and administrators as well as apply it to myself and my relationships with those around me! Thank you again for your time and teaching.

Shantia Hanna, Quinnipiac University

More Action, Less Title: Empowering Student Leaders To Do More

Congratulations on your new student leadership position! Being a student leader, however, is an action, not just a title. If you’re a new student leader who wants to take on your new role with gusto or a seasoned leader who wants to leave a meaningful legacy, you will leave James’ keynote with new energy and key concepts to increase retention, boost morale and help your organization do great things on campus that will continue beyond college! James believes “empowerment” has become a flippant term thrown around student organizations, but he will help leaders breathe new life into the act of empowering others by challenging them to do better through a three-part strategy: challenging, motivating and appreciating others.

As a student leader in college, James learned some unforgettable lessons that completely affected his life. He admits he took his position for granted, and shares some cautionary stories to help students avoid making the same mistakes he made. Leadership, though, can’t and shouldn’t be serious work all the time. With a background in stand-up comedy, James uses the right mix of humor and gravity to make his lessons tangible (i.e., anyone is capable of making mistakes) and memorable. He also likes to present quirky, made-up words to helps students place them into action, like PHEAM (Posture, Handshake, Energy, Attitude will make you Memorable), and valuable networking tips student leaders can use to make a lasting impression on potential members, colleagues and eventually future employers.

His unique combination of humor, personal experience and effective strategies provides a refreshing message for student leaders to do more in their role, and to do it with purpose, confidence and above all, fun. Book James today for your next student leadership event and/or retreat, new officer training and res life programming.

• Learn how appreciation leads to increased productivity and retention.
• Learn how to implement PHEAM (Posture, Handshake, Energy, and Attitude, will make you Memorable) to better motivate new members.
• Discover importance of challenging members to give them ownership over the success and/or failure of the group.

Leading Imperfectly

James starts off this galvanizing keynote by telling students about some of his food quirks, like how he eats Rice Krispies, and then he dives into some honest facts about his academically unimpressive undergraduate career. Here, he sets the stage for discussing what student members are hungry for from their leadership: a true sense of authenticity and well-meaning for their organization—not an untouchable hero, but a real person with flaws who can admittedly learn from mistakes, making them better equipped to lead with humility and cooperation. James definitely knows what he’s talking about in this keynote, because at some points in his college experience, he had to learn the hard way how to be that kind of leader.

In this keynote, James will ask students to think about leadership differently by considering this concept: authentic leadership is about using your experiences, your shortcomings and lessons learned to make yourself appear human to your followers so they feel more connected to you. In this manner, you earn far more respect and admiration than you would from trying to be a leader who is a flawless hero. In turn, the bonds you form are tighter and the greater the influence you can have on one another.

James helps students break down this concept by utilizing one of his trademark quirky acronyms PEORM: authentic leaders are Purposeful in their actions, they Empower others, Own who they are, are Real people and are Moral. He further defines the characteristics of an authentic leader by sharing his own experiences when he learned that leadership is not about being intangible nor flawless, personal stories that range from the hilarious to the tragic and life-altering.

Rather than dwelling on cliché leadership topics and merely reaffirming leadership talents, James’ keynote drives past all that and pushes students to bring their leadership skills to a level that they hardly considered, yet is easily within their grasp. His speaking style is highly interactive and inclusive, and James is not afraid to challenge students. He ensures everyone is present, playing an active role and asking nothing short of developing their own sense of authenticity, responsibility and success—while laughing and having a good time throughout. If you’re looking to revitalize the student leaders on your campus, think of this keynote for your next leadership workshop, retreat or conference, and it’s also ideal for new student orientation, res life, diversity and peer education training sessions.

• Learn the definition and application of “Authentic Leadership.”
• Discover the importance of being a leader who is purposeful, empowering, real and moral.
• Differentiate between being a hero and a role model (role models make and learn from mistakes instead of trying to be seen as flawless heroes).

Will They Make Fun of My Sheets?

Stepping on campus as a new student is an emotion-packed time. Am I going to fit in here? Are people going to make fun of my sheets? Is anyone going to date me? How do I study again? Am I the only one who is going to miss my parents? When students are faced with anxiety, they have two options: they can channel that energy towards fear or towards excitement. 

In this engaging keynote, James will energize first-year students and challenge them to grab their college experience by the horns. There are so many stereotypes out there about “the college experience” and new students are faced with a social pressure from all angles. As a student who was miserable and homesick during his first year of college, James later got involved on campus, fell in love with his school and went on to become a prominent student leader. In this keynote, James will share the stories of his freshman year, normalizing many of the emotions first-year students have. He will encourage new students to get involved on campus and challenge them to choose their own path in college. “Don’t choose the path others are taking,” says James.  “Leave a legacy.”

In typical James-style, he will have first-year students laughing and nodding their heads in agreement. This very personal keynote will challenge students to channel anxious energy toward excitement and to get involved! It’s the perfect option for a new student orientation event.

• Realize that feelings of homesickness, feeling alone, and being mentally lost are normal for first-year college students.
• Learn the importance of getting involved quickly at college to increase a sense of ownership and belonging.
• Learn verbal and non-verbal conversation techniques to have more productive first interactions, so that connections can be made more quickly.

James's Bio

James Robilotta grew up in Sayville, NY and attended the University of North Carolina, Wilmington for undergrad. After getting a B.S. in Marine Biology he then, naturally, earned his Masters of Counselor Education: Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education from Clemson University. While there he also became a proud brother of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

James worked as a student affairs professional for over 11 years in residential life and campus activities. James is now a professional speaker and a personal coach. James has been keynoting corporate and collegiate conferences and facilitating staff retreats since 2002, and has won “Top Program” honors on state, regional and national levels.

It is his firm belief that as leaders, it is not only your job to influence others, but it is also your job to let others influence you. He runs an authentic leadership blog/newsletter which can be read and subscribed to at or follow him on Twitter, @JamesTRobo.


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