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Physicist, Explosives Engineer, Soldier, Stand-Up Comedian and Astronaut Candidate

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Physicist, Explosives Engineer, Soldier, Comedian, Astronaut Candidate - one thing Josh Richards can never be accused of is being boring. After a decade of picking up booby traps with the Australian Army, slogging through mud with British Commandos, being science adviser to the richest artist in the world, and performing comedy wearing a giant koala suit to confused audiences around the world, Josh found his true calling in September 2012 when he discovered the Mars One project.

Current Work

Selected from over 200,000 initial applicants, Josh is currently one of 100 astronaut candidates short-listed for a one-way mission to Mars in 2031.

As an in-demand professional speaker, Josh’s storytelling makes for compelling & entertaining corporate keynote presentations on leadership, small-team dynamics, and the challenges of life in space that are certain to leave any audience with plenty to think about. With a natural talent for sharing science through stand-up comedy, he’s a passionate and highly-visible ambassador for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education, and his public science events and school visits inspire people of all ages to engage with science and discover the sky is not the limit.

Besides regularly writing articles on space science, engineering, psychology and culture on Patreon, he’s also the author of Becoming Martian - a humourous look at how colonising Mars will change our species in body, mind and soul.

Talking Points

Objective-based Leadership/Followership and Teambuilding

Drawing from expeditionary leadership training provided to astronauts as well as the experience of selecting astronauts for a non-conventional mission (eg. permanent settlement over exploration), this session looks at how the common perception of an astronaut’s “right stuff” is precisely the wrong approach to take for both long-duration space exploration and sustainable high performance teams on Earth.

Key takeaways include maintaining a fluid organisational command structure, forming flexible yet resilient teams, objective-based decision-making in high-risk environments, project management from first-principles, and risk mitigation.

The Future of Work

This session delves into the rapid changes already occurring in the modern workplace, how those changes are only the very beginning, and how we as a species need to re-examine the role that employment plays in defining our growing global culture.

Key takeaways include the exponential growth of automation, the future of money and data as the new global currency, the role of Universal Basic Income, why we have every reason to be optimistic about the future if we embrace change, and how we define ourselves as a species in a post-work future.

Sustainable Innovation Through Diversity and Gender-Equality

This session focuses on creating highly effective teams with the greatest diversity possible to tackle old problems in innovative ways, and aims to demonstrate that workplace diversity isn’t just a “nice to have” - it’s a necessity for all industries that wish to succeed.

Key takeaways include how nationalism sparked humanity’s first forays into space but today it’s preventing us going further than Low-Earth orbit; how the most effective & sustainable teams are also the most diverse in terms of culture, age, gender, and sexuality; balancing communication between diverse groups; innovation through multiple perspectives; and how having a woman be the first to step on Mars will benefit humanity exponentially more than having a man be first.
I had the pleasure to work with Josh when planning the ACS WA Gala Dinner in Perth, WA; where Josh was our Keynote Speaker and highlight of the night. Josh was not only delightful to deal from the very beginning and in the lead up to the event but also extremely fun, knowledgeable and engaging when he delivered his presentation on the night. Not one person didn't smile, learn and laugh that day, and Josh was the reason why! Our guests thoroughly enjoyed and complemented Josh's professionalism and sense of humor. I would 100% recommend Josh as a keynote speaker for any organisation looking for a unique, fun, knowledgeable and out-of-the-ordinary speaker who will no doubt leave a lasting, positive impression on anyone who meets him!” Australian Computer Society
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