The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Is a Narrow Focus on Group Identity Making It Harder for Us to Get Along? Yascha Mounk on Saving Our Democracy

The Identity Trap brings vital context to some of the most fraught and divisive debates of our time.Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard’s Alphonse Fletcher University Professor

“Group identities will always be a part of a diverse democracy. That’s perfectly fine and perfectly healthy,” Yascha tells Lavin. But when we start to see those identities as the only thing that defines us—that’s when we fall into what the Johns Hopkins professor calls “the identity trap.” When we’re in this trap, we wall ourselves off in our own echo chambers, convincing ourselves that politics is an “us vs. them” game, and we lose our ability to meet in the middle and make progress together.

But there is a way out. In his urgent and timely new book, The Identity Trap, Yascha “proposes an alternative to the ceaseless combat between ‘woke’ and ‘anti-woke’ extremes—one that takes seriously the enduring malignant legacy of systemic discrimination yet correctly identifies that universal values, not group solidarity, offer the surest path to justice, fairness, and enduring social peace” (New York Times columnist David French).

In compelling talks, Yascha shows us how to get out of the identity trap and come together for a future where we aren’t defined solely by the groups we’re in, but rather by the tastes and quirks that truly make us unique. He offers strategies for promoting healthy discussion without falling into extremism on either end—for example, “engage the reasonable middle rather than the loud extremes”—and shares practical takeaways that can help us move forward together.

“To build a better society, we must overcome the prejudices and enmities that have for so much of human history boxed us into the roles seemingly foreordained by our gender, our sexual orientation, or the color of our skin,” Yascha says. “We should keep striving for a society in which categories like race, gender, and sexual orientation matter a lot less than they do now because what each of us can accomplish—and how we all treat each other—no longer depends on the groups into which we were born.”

“Inclusive Leadership Is a Practice”: Daily Steps for Transforming Your Company Culture, from Minette Norman’s New Book

“Leaders set the tone for their organizations not only with their own behavior but also with what they reward, tolerate, or overlook,” Minette says. She’s experienced firsthand the power of championing diverse voices: she joined the male-dominated tech industry as a liberal arts major with no STEM background, and rose through the ranks to become VP of Engineering Practice at industry giant Autodesk (which makes the Oscar-winning animation software Maya). There, she successfully led 3500 software professionals—not despite her unique perspective, but because of it.

Minette previously co-authored The Psychological Safety Playbook (a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Health & Stress). Now, in The Boldly Inclusive Leader, she offers daily and weekly practices that you can use in your own organization to hone your leadership skills. For example:

  • Calling out the interruptions in meetings—even if you’re not the one facilitating;
  • Taking notes about your emotions and using them as data for your decisions;
  • Asking “What am I missing?” or “What have I not thought of?” when you share a point of view (and actually giving others time to respond).

“Inclusive leadership is a practice, and every day provides a new opportunity to model inclusive behavior,” Minette tells Lavin. “Like any practice you may have in your life, you improve over time, but that doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes or experience frustrations along the way. When you commit to inclusive leadership, you incorporate the practice into your daily work.”

That “Flaw” Holding You Back? It’s the Key to Your Competitive Edge. “40 Under 40” Business Prof Laura Huang

You don’t need to change yourself in order to succeed, says Laura Huang. You can use everything about yourself (even the things you think are flaws!) to get a competitive advantage. A star business professor at Northeastern (previously at Harvard and Wharton), Laura has developed a unique four-step process to make your hard work work harder for you:

  1. Enrich: Providing value to others—and communicating that value to them too;
  2. Delight: Convincing others to take a step back and actually listen to you;
  3. Guide: Understanding and redirecting the perceptions that others have of you;
  4. Effort: Working hard—and putting that hard work into the right things.

In talks, she uses real-life examples from her own research to show you how you can flip negative perceptions and other obstacles on their head. For instance, she teaches you how to map your own “trajectory” instead of letting others assume your future potential, using examples like the non-native speaker who rose from receptionist to analyst at Goldman Sachs and the entrepreneur whose time spent in prison became the heart behind his business’s story.

“Guide the perceptions that others have of you. Make your own privilege,” Laura says. “That is ultimately how you get more out of your hard work.”

Fighting Bias is Your Organization’s Superpower: Jessica Nordell, Author of The End of Bias

Even the most well-intentioned teams and leaders have “unexamined bias,” says Jessica Nordell. It makes us treat others in unfair ways on the basis of gender, race, and more, and it keeps us from unlocking our full potential as an organization. “People behave in discriminatory ways all the time,” Jessica says. “But it’s important to remember that they want to do the right thing.” And when we recognize our bias, we can work on eliminating it—and propel ourselves and our companies to greater heights.

In her talks and workshops, Jessica draws on her decade of research for her book, showing you how to identify and fight bias in your workplace to increase productivity, teamwork, and performance. Among many other things, she discusses:

  • Multiple case studies, including a law firm that saw a 70% growth in revenue after reducing gender bias.
  • How working against bias creates an environment where employees are more engaged, happier, and have greater trust within their teams—directly improving client relationships.
  • Why leadership buy-in is essential for long-term positive change.

A well-respected speaker on diversity, organizational culture, and of course bias, Jessica speaks without blame or shame, focusing on the practical steps you can take today to reduce bias and find success. “If we want to have better employee engagement, less turnover, more dynamic and productive employees,” she says, “then we need to think about this seriously and take steps to combat it.”

The Best Outcome for Black Women Is the Best for Us All: Anna Gifty, Editor of The Black Agenda

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is the editor of the seminal The Black Agenda, the first book to feature Black experts highlighting injustices, and their solutions, in different policy areas (like climate, technology, healthcare, and more). It’s an essential guidebook for social justice that Kirkus called “an inclusive, edifying, often fiery assembly of voices articulating the way forward for Black America—and America in general.” She’s also the co-founder of the renowned Sadie Collective, where Black women in STEM can share resources, network, and advocate for broader visibility in the field.

A leading voice in social justice, she believes that crafting policies that center our most vulnerable is key to creating a more just society for everyone. In talks, Anna translates her studies and experiences into actionable strategies for the workplace and beyond.

“We have a chance still to uplift one another without leaving anyone behind,” says Anna. “But that requires that we break from the lockstep of inaction and enter a new dance floor, perhapsone characterized by progress, promise, and preparation for a future that includes all of us, regardless of where we come from, and where we decide to go.”

Turn Collaboration Into “Creative Chemistry”: Fmr. Nike Chief Marketing Officer Greg Hoffman

Two all-important questions are the key to breakthrough innovation and unlocking your company’s full potential, says Greg Hoffman: “What if? And why not?” During his three decades at Nike, Greg worked his way up from intern to Chief Marketing Officer, fostering a space that allowed for groundbreaking ideas to flourish. How? By encouraging imagination, treating creativity “as a team sport,” and recognizing that “innovation happens in the intersections.”

“Diversity is the oxygen that breathes life into the creative process, and curiosity is the rocket fuel,” says Greg. But to build diverse and curious dream teams, you need to create the right environment. You must embrace everyone’s creative capacity. Only when employees can freely share their ideas can you build a culture like Nike’sa culture that innovates.

In talks, Greg empowers you and your team to achieve your creative potential and dare to be remembered. “You need to connect what you sell with what the world needs,” Greg says. He offers real examples and practical lessons from his groundbreaking career, showing you how to develop your creative leadership and build teams that make a real impact.

Leadership Lessons from Hollywood Super-Producer Lynda Obst: “Project Calm, so Nobody Makes the Fire Bigger”

What do a business leader and a Hollywood producer have in common? Surprisingly, a lot! “You have to project control of the filmmaking process, and then it’s not going to run off the rails,” says Lynda Obst. “And that’s like the basic competency of a CEO.”

A celebrated Hollywood producer with more than 16 hit films under her belt, Lynda knows how to lead in unimaginably high-pressure situations. She’s helmed films like Contact and The Fisher King and worked with stars like Tom Hanks and Robin Williams, and the lessons she’s learned from her incredible career are widely applicable to any company—including yours.

In talks, Lynda pulls back the curtain on the star-studded world of Hollywood, offering practical lessons and fascinating anecdotes to show you how you can lead and build trust in high-stakes environments. She draws on her bestseller Hello, He Lied, a modern classic about getting ahead in any business, to show you how to swim with the sharks and live to tell the tale. She explains why you shouldn’t do everything your studio (or your boss) says, how you can keep massive teams motivated for long periods of time, why you need to have multiple projects on the go while you work on your passion project, and so much more.

Making the Most of Your Most Limited Resource (Time!): Bestselling Author Cassie Holmes

If you’ve ever complained about not having enough hours in the day, Cassie Holmes has good news for you: you already have all the time you need. You just need to rethink what you’re investing it in.

Cassie’s bestseller Happier Hour, which was named to Amazon’s Top 20 Business Books of the Year, is a research-backed guide to building a schedule that is both full and fulfilling. It’s a much-needed antidote to the over-filled schedules that many of us face. We don’t have to sacrifice our wellbeing for productivity, Cassie says—we can actually have both, if we use our time well.

In talks, Cassie draws on her book to give you scientific strategies for making the most out of your time. She’ll show you how to make the time you spend on chores or commuting actually enjoyable, how to “time craft” your schedule around the things that really matter, how to use a “purpose filter” to identify what’s most important, and much more. Her insights are vital—both for individuals looking to become more productive and find purpose, and for leaders who want to get the best out of the people they lead.

“My research has revealed that happiness has agency,” Cassie says. “Happiness is a choice. Every hour of every day.”

The Art and Science (and Everything Else!) of Creativity: Five Perspectives from Lavin Speakers to Help You Unlock Innovation

Want to Make Your Brain More Creative? Try Being Bored

Letting your mind wander is how you start generating your best ideas, says neuroscientist Heather Berlin. As host of PBS Nova’s Your Brain—which broke the live viewership record for any Nova premiere on YouTube—Heather explains how you can change your environment to “hack” your brain, become more creative, and get the most out of yourself and your team.

Watch Heather explain why trying to force creativity never works.

“Don’t Chase Cool”

The most creative brands don’t pursue flashy ideas, says Greg Hoffman, but rather stay true to themselves and their vision. Greg draws from his almost 30 years at Nike, during which he rose through the ranks from intern to Chief Marketing Officer. He shows how to encourage creativity in your teams and help the daydreamers propel your organization to radical innovation.

Watch Greg explain why a Dream Team needs everyone’s ideas.

Keep Your Ideas Fluid for as Long as Possible

During her 20 fast-paced years as Cirque du Soleil’s Artistic Director, Caitlan Maggs helped countless massive and diverse productions produce their best work. Your ideas may be good, she says, but don’t freeze them too early—because they could be great. With fascinating anecdotes, she explains how you can develop a framework of creativity in any organization

Watch Caitlan speak about the Cirque’s creative collaboration.

Your Most Creative Ideas Come After You Get Stuck

Running into creative roadblocks can be discouraging. But Adam Alter says the ideas that come easily aren’t as good as we think—we get our best ideas after we meet (and overcome) obstacles. And there are ways to speed up that process. Adam’s new book, Anatomy of a Breakthrough, is a practical guide for individuals and teams on unleashing your full creative potential.

Watch Adam discuss Pixar’s “Black Sheep” strategy for building diverse, creative teams.

The Secret to Creativity? It’s About Discipline

Eddie Huang has never hesitated to break the mold. He’s a celebrity chef who changed the NYC food scene forever, the bestselling author of the memoir-turned-sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, and the writer and director of multiple feature films. But the secret to this explosive creativity isn’t simply defying the rules, he says. It’s about having the discipline to create your own rules and stay true to yourself.

Watch Eddie explain the only valid reason to do creative work.

Finding Purpose in a World on Fire: Lavin’s Climate Speakers on Winning the Fight for the Future of Our Planet

The Future of Our Planet Is Still Under Our Control—For Now

The climate crisis isn’t on the horizon anymore. It’s already transforming everything from where we live to what we eat, faster than we could have anticipated. “This is a story of a scale that we only used to understand in mythology,” says David Wallace-Wells. David is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Uninhabitable Earth and an NYT columnist whose newsletter explores the many facets of climate and the future, from billowing wildfire smoke to the rising bipartisan support for clean energy. The climate crisis has already changed our world forever, he says, but we can still salvage our future—if we act now.

Read David’s article on the rising bipartisan support for clean energy for The New York Times: “I don’t want to be naïve. But the partisan landscape may be finally changing, indeed somewhat significantly.”

Watch an exclusive Lavin video of David on the three things we get wrong about the climate crisis: “Everything we know about human civilization, human culture, has been built and developed in a climate system that we have now left behind.”



Your Climate Anxiety Is the Key to Real Change

Worries about the climate have never been more widespread, but Britt Wray has good news: your “eco-distress” is actually the key to finding purpose and fighting for the planet. This dynamic speaker and author of Generation Dread was just named Director of Stanford’s Special Initiative for Climate Change and Mental Health, and has spoken alongside the likes of Yuval Noah Harari, Al Gore, and Jane Goodall. She shows us how embracing our anxiety and wrestling through our messy emotions—”rolling up your sleeves, getting clear-eyed, being convicted and courageous”—is how we create the conditions to have real hope.

Read this TIME article where Britt is interviewed about the mental and physical effects of heatwaves: “We have a mental health crisis within the climate crisis that we need to get ahead of before too many of these events add up.”

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Britt: “It’s possible to develop more flexible ways of relating to the crisis that aren’t about splitting it off into doom vs. naively optimistic. That gray zone is where the most strength can be mined from”

Creativity Is a Skill You Can Learn: Lavin Welcomes Caitlan Maggs, Former Cirque du Soleil Artistic Director

As the former Artistic Director of Cirque du Soleil, the largest contemporary circus in the world, Caitlan worked on almost every groundbreaking show from 2000 to 2020. Out of over 4000 employees from over 50 countries, she’s one of only a handful of experts who have contributed to the Cirque’s creative process at such a high level and on so many shows. She led all the artistic coaches and coaching, working with her team to choreograph the acrobatic acts for all the shows, and taught creativity to world-class Olympians to transform them from athletes into artists.

Her two decades at the Cirque have taught her what it takes to develop creativity and foster collaboration in intense, high-pressure environments. Creativity not only helps us innovate better, Caitlan says, it also helps us to boost resilience and stay open to changing circumstances. “In today’s world of constant change, creativity has never been more important,” she says.

In her talks, Caitlan demonstrates the power of creativity and shows you practical ways to develop it in yourself and your teams. Drawing on her unique experience, she shows you how to balance the freedom and structure you need to be creative; how to maximize the creative potential of teams of all sizes; and how to leverage creativity to develop cutting-edge ideas.

How to Get Unstuck: Adam Alter’s New Book Is a Roadmap to Creativity and Success

Everyone feels stuck, whether you’re wrestling through a difficult project or trying to mend a friendship. “People believe that stuckness is inevitable,” says Adam Alter. “And it is—but it turns out to be surmountable.” A New York Times bestselling author and TED mainstage speaker, Adam has spent the past two decades learning how to overcome the forces that keep us stuck, escape our inertia, unleash our full creative potential, and reach our long-term goals.

Adam’s highly anticipated new book Anatomy of a Breakthrough is already winning critical raves and media attention. “I loved it,” says Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the NYU marketing professor weaves together scientific studies and practical strategies to show how we can flourish in the face of friction. Along the way, he draws lessons from the soccer player who sacrifices the first few minutes of a game in order to win the rest, the “black sheep” method that Pixar uses to boost the innovation of an entire team, the “real-life Dr. House” whose checklists bring him 75% of the way to a breakthrough, and much more.

“Getting stuck and searching for breakthroughs feels messy and unpredictable,” Adam tells Lavin. “But just like building a house or putting together a jigsaw puzzle, there’s a series of steps that together enable you to manufacture breakthroughs and to shrink periods of friction. Anatomy of a Breakthrough is that roadmap.”

Read about Adam’s book in The New York Times: “A wonderful concept. Anatomy of a Breakthrough tackles the internal factors that keep you mired in the mud [and] provides a primer on changing ingrained habits.”

Listen to Adam on Harvard Business Review‘s IdeaCast: “Small bursts of action, even if they’re not themselves directly productive, are great unsticking mechanisms. Just the act of acting itself is one of the best unstickers.”

And watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Adam where he explains how ChatGPT can serve as an “agent of chaos” and help you unlock your best ideas:

What Does ChatGPT Mean for Democracy and the Future of Creativity? Kate Crawford and Stephen Marche Explain

ChatGPT Isn’t Magic. We Can—and Must—Understand It

ChatGPT is “an exponential disruption,” says Kate Crawford. As a leading researcher and the author of Atlas of AI—which Nature called “meticulously researched and superbly written”—Kate has been on the cutting edge of AI for two decades. Her incisive and timely perspective has made her a go-to voice across the media. She says that generative AI is going to mark a fundamental shift in the way we see the world: it will revolutionize how we view not only tech, but everything from media to democracy. But it’s not magic. We have to understand how it works today if we want to tap into its massive potential and build the future we want.

Listen to Kate on Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast: “We get so impressed by the ‘magic’ of the system that we don’t look at what it takes to make these things work: data at scale, an enormous amount of natural resources, and a lot of labor.”

Listen to Kate on Pivot, with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway: “We need a rapid increase in literacy, and it’s not just going to be about focusing narrowly on the tech. It’s going to be about looking at what this does to the public sphere, to the media, to democracy.”


The First Generative AI Novel—and the Future of Creativity

If you ask ChatGPT to write a novel, are you the creator or the consumer? Stephen Marche says you’re both. He was profiled in The New York Times last month for “writing” the first ever fully-AI-generated novella, Death of an Author, by extensively prompting three different generative AI programs. Stephen is a novelist with a PhD in Shakespeare who’s been following and writing about AI for years in outlets like The New Yorker and The Atlantic. He has a unique understanding of how the line between human and machine is blurring, and why the arts, the humanities, and human creativity are more important now than ever before.

Read about Stephen in The New York Times: “I am the creator of this work, 100 percent. But, on the other hand, I didn’t create the words.”

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Stephen: “The Big Blur is coming: where the line between human and machine, and the line between creating and consuming, will blur. We’re going to start to figure out where human beings are actually required.”

Five Ways to Use ChatGPT (Effectively!) Today—Plus, the Speaker Who Can Help Your Company Become “AI First”

Becoming an “AI-First” Company

Just like the internet brought businesses into the Digital First and then Mobile First models, rapid advances in AI are quickly bringing us into an “AI First” era. Lavin’s newest speaker Justin Reilly is the CEO of Wavelo and former Head of Product at Verizon, where he led a multi-billion-dollar digital transformation with machine learning at its core. When you build AI into the heart of what you do, Justin says, you’ll be able to trust your systems more, scale faster and better, and give your customers what they actually want.


The Five Steps to Using ChatGPT Effectively at Work

You can transform your organization into a more efficient, creative, and innovative version of itself through the power of generative AI—and it only takes five steps. But the trick is: you have to do all fiveRadhika Dirks is a visionary AI expert, one of Forbes’s 30 Women in AI to Watch and CEO of the world’s first AI moonshot factory. Her Five Step Method to introducing generative AI into your organization (any organization) will give you a peek into this rapidly developing world, and help you build an organization that thrives today and well into the future.

How Can Retailers Win the AI Revolution? With “Beautifully Human” Creativity. Lavin’s Doug Stephens, Retail Futurist

Generative AI will be no less game-changing for society in general—and retailers in particular—than the internet itself, says Doug Stephens. As the founder of the global consultancy Retail Prophet and the bestselling author of The Retail Revival and Resurrecting Retail, Doug has unparalleled insight into how AI is going to transform every industry, including yours. More than that, he proves that in an age of AI, investing in “deliciously irrational, beautifully human, and insanely inventive creativity” will give us the edge we need for success.

“Companies today sit on the frontier of a technology revolution that will make them the beneficiaries of billions of dollars in savings in their workforce costs,” Doug tells us. “Some of those companies will be predictably nearsighted and push those savings directly to their bottom line or their shareholders’ pockets. Smart companies, however, will invest in creative and dynamic human beings who bring innovative thinking, empathy and creative energy to the brand and its customer experience. Because the world is going to need a lot fewer lawyers, consultants, engineers and accountants and a lot more dreamers, makers and born risk-takers.”

Doug also sat down with Lavin recently to give us a preview of his new talk on the forgotten backbone of our economy: the global supply chain system that affects every company, whether retail or otherwise. Our current supply chain system hasn’t changed in decades—and Doug argues that today is the perfect time to reimagine what’s possible and unlock a new, unprecedented competitive advantage.

Watch our exclusive full-length interview with Doug, in which he explains how we can rebuild our supply chains to create a sustainable and successful future. (37 min)

The Secret to Breaking Rules and Finding Creativity? It’s All About Discipline. Lavin Welcomes Eddie Huang

Eddie Huang has never hesitated to step outside the mainstream. He first broke onto the cultural scene with his Taiwanese restaurant Baohaus, which he opened to tell an underrepresented story through food. He went on to write Fresh Off the Boat, the bestselling memoir which The New York Times called “a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all,” which was then adapted into the hit sitcom of the same name that featured the first all-Asian American cast on network TV in two decades. He hosted Huang’s World for Vice, and has written and directed multiple feature films.

But the secret to this incredible creativity and daring isn’t simply defying the rules that don’t work for you. “If you don’t like the rules of the world—cool! Be an iconoclast,” Eddie tells us. “But you have to create your own rules. That is your responsibility.”

In his smart and hilarious talks, Eddie shows how you can build the discipline and self-leadership to succeed wherever you are. The insights he offers from his dynamic and wide-ranging career are invaluable no matter who you are—whether you’re a leader looking to increase the creativity of your organization, an educator hoping to inspire and motivate students, or a student interested in pursuing your dreams and forging your own path. Eddie will show you how to find success and tap into high performance and creativity, all while embracing your differences and staying true to yourself.

Watch a Lavin-exclusive interview with Eddie about diversity, the Asian American community, and what the next steps are for achieving real equity and justice in America:

What Leaders and Parents Need to Know About Young People Today: Lavin Welcomes Dr. Laurence Steinberg

Larry Steinberg—one of my favorite thinkers and writers—offers clear, cogent answers to all the questions you’re wrestling with right now. —Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit

What it means to be a young adult today is radically different than it was only a generation ago. Many parents of children in their 20s and 30s—and leaders with Millennial or Gen Z employees—are wondering how to guide the next generation in a world that’s so different from when they were younger.

Dr. Laurence Steinberg knows how. He’s one of the world’s leading developmental psychologists and author of the forthcoming You and Your Adult Child. It’s an “empowering, invaluable guide” (NYT bestselling author Jessica Lahey) that benefits everyone in every domain of life—because developing good parent-child relationships at home will make you more fulfilled, purposeful, and productive at work.

In his book and his talks, Laurence covers topics like whether you should subsidize your child’s income, when and how to give advice, how to tell if your child or employee is floundering or flourishing, and much more. For example, he explains why you can’t compare your child’s progress to your own progress at that age—it takes 5 years longer for young people today to enter into the different stages of adulthood. His talks are crucial for people on both sides of the generation gap, as well as anyone looking to build stronger cross-generational relationships and teams.

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview where Laurence explains why young people today are graduating, moving out, and getting married later than any previous generation:

Ordinary People Make Extraordinary Change: Lavin Welcomes James Kirchick, Bestselling Author of Secret City

There has never been a book like Secret City. Lauded as the most important work of gay history in decades, it surveys the broad sweep of 20th century American politics through a gay lens. The Washington Examiner said that “It is, in many ways, one of the most human works of history written this decade so far. Secret City has raised the bar for the genre.”

James expertly brings the era and the characters to life with vivid anecdotes and meticulous research, introducing us to ordinary people who fought for acceptance out of the public eye. He shows us how to stand up for our right to express ourselves freely, and how to use freedom of expression as “the greatest tool oppressed minorities have to secure their equal place in society.”

James is an award-winning journalist and essayist, whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a columnist for Tablet Magazine and a contributing writer for Air Mail.

Watch James discuss the historical contributions of LGBTQ+ Americans on Good Morning America: