The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Eight Speakers for Your World Mental Health Day Event: From Finding Purpose, to Leveraging Your Anxiety

Self-Compassion Is Your Secret Superpower

How do you boost motivation, persevere longer, and become a better performer? The answer is simple, says Kristin Neff: be kind to yourself. The UT Austin professor, who pioneered the field of self-compassion, shares simple and actionable strategies from her bestselling books to help you harness this superpower. Her science-based guidance shows you how to bolster resilience and transform how you work and live.

Watch Kristin’s TEDx talk on self-esteem and self-compassion.


The Skill of “Deep Curiosity” Is Your Key to Connection and Creativity

“Deep curiosity” is our compass to navigating differences, sidestepping negative behaviors, and controlling anxiety, says Scott Shigeoka. Drawing from his research at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and his eagerly awaited book Seek, Scott shows us how to practice transformative curiosity and develop better workplace teams and personal relationships. When we harness the power of curiosity, we can bridge the disparities we encounter and foster a more inclusive world.

Watch Scott explain how “deep curiosity” differs from shallow curiosity.



Leading Others Starts with Leading—and Talking to—Yourself

The voice inside your head can be your worst critic—but it can also be your best coach, says Ethan Kross, bestselling author of Chatter and University of Michigan professor. In talks, the award-winning psychologist reveals practical steps to becoming your own coach, taking control of the conversations you have with yourself, boosting motivation, overcoming impostor syndrome, and gaining an edge.

Watch Ethan talk about how to stop your inner voice from being cruel.



Anxiety Feels Bad, but It’s Actually Good for You

Anxiety is uncomfortable. But it’s also a vital tool that helps us plan for a hopeful future, says psychologist Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, author of Future Tense. Through a new framework for anxiety, real-world examples, and groundbreaking research, Tracy helps us see anxiety (which is just a natural response to uncertainty!) as a tool we can leverage rather than be overwhelmed by—sparking boundless change.

Watch Tracy break down the three steps to using anxiety to your advantage.



The Four Pillars of Meaning Can Help You Find Purpose

Finding our purpose can be transformative, and Emily Esfahani Smith is on a mission to show us how. Drawing from her book The Power of Meaning, she reveals the “four pillars” that can help you develop motivation and grace. In her inspiring talks (like her popular TED Talk with over 5M views!), she offers actionable strategies that help you find meaning in your day-to-day and thrive at work and beyond.

Watch Emily’s viral TED Talk on the power of finding meaning.



In the Story of Your Life, Are You a Side Character—or the Hero?

Don’t let your story be told for you—take control of it, says Lori Gottlieb. The instant New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and renowned psychotherapist, Lori offers a unique perspective on how we navigate our mental health. If the story you’re telling about your life, your relationships, or your purpose is keeping you stuck—then it’s time for a change.

Watch Lori’s TED Talk on how changing your story can change your life.



Happiness, or Success? Good News: You Don’t Have to Choose

You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness when chasing success, says Dan Lerner. In fact, putting your well-being first helps you do better at work and in life. Dan is a positive psychologist and creator of NYU’s most popular elective, “The Science of Happiness.” His electric talks spark real change in how we see the world, proving that we must prioritize our well-being to unlock our full potential.

Watch Dan talk about how “harmonious passion” is the key to a happier life.



Music Isn’t Just Art. It’s a Tool for Hope and Healing

Music is medicine, says Vijay Gupta—it’s a powerful tool for human well-being. A MacArthur Genius and TED mainstager, Vijay is the founder of Street Symphony, an organization bringing music and art to America’s most disadvantaged communities. “A riveting speaker” (The New Yorker), Vijay shows us the creative ways to revitalize our sense of hope and belonging even in the face of inequality.

Watch Vijay’s TED Talk on how music can spark hope and change the world.



Unlock the Power of “Deep Curiosity” for Greater Connections: Lavin Welcomes Scott Shigeoka, Author of Seek

“Curiosity has the power to transform your life and change the world,” says Scott Shigeoka, a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. “It’s a critical practice for your relationships, leadership, and life satisfaction.”

Curiosity is a spectrum, Scott says. Deep curiosity, the type that leads to more powerful connections, doesn’t just increase your understanding of others—it can also sharpen your creativity and collaboration skills, provide an antidote to fear and anxiety, and help you find common ground across differences.

In his inspiring talks, Scott shares the “DIVE” model he developed to target the “four core muscles” that help us nurture deep curiosity and transform our relationships:

• Detach—Let go of your ABCs (assumptions, biases, certainty);
• Intend—Prepare your mindset and setting;
• Value—See the dignity of every person (including yourself);
• Embrace—Welcome the hard times in your life.

For his forthcoming book, Seek, Scott went on a journey across America, exploring why there is so much division—and more importantly, how we can heal. In talks, he pairs powerful stories with 10+ practical strategies to help individuals and groups harness the power of deep curiosity.

“If you want a less anxious workforce, if you want leaders who are respected, if you want to be healthier and happier—curiosity is your ticket,” Scott tells Lavin.

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Scott: “There’s a difference between being curious for pub trivia next week and the kind of curiosity that actually changes your life in a profound way.”

A Top-Ten Apple Podcast: The Brain, Our Daily Lives and AI on David Eagleman’s Inner Cosmos

David Eagleman has been called “the kind of guy who really does make being a neuroscientist look like fun” by The New York Times. He’s a popular TED mainstage speaker. He’s been profiled in the New Yorker. He hosted the Emmy-nominated PBS series The Brain. And he’s the national bestselling author of several books, including Incognito and, most recently, Livewired, a look at brain plasticity that Kirkus called “outstanding popular science.” In talks, David offers unique and accessible insights into everything from neuroscience and creativity, to our future in an AI-dominated world, and beyond.

In Inner Cosmos, David employs captivating storytelling, meticulous research, dynamic interviews, and exciting experiments—helping us understand ourselves, and others, better.

Among many topics, he answers the questions:

  • Is AI truly intelligent? And is it intelligent in the same way humans are? Traditional intelligence tests are ineffective, so David proposes a new test to help us better answer this question.
  • Will writers, artists, and musicians find themselves replaced by AI? (Hint: they won’t!) What are the new capabilities and opportunities emerging instead?
  • How does your brain decide what to buy? How is your decision-making influenced by price, emotions, or your friends? (Turns out, all three play a huge part!)

This podcast is more than just a reflection of David’s expertise—it’s a testament to his exceptional ability to narrate the wonders of the human brain.

Two New AI Talks from the TED Mainstage: Lavin speakers on Education, the Brain, and New Technologies. Watch Now!

The fusion of our minds with technology is not science fiction—it’s today’s reality. At TED, Nita Farahany discussed the enormously disruptive potential of neurotechnology. (Think brain-sensing devices that track productivity and health, among other things). “We just might address everything from neurological disease and suffering to creating transformational possibilities for the human experience,” Nita says. In tandem with the literally endless applications and opportunities, we must also advocate for greater awareness, stronger laws, and stricter guidelines—we must fight for our “cognitive liberty.”

Watch the TED Talk here: “We can and should be hopeful and deliberate about the choices we make now, to secure a right to self-determination over our brains and mental experiences.”


AI isn’t going to destroy education—it’s going to save it. As the world discusses the destructive potential of AI, Sal Khan, founder of the ground-breaking Khan Academy, is unlocking its ability to support student and teacher success. In his eye-opening TED Talk, Sal reveals Khanmigo, the AI tutor developed for Khan Academy, and its solution to a global education problem. With real examples, Sal showcases AI’s powerful ability to accelerate learning. “The most poetic use case is if AI can be used to enhance HI: human intelligence, human potential, and human purpose.”

Watch the TED Talk here: “We’re at the cusp of using AI for probably the biggest positive transformation that education has ever seen.”

Understanding Our History Is the Catalyst for Real Change: Lavin Welcomes #1 NYT Bestselling Author Clint Smith

“Clint Smith moves seamlessly between past and present, revealing how slavery is remembered and misremembered—and why it matters.” — Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted

“We talk about slavery as if it was this thing that existed when the dinosaurs were around,” says Clint Smith, a staff writer for The Atlantic. “But there are people alive today who knew, loved, and were raised by people who were born into chattel slavery.”

For his acclaimed #1 bestseller How the Word Is Passed, Clint travelled across the country to eight landmarks in the United States and one abroad to investigate how each tells the story of its relationship with slavery. Through vivid reporting and fascinating interviews at sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation and a cemetery for Confederate soldiers, he shows us how the marks of slavery continue to shape the physical world around us—and how we can start telling a more truthful story for the future.

How the Word Is Passed is a “beautifully written, evocative, and timely meditation on the way slavery is commemorated in the United States” (Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed). It “deftly connects the past, hiding in plain sight, with today’s lingering effects” (NPR) and “frees history, frees humanity to reckon honestly with the legacy of slavery” (Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist).

“There are people who would prefer that we don’t tell these stories, because they don’t want to have to tell different stories about themselves,” Clint tells Lavin. “But that’s part of what it means to be human: who we understood ourselves to be 10 years ago is different than who we understand ourselves to be now. And that’s not something to be scared of. That’s a chance that we’ve been given—to constantly become a better, more thoughtful version of ourselves. And engaging with history represents a real opportunity to do so.”

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Clint: “Monuments are not the endgame. Monuments are symbols that reflect the stories that communities and countries are telling about themselves.”

“Talent” Doesn’t Predict Performance. Grit Does. Psychologist Dr. Danny Southwick

Talent doesn’t predict world-class performance. But the mundane daily struggle of training, working on your weaknesses, finding a coach who can help you be the best you can become? That’s what enables people to unlock their potential.” Danny Southwick

Do you want the people you lead to become more resilient, more persistent, and better at taking risks? Then stop using the word “talent,” says Danny Southwick. He’s worked closely with fellow Lavin speaker Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit and the pioneer of the field, to understand what actually predicts high performance. In a recent paper with Angela, he proved that simply referring to someone’s ability as skill instead of talent helps them develop a growth mindset, achieve more, and work better on a team.Practice and perseverance allowed Danny to break state records in high school, and, after an adventurous college career, sign with the Oakland Raiders. His passion for high performance prompted him to earn an MBA and then a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, investigating how we can adjust the way we talk about ability to get the most out of ourselves and our teams.In talks, Danny draws on his career as a star quarterback and as a psychologist to show you the best way to practice in order to increase your skills quickly (not all practice is equally effective!), how to instill a growth mindset in your whole organization, and how to ditch the vague buzzwords and avoid the “talent trap.”


Lavin Welcomes Prominent Black Trans Activist Raquel Willis: Race, Gender, and the “Painter’s Palette” of Intersectionality

“LGBTQ+ folks aren’t some hypothetical person in your audience that you need to pander to,” says Raquel Willis. “Your company actually has these folks internally. So there’s a shift in culture that needs to be happening.”

In inspiring talks for Pride, Black History Month, DEI events, and much more, Raquel draws on her singular experience—encapsulated in her forthcoming memoir, The Risk It Takes to Bloom—to show how we can achieve real belonging in the workplace for everyone. She explains what she calls “the three C’s” of real DEI: commitment, culture, and content (and a caveat). She demonstrates why you need to develop a company culture of real inclusion and solidarity, and shows you practical ways to ensure everyone at your organization can be their true self and do their best work.

This trailblazing Black trans activist grew up in the South, in a Catholic family. Over the course of her groundbreaking career, she’s become a crucial voice in the conversation around the intersections of gender and race and the fight for true diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to her positions at the Ms. Foundation and Out Magazine, she was the national organizer for the Transgender Law Center and has contributed to several anthologies including Ibram X. Kendi’s Four Hundred Souls.

“I want people to walk away with a curiosity about how the world could be better,” Raquel tells Lavin.

Watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Raquel, where she explains how we can use our different interests as a “painter’s palette” in our fight for equity.

7 Steps to Implementing AI in Your Company: Lavin Welcomes Former Amazon Exec Michelle Lee

“AI is the most transformative technology of our generation,” says Michelle K. Lee, “and it’s ripe for application now.” Michelle has a wealth of experience from the highest levels of both industry and government. She has held executive positions at tech giants Google and Amazon—she was Vice-President of the Machine Learning Solutions Lab at Amazon Web Services, where she helped companies identify and implement their most impactful AI opportunities. On the government side, she was the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where she brought AI and data analytics to the 200-year-old, 10,000-person agency.

Her unique and varied experience allows her to cut through the hype around AI, bringing the high-level talk down to reality with concrete examples and practical strategies for every industry—including yours. Drawing on her years of experience, she’s developed a 7-step process that any company can use to incorporate AI and outperform their competitors: starting from developing a data strategy and identifying your highest ROI opportunities, all the way to retraining, updating, and maintaining your AI tools.

“Even the most AI-forward companies are only just scratching the surface on using AI in their businesses,” Michelle says. “AI solutions get better over time and with more data—so the time to get started is now.”

Watch a Lavin-exclusive video where Michelle explains how data and AI helped Domino’s Pizza revolutionize their customer experience and get ahead of the competition.

Technologies Like AI Will Reshape Society. Let’s Make Sure Everyone Prospers. MIT Economist Daron Acemoglu’s New Book

Power and Progress is the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead.”
— Shoshana Zuboff, bestselling author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

In an age of ChatGPT and increasing automation, we must choose to take control of these technologies and build a more just and democratic world, says Daron Acemoglu. He’s the bestselling co-author of Why Nations Fail—the blockbuster book on why strong institutions are the often-overlooked key to strong democracies—and his new book Power and Progress (out now!) is a hopeful look at the future of technology and a roadmap for the work ahead.

Daron argues that although technology has historically been used to serve an elite few, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use new tools like AI to bolster our economy, build up our democracy, and drive social progress for a more equitable world. “This is not a lament about the future being bad,” he says. “What makes this interesting is that the direction of technology is malleable—so we can redirect it.”

This bold reinterpretation of history and economics is already drawing accolades across the media, from WIRED to Financial Times. Along with co-author Simon Johnson, Daron gives us a sweeping overview of the last 1000 years of technological progress, drawing lessons from history to show what we need to do today to “ensure the rising tide of innovation lifts all boats” (Publishers Weekly).

Lavin’s Hua Hsu Wins 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Stay True—His Book on Friendship, Pop Culture, Asian-American Identity

New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu was catapulted to literary stardom with his breathtaking memoir Stay True, which was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and countless other media outlets. It also recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography: with his book, the judges note, Hua has “crafted a transformative addition to the Asian American canon and to the critical conception of what a memoir is capable of.”

Stay True tells the story of Hua and Ken, who struck up an unlikely friendship despite their very different interests, and the marks that their time together left on Hua’s life. In a world of immense diversity, Hua shows us how staying open to difference and disagreement can help us develop our own complex identities, both as individuals and as communities.

“We fixate on differences,” Hua tells Lavin, “when what really matters—not just in friendship, but in friendship as a model for community—is the dreams and visions we share, and how we help each other see things that we can’t see alone.”

The Surprising Secret to High Performance? Talking to Yourself. Ethan Kross, Psychologist and Bestselling Author

Ethan Kross isn’t just a world-renowned scientist, he’s an expert storyteller too. Chatter is the groundbreaking and transformative book the world needs now.
— Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet

We spend up to half our waking hours talking to ourselves. Our inner voice can be unhelpful or downright cruel, but it can also help us work through difficult problems and tap into high performance and innovation at work. Ethan Kross—an award-winning psychologist and University of Michigan professor—calls our inner voice “the Swiss Army knife of the mind,” and shows us how to make it work for us rather than against us. When you turn your inner voice from a critic into a coach, he says, you can avoid burnout and anxiety, and lead yourself (and others) better.

Drawing on his bestselling book Chatter, which grit pioneer Angela Duckworth calls “a masterpiece” and “required reading for all,” Ethan gives you the tools you need to boost motivation and hone your mental fitness. He explains the “2 a.m. chatter strategy” that he’s already taught to executives across the country, and reveals the secrets to breakthrough creativity that everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Microsoft is talking about. (For example, giving yourself a pep talk using your own name is an incredible performance tool!) His surprisingly simple and incredibly practical tools have widespread appeal for leaders and employees at every level.

“Getting lost in negative thought loops is one of the big problems we face as a species,” Ethan tells Lavin. “The good news is that science reveals countless tools that allow us to not just manage chatter, but transform it into an asset rather than a liability.”

“A Master Class in Resilience”: Laurel Braitman’s Stunning New Memoir on Loss, Change, and Growth

“Just as Eat Pray Love and Wild inspired millions, this book will send countless readers on a different — yet no less life-changing or profound — pilgrimage, as it did for me.”— Samin Nosrat, New York Times bestselling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Laurel is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time TED speaker, as well as the Director of Writing and Storytelling at the Stanford School of Medicine. She helps doctors and medical students tap into the power of storytelling, and proves that telling our own stories can help us communicate better, work through negative emotions, and build community—for healthcare workers, and for everyone else.

In her new book, What Looks Like Bravery, Laurel tells her own story of overcoming loss and learning how to live meaningfully. Laurel’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer when she was three years old. She spent her childhood learning the skills she’d need to survive without him, and inherited his conviction that denying pain is a sign of bravery. But at 36 years old, she realized she needed to stop running from her own negative feelings and finally work through the loss she endured as a child. In her memoir, she takes us on her journey of learning how to navigate change and become more resilient in the process.

In talks, Laurel shows you how to transform loss—both personal and institutional—into opportunities for growth. Whether you’re an executive looking for a path forward through instability, or an educator helping students learn how to deal with change, Laurel’s powerful story and unique perspective will help you not only survive but benefit from the disruption you’re facing. Her talks are a must-listen for anyone wondering how to move forward, develop resilience, and adapt to our new, transformed world.

Watch Laurel’s TED Talk on how telling our own stories can bring us together and improve our mental health:

AI, Human Creativity, and Racial Justice: Five Highlights from Lavin Speakers at SXSW 2023

Heather McGhee

Listen to Heather talk about how racism doesn’t only affect people of color—but impacts everyone. If we can come together across lines of race, we can make a positive impact on society. Heather is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us. She offers us an actionable roadmap during one of the most critical—and most troubled—periods in history.

Find more info, and listen to the recording here.

Nita Farahany

Listen to Nita discuss the growing use of AI and neurotechnology in criminal justice and how technology could have the potential to help us transform our justice system to better serve the people it is meant to protect. Nita is the author of the newly released The Battle For Your Brain, she offers us a much-needed map to navigate today’s fast-changing technological landscape.

Find more info, and listen to the recording here.

John Maeda

John Maeda talks about how Large Language Model AIs like ChatGPT are providing new hazards and opportunities for the next wave of tech products and services. John is the Microsoft VP of Design and Artificial Intelligence. He champions the necessary role that artists and designers play in the new creative economy. 

Find more info, and listen to the recording here.

Michael Casey

Michael Casey talks about how new technologies like AI and VR are changing events and our interactions with one another. They offer new experiences and help us to engage in different ways. Michael is the Chief Content Officer of CoinDesk, an award-winning crypto media outlet. He helps leaders prepare for the coming golden age of creativity and collaborative problem-solving.

Find more info, and listen to the recording here.

Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff shared his insights on how tech elites are shaping the world in their image—and how, with collective human action, we can still fight for a society we want to live in. He is the bestselling author of Survival of The Richest, and was named one of the world’s 10 most influential thinkers by MIT.

Find more info, and listen to the recording here. 

Juneteenth: Lavin Speakers on the Holiday’s History and Legacy, and Our Continued Fight for Racial Justice


The first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize for History, Annette Gordon-Reed played a crucial role in helping Juneteenth gain national recognition. Drawing on her acclaimed book On Juneteenth, she shows us how the legacy of this holiday continues to influence us and our fight for racial justice today, and how we can keep striving for progress together.


“Black Americans have always been foundational to the idea of American freedom,” says Nikole Hannah-Jones. She’s the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of The 1619 Project, the hit anthology that became a #1 New York Times bestselling book and Hulu docuseries. She offers us not only a fuller understanding of our history, but also the tools to make real change today.



Khalil Gibran Muhammad, award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness, says that Juneteenth reminds us that we all have a role to play in challenging oppression. “Juneteenth gives us a chance to look at the twin legacies of slavery and freedom, side by side,” he says, “and helps us to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still must go.”



Jelani Cobb has spent his whole career investigating inequality and how the past continues to affect us today. As the Dean of Columbia Journalism School, a New Yorker staff writer, and co-editor of that magazine’s anthology The Matter of Black Lives, Jelani shows us why Juneteenth still matters today, and how we can learn from history to create a better future.


Although freedom was promised to the enslaved Black people over a century ago, Michelle Coles says that Black Americans continue to be “left out of that full promise.” Michelle is the award-winning YA author of Black Was the Ink, as well as a former Department of Justice civil rights attorney. She shows us how we can make the promised freedom a reality for everyone.

AI That Can Read Your Thoughts? It’s Already Here. Nita Farahany on This Technology’s Enormous Potential—and Its Dangers

Nita is the director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. She’s one of the world’s most essential and trusted voices on the rise of these technologies—she even spoke about “cognitive liberty” (the right to freedom of thought) at the recent New York Times DealBook Summit, alongside leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Volodymyr Zelensky.

A device that tracks your brainwaves can have immense advantages, Nita says. For leaders, it can signal when stress levels are high in the workplace and help you keep morale up; and for workers, it can make you more productive so you have more time for the things that really matter. But we’re at a pivotal moment for these emerging technologies. We need to act today to make sure that we can still maintain our right to freedom of thought and self-determination. “Now is the time,” Nita tells Lavin. “Neurotechnology can transform our lives. I don’t want us to run from it. I want us to figure out a way where the narrative we’re telling five years from now is not surveillance capitalism, but that that was a path we could have gone down—and we chose the other way.”

In this exclusive Lavin video, watch Nita explain how neurotech can boost workplace morale and productivity.