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Want to thrive in your career? Create your own definition of success—based on happiness.

Positive psychologist | Instructor of NYU’S “The Science of Happiness”

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Beyond Words: How Great Achievers Realize Their Unique Potential (4:20)

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The Secret to Passionate Excellence (4:30)

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Where Do Success and Happiness Meet? (6:35)

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Harmonious Passion: The Practice That Grows With You (6:14)

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How Real Mentoring Benefits All Parties (5:03)

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Want to Be Great? Find Your Unique Voice (3:30)

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Cultivating Healthy, Harmonious Passions (4:51)

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Can success and happiness coexist? According to positive psychologist DAN LERNER, we can all accomplish our career goals and live well. Drawing from his “Science of Happiness” course—the most popular elective at New York University—and his cutting-edge research into high-performance professionals, Lerner’s talks show us how to create a life of well-being and excellence, at work and at home.

A psychology professor, strengths-based performance coach, and expert on all things positivity, Dan Lerner studies the ways happiness influences our success.  His two decades as a talent agent, working at some of the world’s top firms, prepared Lerner for his current vocation as a sought-after coach. Today, he works with everyone from Fortune 500 executives to Metropolitan Opera Singers, helping them manage stress, rediscover their strengths, and realize their individual potential. With charisma and wit, Lerner shares just how important a healthy psychological state is for increasing performance and fulfilling your goals. His talks build on his impressive body of work to reveal best-practices on thriving under pressure, avoiding burn-out, and reaching peak levels of success without sacrificing well-being.

Lerner co-authored the book U Thrive: How to Succeed in College and in Life alongside his teaching partner Dr. Alan Schlechter, a leading child and adolescent psychologist. A comprehensive guide through the often unforeseen demands of college life, U Thrive is filled with fascinating research and real-life anecdotes to help students build life-long positive habits that will endure past graduation. Angela Duckworth, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit, praises the book for its insights and practical tips, saying, “It’s a user’s guide to the mind and body, written for young adults on the cusp of mastering both!”

Lerner consults for companies like Deutsche Bank, Oppenheimer Funds, UBS Switzerland, and Jet.com, where he works with staff ranging from new hires, to high potentials, to senior executives, optimizing opportunities for them as individuals and for the firm as a whole. Following a decade at International Creative Management and at 21C Media Group, where he was a co-founder and the director of artist development, Lerner studied closely with renowned sports psychologist Dr. Nathaniel Zinsser—a Director of The Center for Enhanced Performance at the United States Military Academy at West Point—focusing on coaching and performance enhancement techniques employed by professional and Olympic athletes. He holds a Masters from, and is on the teaching staff for the graduate program in Applied Positive Psychology, at the University of Pennsylvania.


Dan is electric! When he speaks, people tune in like the world is on pause. In the 10 years that I have known Dan he has done speaking engagements for my wealth management practice, to clients and referral sources, and for my alumni association (University of Maryland). The responses that I receive after each and every event are beyond positive … they are uniquely exceptional.

Oppenheimer Funds

We had students fill out an evaluation on the conference, and I think two quotations that overall summed up the group were: ‘Loved Dan Lerner!!! Absolutely astounding, intriguing and very approachable; will continue conversation [with him] after this!’ and ‘Bring Dan Lerner back!’ Mr. Lerner was a joy to have on campus. We appreciated the effort he put in the conference to call us and tailor his expertise to our needs, which extended to his arrival when he immediately took interest in our students. It was clear that Dan finds true joy and passion in helping students and many benefited from that this past weekend.

Purdue University

Everything was fantastic. Dan brought a phenomenal, personalized keynote presentation to our event. He was present throughout the weekend, integrated with our unit members and connected wonderfully with our retreat and the rescue mission, overall. Mr. Lerner is a delightful human and a true expert in his field.

US Military Rescue Squadron

Outstanding. Wonderful. One of my former board members was in tears, came up to me, took my hands, and said, ‘Les, he changed my life.’

ACC New Jersey

Dan's talk was right on the mark for what we wanted people to hear and it was the perfect ending to 2 ½ days of presentations. I received a lot of great feedback on the event, and particularly on bringing Dan to speak. Amazing to see all the positive feedback and chatter from our attendees.

BC Wildfire Service

Last year I attended the Good Life Project Immersion Program run by Jonathan Fields, and Dan was a member of his faculty. We connected not only because we both love sports but also how we both are interested in helping people discover what lights them up and to live from that place. He has a rich background on so many topics, but what I love about Dan is how he delivers his sessions. They are full of real life scenarios, current research and funny stories. I am not surprised his class at NYU, ‘The Science of Happiness’ is one of the most popular on campus! When you see Dan teach, you immediately sense his intelligence, intellectually AND emotionally. He has worked with corporate executives, elite musicians, and athletes on how to enhance their performance and use positive psychology to build and sustain success. Dan knows how to help people move toward excellence.

True North Sports

When I was connected to Daniel Lerner through a professor in the UPenn Master of Applied Psychology Program, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. I had been looking for a speaker for a Penn mindful leadership retreat, and Daniel ticked all the boxes for relevant topics: excellence, positive psychology, and goal-setting. Daniel takes the stage with an optimism and passion that is evident in both his subject area and personality. His presentation was ranked the highest by far from our participants, and the rave reviews I received afterwards about him were endless. By not only explaining the psychology, but also posing thought-provoking questions, Daniel made sure the speech was interactive and reflective rather than simply passive. We have asked Daniel to come back to our next retreat as a featured speaker, and I hope we can continue to welcome him there!

University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School

Speech Topics

Happiness & Wellness
The New Era of Well-BeingHow COVID-19 is Changing Our Perspective on Health, Happiness, and Opportunity

Is there any part of our lives that COVID-19 hasn’t touched? Whether it’s the way we learn, work, connect with each other, even spend our leisure time—it’s clear that pretty much everything has been transformed in the wake of this pandemic. But the thing that interests performance coach and positive psychologist Dan Lerner the most is the way it’s changing our perspective on something essential: our wellbeing. Drawing on real-life stories and examples that come from his class ‘The Science of Happiness’ at New York University, Lerner explores how we can address the unique challenges of the coronavirus—isolation, low mood, collective loss, financial hardship—while also making room for new opportunities to thrive in this environment. With his signature high-energy brand of storytelling, Lerner offers us simple yet powerful insights as to how we can make sense of this tragedy, maintain hope, and care for ourselves and each other.

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Grit at Work
Greatness, Goodness, and GritHow to Realize Your Potential and Succeed at Work & in Life
With a lifetime exploring peak-performance, well-being, and passion, Dan Lerner has become one of the most sought after voices on how people unlock their unique potential. After spending a decade as a talent agent, developing the careers of some of the world’s greatest musicians, he studied with luminaries including Angela Duckworth (the preeminent researcher and author of The New York Times bestseller “Grit”), Martin Seligman (the father of Positive Psychology), and Dr. Nathanial Zinsser (Director of Performance Enhancement Program at the United States Military Academy), and now serves as a performance coach for clients ranging from athletes and executives to educators, lawyers, doctors and high-achievers respected both locally and globally in a vast array of fields.
With the trademark charisma that helped him co-develop the largest course at New York University, and has inspired listeners to call his presentations “life changing” and “electric,” Lerner delivers a powerful talk on how passion, grit, and happiness can help us transcend what we believe is possible both at work and at home, realize the very best version of ourselves, and in the process, elevate our colleagues, neighbors, friends, families and communities. Whatever your field, this galvanizing and comprehensive experience will remind you of what it means to strive for greatness in life—and give you the tools that you need to make it a reality.
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Bringing Your Work to LifeDo What You Love, and Love What You Do
Why does it seem harder than ever to craft a job that is truly fulfilling? With shifting labor practices, constant stress, and more choices than ever, finding a job that’s satisfactory is hard enough—and finding one that’s fulfilling can seem near impossible. In this fun, engaging talk, NYU clinical instructor Dan Lerner presents a complex journey in simple, tangible, and enjoyable terms. Integrating the psychologies of happiness and performance to help audiences move beyond clichés and take action, Lerner shows that loving our work and working at what we love is achievable. Weaving together science and stories drawn from his coaching clients—high-level athletes, musicians, and corporate executives—to people who have already realized everyday excellence, Lerner gives audiences the tools required to define success, create a strategy towards meaningful work, and make the most of the opportunities to be our very best (and most fulfilled) in the workplace and beyond.
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Passionately SuccessfulMaking the Most of Ambition and Happiness

Cutting edge science now shows that when we pursue our passions in the correct way, we can realize the highest levels of personal and professional success.

In this talk, Daniel Lerner defines two types of passion: harmonious, and obsessive. When you’re harmoniously passionate, you not only love what you do, but you are more focused, energetic, and productive, and live a far more fulfilling life. Conversely, obsessive passions are marked by a compulsive, dogged pursuit of achievement, leading to guilt, shame, pessimism, unhappiness, and, far too often, early burnout.

Drawing on a diverse cast of iconic cultural figures—from Richard Branson to Ellen DeGeneres, Nelson Mandela to Whitney Houston—Lerner illuminates the difference between healthy and dangerous passions, how and why to ignite, explore, and stoke your healthy ones, and even how to find passion in work that you may have given up as passionless long ago. And if you’ve fallen into patterns of blind obsession, Lerner helps you transition out. Ultimately, this keynote is a fiery, fun, and practical primer on how to live a successfully passionate (and passionately successful!) life.

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Beyond WordsHow Great Achievers Realize Their Unique Potential

How can you bring your best self—your intrinsic talents, your truest voice—to all that you do, at work and in life? You work hard, you strive for engagement. But you may still feel your core strengths don’t align with the work you do. You wouldn’t be alone. For too many of us, our best selves—our most creative, unique, and engaged selves—can seem removed from the work we do. That’s a missed opportunity for workers, for leaders, and for companies. How, then, can organizations help employees realize their utmost potential? Enter Dan Lerner, the teacher behind NYU’s ecstatically popular Science of Happiness class. In this bold new talk, Lerner weaves illuminating examples—from Walt Whitman to Beyonce, from Bruce Lee to Richard Branson, from Hamilton to Maya Angelou, from business leaders to his own family—in order to help you rethink success, fulfilment, and the contribution you can make. With each carefully interlocking story, Lerner reveals how personal expression, artistic or otherwise, led to excellence—and how this in turn changed everything around them. Perfect for individuals, teams, and organizations, this unforgettable talk is about what happens when you transcend limitations and embrace—for the benefit and betterment of those around you—your truest potential.

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Grit at School
Thriving in CollegeAchieving Success in School and Beyond

For many students, the college experience has shifted from four years of thriving to a harrowing journey merely to survive. Rates of depression and anxiety among students are skyrocketing, expectations and competition are more intense than ever, and with online distractions and social media providing entirely new obstacles, today’s campus is markedly different from that of yesterday.

Featuring highlights from Daniel Lerner’s popular NYU class “The Science of Happiness” (the largest non-101 at the university), this talk will help students make the best of these crucial four years, both inside and outside of the classroom (and offers parents key tips to helping this happen, as well). Fast-paced, engaging, interactive, and immediately applicable, Lerner shares with audiences how to cultivate greater optimism, resilience, willpower, and better relationships. He also reveals the science behind why positive thinking can lead to better grades, a more satisfying social experience, better levels of performance on the stage, field, and in the classroom, and even higher post-grad salaries.

Touching on key aspects of the post-secondary experience—roommates, dating, diet, work, exercise, sleep, study habits, grit, and passion—this talk will help students and parents understand the habits that can get today’s co-eds out of the mode of merely ‘surviving,’ and into that of ‘thriving’—in both college and beyond. This is the talk graduates wish they could have heard while still in school. With the science of positivity, Lerner is changing the way students see school for good.

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