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The overlooked key to achieving your unique potential? Passion.

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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Cultivating Healthy, Harmonious Passions (4:51)

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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)

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Don’t sacrifice your passions in favor of success, says positive psychologist Dan Lerner. In fact, when you take hold of your passions, you unlock success—at work and in life. Drawing from his “Science of Happiness” course (the most popular elective at New York University) and his cutting-edge research into high-performance professionals, this charismatic and electric speaker sparks real change in how you see the world. By helping you lean into your passions and your ultimate goals, he empowers you to reach your full potential and achieve not only success, but fulfillment.

A psychology professor, strengths-based performance coach, and expert on all things positivity, Dan Lerner studies the ways happiness and passion influence our success.  His two decades as a talent agent, working at some of the world’s top firms, prepared Dan 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 true joy, charisma, and wit, Dan 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. Audiences leave his talk energetic, excited, and most importantly, passionate.

Dan co-authored the book U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and 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!”

Dan 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, Dan 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

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, positive psychologist Dan 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 Maya Angelou, Roger Federer to Whitney Houston—Dan 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, Dan 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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Corporate Culture
The Science and Strategy of EngagementUsing Your Strengths to Boost Fulfillment—for Yourself and Your Team

The peak moments in your life are not when you’re on vacation, when you’re kicking back and things are easy, or when your stress levels drop to zero. They occur when you’re pushing your physical and mental limits. When you’re using all your strengths to tackle a challenge that’s tough but truly meaningful. The moments when you feel most alive are the moments when you are fully engaged.

In this interactive, eye-opening talk, positive psychologist Dan Lerner reveals how to find your unique strengths—and how to use them to attain the massive advantages that come from the state of engagement (often referred to as “flow” or being in the “zone”). He uses the “Aware, Explore, Apply” process to help you find your top strengths from a scientifically backed list, and shows you how you can use these strengths to get engaged at home, at work, or at school today.

He pairs anecdotes from real people—from everyday folks to iconic cultural figures like Kobe Bryant, from comic book superheroes to the three remarkable female mathematicians made famous in the Oscar-winning film Hidden Figures—with data that shows you how using your strengths for engagement can boost teamwork, talent retention, and goal achievement. And he shows how this can all be realized with just a few tweaks to how we bring ourselves to anything that we do. Sometimes being our best means better understanding ourselves. Delivered with Dan’s trademark energy and excitement, this keynote is a primer on how to make that happen for every listener in the room.

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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, Dan 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, Dan is changing the way students see school for good.

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Mental Health and Fitness
SuperstressedHow to Turn Stress Into the Superpower That we All Need Now

Stress. We all deal with it, and we all deal with it nearly all the time. But what if, instead of trying to get rid of it, we can actually use it to be our very best at work and in life?

In this eye-opening keynote, Dan Lerner shows us that it’s our relationship to stress that can be the difference between suffering and succeeding, and helps us understand how to make stress work for us. Why do top achievers such as Steph Curry welcome stress? Why does trying to relax stress us out even more? We can make stress our friend simply by changing the words that we use to describe it or subtly shifting our perspective, he says.

In this accessible, cutting-edge talk, Dan draws on research to reveal that the key to controlling stress often isn’t in lowering the levels, but learning how to manage our reactions. He tells stories of real people who have learned to harness stress to achieve their goals, and shows us how we can do the same at work and in every other context. Audiences will walk away inspired to lean into this surprising superpower and reach their full potential.

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