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Laura Huang

To get ahead, you need an edge—and if you don’t have one, you can make one.

Harvard Business School Professor | Author of Edge

Contact Laura For Booking
Laura Huang | Harvard Business School Professor | Author of Edge
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

In her groundbreaking research on edge—the elusive quality that gives us an upper-hand—Laura Huang reveals that a large part of success relies on how well we can shape others’ perceptions of us. As one of the top business professors in America, Huang masterfully shows us how we can leverage both our strengths and our flaws to our advantage—creating an edge that will keep attention, beat competition, and win.

“We’re all looking for an edge. But where does it come from? In this insightful and accessible book, Laura Huang provides the answers. Be authentic and distinct. Provide value to others. And turn adversity into advantage.”

— Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human

How can our paths to success be a little easier? We all have biases working for and against us, says Laura Huang, star business professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage. If we learn what these biases are, we can empower ourselves to create personal success. In short: we’ll find our edge. “Hard work suggests something internal, whereas edge suggests that it’s both within you and contextual,” says Huang. “You need to own the context and your hard work.” Named one of the 40 Best Business School Professors by Poets & Quants, Huang’s talks will equip you to know who you are and how to use that knowledge strategically. Drawing on examples from the likes of previously-overlooked Olympians to Louis Vuitton assistants-turned-executives, Huang teaches you how to find your edge and keep it sharp. As practical as it is inspirational, the book was recently selected as a gold medalist in the 2021 Axiom Business Book Awards in the category of success and motivation.

 

Huang’s groundbreaking research includes her work on “gut feel”—that sixth sense often written off as extraneous to success. In conducting dozens of interviews with investors and observing pitch meetings with entrepreneurs, Huang proved the vital role that gut feel plays in managing complexity and risk—and the difference between big wins and playing it safe. Prior to joining the Harvard Business School, Huang was an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School. Her research on gut instinct has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as featured in the Financial TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Huang earned a PhD in management from the University of California, Irvine; an MBA from INSEAD; and an MS and BSE in electrical engineering, both from Duke University. Before entering academia, she held positions in investment banking, consulting, and general management for organizations like IBM Global Services and Johnson & Johnson, and served as an advisor to several start-ups in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, and China. 

Speech Topics

Strategy
Creating an Edge Making Your Hard Work Work Harder for You
How do you find a competitive edge when the obstacles feel stacked against you? When people have written you off before even giving you a chance? Award-winning Harvard Business School professor Laura Huang shows us that success can be attained by cultivating our unique “edge”—that elusive quality that gives us an upper hand and attracts attention and support.
 
Success is rarely just about the quality of our ideas, credentials, and skills, or even the hard work we put into it, says Laura. Instead, it’s about how well we can shape our strengths, flaws, and others’ perceptions of us—turning them into assets that can't be ignored. No matter your specific set of challenges, or the predisposed biases standing in your way, in this groundbreaking talk Huang will show you how to transform set-backs into your own unique edge—and help you keep it sharp.
Women & Leadership
How Female Leaders Can—and Must—Find Their Edge
Women entrepreneurs and leaders are taught from a young age that hard work is the key to success—don’t give up, keep at it, stay motivated, tenacious, determined and that’s how you’ll succeed. However that’s not what female leaders actually experience. Laura Huang’s research—inspired by  her tenure in investment banking—shows that success in the venture capital world often came down to investors’ gut feelings, and therefore, unfortunately, their preconceived conceptions and stereotypes.
 
But what if women entrepreneurs could flip those stereotypes in their favor and create an advantage or edge? In this enlightening, empowering talk Harvard Business Professor Laura Huang explains how women, and particularly women of color, can guide and redirect those very stereotypes which hold them back, and sharpen them into a unique and sustainable edge.
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship A Mindset of Thought and Action
Conventional wisdom says that entrepreneurs are a breed apart, seeing the world in a unique way: an entrepreneurial mindset. But Harvard professor Laura Huang argues that rather than being equipped with some special psychological makeup, an entrepreneurial mindset is actually about creating opportunities and turning ideas into action—something that all companies and individuals can cultivate and use as a resource. In this immediately applicable talk, Huang will teach you to gain an understanding of how entrepreneurial thought and action can help teams and organizations create opportunities, more effectively marshal resources, and ultimately create and sustain value. 
 
Innovation
Disrupt or Build? The Innovation Ecology
There’s a common narrative that “disruptive innovation” is best when launching products, unveiling strategies, and mobilizing resources. But what does “disruption” mean for an organization and its people, and how can we engage in disruptive work without it actually *being disruptive* to what we are trying to build? In this talk, Laura Huang discusses how “disruptors” who actually think about themselves as “builders” are able to unlock and create the most value for their organizations. 
 
Execution & Performance
The (Real) Role of Gut Instinct Managing Complexity and Extreme Risk
It’s one of the most polarizing pieces of advice that we hear: “Go with your gut.” In this talk, Laura Huang discusses her research on decision-making in organizations, and why the question shouldn’t be about data-driven decisions versus gut feel-based decisions. Instead, effective organizational outcomes are the result of understanding the set of rules that are inherent in any complex decision—which dictate whether more data actually helps us make better decisions.