The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

With Today’s Complexity, Tiny Errors Can Lead to Enormous Meltdowns. It Can Happen to Any Organization, Says András Tilcsik

Our world is a network of complicated systems—think travel, healthcare, finance, or media. But because these systems are now so dizzyingly complex, even the smallest of errors can lead to enormous disasters. Enter András Tilcsik. As co-author of the hotly anticipated Meltdown, he maps why our systems fail, and how we can check disaster at its source.  

Co-author of Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It (March 2018), András Tilcsik provides a comprehensive, step-by-step illustration of how, and why, systems collapse under their own complexity. One of the world’s Top 40 Professors Under 40, and voted one of thirty management thinkers most likely to shape the future of organizations, Tilcsik speaks to the “paradox of progress.” More capable systems are the natural demand of modern society. But as they become more complex by necessity, so too do they become more vulnerable to failure. In talks, Tilcsik doesn’t simply diagnose the problem—he also offers strategies and solutions to prevent those failures from happening.  


Tilcsik—who also developed the award-winning course “Catastrophic Failure in Organizations” at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management—brings to life his particular areas of expertise in three different keynotes. In “Meltdown,” he teaches us how to cope, and thrive, within the shadow of complex systems. In “Exploiting Complexity,” he throws an unforgiving light on contemporary malpractice—Volkswagen Dieselgate, Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal, unscrupulous surgeons, falsified stories in The New York Times, and more—explaining how organizational and technological complexity makes systems ripe for exploitation. Finally, in “The Diversity Speedbump,” Tilcsik presents diversity as more than a buzzword—it’s an urgent and necessary course of action. But, like all complex systems, diversity introduces vulnerabilities as well as strengths. 


Whatever the angle, Tilcsik presents all his ideas in light of their measurable benefits, helping leaders understand and utilize complexity to their immediate advantage. 


To learn more about András Tilcsik or his Meltdown co-author Chris Clearfield, contact The Lavin Agency today to speak to one of our knowledgeable (and personable) agents.

Many Tech Execs Don’t Let Their Kids Use Their Own Products. Adam Alter Explains How to Limit Screen Time in His New TED Talk

There’s a reason Adam Alter’s latest TED talk has garnered over 1.6 million views – in it, the psychologist and marketing visionary offers actual suggestions for enriching the precious parcel of personal time an individual has left at the end of the day. 

“That space is incredibly important to us,” says Alter. “That’s the space where we do things that make us individuals, where we have close relationships, where we zoom back and try to work out whether our lives have been meaningful. That’s where our humanity lives.”


With a startling graphic, Alter shows how screens are fast encroaching on this parcel of personal time. And though screens are amazing, able to perform communication miracles, they’re also, as he demonstrated in his ground-breaking book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, making us miserable. So a balance must be struck. Not unlike with certain addictive substances, screens must be moderated. “At first, it hurts,” Alter warns. “But what happens is, you get used to it. You overcome the withdrawl the same way you would from a drug, and life becomes more colorful, richer, more interesting. You have better conversations, you really connect with the people who are there with you. And we know it works.”


Why our screens make us less happy | Adam Alter


To book Adam Alter, or another psychology or marketing speaker, contact The Lavin Agency today.

VIDEO: How Does Flirting Make a Happier City? Urban Design Consultant Charles Montgomery Explains

“Every city’s doing a little bit right,” said author and urban design consultant Charles Montgomery during his recent Lavin HQ visit. “And a lot wrong, unfortunately,” he adds with a smile. He’s worked on enough cities to know. 

“It is necessary to consider human relationships in everything we build.”

— Charles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery speaks from the intersection of theory and practice when it comes to city dwelling. In his book Happy City, he wondered (and then investigated): what kind of cities are people happiest in? Where do we feel less lonely, more comfortable, and generally healthier? Speaking of recent “urban experiments” he implemented in cities like Vancouver, Montgomery explained that every city has different needs—but mobility and affordability are two things that go a long way. So do positive social encounters, which can include a casual flirt session. Nay, flirting is vital to the happy city, Montgomery says!


Extrapolation aside, what Montgomery means is that the more at ease we feel with each other—friends and strangers alike—the more at home we feel in our cities. Social trust unites us, and makes us more likely to help each other create “a culture of care and empathy.” But it’s not just up to us. City infrastructure needs to develop accessibilty in diverse, inclusive ways in order to nurture equality. We’ll only all be happy, he argues, when all of us are happy.


Charles Montgomery: Bringing a Culture of Care and Empathy to Urban Design

Montgomery has advised and lectured planners, students, and decision-makers across the USA, Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. When he isn’t writing or consulting, he creates experiments that challenge us to see our cities—and ourselves—in entirely new ways. Montgomery’s “Home for the Games” initiative led hundreds of people to follow his example and open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
Whether it’s empowering people to re-imagine a city street using hundreds of giant building blocks, or challenging them to hug complete strangers, each experiment is driven by insights in the science of human wellbeing. Montgomery’s work ultimately nudges us out of our comfort zone to find a hopeful new vision for cities of joy.

To find out more about Charles Montgomery, contact the Lavin Agency today.

What Do We Look for in Teammates, Candidates, and Leaders? Chia-Jung Tsay Reveals Our Non-Conscious Biases

Are the decisions we make truly grounded in logic, or is there some other factor at work? New speaker Chia-Jung Tsay studies the non-conscious beliefs that guide our everyday actions—in short, judgment biases. Why, for example, do recruiters prefer those with natural talent to those who grind it out with hard work? And why are visual cues so effective at swaying decisions? If we can better understand the choices we make (as investors, recruiters, negotiators, even as human beings) and why we make them, we can improve going forward—personally, professionally, and financially. 

At UCL’s School of Management, Tsay’s work focuses on the psychological underpinnings of decision-making. And in her studies, she’s unearthed a pair of counterintuitive findings, the first of which comes from the realm of recruiting: While we tend to say that we value grit and perseverance in our employees, we’re actually biased toward “naturals”—those with inherent ability or talent. But by identifying our biases, and recognizing them when they occur, we can more easily zero in on the best person for the job.


In another experiment, Tsay found that subjects are more likely to correctly choose the winner of a music competition by watching silent video than film with sound. What does this signify? Visual biases, like gauging the performer’s enthusiasm, passion, or uniqueness, are a major influencer, and should not be ignored. This “vision heuristic” crosses over into the corporate world, too. Video interviews are on the rise, open kitchens are catching on in restaurants, and blind auditions have begun in major orchestras. Once we’re mindful of our prejudices, we can begin to leverage visual cues for the better.


Can you guess who won a music competition? (psychology experiment)


The world is taking note of Tsay’s groundbreaking work. She’s been featured in a slew of major publications, including The Atlantic, The Economist, Forbes, TIME, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and Scientific American. Not only is she a decorated academic, with an A.B. in Psychology, an A.M. in History of Science, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Psychology (secondary field: Music), all from Harvard University, but she’s also an accomplished classical pianist, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the U.S. Embassy.


Our biases—the ones we’re aware of and the ones that go unnoticed—are holding us back. Tsay’s insights bring them to the surface, and point us toward clear-eyed, wiser decisions. 


To hire decision-making and bias expert Chia-Jung Tsay as your next conference speaker, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.