The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

When Should You Trust Your Gut? Top Business Professor Laura Huang Explores in Harvard Business Review

Some people value their gut for guiding them through their biggest business decisions. Others are wary of relying on instinct, fearing it to be too reactionary and emotional. So, should leaders make decisions based on intuition, or shouldn’t they? When, if ever, is it OK to use your gut? Laura Huang discusses in Harvard Business Review.

“My recent research suggests that gut feel can in fact be useful, especially in highly uncertain circumstances where further data gathering and analysis won’t sway you one way or another,” writes Laura Huang in Harvard Business Review. Citing studies of high-risk situations—life-or-death moments in the operating room or early-stage investment decisions—Huang notes that the role of gut feel is often to inspire a leader to make a call. “In the face of information overload, mounting risks and uncertainty, and intense pressures to make the right decisions, there is often debilitating evidence that delays our decision making. We put the choice off, rather than deciding. Trusting your gut allows leaders the freedom to move forward.”


Read the full paper here.


To book speaker Laura Huang for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a knowledgeable sales agent.

Smart People Make Bad Choices. Bestselling Author and Poker Champ Maria Konnikova Explains Why.

“If we think of life as one big game,” says psychologist turned poker champ Maria Konnikova, “the question becomes, how do we play it optimally?” Just like in poker, leaders, managers and CEOs are dealt a set of important decisions every day. How can you ensure that you’re always making the right one?  

“You need to understand what all great leaders understand,” says Konnikova. And that is: “what worked before might not work now.” Before she joined the poker circuit, Konnikova was a psychologist, studying overconfidence in decision making. How do very smart people who normally make very good decisions act when you place them in uncertain, ambiguous, unpredictable environments? “They keep doing the same thing they’ve always done…even when the task is switched, when the decision parameters change,” and as a result, the smartest, most educated, most financially sophisticated people tend to fail in environments of uncertainty.


In the video below, Konnikova explains her research, offering useful insights on how to fight the urge to repeat mistakes, and how to adapt to change quickly and effectively.   


How Smart People Fail at Making Choices | Maria Konnikova


To book Maria Konnikova for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency

Top 10 Business Keynote Speakers

Great companies start with great leaders. Leaders who recognize incredible talent, even when it’s hard to see; leaders who can spot, manage, and prevent risk; leaders who build successful teams, adapt to change and create cultures of innovation. These business keynote speakers blend personal, compelling leadership stories with years of immersive research, interviews and anecdotes fundamental to business today and tomorrow.  

Francesca Gino has spent the last decade studying rebels and rule-breakers in organizations around the world, from high-end fashion boutiques in Italy to thriving fast food chains. Her business keynote talks, like her book Rebel Talent, contain groundbreaking analyses of those who defy the status quo and end up happier and more successful for it.  


Business Keynote Speaker Francesca Gino: How Rebel Talent Embraces Conflict


“It started with a simple idea: What if I sat down with chief executives, and never asked them about their companies?” From there, Corner Office columnist Adam Bryant distilled hundreds of interviews into practical, actionable steps for leaders, CEOs and business people. His business keynote talks are useful guides to success.


Quick and Nimble — Creating a Culture of Innovation



In today’s business world, where teams are spread across the planet and most of our communication takes place virtually, how do we work effectively in the face of cross-cultural complexity? Business keynote speaker and The Culture Map author Erin Meyer explains how to dramatically increase business success by understanding and making use of cultural drivers.


Business Speaker Erin Meyer: How Cultural Differences Affect Business



Joe Mimran is a true innovator—of retail, design, business, manufacturing—he disrupted the fashion industry before people even had a word for it. In his business keynote he details the methods he used to grow Joe Fresh, Club Monaco, and Alfred Sung—some of the fashion industry’s best-known brands, into global successes. 


Joe Mimran: Managers—What’s the Secret to Inspiring Teams?



As Global CEO of Chanel—and, earlier, as President of Banana Republic—Maureen Chiquet steered global brands through a decade of disruption, and she did so with traditionally ‘feminine’ skills, like empathy and communication. As a business keynote speaker she explains what we can all learn from injecting more compassion and collaboration into the workplace.


Leadership Speaker Maureen Chiquet: Showing Empathy and Humility Doesn't Mean Conceding Your Values



“Everyone optimizes for the bottom line. True innovation happens when you optimize for people.” Kickstarter co-founder and top business keynote speaker Yancey Strickler explains how, starting with little more than a dream, he built one of the world’s most exciting companies. For corporations, associations and business people, his story is more than inspiring. It’s life-changing.  


TNW NYC 2016 | Yancey Strickler – Co-founder & CEO, Kickstarter



Ajay Agrawal is business keynote speaker and the author of Prediction Machines—the game-changing book on the economics of AI. Founder of The Creative Destruction Lab, which is home to the greatest concentration of AI start-ups in the world, he illuminates the once-in-a lifetime business potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence.  


How Can Your Company Develop an AI Strategy? | Ajay Agrawal



Today’s systems are so complex that major crises are not only imminent, but more common than ever. And that goes for every industry, regardless of size or scope. Enter Chris Clearfield, risk management specialist and in-demand business keynote speaker whose hotly anticipated book Meltdown offers a groundbreaking investigation into how to prevent failure. 


How Leaders Encourage Better Ideas from Everyone? | Chris Clearfield



Due to their incredible complexity, our modern systems—healthcare, travel, finance, media—are primed for failure. And things are only getting worse. Andras Tilcsik is an in-demand business keynote speaker and a celebrated business professor whose acclaimed book Meltdown breaks down exactly how systems fail, and what companies can do about it.  


Risk Management Speaker András Tilcsik: Less Room for Error Means More Room for a Meltdown



“The purpose of marketing is to deliver business results,” says Arlene Dickinson, renowned CBC “dragon” and one of Canada’s most successful communications entrepreneurs. As a business keynote speaker, Dickinson shares actionable business advice, backstage stories from “The Den,” and her personal story: what she’s really learned over decades of success in business.


TEDxYouth@Toronto 2011 - Arlene Dickinson


To book a top business keynote speakers, contact The Lavin Agency.

Francesca Gino Makes the Business Case for Curiosity in the Latest Harvard Business Review

“Most of the breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions throughout history, from flints to fire to self-driving cars, have something in common: they are the result of curiosity,” says Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School professor, behavioral scientist, and author of the new book Rebel Talent. In her cover story for Harvard Business Review, Gino outlines the barriers to creativity at work—and in keynotes she explains how to break them down.  

Executives, managers and CEOs all know that they want curious, innovative employees, however what they don’t realize is they’re frequently standing in the way of it. “Leaders often think that curiosity will lead to a costly mess,” says Gino, which to some extent is true. “Exploration involves questioning the status quo and doesn’t always provide useful information. But it also means not settling for the first possible solution—so it often yields better remedies.”


What’s one way of overcoming this barrier to productive breakthrough? Emphasizing learning goals. In an interview with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, Gino asked him how he was able to land a commercial aircraft safely in the Hudson River, to which he described his passion to augment his learning. “He successfully fought the tendency to grasp for the most obvious option … those who are passionate about continuous learning are able to contemplate a wide range of options and perspectives,” says Gino. Leaders can help employees adopt this mindset by rewarding people not only for their performance, but for the exploratory learning path they took to get there.  


Listen to Francesca Gino explain why parents should teach kids to question rules rather than take them for granted in this installment of The Atlantic’s “Home School” series.


It’s Good to Be a Rebel


To book Francesca Gino for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency.  >

Disappointed by the So-Called Digital Age? David Sax Offers an Analog Solution in The New York Times

A decade into the digital utopia, and its dark side is finally showing. Every day we learn another way our devices are making us miserable. Enter David Sax. He’s a sophisticated observer of consumer behaviour and author of one of the New York Times Top Ten Books of the YearThe Revenge of Analog. In his NYT op-ed this week, he explains how we should (and why we must) champion the artifacts of analog.

Completely disengaging from the digital world isn’t realistic for many. “What we can do though,” concedes Sax, “is restore some sense of balance over our relationship with digital technology, and the best way to do that is with analog: the ying to digital’s yang.” 


How do we do this? By walking into the brick and mortar stores that give our neighbourhood shape; by  buying a book which gives us an unparalleled tactile experience; by interacting with other human beings: “analog excels particularly well at encouraging human interaction, which is crucial to our physical and mental well-being … we do not face a simple choice of digital or analog. That is the false logic of the binary code that computers are programmed with, which ignores the complexity of life in the real world.” 


To book David Sax for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.  

“Inside Donald Trump’s Head”: The Viral Interview Between Randall Lane, Editor of Forbes, and the President

“Donald Trump didn’t get rich building businesses,” says Forbes editor Randall Lane in his instantly viral interview with the president. “Instead, his forte lies in transactions—buying and selling and cutting deals that assure him a win regardless of the outcome for others.” 

Providing a rare and intimate look into how President Trump approaches his role in the White House, Lane examines him as a businessman—making enormously-scaled choices based on that “transactional mindset.” What does that mean for the economy and identity of a nation when the leader of the free world is motivated first and foremost by numbers? “Big numbers have always attracted Trump, regardless of their accuracy,” writes Lane. “He numbered the floors in Trump Tower to make the building seem taller, obsessed over his Apprentice ratings and lied about the square footage of his penthouse.” Lane’s intrepid interview offers a fresh point-of-view into a president who makes decisions based on his gut, and then looks for numbers that validate those feelings, as he explained last night on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour.   

“}” data-id=”w941385158636951151″ data-type=”html”>


A veteran journalist and editor, Lane created the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, which invites the world’s billionaires to tackle global problems, and the Under 30 Summit, which assembles 2,000 Millennial entrepreneurs and game-changers from the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists. Having created two of the most important annual events in the past decade, Lane is an authority on how entrepreneurship and business can change the world we live in.


For a list of business speakers like Randall Lane, contact The Lavin Agency today.

New Videos: Adam Bryant on Enhancing the Relationships that Promote Office Culture

Having culled years of leadership wisdom for his weekly New York Times “Corner Office” column, Adam Bryant knows what it takes to be a great CEO. In the following six videos, Bryant outlines the simple but profound principles that help employers and employees align goals, hear each other out, and strengthen their shared corporate culture.

1.) Here, Bryant discusses the things, that if done well, have a positive (or negative) impact on office culture. Once those items are clearly defined, work can move away from internal politics.

“,”timestamp”:””,”description”:””,”topicId”:null,”slug”:”adam-bryant-the-two-kinds-of-company-culture”,”sortTitle”:”adam bryant the two kinds of company culture”,”publishedAt”:”2021-01-05T17:20:00.549Z”,”highSearchText”:”adam bryant the two kinds of company culture undefined adam bryant the two kinds of company culture adam bryant the two kinds of company culture iframe width 560 height 315 src https www youtube com embed jdqgcawdyig frameborder 0 allow accelerometer autoplay clipboard write encrypted media gyroscope picture in picture allowfullscreen iframe”,”highSearchWords”:[“adam”,”bryant”,”the”,”two”,”kinds”,”of”,”company”,”culture”,”undefined”,”iframe”,”width”,”560″,”height”,”315″,”src”,”https”,”www”,”youtube”,”com”,”embed”,”jdqgcawdyig”,”frameborder”,”0″,”allow”,”accelerometer”,”autoplay”,”clipboard”,”write”,”encrypted”,”media”,”gyroscope”,”picture”,”in”,”allowfullscreen”],”lowSearchText”:”adam bryant the two kinds of company culture undefined adam bryant the two kinds of company culture adam bryant the two kinds of company culture iframe width 560 height 315 src https www youtube com embed jdqgcawdyig frameborder 0 allow accelerometer autoplay clipboard write encrypted media gyroscope picture in picture allowfullscreen iframe youtu be hxldzz9315g”,”searchSummary”:””}}],”type”:”videoPlayer”}' data-id=”” data-type=”videoPlayer”>



2.)  We need an “external scoreboard” to really see how employees are doing, says Bryant. For performances to be objectively measured, CEOs must provide employees with a standard metric that can be understood by all.  


Adam Bryant: How Do *Real* Leaders Evaluate Employees?

3.) What exactly are “company values” and how necessary are they? Well, says Bryant, for starters—pick ones that can be easily remembered if anyone asks what they are.

Adam Bryant: When It Comes to Company Values, Keep It Simple


4.) We expect a lot of our colleagues, but as Bryant notes—being the boss doesn’t automatically mean excellent management. Respect moves two ways, just as accountability does. The upshot is mutual trust.

Adam Bryant: Employee Engagement Is a Two-Way Street


5.) Difficult conversations come up in any office context. But navigating them gets a little bit easier if you take Bryant’s advice: explain and address a problem from the perspective of how it affects you. Don’t make assumptions, he says. “Stay on your side of the net.”


Adam Bryant:  Don't Go Over The Net


6.) We all think that e-mail makes all our communications faster and easier, but here, Bryant tells us the opposite. Sometimes the quickest and most effective way to explain something is on the phone or in person, lest we become “archaeologists” of our in-boxes.


Adam Bryant: Why E-Mail Doesn't Work


To book or learn more about Adam Bryant, contact the Lavin Agency today.  

Ajay Agrawal’s Creative Destruction Lab: Driving the Potential of Artificial Intelligence

Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab is “paving the way for a more vibrant Canadian economy,” touts The Globe and Mail’s recent front page. In the associated “Report on Business” cover story, CLD founder and CEO Ajay Agrawal unpacks the profoundly successful concept behind this revolutionary lab.

Since its inception in 2012, U of T’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) has invented itself as “an absolute perfect crash course for running a company,” which CEO and new Lavin speaker Ajay Agrawal discusses in this “Report on Business” cover story.


Agrawal developed CDL with a simple, competetive restructuring in mind: create a business mentorship program that partners “teachers” (successful entrepreneurs and business minds) with “students,” inviting them to work symbiotically, and with the possibility of mutual success. The nine-month program pairs startup founders with experienced technology entrepreneurs and investors “in a unique setting that is laser-focused on designing a series of objectives with measurable deliverables.” Moreover, it provides a unique entrepreneurial think tank for those developing new technologies and Artificial Intelligence, which Agrawal is uniquely positioned to cultivate as one of the leading forces in the economics of AI. Agrawal co-authored “Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence” in the Harvard Business Review online and co-organized the research session on the Economics of Artificial Intelligence at the American Economics Association annual conference in Chicago.

In the “Report on Business” feature, Agrawal explains that he developed the idea for CLD based on an idea he had that there was “a market for judgment.” He goes on to explain that he wanted “to bring together some of the sharpest and shrewdest investors to advise cutting-edge Canadian research scientists and help them build companies around their technology breakthroughs.”  


Vitally, Agrawal (who was awarded Professor of the Year by MBA classes at the Rotman School seven times!) also wanted to ensure a new way that the program’s success could be measured, not by the “number of jobs or startups generated—a typical yardstick—but equity value created by CDL companies as they raised money.”


In true entrepreneurial mode, Agrawal isn’t satisfied with the growth that CDL has secured for its alumni (funding from $1.7 to $120-million). He still wants to develop the program and its capacity to affect Canadian business to even greater success. “We are so far from achieving the mission,” he says, tireless as ever. 


To book Ajay Agrawal for your next engagement, contact the Lavin Agency today.

American Business Under Trump: Randall Lane, Editor of Forbes, on Innovation and Ingenuity under the New Presidency

How will business fare under Trump? How will this new government affect entrepreneurship, tech, and innovation across the nation, from Silicon Valley to Middle-America to Wall Street? Randall Lane—editor of Forbes, one of the world’s most respected magazines on business and innovation—explores what the change in power might mean for American ingenuity for the next four years.

As the creator of Forbes“30 Under 30” summit, there’s no one more plugged-in to the brightest leaders our nation has to offer—a millennial cohort of founders with big, bold ideas. That means Lane is perfectly suited to examine how start-up culture and youthful, intrepid entrepreneurs may respond to today’s most turbulent challenges. 


As the creator of Forbes“400 Summit on Philanthropy,” Lane is also the ideal speaker to talk on how new technologies might blossom or stall, and what might become of ambitious clean energy programs (not to mention social ventures and businesses that give back). After all, Lane knows how mission and purpose can take businesses to any level—and has a direct line to the most inspiring philanthropists today.


And as a successful entrepreneur with savvy business acumen—he helped Forbes reach its highest readership, even in an era of mass disruption—Lane can speak to investors and executives on whether they should be bracing themselves for the new direction, or be looking forward to a stimulated economy. 


With rare insight into the new world of entrepreneurship and business, Lane takes us through a tour of these uncertain times—where to look for big changes, and where to expect business as usual.


To hire keynote speaker Randall Lane—editor of Forbes, and author of You Only Have to Be Right Once—contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

This Week: Jeremy Gutsche Hosts Trend Hunter’s Future Festival, October 5–7

This week, Toronto is home to one of the most exciting innovation events in the world. That’s right—Trend Hunter’s Future Festival is once again upon us: three days of dynamic keynotes and innovation workshops, on-trend cultural safaris, exclusive access to consumer insights, invaluable networking opportunities, and (of course!) a whole lot of fun. Read on for more on this sold-out event—what 76 percent of past attendees call “the best business event they’ve ever attended”—and on its visionary founder and host, Jeremy Gutsche.


The Future Festival is your opportunity to discover trends, experience the future, and inject actionable takeaways into your organization. It’s “specifically designed to be the world’s best innovation conference,” Gutsche says, “a place for the world’s top innovators to prototype their future.” It’s not about stuffy boardrooms or long-winded talks, but immersive, hands-on experiences with tangible results. But it’s also a whirlwind of cultural discovery and a chance to make lasting, profound connections with leaders across every industry.


Deep-dive trend presentations, innovation workshops, and riveting keynotes—held at the beautiful TIFF Lightbox Theatre and the Hyatt Hotel Ballrooms—will super-charge your creative process and help you turn insights into action. Guests hear about the future, in all its variety (think: Millennial and Gen-Z consumers; health and fitness culture; retail innovations; automation, VR, AR, and drones; and other disruptive, emerging ideas). Customized, data-driven trend reports help you focus on what’s important for your field, specifically. Then, rapid-prototyping workshops (led by Gutsche himself) will help both individuals and full teams put into practice everything they’ve heard over the past few days (this is the same workshop, by the way, that Gutsche used to help NASA prototype its mission to Mars).


Each day, guests are also led to off-site trend safaris across Toronto’s downtown core, letting them experience the most cutting-edge happenings in one of the coolest cities anywhere. Explore fringe cafes, DIY breweries, retail collectives, graffiti tours, secret bars, 3D printers and robotics … and so much more. Great food, cocktails, and the “Future Party” make networking and establishing connections easy—making the Future Festival as much about your own growth as it is about your company’s.


Future Festival 2016 | Trend Safaris & Toronto Culture


But how did all this come together? To give some context, Trend Hunter is the most popular and largest platform for trend-spotting on the globe—a what’s next showcase fueled by an army of future-hunters and data-combers, finding out what’s hot (and hotter) right this second. Innovation speaker Jeremy Gutsche (“on the forefront of cool,” raves MTV) is a New York Times best-selling author who’s given close to 500 keynotes—and helped influence the world’s top brands. Together, they’ve accelerated the way Fortune 500s, billionaires, and CEOs do business—and with the Future Festival, they bring those disruptive ideas, trend reports, and game-changing insights into a multi-day business event you actually want to attend.


We’ll leave the last word to Gutsche—one of our most in-demand speakers on business strategy, innovation, and marketing. Here’s what he has to say on the Future Festival’s origins:


“What would happen if we took the very best elements from each of [our] different clients, from each of [our] experiences, to make an event like no other? … What would happen if we brought all these innovation leaders together? If we had a festival that included prototyping their actual problems, sitting down in a theatre not watching content, seeing random speakers, but something that was choreographed and curated to be engaging, magnetic? So the challenge was to take the top trend hunters in the world, and build an event from the bottom up. It would be choreographed as an experience unlike anything an innovator or insight-leader had ever been a part of. And that’s Future Festival.”


To learn more about Trend Hunter CEO Jeremy Gutsche, or his annual Future Festival, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive keynote speakers bureau.


New Videos: Randall Lane Navigates the Changing Terrain of Business

As the editor of Forbes Magazine, Randall Lane stands on the cusp of what’s new in business—especially businesses leveraging nascent technology to innovate and disrupt. And with Lane at the helm, the publication hit record-breaking readership numbers (6.7 million in the U.S. alone). In these new videos, Lane touches on several timely topics—hot new companies, the startup bubble, big data, terrorism, Silicon Valley vs. Wall St., and the digital revolution—and keeps us up to speed on the ever-shifting industry landscape.

First, Lane tells us about the hottest story in business today: Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos. Holmes, barely 30, is “the richest self-made woman in the world, worth four and a half billion dollars on paper.” Theranos aims to revolutionize modern blood-testing practices—instead of waiting days to weeks for critical lab results, Holmes’s technology lets you prick your finger for instant answers. But if the technology fails to deliver, Theranos may turn into a nightmare—for investors and the public.

Lane thinks we shouldn’t be afraid of the mythical, billion-dollar startup bubble, because it’s just that—a bubble. “Any time you’re betting on big disruptive ideas like this, most will fail,” he reminds us. And although he’s optimistic about today’s wave of tech innovation, and about the startup mindset, his faith hasn’t wavered from established entities like Microsoft that still dominate the market.

Can software really keep us safe? In the next clip, Lane explores the secondary potential of big data—to heighten security, eliminate fraud, and even locate terrorists. But do these advancements come at a cost to our civil liberties?

In our fourth video, Lane contemplates the false dichotomy between Silicon Valley and Wall St.—why do we worship one (Steve Jobs, especially post-death) and vilify the other (the average caricature of a WS exec)? If big banks can embrace the Silicon Valley formula, says Lane, they’re less likely to be labeled the enemy. And if your business can too, it’ll stand a better chance of survival in an unforgiving economy.

In the digital age, how much does your physical age really matter? In the past, your rise through the ranks of industry was tied to your age and experience level, but is that still the case? In our last clip, Lane argues that the proliferation of technology has leveled the playing field, allowing digital natives to climb the ladder faster than ever before.

To book Randall Lane—an expert on the new frontiers of industry, purpose-driven business, and the professional advantage of being young—contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

A ‘Yes’ in One Culture Is a ‘No’ in Another: Erin Meyer in Harvard Business Review

In today’s international economy, what works in negotiations at home might lead to disasters abroad. Expectations for behavior and etiquette differ from one culture to the next, and even subtle misreadings can sabotage fruitful partnerships. As cross-cultural business expert Erin Meyer writes in “Getting to Si, Ja, Oui, Hai, and Da” in Harvard Business Review, “when managers from different parts of the world negotiate, they frequently misread such signals, reach erroneous conclusions, and act … in ways that thwart their ultimate goals.” To help consultants, traders, and other global actors “stay aware of key negotiation signals” and avoid such pratfalls, Meyer here identifies “five rules of thumb for negotiating with someone whose cultural style of communication differs from yours.”

Author of The Culture Map, professor at INSEAD, and winner of the 2015 Thinkers50 Radar Award, Meyer is one of the world’s foremost experts at communicating across the cultural divide. Whether writing on high context vs. low context cultures, managing global teams, or interpreting emotional cues, she provides invaluable advice for anyone forging international relationships or trading ideas or goods across borders.

Meyer’s five rules should offer an enlightening survey of where, and how, deals can break down. They also put a surprising emphasis on the role of trust and personal connection in delegations. She studies how different cultures express disagreement or negativity; she shows how confrontation and emotional expressiveness don’t always go hand-in-hand; and she illustrates how saying “yes” and “no” won’t always be as straightforward as it may be in New York or Toronto. Her writing on how different cultures build trust in different ways—and how even legal agreements carry different connotations, culture to culture—is particularly instructive. The key is to be extremely sensitive, to spend time getting to know and understand your partners. To be empathetic, alert, adaptable, and to watch “for cultural bridges.”

“When you are negotiating a deal,” Meyer writes, “you need to persuade and react, to convince and finesse, pushing your points while working carefully toward an agreement. In the heat of the discussion, what is spoken is important. But the trust you have built, the subtle messages you have understood, your ability to adapt your demeanor to the context at hand, will ultimately make the difference between success and failure—for Americans, for Chinese, for Brazilians, for everybody.”

To hire Erin Meyer as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

The Straight Shooter: A Profile of Dragons’ Den‘s Manjit Minhas

This month, Canadian Business ran a feature profile of Lavin speaker Manjit Minhas—the newest member of the hit CBC show Dragons' Den. Observing Minhas and her “family of entrepreneurs” at a recent taping, Canadian Business puts her role in perspective. “Poised and regal, she plays the straight woman,” the magazine writes. “As tapings progress, a consensus emerges that she's the tough one, in the vein of sharp-tongued Kevin O’Leary.”

Before being chosen to sit in Den's inner circle, Minhas came to prominence as the young upstart who, along with her brother, runs one of the country's largest breweries. She has overcome many regulatory and competitive hurdles on her road to success. “The scrappiness with which Manjit fought her way through Ontario's red tape should prove a useful trait on Dragons' Den. 'I'm fast at cutting through the BS—it's my personality,' she says.”

The piece goes in depth, chronicling the rise of “the beer baroness” from working in her father’s liquor store as a teenager in Alberta, to running a liquor distribution business with her brother, to becoming the CEO of one of the country’s biggest breweries:

“Ruthlessly controlling expenses is something Manjit Minhas knows well. Her company, which started out selling deeply discounted spirits to Calgary-area bars and restaurants, now has two breweries and a distillery producing 160 varieties of beer and 90 spirits, as well as subsidiaries in everything from TV production to trucking, bringing in a total of $155 million in revenues. But even as the Minhas siblings expanded into different categories and markets, they have stuck to the same formula: offering the lowest-cost option.”

Manjit Minhas speaks on the subjects of entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. To book Manjit Minhas as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

Why Business Should Pay Attention to the Bacon Trend: David Sax

Cupcakes, cronuts, and the bacon we’re suddenly compelled to wrap around everything we eat are all part of our ever-evolving “edible zeitgeist,” says food trend expert David Sax. The author of The Tastemakers focuses his keen eye on the rapid deployment of trends that shape how we eat—delving into some of the takeaways in this new video, embedded above.

Sax says we’re at a new and exciting stage for food trends—one fuelled by social media and the rapid organic explosion of hot new “it” foods.

LA restaurateur Roy Choi's journey from corner taco truck owner to national sensation in a matter of months thanks to the power of Twitter is seen as a touchpoint moment by Sax. Viral sharing of where Choi would park his truck in the heyday of food trucks, tacos, and cultural mashup foods quickly led to two-hour long lineups of people wanting to participate in a cultural phenomenon. “It’s not just about how good does this taste, but ‘I have to be there…I couldn’t have gone to Woodstock, but I ate a kalbi taco’,” jokes Sax.

In the past the trend process would have taken a long time—assuming the conditions were just right—having a steady stream of word-of-mouth, and the right publication alerting its audience. Today’s instantly socially connected food culture means everything is transmitted in real-time. Businesses simply need to tune in quickly and stay tuned in to not be left out of the next big food trend cycle.

In entertaining, eye-opening talks, Sax introduces us to the economic and cultural impact of what's on our plate and in our pantry. To book David Sax as a speaker, please contact The Lavin Agency.

Why Regular People Should Invest in Start-Ups: Jessica Jackley’s WSJ Op-Ed

Jessica Jackley knows a lot about start-ups. In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, she writes about why she is in favor of new legislation that allows entrepreneurs raising startup capital (less than $1 million) to invite anyone to invest, including the general public. It's more inclusive, for one, she says—there's something inherently “wrong” about excluding regular people from investment opportunities. As the co-founder of Kiva, the world's most successful microlending site, Jackley saw the company grow from a social entrepreneurship experiment to over $500 million in loans to entrepreneurs across 206 countries. That success is based on a simple concept: investing in entrepreneurs.

Restricting anyone’s ability to invest does mean protecting certain people from losing money. But it also cuts most of the population off from the benefits. This is not the answer. We must provide education, information and the opportunity to learn by doing, for everyone.

And, Jackley shares her beliefs that unaccredited investors may be more “invested” (no pun intended) in the business because of their smaller resources and bigger potential for major loss or gain.

I’d bet that as unaccredited and accredited folks interact a bit more, at first just as co-investors in a startup but eventually perhaps as advisors or board members for those companies, we will learn that the best contributors to these ventures are those with more to lose. When everyone has the same information and the same opportunities to contribute, people who have never been able to play in this game before will have a new and unique perspective that might—God forbid—teach the 1% (or, there I go again, the 3%) a thing or two. Perhaps we’ll see that those without a huge cushion of financial resources to fall back on might make even more prudent, more careful, more efficient, more meaningful choices with limited resources than those for whom a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket.

In her talks, Jackley presents powerful new business lessons, reframing best practices in atypical, thought-provoking ways. To book Jessica Jackley as a speaker for your event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Less Can Be More: David Robertson Speaks To LEGO’s Innovation Strategy

“Thinking out of the box almost put LEGO out of business,” innovation speaker David Robertson says in a new keynote speech. “[It was] going back in the box [that] created a tremendous success.” Robertson is a Wharton School Professor and author of Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. In the book, he documented LEGO's remarkable comeback after enduring a period of near-bankruptcy. In his speeches, he draws from the extensive research in Brick by Brick, to show audiences that there is no “one-size-fits-all” method of innovation. Sometimes less is more. And, as Robertson shows, pushing the limits too far could potentially squander your business, like it almost did to LEGO. 

When LEGO experienced a massive loss in 1998, the iconic toy company brought in what Robertson calls a “turnaround expert” to help them innovate. Between 1999 and 2002, the company relentlessly and disruptively innovated their business model. The company got so innovative with their products, in fact, that they lost sight of who they were as a brand. Dabbling in theme parks, entertainment, and toys that didn't featured the company's classic brick-by-brick construction model was confusing to consumers. All of that innovating seemed to work at first—until eventually it didn't. “LEGO as we know it almost ceased to exist,” Robertson notes.

The company quickly got to work on taking a different path. They rewrote the rules of innovation; disruptive, out-of-the-box thinking was not the only way to grow a company, they determined. And, as evidenced by their massive uptick in profit over the past decade, they proved that you don't always have to wander too far from the beaten path to find success.

In his keynotes, the business expert and conference speaker reveals the model behind LEGO's success. He provides audiences with the “bricks” they can use to build their own versions of LEGO’s system for continuous innovation. To book a speaker for your next event, or, to learn more about what David Robertson can bring to your organization, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

Job Interviews Don’t Always Determine The Best Hires: Maria Konnikova

Nor sure why that last job interview didn't quite pan out the way you expected? Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind, says it may not have been all your fault. The format of the interview itself, and the hiring bias it creates, could be more to blame for poor hiring choices than we realize. In her New Yorker article, the science speaker explains the shortcomings of the interview process. She also shows us how to think critically about the experience so we can fine-tune it and make it run more smoothly for both the interviewer and the interviewee.

Decontextualization: Interviewers often assume that character traits revealed in the interview process will be indicative of future behavior on-the-job. It's often the case, however, that the questions asked of a candidate only measure their ability to “quickly [come] up with a clever, plausible-seeming solution to an abstract problem under pressure,” Konnikova writes. Thus, thinking quickly becomes more important than thinking critically. The entire process also takes place in an environment far removed from the real-life workplace. The respondent's answers are often arbitrary and not necessarily demonstrative of their aptitude for the position.

First impressions trump all: The impression you give off within the first minute (or less) of the interview is more critical than the majority of your answers. Konnikova cites a university study that proved this. In the experiment, one group of interviewers rated candidates after completing a full interview process. A second group was asked to evaluate the same candidates based solely on the first 20 seconds of their interview. “What the researchers found,” Konnikova writes, “was a high correlation between judgments made by the untrained eye in a matter of seconds and those made by trained interviewers after going through the whole process.” What's more, even if you gave the exact same answers as another candidate, but had somehow given off a bad first impression, it's likely you would be judged lower than the other applicant.

Now that we know where we go wrong as interviewers, how can we correct for this?

Standardize the process:  Try to ask the same questions, in the same order, for every candidate, Konnikova suggests. This can help to lessen thin-slice judgment (first impression bias) and objectify the answers from all candidates.

Focus on relevant behavioral analysis (past and future): “'Describe a situation where you did well on X or failed on Y' is an example of a past behavioral measure; asking a programmer to describe how she would solve a particular programming task would be a future measure,” Konnikova explains. Getting the candidate to complete a task that assimilates their role on-the-job is also helpful. This puts their behaviors and skills into context that directly relates to the job being interviewed for.

5 Qualities Of Effective Leaders: Business Speaker Adam Bryant [VIDEO]

CEOs are often sought after for their insight on innovation and strategy, but business speaker Adam Bryant took a different approach when he interviewed over 200 leaders of the world's top companies. In his breakaway “Corner Office” column in The New York Times—and his book of the same name—Bryant analyzes what that the heads of these massive companies are doing 24/7: leading, managing, building a team, fostering a high performance culture, and creating a mission statement. As our newest exclusive speaker on business and leadership, Bryant shares the lessons he's learned from two decades of journalism experience.

“What I really tried to do is understand what is it about these people that explains why they kept being promoted to the corner office,” he says in a recent interview. “Not so much 'what's your secret to success' but really trying to understand why they kept getting promoted.” Bryant's ability to translate these lessons into his Pulitzer Prize winning journalism and engaging talks makes him an in-demand speaker for people in any industry who are looking to sharpen their leadership skills.

For example, here are the five key leadership qualities that Bryant has uncovered from his plethora of in-depth research:

1. Passionate Curiosity: The top leaders had a deep connection with the world and a curious mind that was always seeking to understand how things work and how we can do things better.

2. Battle-Hardened Confidence: They all possessed a track-record of facing down adversity, and a natural confidence and assuredness in their capabilities.

3. Team Smarts: This is what Bryant refers to as the “organizational equivalent of street smarts.” Effective leaders have a good sense of how to connect with their team, bring people together, and produce results.

4. Simple Mindset: They all had the ability to distill a great deal of information into the few key points that are relevant to the organization or project at hand. Breaking down goals into a few straightforward points makes it easier for a team to focus.

5. Fearlessness: Having “a bias toward action,” Bryant says. This doesn't mean being reckless. Rather, it refers to the ability to take risks and know when something needs to be turned on its head in order to function better.

Artists Can Be Businesspeople Too: Molly Crabapple [VIDEO]

“To me, business is really about the art of getting things done,” Molly Crabapple told us in an interview at our New York office. That's why she doesn't believe that artists can't be a part of the business world. “People have this notion that artists should not be businesspeople,” she explains. The artist, she says, is often led to believe that they should not play a part in advancing their own career—that they are only 'the creative' and someone else will do the rest. However, if running a business is about getting results, creative people can work—and excel—in that space too.

She argues that it is counter-productive for an artist to think that they have to wait for someone else to propel their career forward. “I believe that you have to seize your own future,” she says, “you have to advocate for yourself and build the world that you desire.” That's what she did when she opened up her own alternative art class, Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, at age 22. Today, she continues to advocate for being disruptive and taking the reins when it comes to pursuing your passions.

Crabapple's brilliant artistic endeavors speak for themselves. What is equally as impressive, however, is the way that she refuses to ask permission and blazes trails for herself—never content to wait for a door to be opened for her when she can open it herself. She promotes this ideology in her keynotes. She tells audiences that the world is changing and there's no time to wait for someone to make things happen for you. Her presentations are energizing and inspiring, and she encourages everyone to pursue their goals and take no prisoners along the way.

Embracing Aboriginal Traditions & Community: Waneek Horn-Miller

As one of North America's most inspiring Native speakers, Waneek Horn-Miller is proud of her heritage and is highly involved in the aboriginal community. She recently signed on with the Manitobah Mukluks company to be the brand ambassador for the traditional, Canadian-made footwear. “This is a success story,” Waneek Horn-Miller says of the Manitobah Mukluks company in an interview. “I love the product and the people involved. Everyone is personable, down-to-earth and family-oriented, just like the aboriginal culture.”

Horn-Miller is a Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal. She lived through the Oka crisis in 1990, and now delivers riveting keynotes aimed at bridging the gap and repairing the relationship between natives and non-natives. She is also directly involved with the native community and works with the Assembly of First Nations to develop their sport, fitness and health strategy, and speaks to Aboriginal youth to encourage them to pursue higher education. She draws on her experiences as the former co-captain of Canada's Olympic women's water polo team to teach her audiences how to build self-esteem through a balance of education and sport.

Building A Visible Brand: Jeremy Gutsche on Capturing Consumer Attention

Even though we're only a week into 2013, innovation speaker Jeremy Gutsche already has a firm handle on the upcoming trends for this year. As he explains in his interview with The Globe and Mail (check it out here), the next big thing in marketing for 2013 is creating a connection with your consumer. Whether you use brazen social media campaigns or revamp ordinary products into something a bit more out-of-the-box, winning over the increasingly knowledgeable customer requires that companies go the extra mile. Slapping up a website and occasionally posting to your social media accounts just doesn't cut it anymore, he says. Instead, you have to use these channels as a means to give your customers what they are asking for—as well as something they aren't expecting.

An example he gives is the way IKEA honed in on what their fans were saying on Facebook to garner international media fervor. When consumers created a 100-member strong Facebook group asking the furniture chain to sponsor a sleepover in one of their stores, IKEA responded. The company held the sleepover and gave fans what they wanted while exceeding their expectations. Gutsche also says that “upgraded ordinary,” will be a big hit in 2013. The concept is that companies should give their customers something they need (ketchup, for example) but in an updated and creative way (putting ketchup into a caulking gun instead of a regular bottle, for example). The product then becomes a “conversation piece,” he explains—even considered “art”, in some cases. He also says that innovative new vending machines and facial recognition software will become more prominent in the marketplace in the years to come.

The future or marketing will use a combination of real life experiences and social media efforts to both create a buzz and nurture a strong relationship with the customer. As Gutsche explains, it's not enough to simply have a clever commercial or a mediocre Twitter following. Instead, you have to extend your brand further than ever to give customers something novel that they will enjoy in real life—and then talk about online. The author of Exploiting Chaos and the founder of one of the world's most prominent trend spotting websites, Trendhunter.com, Gutsche is always on the lookout for the next big thing. His energy and ambition is infectious and his standing room only keynote presentations inspire audiences to think differently about innovation and make a name for themselves in their industry.

Making It In America: James Fallows & Charles Fishman On The Insourcing Trend

James Fallows and Charles Fishman both recently posed the theory that insourcing is poised to be the next big trend in the manufacturing sector. And, according to kottke.org, they're right on point. The popular online content aggregator recently published a post exploring the rising popularity of the “Made In The USA” movement in the major media. Both Fishman and Fallows have recently written articles for The Atlantic exploring the shift back to making products in America rather than outsourcing the production to China, or other locations overseas. And they aren't the only ones—there has been an influx of coverage on companies making the jump to a “homegrown” production method as of late.

The news of Apple moving its production to America, and companies like American Giant manufacturing their hooded sweatshirts entirely in the U.S. at a reasonable price, are just two stories buzzing in the news that are showing that this insourcing boom is, indeed, a rising trend. That, coupled with the success of products on Etsy and projects on Kickstarter that are proudly American-made, shows that Fallows and Fishman were certainly on to something in their recent articles.

Fallows' article, “Mr. China Comes to America,” explores how both China and America are experiencing rapid and dramatic changes that have made manufacturing in the States more appealing. In Fishman's “The Insourcing Boom,” he says that General Electric's recent expansion of their Appliance Park manufacturing plant in Kentucky is a sign of big changes to come. He was also recently featured on CNBC, where he discussed the changing opinions business leaders have toward manufacturing in America rather than overseas. Passionately argued and deeply researched, both articles show us how American industry is changing and provide a framework for how these changes will impact things overseas, and at home.

“Don’t Think Like Everybody Else”: Manjit Minhas’ Cover Story In DARPAN

“If you stop learning or growing, so will your company,” says entrepreneur and business speaker Manjit Minhas. Featured as the cover story in a recent edition of DARPAN Magainze, Minhas shares the story of how she paved the way for young, minority women to become a lucrative part of the beer and spirit industry. Minhas's business vision helped launch Minhas Craft Brewery (co-created with her brother Ravinder), which has risen to become the 10th largest brewery in the world.

Named as one of the Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in Canada, the 32-year-old mother says the secret to her success is that “[her and her brother] don't think like everybody else. We go by our gut, more than by a textbook.” She teaches this business lesson, among many others, in her riveting keynote talks, empowering both men and women of all ages, in any industry, to take control of their businesses. Starting her journey as a 19-year-old student with a dream, Minhas has transformed her vision into a thriving business. Her natural talent for identifying market gaps (such as the creation of the Uptown Girl line of beers geared specifically to women wanting low carb options) and down-to-earth demeanour has allowed her to succeed in a highly competitive industry—and inspire those with similar dreams to reach their goals.