The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson Investigates How Restaurant Closures Will Affect the Nation’s Economy

“A pandemic is war,” writes Derek Thompson in his latest article for The Atlantic. And our response to the biological enemy is a shut-down of public life, from schools to restaurants. Unfortunately, the latter closure especially will have profound effects on the nation’s economy. What we do to support the restaurant industry, then, is crucial for how we repair our economic life.  

Restaurant closures may not seem like an enormous deal at first, but if you consider the fact that restaurant spending in America surpassed grocery store spending for the first time ever, things begin to look a bit more grim. “This modern dining revolution has made restaurants one of the country’s most important sources of work. In 1990, manufacturing employment was almost three times larger than the food-service industry, but today there are about as many jobs in food service as in manufacturing,” writes Derek Thompson. “Restaurants are the new factories, and without them state and local economies across the country would fall to pieces.”


So what happens now, in a pandemic, when we are forced to do without them? It’s definitely uncharted territory, with no clear understanding of how long the closures will last. “Already operating at paper-thin margins, restaurants face the loss of their entire dine-in business, but they will still have to make rent,” explains Thompson. The current crisis in a nutshell is that the pre-pandemic financial obligations have not disappeared. According to Thompson, there is only one solution to the problem: “The public sector must step in and play consumer for several months, until the virus passes.”


Read his full article here.


To book speaker Derek Thompson for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, and speak with a knowledgeable representative from our sales team.

Business Professor Sarah Kaplan Discusses the Profit Potential in Climate Change Action for CBC News

This week, BlackRock—the world’s largest money manager—announced that it will begin adjusting its investment strategies with climate change in mind. Rotman professor Sarah Kaplan joined CBC’s Front Burner to discuss how this move will impact the company’s bottom line.  

In his letter to CEOs, BlackRock’s Larry Fink wrote that “we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” Citing research from the UN, McKinsey, and the company’s own investment institute, Finks makes a compelling argument that climate risk is investment risk, and thus, cannot be ignored. While BlackRock won’t immediately pull out of natural resource companies such as Suncor or ExxonMobil, it will begin transitioning its portfolios to other companies—a move that Rotman professor Sarah Kaplan says will have huge implications. “If 7 trillion dollars is not going to be accessible to [natural resource companies], then the cost of capital for them is going to go up. It’s going to make their operations more expensive,” she explains. “Which, by the way, is a way that the marketplace is actually sanctioning these behaviors—because if their cost of capital goes up, then it means that taking fossil fuels out of the ground is going to be more expensive than wind energy or other renewables. […] It's a way of getting the market to invest in renewables, in a way.”


Whether it be from consumers, employees, or investors, companies today are facing intense pressure from a variety of stakeholders, with the environment emerging as a key concern. In her book The 360 Corporation Kaplan explores what organizations can do to respond to these concerns—without “greenwashing”—and continue to deliver shareholder value.


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Sarah Kaplan for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Fast Company’s Stephanie Mehta Explores the Evolution of Venture Capital

Fledgling venture firm Felix Capital has announced it’s raised an additional $300 million in funding to continue to invest in digital lifestyle brands—such as Goop, Highsnobiety, and Peleton, reports Fast Company’s Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Mehta. Her latest piece investigates the company’s digital strategy and what makes their portfolio unique.  

“The growth of Felix underscores just how far venture investing has journeyed from Silicon Valley,” writes Stephanie Mehta, noting that North America’s tech hub is largely responsible for “canonizing” the funding mechanism. “Just a few decades ago, many of the companies in Felix’s portfolio, such as jewelry maker Mejuri or stationery brand Papier, would not have qualified for venture capital, which favored fast-growing—and risky—biotech or information tech companies capable of huge returns to private investors through a public offering or a blockbuster merger.”


Rather than set out to invest in deep tech, Felix founder Frederic Court explains he looks for companies that are using technology to “build communities and brands or to operate their businesses more efficiently,” Mehta reports. He’s especially interested in communities, such as Highsnobiety, that are not actively seeking investors, and that have been built authentically.


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Stephanie Mehta for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

What Does WeWork’s Spiral Mean for the Future of Consumer Tech? Derek Thompson Explores for The Atlantic.

Though the case of WeWork—a company poised to go public before a sharp, unexpected decline in its valuation—appears as a “one-of-a-kind spectacle,” according to Derek Thompson the underlying narrative is more familiar than we think. 

“If you wake up on a Casper mattress, hail a Lyft to get to your desk at WeWork, use DoorDash to order lunch to the office, hail another Lyft home, and have Uber Eats bring you dinner, you have spent your entire day interacting with companies that will collectively lose nearly $13 billion this year. Most have never announced, and may never achieve, a profit,” writes Derek Thompson in his article “WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion.


Investors have poured money in companies that have no clear path to profitability. WeWork has lost $1billion in revenue this year and last year, the result of aggressive expansion that burns through funds. As Thompson notes in his appearance on NPR’s Here and Now, “Unicorns are billion dollar companies stuck between two worlds. As private companies they raise all this money with inflated visions of planetary conquests. Then when they turn public, all the money that they’re spending on conquering the planet appears, on profit and loss statements, as losses.”


While the delusion of private-sector wunderkinds is just that—a delusion—it doesn’t necessarily mean these companies are doomed. But it does mean that they’ll have to change their stories. “Magic made them,” says Thompson. “Only math with save them.”


To book speaker Derek Thompson for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Lavin Speaker Daron Acemoglu Awarded MIT’s Highest Faculty Honor

Economist Daron Acemoglu has produced influential research in government, innovation, labor, and globalization. Thanks to his groundbreaking contributions to the field, this year Acemoglu has been named Institute Professor, the highest faculty honor awarded by MIT.  

Daron Acemoglu has spent over 25 years at MIT grappling with large and complex economic questions. Over the course of his tenure, he has been recognized as one of the most “dedicated teachers and mentors in his department,” and his research has had a significant impact on diverse areas of his fieldfrom labor economies to public institutions, democracy, and economic growth. Acemoglu has authored or co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed papers on these topics, and is gearing up for the release of his fifth book, The Narrow Corridor, which will be published in September.


“As an Institute Professor, Daron Acemoglu embodies the essence of MIT: boldness, rigor and real-world impact,” said MIT’s President L. Rafael Rief. “From the John Bates Clark Medal to his decades of pioneering contributions to the literature, Daron has built an exceptional record of academic accomplishment. And because he has focused his creativity on broad, deep questions around the practical fate of nations, communities, and workers, his work will be essential to making a better world in our time.”


Acemoglu is one of two MIT professors to earn the distinction in 2019, and one of twelve Institute Professors in total. Acemoglu, and his colleague political scientist Suzanne Berger, are the first appointees of the title since 2015.


“MIT is a very down-to-earth, scientific, no-nonsense environment, and the economics department here has been very open-minded, in an age when economics is more relevant than ever but also in the midst of a deep transformation,” Acemoglu said. “I’ve spent […] my career at MIT and this is a recognition that makes me humbled and happy.”


To book speaker Daron Acemoglu for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

“Economist in a League of His Own”: Lavin Speaker Daron Acemoglu Wins the 2019 Global Economy Prize

The Global Economy Prize has been awarded by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and its partners since 2005, honoring those who have pioneered “creative and path-breaking” globalization initiatives in politics, business, and science. This year, it recognizes the outstanding contribution of economist Daron Acemoglu

Daron Acemoglu is an economist in a league of his own, not only because of his outstanding theoretical work, but also because he dares to write up his research findings in such a way that they are accessible to a wider audience,” The Institute writes of their decision to award Acemoglu with this year’s prize.


Acemoglu’s poverty research in particular caught the attention of the Kiel Institute and its partners, the City of Kiel and the Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Commerce. Along with Harvard’s James Robinson, Acemoglu co-authored Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, an ambitious and cutting-edge work of major historical, political, and cultural significance. Drawing upon fifteen years of original research, the book effectively shows that it is man-made political and economic institutions that most significantly contribute to a nation’s economic prosperity or suffering.


Acemoglupictured left, aboveis honored with the 2019 Global Economy Prize alongside Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble MdB and Hikmet Ersek, Präsident.


To book Daron Acemoglu for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.


Forbes editor Randall Lane Reimagines Capitalism in His “Billionaires” Cover Story

“For the past year I’ve had one-on-one discussions with no fewer than two dozen billionaires, including face-to-face meetings with the three richest people in the world—Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet—touching on various aspects of capitalism’s future,” says Forbes editor Randall Lane in his latest feature. “Among Millennials and Gen Z, free market skepticism is the majority view,” which begs the provocative question, should we have billionaires?    

The story is the cover of Forbes’ “Billionaires” issue, which profiles the richest people in the world, breaking them down by age, gender, country and more, and organizing that data so that readers get the fullest picture of where, and to whom, super wealth is distributed around the world.


In his illuminating and info-packed talk based on the article, Lane asks how we can fix a system intended to unite that continues to divide? And how can we move into the future and make the changes necessary to fuel a more stable economy?


To book Randall Lane for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.