The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

How Can Entrepreneurs Get Through COVID-19? Business Journalist David Sax Reveals Two Essential Truths

If business owners can learn to embrace two certainties, they’ll be able to get through anything, says David Sax. In his new piece for Entrepreneur, he considers how the challenges presented by COVID-19 are showing us what we’re capable of.

“The only way entrepreneurs will get through this is by embracing our two core truths — the only two certainties in an entrepreneur’s life,” writes David Sax in Entrepreneur. “They’re not money, fame, innovation or disruption. They are this: risk and freedom. You cannot have one without the other, and so an entrepreneur must have both.”

Sax has been interested in entrepreneurship for a long time. Not just the celebrated Silicon Valley archetype of an entrepreneur, either, but business owners of all stripes—the ones who truly make up our economy. In his new book, The Soul of an Entrepreneur, Sax examines how we can move beyond this narrow definition and get back to the core of entrepreneurship. He showcases stories from business owners across all industries and demographics, so that we might celebrate entrepreneurship in all of its diversity, and make it truly accessible to all. And though the appearance of the coronavirus is understandably omitted from the book, the subject matter remains relevant as ever.

Today, the inherent risk in entrepreneurship is being laid bare by this invisible enemy we’re all fighting. And the government response has, in many cases, left much to be desired. But that’s where the freedom part of the entrepreneur’s bargain comes in. “To get through this crisis, we now have to double down on that freedom. We have to try new things, create opportunities, pivot, shift, experiment and swing for the fences. We need to find a way to move forward. And from what I’ve seen so far this past month, that is exactly what we are doing.”

Read the full article here.

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


To be, or Not to Be Authentic?: Harvard’s Laura Huang and Francesca Gino Explore Authenticity and Performance

When it comes to making a first impression, whether it be a job interview, a networking event, or a pitch, many people tend to cater to the other person’s interests, rather than behave according to their own. But does this approach help or harm our chances of getting what we want? Harvard professors and fellow Lavin Speakers Laura Huang and Francesca Gino explore in their new research.

It turns out, laughing at your job interviewer’s jokes or pretending to adopt an interest in their hobbies won’t necessarily land you a job. New research by Laura Huang, Francesca Gino, and Ovul Sezer suggests that catering to someone else’s interests can actually increase anxiety and, as a result, hinder, instead of improve, performance. Why? In a field study where entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to potential investors, the researchers found that anxiety was heightened by trying to anticipate what another person wants to hear. Against conventional wisdom, it appears that catering to someone else, rather than behaving authentically, will hurt our chances of success.


Read the full report here.


To book Francesca Gino or Laura Huang for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today, their exclusive speakers bureau.


When Hard Work Isn’t Enough: Business Professor Laura Huang Helps Us Find Our Edge

In her debut book Edge, Harvard Business School professor Laura Huang busts the myth that hard work alone will get us to our goals. Instead, she teaches us how to find our “edge”—the unique qualities that set us apart—and open doors to money, time, and connections.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if career advancement was directly linked to how hard we work, or the skills we possess? Unfortunately, the reality is more complicated than that. Biases, stereotypes, and perceptions of who we are often get in the way of our success—even if we’re the most qualified for the job.


As a business professor who studies early entrepreneurship, Laura Huang has seen her fair share of failure. But we needn’t give up because the obstacles are stacked against us, she says. Instead of letting other people’s perceptions limit us, we can actively shape those beliefs—in part by recognizing our own strengths and flaws—into a competitive edge. “Life isn’t fair. We can’t just wait around for people to make the right decisions for us,” Huang explains. “So how do we take all the disadvantages stacked against us and flip them in our favor to succeed within an imperfect system?”


Huang’s book Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage (Out Today!) draws from award-winning research on entrepreneurial intuition, persuasion, and implicit decision-making to show us how to strategically turn our shortcomings into assets.


To book speaker Laura Huang for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, and speak to a knowledgeable member of our sales team.

Building the Next Generation of Tech Champions: Ajay Agrawal’s Creative Destruction Lab Expands to Paris

Founded by Professor Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School, the Creative Destruction Lab has supported over 1,500 founders from over 30 countries—generating more than 4 billion dollars in equity value. Now, in its partnership with International business school HEC Paris, the CDL is poised to “play a vital role in building the next generation of European deep tech champions.” 

“At HEC Paris we embrace the concept ‘Learn to Dare.’ In CDL, HEC sees the opportunity to dare help turn today’s scientific breakthroughs into tomorrow’s world-changing businesses,” said Peter Todd, professor and dean at HEC Paris. The program, which currently operates out of five universities in Canada and Europe, will offer mentorship, technical advice, and funding opportunities in its new location.


Founder Ajay Agrawal describes the CDL as a marketplace for judgement: “The types of founders that join our program are often engineers or scientists. They have deep expertise in their technical domain, but lack business judgment. They are regularly faced with a to-do list of hundreds of things they could be doing to build their business, but don’t have the cycles to do all those things, and so they have to pick from the list. Judgment is the skill of prioritizing the list.”


The initiative will be led by L’Oreal Professor of Entrepreneurship Thomas Asebro and capital investor Micahel Jackson. “CDL has a proven track record of success in helping science-based startups scale,” said Jackson. “I’m thrilled to be part of bringing the program to Paris, where it can play a vital role in building the next generation of European deep tech champions.”


To book speaker Ajay Agrawal for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a sales agent today.

Manjit Minhas Opens Up About Her Path from Fledgling Entrepreneur to Beer Baroness

After starting a business with her brother Ravinder at the tender age of 19, Manjit Minhas became the President, CEO, and sole owner Minhas Breweries—the tenth largest brewery in the world. In a new feature in Menu, she opens up about the challenges she faced in the industry, and how she grew a successful business despite them. 

As a young woman, Manjit Minhas did not fit the standard beer-industry stereotype. But that didn’t stop her from thriving in an unwelcoming industry. “The way we did that was just literally grit and persistence. I realized that I’m going to stand out no matter what I do because of those things,” Manjit explains. “So, then I became […] the best at research, not only [for] my own brands but for the industry. It was just that I was going to be the go-to person for any buyer, for any retailer, for any government official that wanted to know anything happening in the industry.”

Today, Minhas has expanded into spirits and liquor, and her company now offers over 90 different brands. She is also a judge on Dragon’s Den, where she offers young entrepreneurs a chance to follow their own passions. “I’ve had many fabulous mentors in my life professionally and personally and many people along the way that have given me guidance,” she says, looking at the popular series as a way to give back.


Read the full interview here.


To book speaker Manjit Minhas for your next speaking engagement, contact one of our skilled representatives at The Lavin Agency.

Behavioral Scientist Francesca Gino Explains How Changing Your Mind Can Make You Seem Smarter

You’re in the middle of pitching investors on your business idea, and someone brings up contradictory evidence to a claim you’ve made. Do you acknowledge it and change your mind? Or do you dig in your heels and argue that you know best? New research by Francesca Gino (featured in Inc) suggests the former will make you look smarter. 

Francesca Gino, Leslie K. John, and their collaborators tested pitch competitions to see which situation fared better. They found that “Entrepreneurs who changed their minds during the pitch were almost six times more likely to advance to the final round of the competition.” The reason?  “Participants perceived those who changed their minds as lacking confidence, but demonstrating intelligence.”

So the next time you’re worried about changing your mind publicly, remember that being flexible can actually work to your benefit, while being stubborn could actually have adverse effects. You can read more about the phenomenon here.


To book speaker Francesca Gino for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Gender and Venture Capitalism: Laura Huang Wins the Best Paper Award from the Academy of Management

Through their scholarship and teaching, The Academy of Management Journal aims to inspire and enable a better world. This year, they’re honoring top business school professor Laura Huang with the AMJ Best Paper Award for her groundbreaking work on how the gender gap affects startup funding. 

Male entrepreneurs tend to raise higher levels of funding than their female counterparts; however, the reason for this disparity remains unknown and widely contested. In their paper, We Ask Men to Win and Women Not to Lose: Closing the Gender Gap in Startup Funding, Laura Huang and her colleagues found strong evidence that the gap is caused by gender bias in the questions posed by investors. Through a Q&A intervention on the TechCrunch Disrupt conference between 2010 and 2016, Huang and her co-authors discovered that male entrepreneurs were more likely to be asked promotion-focused questions, while female entrepreneurs tended to be asked prevention-focused questions.


The paper demonstrates that each additional prevention-focused question significantly hinders an entrepreneur’s ability to raise capital for their idea. “By experimentally testing an intervention, we find that entrepreneurs can significantly increase funding for their startups when responding to prevention-focused questions with promotion-focused answers.” Offering evidence-based tactics for reducing the gender disadvantage, the paper has both practical and theoretical implications for entrepreneurship.


To book Laura Huang for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Want to Make Your Hard Work Work Harder? Harvard Business School Professor Laura Huang Says You Need to Create an Edge.

How can we make our paths to success a little easier? We all have biases working for and against us, says Laura Huang, one of the top business school professors in America and author of the hotly anticipated book EDGE (2020). Whether it’s a natural confidence (or lack thereof); established networks (or no professional connections at all), if we learn what these biases are, we can strategically empower ourselves—in other words find our edge—and create personal success. 

In the video below she discusses one of the business world’s most harmful biases—why female entrepreneurs face tougher questions from venture capitalists—and offers solutions to combat it.  


QUICK TAKE: Wharton prof entrepreneurship Laura Huang on gut feel in angel investing, biases & hacks


To book Laura Huang, or another business speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.