“Did you know that curiosity is your superpower? Though we often think of being curious as a personality trait, it’s actually the foundation of our capacity for connection, growth, and healing,” says Scott Shigeoka, author of Seek: How Curiosity Can Transform Your Life and Change the World, fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin.
In energetic and inspiring talks, Scott explores how putting the skill of curiosity into practice can not only increase our understanding of others, but also sharpen our creativity and collaboration, improve our relationships and teams, and bolster our life satisfaction. He pairs powerful stories with practical strategies to help individuals and organizations alike harness the power of curiosity. Among other things, he shares the DIVE model that he developed to target the four “core muscles” of deep curiosity:
Detach—Let go of your ABCs (assumptions, biases, certainty);
Intend—Prepare your mindset and setting;
Value—See the dignity of every person (including yourself);
Embrace—Welcome the hard times in your life.
“If you want a less anxious workforce, if you want leaders who are respected, if you want to be healthier and happier—curiosity is your ticket,” Scott tells Lavin.
“Essential reading. Raquel Willis uses her life story as a means to inspire and encourage us to step into our full selves. Deeply engaging with searing honesty and compassion.” — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page
Born in the South to a Catholic family, Raquel Willis skyrocketed to national prominence when she spoke at the 2020 Women’s March on Washington in front of over 400,000 people. Her career has been nothing short of groundbreaking: she co-founded the Trans Week of Visibility and Action, won two GLAAD awards for her powerful work spotlighting trans women of color and trans youth, and has held prominent posts as the director of communications for Ms. Foundation for Women and executive editor for Out magazine.
Raquel’s debut memoir, The Risk It Takes to Bloom, “serves as a vital call to action for this era, and a powerful reminder of what it takes to bloom into your most authentic, vibrant self” (Amber Tamblyn, bestselling author of Listening in the Dark). It’s been named one of the Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023 by TIME and W magazine, alongside titles like Barbra Streisand’s hot new memoir and Zadie Smith’s The Fraud.
In engaging, down-to-earth talks, Raquel draws on her unique experience to show how oppression of any group hurts us all—and how we can work together to achieve liberation for everyone. She explains the “three C’s” that can help us cultivate belonging in the workplace or on campus, and offers practical strategies to ensure everyone at your organization can be their true self and do their best work. It doesn’t matter who you are, she says—we can all show up and participate in the fight for true freedom.
“We all have our own journey to figuring out how we’re going to be a part of the change that we want to see,” Raquel tells Lavin. “I like to encourage people to think about what actually resonates with them and use that as a jumping point.”
Watch a Lavin-exclusive video where Raquel explains the three C’s you need to build environments of true DEI:
Lavin’s Teju Cole has been hailed by Salman Rushdie as “among the most gifted writers of his generation.” In his latest book Tremor(out now), the award-winning author of Open City tells the story of Tunde, a West African photography professor on a New England campus, engaging with music, race, and history to explore the passage of time and how we mark it. Tremor has been called a “provocative and profound meditation on art and life in a world of terror” (Kirkus starred review), and a “dazzling performance from one of the most brilliant and singular minds at work today” (Katie Kitamura, Intimacies).
“Rick never stops looking for the punchlines in everyday life. He made me realize how funny ordinary things are, how funny and how incredibly interesting.”
— Jann Arden
“It’s safe to say that when it comes to Canada, the reviews have been mixed,” says Rick Mercer, beloved Canadian comic and #1 national bestselling author. “Me? I like the place. But what does it mean to be from here or to have landed here? What does it mean to be Canadian?”
Rick first burst onto the scene with his iconic shows This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Made in Canada. He went on to create and host The Rick Mercer Report—for 15 years!—winning almost 30 Gemini Awards over his career. He won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for his #1 national bestseller, Talking to Canadians, which Margaret Atwood describes as a “funny, pitfall-strewn, no-holds-barred memoir from the ranting TV uproarist, edge-walker, envelope-pusher and pot-stirrer.”
In his new memoir, The Road Years, he offers a look behind the scenes of his unparalleled success. He recounts his adventures across the country with humour and heart, from dogsledding to chainsaw carving to the “Train of Death.” Along the way, he celebrates the ordinary people who make Canada what it is, and investigates what it means to be Canadian today.
A brilliant and engaging speaker, Rick doesn’t just speak truth to power—he rants about it. When he speaks, everyone in the audience loves each other (and the country) just a little bit more. And they have fun throughout.
“We’re in a time with so much strife and toxicity,” Rick says. “People need a laugh.”
Watch an interview with Rick on Global News where he discusses his new memoir, his adventures, and what he’s learned about Canadian identity here.
The Identity Trap brings vital context to some of the most fraught and divisive debates of our time.Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard’s Alphonse Fletcher University Professor
“Group identities will always be a part of a diverse democracy. That’s perfectly fine and perfectly healthy,” Yascha tells Lavin. But when we start to see those identities as the only thing that defines us—that’s when we fall into what the Johns Hopkins professor calls “the identity trap.” When we’re in this trap, we wall ourselves off in our own echo chambers, convincing ourselves that politics is an “us vs. them” game, and we lose our ability to meet in the middle and make progress together.
But there is a way out. In his urgent and timely new book, The Identity Trap, Yascha “proposes an alternative to the ceaseless combat between ‘woke’ and ‘anti-woke’ extremes—one that takes seriously the enduring malignant legacy of systemic discrimination yet correctly identifies that universal values, not group solidarity, offer the surest path to justice, fairness, and enduring social peace” (New York Times columnist David French).
In compelling talks, Yascha shows us how to get out of the identity trap and come together for a future where we aren’t defined solely by the groups we’re in, but rather by the tastes and quirks that truly make us unique. He offers strategies for promoting healthy discussion without falling into extremism on either end—for example, “engage the reasonable middle rather than the loud extremes”—and shares practical takeaways that can help us move forward together.
“To build a better society, we must overcome the prejudices and enmities that have for so much of human history boxed us into the roles seemingly foreordained by our gender, our sexual orientation, or the color of our skin,” Yascha says. “We should keep striving for a society in which categories like race, gender, and sexual orientation matter a lot less than they do now because what each of us can accomplish—and how we all treat each other—no longer depends on the groups into which we were born.”
“Leaders set the tone for their organizations not only with their own behavior but also with what they reward, tolerate, or overlook,” Minette says. She’s experienced firsthand the power of championing diverse voices: she joined the male-dominated tech industry as a liberal arts major with no STEM background, and rose through the ranks to become VP of Engineering Practice at industry giant Autodesk (which makes the Oscar-winning animation software Maya). There, she successfully led 3500 software professionals—not despite her unique perspective, but because of it.
Minette previously co-authored The Psychological Safety Playbook (a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Health & Stress). Now, in The Boldly Inclusive Leader, she offers daily and weekly practices that you can use in your own organization to hone your leadership skills. For example:
Calling out the interruptions in meetings—even if you’re not the one facilitating;
Taking notes about your emotions and using them as data for your decisions;
Asking “What am I missing?” or “What have I not thought of?” when you share a point of view (and actually giving others time to respond).
“Inclusive leadership is a practice, and every day provides a new opportunity to model inclusive behavior,” Minette tells Lavin. “Like any practice you may have in your life, you improve over time, but that doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes or experience frustrations along the way. When you commit to inclusive leadership, you incorporate the practice into your daily work.”
Power and Progress is the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead.”
— Shoshana Zuboff, bestselling author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
In an age of ChatGPT and increasing automation, we must choose to take control of these technologies and build a more just and democratic world, says Daron Acemoglu. He’s the bestselling co-author of Why Nations Fail—the blockbuster book on why strong institutions are the often-overlooked key to strong democracies—and his new book Power and Progress (out now!) is a hopeful look at the future of technology and a roadmap for the work ahead.
Daron argues that although technology has historically been used to serve an elite few, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can use new tools like AI to bolster our economy, build up our democracy, and drive social progress for a more equitable world. “This is not a lament about the future being bad,” he says. “What makes this interesting is that the direction of technology is malleable—so we can redirect it.”
This bold reinterpretation of history and economics is already drawing accolades across the media, from WIRED to Financial Times. Along with co-author Simon Johnson, Daron gives us a sweeping overview of the last 1000 years of technological progress, drawing lessons from history to show what we need to do today to “ensure the rising tide of innovation lifts all boats” (Publishers Weekly).
Everyone feels stuck, whether you’re wrestling through a difficult project or trying to mend a friendship. “People believe that stuckness is inevitable,” says Adam Alter. “And it is—but it turns out to be surmountable.” A New York Times bestselling author and TED mainstage speaker, Adam has spent the past two decades learning how to overcome the forces that keep us stuck, escape our inertia, unleash our full creative potential, and reach our long-term goals.
Adam’s highly anticipated new book Anatomy of a Breakthrough is already winning critical raves and media attention. “I loved it,” says Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, the NYU marketing professor weaves together scientific studies and practical strategies to show how we can flourish in the face of friction. Along the way, he draws lessons from the soccer player who sacrifices the first few minutes of a game in order to win the rest, the “black sheep” method that Pixar uses to boost the innovation of an entire team, the “real-life Dr. House” whose checklists bring him 75% of the way to a breakthrough, and much more.
“Getting stuck and searching for breakthroughs feels messy and unpredictable,” Adam tells Lavin. “But just like building a house or putting together a jigsaw puzzle, there’s a series of steps that together enable you to manufacture breakthroughs and to shrink periods of friction. Anatomy of a Breakthrough is that roadmap.”
Read about Adam’s book in The New York Times: “A wonderful concept. Anatomy of a Breakthrough tackles the internal factors that keep you mired in the mud [and] provides a primer on changing ingrained habits.”
Listen to Adam on Harvard Business Review‘s IdeaCast: “Small bursts of action, even if they’re not themselves directly productive, are great unsticking mechanisms. Just the act of acting itself is one of the best unstickers.”
And watch an exclusive Lavin interview with Adam where he explains how ChatGPT can serve as an “agent of chaos” and help you unlock your best ideas:
“Just as Eat Pray Love and Wild inspired millions, this book will send countless readers on a different — yet no less life-changing or profound — pilgrimage, as it did for me.”— Samin Nosrat, New York Times bestselling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Laurel is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time TED speaker, as well as the Director of Writing and Storytelling at the Stanford School of Medicine. She helps doctors and medical students tap into the power of storytelling, and proves that telling our own stories can help us communicate better, work through negative emotions, and build community—for healthcare workers, and for everyone else.
In her new book, What Looks Like Bravery, Laurel tells her own story of overcoming loss and learning how to live meaningfully. Laurel’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer when she was three years old. She spent her childhood learning the skills she’d need to survive without him, and inherited his conviction that denying pain is a sign of bravery. But at 36 years old, she realized she needed to stop running from her own negative feelings and finally work through the loss she endured as a child. In her memoir, she takes us on her journey of learning how to navigate change and become more resilient in the process.
In talks, Laurel shows you how to transform loss—both personal and institutional—into opportunities for growth. Whether you’re an executive looking for a path forward through instability, or an educator helping students learn how to deal with change, Laurel’s powerful story and unique perspective will help you not only survive but benefit from the disruption you’re facing. Her talks are a must-listen for anyone wondering how to move forward, develop resilience, and adapt to our new, transformed world.
Watch Laurel’s TED Talk on how telling our own stories can bring us together and improve our mental health:
Nita is the director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. She’s one of the world’s most essential and trusted voices on the rise of these technologies—she even spoke about “cognitive liberty” (the right to freedom of thought) at the recent New York Times DealBook Summit, alongside leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Volodymyr Zelensky.
A device that tracks your brainwaves can have immense advantages, Nita says. For leaders, it can signal when stress levels are high in the workplace and help you keep morale up; and for workers, it can make you more productive so you have more time for the things that really matter. But we’re at a pivotal moment for these emerging technologies. We need to act today to make sure that we can still maintain our right to freedom of thought and self-determination. “Now is the time,” Nita tells Lavin. “Neurotechnology can transform our lives. I don’t want us to run from it. I want us to figure out a way where the narrative we’re telling five years from now is not surveillance capitalism, but that that was a path we could have gone down—and we chose the other way.”
In this exclusive Lavin video, watch Nita explain how neurotech can boost workplace morale and productivity.
Psychological safety is the often-overlooked element that allows groups to take advantage of their diversity. But how do we actually implement it in our organizations?
“Powerful ideas, generously shared. Simple, actionable, and urgent. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares enough to lead.” — Seth Godin, bestselling author of This Is Marketing
Minette Norman has the answers. Minette joined the male-dominated tech industry as a liberal arts major with no STEM background, and rose through the ranks to become Autodesk’s former VP of Engineering Practice, leading 3500 software professionals with empathy and compassion. Now, she’s condensed the lessons she learned from decades of leadership to create The Psychological Safety Playbook, along with co-author Karolin Helbig. “The world of work could be so much better for everybody,” Minette says. “But that’s only possible if people feel safe to speak up and to be themselves.”
The Psychological Safety Playbook is a simple, practical guide to the how of psychological safety. Designed to bridge the gap between research and practice, the playbook offers 25 specific tools—from normalizing failure to committing to curiosity—that you can use to lead in your work and everyday life. In talks, Minette draws from her book to give you actionable, tried-and-true strategies for becoming a better leader and building more successful teams.
Heather McGhee says that racism is profoundly damaging for us all, not only for people of color — which means that when we tackle inequality, we create a better future for everyone. In The Sum of Us, she laid out the devastating costs of inequality and charted a hopeful path towards a better future. She continued her work with her The Sum of Us podcast — produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground — in which she travelled America, uncovering stories of everyday people coming together across division to make tangible change in their communities.
Now, she’s bringing her message of solidarity to a new audience — the thinkers, activists, and leaders of tomorrow — with The Sum of Us: Adapted for Young Readers, now on shelves. This accessible book, based on her New York Times bestseller, challenges young readers to fight against inequality and dream of a world in which we can all thrive together. Condensed and equally brilliant, the Young Readers version empowers a new generation of leaders to find strength and hope in each other.
As one of our foremost authorities on the Constitution and our reproductive rights, Mary argues that the effects of Roe v. Wade don’t just end at the abortion debate. Instead, Roe has taken on meanings far beyond its original purpose. Its repercussions have affected us all, in many different areas of our lives—from women’s rights to shifting political lines, and from LGBTQ+ issues to the place of religion in America. Understanding Roe’s effects helps us understand our current political climate and polarization, which equips us to fight to maintain our democracy and protect our rights. “This isn’t a women’s issue,” Mary says. “It’s a democracy issue.”
Mary is the author of six critically acclaimed books on the law, history, and politics of reproduction and healthcare. She’s widely recognized as one of our best nonpartisan experts on the legal history of Roe v. Wade and how that decision has affected many other areas of our lives. She is also the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis.
Watch this exclusive Lavin interview where Mary explains how Roe is helping people come together across dividing lines to fight polarization:
Nic Stone, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, is a long-time champion of diverse stories in the fight for racial justice. She makes her nonfiction debut this month with How to Be a (Young) Antiracist: a Young Adult adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi’s groundbreaking work, and a crucial guide to social justice for young readers.
Nic has brought her message of social justice and solidarity to young people not only across America, but across the globe. Her books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, have garnered widespread acclaim for their unflinching portrayal of systemic racism as well as their clear-eyed hopefulness. As an author and speaker, she brings her message of equity and equality to audiences of all ages.
Now she’s breaking into the nonfiction sphere with How to Be a (Young) Antiracist (out January 31). This brilliant and accessible guide to antiracism for young readers reframes the concepts from Ibram X. Kendi’s #1 New York Times bestseller How to Be an Antiracist, centering young adulthood. Nic empowers teen readers (and everyone else!) to dismantle inequality and create a more just society. In talks, she draws on her book to give us essential context and practical tools for the fight for racial justice, helping us to be powerful forces for real change in our school, work and everyday life.
Watch Nic explain why sharing our own stories is so crucial:
In a city grappling with poisonous water, award-winning photographer and MacArthur Genius LaToya Ruby Frazier found hope. She first travelled to Flint, Michigan in 2016 to document how the city’s water supply was contaminated and poisoning the residents. There, she teamed up with community members to document not only the injustice and environmental racism, but more importantly, the hope and resilience that Flint’s residents displayed. Six years later, her new book Flint is Family in Three Acts tells the story of a community banding together to confront inequality.
LaToya’s Flint photography was featured in The New York Times, which said, “The words, portraits and actions in this book place an ongoing disaster in broader context: American, humanitarian, human.”
This photobook is the most recent project in LaToya’s long history of ground-breaking social documentary work. Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Jerry Saltz called her “one of the strongest artists to emerge in this country this century.” LaToya proves that creativity has power, and that we can be the architects of our own futures—even in the worst of conditions. “No matter how dark a situation may be,” she says, “a camera can extract the light and turn a negative into a positive.”
Watch LaToya’s TED Talk on the Flint water crisis, which has over two million views:
How do we stay sane and find purpose in the climate crisis? Dynamic TED Speaker and New Yorker-acclaimed science writer Britt Wray has the answer. Her revolutionary scientific research, outlined in her brilliant new book Generation Dread, reveals that wrestling through our climate emotions helps us find purpose and fight for the future of our planet.
Britt shows us how the grief we face daily can mobilize us to take action, fortify our mental fitness, and collectively build the world we want. With critical scientific research and insights from therapists and activists, she moves us from anxious stasis to sustainable flourishing. In the context of the climate catastrophe (not to mention Covid, war, bitter political division, economic uncertainty, and mass violence), she sees a way forward to the other side. “Hope is very much about rolling up your sleeves, getting clear-eyed, being convicted and courageous and doing something with others,” Britt says. “And once you do that, you create the conditions to have real hope.”
Britt is a writer, broadcaster, and creator of the weekly climate newsletter “Gen Dread,” whose original research focuses on the mental health impacts of the climate crisis. She’s also a TED Resident and Stanford Human and Planetary Health Fellow.
Britt joined us at the Lavin Agency to provide us with practical steps that we can take to find purpose and meaning in an age of anxiety. Watch this exclusive interview here:
Never in history has a democracy succeeded in being both diverse and equal—and yet this is the central goal of democracies around the world today. At a time of rising political tensions, Yascha Mounk’s crucial new book The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure reveals the key to building democracies that work.
As an author, Johns Hopkins professor, and Atlantic contributing editor, Yascha enables us to create connections and work toward a society for all to feel safe and seen. “That scenario is not easy to achieve,” he says, “but democracy is never easy to achieve—something our Founding Fathers were very aware of—so I think it’s within our power to fight for that.” With his international expertise and unwavering optimism, he brings new insight to an age-old problem, giving us fresh hope for the greatest experiment of our time. From the rise of populism to the powerful role of diversity in strengthening democracy, Yascha is “a convincing, humane, and hopeful guide” (bestselling author George Packer).
Watch Yascha explain the path to a better democracy here:
In just a couple of months the Coronavirus that emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan has spread around the world, sparking a race to find treatments and vaccines against it. Zeroing in on how this deadly virus is spreading and what everyone can do to take preventative measures are The Lavin Agency’s Top Pandemic Speakers—letting you know what this, and the spread of other infectious diseases, means for you and your community.
Nathan Wolfe is the world authority on how infectious diseases spread and how to prevent pandemics before they strike. Just as we discovered in the 1960s that it is better to prevent heart attacks then try to treat them, over the next 50 years we will realize that it is better to stop pandemics before they spread and that effort should increasingly be focused on viral forecasting and pandemic prevention. In his urgent talks, Wolfe discusses how novel viruses enter into the human population from animals and go on to become pandemics. He then explains attempts by his own research group to study this process and attempt to control viruses that have only recently emerged. By creating a global network at the interface of humans and animals, Wolfe is working to move viral forecasting from a theoretical possibility to a reality.
Gina Kolata is the New York Times Reporter for Science and Medicine, and demystifies the science of personal health in the face of spreading pandemics. In her talk based on her book Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, Kolata recounts the fascinating story of the world’s deadliest disease. The Great Influenza Pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people, and infected 500 million around the globe—making it one of the deadliest disasters in our history. But what’s most amazing about that epidemic is how scientists solved the mystery of what that the virus looked like: by finding fragments in corpses and tissues stored in a vast government warehouse. Drawing from her extensive research, and relating it back to current diseases, Kolata tells the story of this discovery, and explains what it revealed about the 1918 flu—and what made it so destructive.
Dr. Jennifer Gardy is the expert champion of science that we need in the face of a spreading global pandemic. In a globally connected world with a rapidly expanding population, identifying and stopping pandemics before they spread is more important than ever. In her talks, Gardy outlines her vision of a 21st century form of public health, or “public health 2.0.” We must ensure that the outbreaks of the future are “open source outbreaks,” where researches around the world create and share vital information in real time. Through the lens of recent outbreaks, she explores how “open source outbreaks” unfold, from the technology that enables them, to what the future of public health collaboration could mean for our species.
To book one of these Pandemic Speakers for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with an agent from our sales team.
In his year-end celebration of his favorite books of 2019, Barack Obama names Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism—a groundbreaking analysis of the intersection of the monetization of private data, big tech, the economy, and society—one of his top books.
Not only has Zuboff’s in-depth exploration of a growing phenomenon—the titular surveillance capitalism—captured the imagination of the 44th President of the United States, it’s also earned a place among many other notable year-end lists: think, TIME’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019, Bloomberg’s Best Books of 2019, and one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2019, and more.
Drawing frequent comparison to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) for its shocking insight into a developing, widespread issue not yet common knowledge to the general public, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism took both the literary and tech communities by storm this year. Called “epoch-defining” by the Guardian, and an “unmissable classic that everyone should read” by the Financial Times, Zuboff deftly explores how our individual choices are becoming not only predicted, but controlled, by the companies to which we are ceding exorbitant power. As a society, we’re opting to concede our privacy in exchange for increased connection and convenience. It’s not just a new trend—it has real, dangerous ramifications for the economy, and democracy as a whole. Zuboff pulls no punches; but is still optimistic that we can turn the tide toward surveillance capitalism back around.
You can read the Barack Obama’s full list of his favorite books of 2019 here.
Marcus Bullock is the creator of Flikshop, an ingeniously simple app that allows family members to connect with prisoners via short messages and photos. His entrepreneurial enterprise has proven so successful that he’s collaborating with Apple, as part of their Code with Apple series.
At the age of 15, Marcus Bullock was sentenced to eight years in adult maximum security prison for stealing a car. But instead of giving in to a prison system that perpetuates hopelessness, Bullock served his time and got out, determined to make a difference. While in jail, his mother sent him a letter every day, a connection to the outside world that really was his lifeline—and with his creation of Flikshop, Inc., Bullock has given that lifeline to hundreds of thousands of others. His story is the buzz of the tech world, business community, and audiences from The White House to SXSW to TED—and now Apple. The Code with Apple series is an international, week long celebration of Computer Science Education Week, and Hour of Code™; connecting average consumers and techies alike with exciting new technologies, apps, augmented reality, and more, with coding workshops and inspirational speakers like Bullock.
Over 140,000 prisoners use Flikshop to stay in touch with loved ones. People on the outside snap a photo, include a note, and Flikshop sends a physical copy to the inmate. But it’s for more than one-on-one connection, it’s also used for education; helping prisoners get ahead of the barriers they often face once released, by providing assistance with housing applications, teaching financial literacy, and developing important job interview skills.
Bullock was named one of John Legend’s Unlocked Futures business accelerators, and is a member of the Justice Policy Institute’s Board of Directors. In 2019, he was named one of The Root 100. Bullock’s inspirational story has been covered by Forbes, CNN, Washington Post, Black Enterprise, and NPR.
To book speaker Marcus Bullock, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency.
The inaugural TIME “100 Next” list was announced today. Honoring rising stars who are “eager to defy the odds and fight for a better future,” the list includes two Lavin speakers: Wanuri Kahiu, a Cannes-winning filmmaker from Kenya, and Vijay Gupta, the MacArthur Genius violinist putting art into social justice.
Wanuri Kahiu is an artist and filmmaker shattering convention around African representation in art and media. Much of her work—including the award-winning films Pumzi (Cannes Best Short Film) and Rafiki—is centered on the often overlooked stories of Black women. Vibrant and visionary, Kahiu is creating work in her own genre, “AfroBubbleGum” (also the name of the company she founded). Think, an aesthetic mash-up of Marvel’s Black Panther and a candy store, and you’ll get AfroBubbleGum. Through her work she shows why “fun, fierce and frivolous African art” is a political act: portraying African citizens as healthy, financially stable, and fun-loving reinforces their humanity in refreshing ways. And that particular, necessary attention to fun has led her to amazing upcoming projects—like co-writing the upcoming series adaptation of sci-fi legend Olivia Butler’s Wild Seed, set to star Academy Award-winner Viola Davis.
Violinist and educator Vijay Gupta is a passionate activist for putting art at the center of social justice. He founded Street Symphony, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging underserved communities experiencing homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles through musical performance and dialogue. This past December, he left his position at the Los Angeles Philharmonic to dedicate himself to Street Symphony full-time. A MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and “one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music” (The New Yorker), Gupta is changing lives and providing hope, one performance at a time. He has been named one of six national Citizen Artist Fellows by the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He’s redefining what outreach looks like: it’s not a matter of providing aid, but providing purpose, connection, community, and a human voice to those all too often deprived of theirs.
Marking the launch of her new memoir, Unfollow: Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper was interviewed on NPR’s popular Fresh Air program.
“It wasn't that we read selective parts of the Bible. It was that we interpreted it in this very selective way. Gramps would say, “The love of God is reserved for the penitent.” That was us. Everybody else was proud of their sin and hell-bound.”
— Megan Phelps-Roper to NPR
From the age of five, Phelps-Roper was on the picket line with her family and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Growing up engrained in the notoriously hateful community as the granddaughter of its’ founder, she never knew another way of life of belief system was possible: despite going to a public school, the Church was so influential it was her whole world.
So when, in her twenties, she took over the Church’s social media presence and because confronted with not only the usual anger her picketing inspired, but also empathetic, intelligent individuals who tried to engage with her on a different level. “They started asking questions and digging into our theology…as they were able to find these contradictions and present them to me, I understood that we could be wrong about something,” Phelpe-Roper told NPR. “That was the beginning of the end for me. I had this unshakable faith and it had been shaken.”
After a while, her worldview began to change and Phelps-Roper couldn’t keep living this way. In a brave and rare move, herself and her sister Grace left the Church and their entire life behind. Called a “powerful, empathetic…a must-read” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “wildly brave and incredibly thoughtful” by Sara Silverman, Unfollow tells the story of her time in the Church, her escape, and her life since. It’s only been out for a week, but is already making waves, with a review in New York Times, and profiled in People and Stylist.
As well, Unfollow is well on the way to being made into a major feature film with Nick Hornby (About a Boy) set to write the script, Reese Witherspoon producing, and director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) already attached.
Phelps-Roper has also appeared on Sarah Silverman’s Hulu series, I Love You, America, and on the National Geographic series The Story of Us, with Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman. She has also been covered by The New Yorker, The Guardian, VICE, The Globe and Mail, and other international organizations.
To book speakerMegan Phelps-Roper, contact her exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency, today.
Negotiating is more than a skill; it’s a fact of life. One could argue that nearly every interaction we have is a form of negotiation, which begs the question: how can we do it better? Francesca Gino explains how—contrary to popular belief—being too friendly in a negotiation could actually have adverse effects.
In a new study on communication styles in negotiation, Harvard Business Professor Francesca Gino and her colleagues performed four experiments across a subset of 1,500 participants. In one of the experiments— a field experiment on Craigslist.com, where price bartering is common—Gino and her team found that “warm and friendly” negotiators ended up paying 15% more for the same item, compared to “tough and firm” negotiators.
“Although our findings highlight the clear economic costs of being “warm and friendly,” they do not imply that everyone should become a jerk. All negotiations are a combination of value-creating and value-claiming, of making the overall pie bigger and securing a slice of it for ourselves. Negotiators should recognize that being nice may make it more difficult to claim a lot of value, particularly in a purely competitive context.”
Information is capital in the twenty-first century, a fact which has led companies like Google and Facebook to hunt, capture, and hoard the personal data of its consumers. The value lies not in the capacity for service improvement, but in the rich predictive signals such data provides. In an essay for Toronto Life, Shoshana Zuboffexplains the rise of the surveillance economy, and why Toronto may become a leading market.
“The city of Toronto now sits in the crosshairs of a uniquely 21st-century economic model that I call surveillance capitalism,” writes Shoshanna Zuboff in Toronto Life. “This economic model drives toward a totality of information: from bodies to cars, bloodstreams to brainwaves.” Zuboff is a preeminent sociologist and author of The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism. She coined the term to describe the mining of behavioral data from civilians, an insidious practice developed to modify human behavior towards certain preferences for financial gain.
Sidewalk Labs represent the next phase of this phenomenon. The “urban innovation” organization is adapting behavioral modification to the real life city of Toronto, starting with its Waterfront neighborhood. “Toronto now stands first in line to become surveillance capitalism’s real-world petri dish,” Zuboff warns. “Sidewalk’s proposals reveal the full arc of the new logic. With astonishing audacity, it claims the city as its laboratory and the lives of citizens as its free raw material for data creation, ownership, computation and monetization.”
When thinking about diversity, we tend to consider factors like gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. But what about age? Activist Ashton Applewhite has written a manifesto raging against the perils of growing older in a society that is, at its core, deeply ageist. Forbes calls it a must-read for anyone hoping to foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Rooted in Ashton Applewhite’s own experience navigating the world as an older woman, This Chair Rocks is a lively investigation of the stereotypes, industries, and institutions that contribute to our youth-obsessed culture. Applewhite examines everything from the cult of beauty brands, to discrimination in the workplace, exposing the American myth of independence in the process. And beyond debunking ageist beliefs that no longer serve us, she paints a portrait of what an age-friendly world would look like—and how much better off we’d be for it.
Funny, personal, and thoroughly researched This Chair Rocks is a rousing call-to-action. Forbes writes, “By the end of the book, readers will have a better understanding of age discrimination and will be able to assess personal beliefs that may have contributed to ageism in and out of the workplace. Using humor, Applewhite is able to craft a compelling case for how we can combat our ageist beliefs.”
To book speaker Ashton Applewhite for your next speaking engagement, contact a sales agent at The Lavin Agency today.
As the CEO of Trend Hunter, the largest trend-spotting platform in the world, Jeremy Gutscheis well-versed in the art of bringing big ideas to life. Now, he explains how CIOs will become crucial to disruptive innovation in the coming years.
The average lifespan of a fortune 500 company has fallen from a healthy 75 years to a mere 15. Why is this so? According to Jeremy Gutsche, it’s because companies aren’t structured to adapt. “We have rules, structures, policies, procedures, best practices all meant to preserve and protect the status quo,” Gutsche explains.
In today’s organizations, there is no one person charged with understanding or implementing adaptation. But there should be. The CIO, the person who scouts new technologies and figures out how they will impact a company, is in an interesting position. In the coming years, Gutsche predicts the role will become much bigger, more sophisticated, and more strategic.
With the competition rising, brands are finally starting to understand the value of disruptive innovation. It’s important there is a clear leader of adaptation within each organization, says Gutsche, and the CIO is being called upon for the challenge.
July 20th, 2019, marks 50 years since NASA put a man on the moon. These are the Lavin Speakers talking about mankind’s greatest achievement.
One Giant Leap author Charles Fishman continues his 50 Days to the Moon series for Fast Company. The award-winning journalist is also appearing at NASA’s 50th anniversary event—held in collaboration with the National Symphony Orchestra—alongside special guests such as Mark Armstrong (the son of late astronaut Neil Armstrong).
Retired astronaut and former Johnson Space Center DirectorEllen Ochoa spoke to an ABC News subsidiary on the lasting effects of Apollo 11. The California native was the first hispanic director, and second female director, to ever lead the historic space center. She said, “We kind of say it as a joke now, but if we could land people on the moon we can do 'X.' If you think of it, it's not really a joke. People thought differently about themselves and our ability as a society to solve problems because we were able to do that.”
Former biotech entrepreneur Safi Bahcallappeared on ForbesFutures in Focus podcast to discuss his Wall Street Journal bestseller Loonshots. Going to the moon is a great example of a ‘moonshot.’ But 40 years earlier, when Robert Goddard explained how we might get there through rocket propulsion, he was widely dismissed and ridiculed. That, Bahcall says, was the original “loonshot.” During the podcast, Bahcall speaks about how companies can nurture “crazy” ideas and innovation—despite not having the resources NASA had in the 1960s.
Before 2016, the world knew very little of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson: the three black female mathematicians who calculated the equations that made space travel possible. Then Margot Lee Shetterly wrote her bestselling book Hidden Figures, and the rest is history. Recently, NASA renamed the block outside their Washington HQ “Hidden Figures Way” in their honour.
To learn more about booking a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency to speak with a sales representative.
In this Lavin Weekly, Yascha Mounk outlines a dark new era in American politics; Susan Pinker presents evidence to end the spanking debate once and for all; and Suki Kim’s takedown of a public radio icon earns her a spot on the Longreads Best Investigative Reporting of 2017 list.
1. “Mr. Trump, Fox News, and Republicans in Congress seem to be actively using falsehoods to prepare an assault on the institutions that allow American democracy to function.”
In all democracies, politicians will occasionally lie, says Yascha Mounk in theNew York Times this week. “But the construction of an alternate reality that obviates the very possibility of conducting politics on the basis of truth is a novelty for the United States.” These are exactly the tactics authoritarian populists have used for years to attack and destroy a democracy, he says.
2. “Experimenting with autonomy and observing how parents react is part of the job of a child. Setting age-appropriate boundaries is the role of the adult.”
In the Wall Street Journal this week, Susan Pinker outlines a new study that settles the debate on spanking: “The American Pediatric Society now advises parents to avoid spanking, and the American Psychological Association cautions against the practice too. American parents seem to be left with a choice: To use a form of physical discipline that gambles with the future of their children or to fine other ways to help them learn self-control.”
3. “This story begins differently than most sexual-harassment accounts out there…”
Suki Kim’s takedown of an iconic public radio host in The Cutearned her a spot on Longreads’ Best Investigative Journalism of 2017 list this week. “The article was a reckoning of women’s experiences at work that included not just sexual harassment, but also degradation, anger, and resentment.”
Yascha Mounk, Susan Pinker, and Suki Kim are just a selection of Lavin speakers who made the world a smarter place this week. Check our our full roster.