The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Why Empathy Is a Vital Ingredient for True DEI: Stanford Psychologist Jamil Zaki

Jamil Zaki is one of the brightest lights in psychology. He shows that kindness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength.”Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again

Empathy is the greatest tool for leaders who want to encourage teamwork, well-being, and innovation in their organizations. There are even different kinds of empathy that we can use strategically to achieve different goals. “For instance, diversity and inclusion training is more effective if it’s coupled with training in cognitive empathy: trying to step into the perspective of someone who is different from yourself,” says Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness and a top mental health speaker. But how do you actually implement it in the day-to-day?

Good news, says Jamil: empathy is a skill that anyone can learn and strengthen. And when we develop this skill in ourselves and our cultures, we’ll build workplaces where employees and leaders are not only happier, but also more innovative and effective.

In practical talks, Jamil offers research-backed strategies for leaders to strengthen their empathy. He speaks without blame—one of the most compelling aspects of empathy, he says, is that it allows you to engage in meaningful conversations about inclusion without feeling like you have to wade through a “muddy river of guilt” first. He demonstrates how you can put different kinds of empathy into practice, using tools like “precision listening” to ensure people from all backgrounds and perspectives feel seen, heard, and understood.

“Talent” Doesn’t Predict Performance. Grit Does. Psychologist Dr. Danny Southwick

Talent doesn’t predict world-class performance. But the mundane daily struggle of training, working on your weaknesses, finding a coach who can help you be the best you can become? That’s what enables people to unlock their potential.” Danny Southwick

Do you want the people you lead to become more resilient, more persistent, and better at taking risks? Then stop using the word “talent,” says Danny Southwick. He’s worked closely with fellow Lavin speaker Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit and the pioneer of the field, to understand what actually predicts high performance. In a recent paper with Angela, he proved that simply referring to someone’s ability as skill instead of talent helps them develop a growth mindset, achieve more, and work better on a team.Practice and perseverance allowed Danny to break state records in high school, and, after an adventurous college career, sign with the Oakland Raiders. His passion for high performance prompted him to earn an MBA and then a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, investigating how we can adjust the way we talk about ability to get the most out of ourselves and our teams.In talks, Danny draws on his career as a star quarterback and as a psychologist to show you the best way to practice in order to increase your skills quickly (not all practice is equally effective!), how to instill a growth mindset in your whole organization, and how to ditch the vague buzzwords and avoid the “talent trap.”


Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman Interviews Bestselling Author Lori Gottlieb on Common Myths of Therapy

Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb made waves when she released Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, a poignant memoir that’s spent week after week on the bestseller lists. Now, she joins fellow Lavin Speaker Scott Barry Kaufman on The Psychology Podcast to discuss the book, some misconceptions about therapy, and why searching for “happiness” may be the wrong goal. 

Therapy and looking after our emotional health is becoming more mainstream, in part due to the success of books like psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. In it, she examines the lives of her clients, as well as the experience she had going to therapy herself. The book has struck a massive chord with readers around the world (it will soon be adapted into a television series with Eva Longoria), painting a revealing picture of what therapy can look like for the uninitiated.


“The relationship that happens in therapy is so important,” Gottlieb tells Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman. “Study after study shows that the most important factor in the success of your therapy isn't the person’s training, or the modality they’re using, or the number of years of experience…it’s the relationship.” Though credentials and experience do matter, evidence shows they don’t matter nearly as much as the person-to-person contact. “When you can go and have a relationship with somebody and be vulnerable, and be authentic, and show the truth of who you are […] that’s life-changing.”


Watch their full conversation below.


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone With Lori Gottlieb || The Psychology Podcast


To book speakers Lori Gottlieb or Scott Barry Kaufman for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today and speak with someone on our sales team.

Do Politics Make Us Irrational? NYU’s Jay Van Bavel Illustrates the Effects of Partisanship for TED-Ed

Can someone’s political identity influence their ability to process information? It appears so. In the cognitive phenomenon known as partisanship, identification with a social group becomes so important, it can override reality.  Psychology professor Jay Van Bavel shares strategies to combat this problem in a new TED-Ed video.

Imagine you’re watching your favorite sports team play. You see them commit a foul, but the fans around you cheer them on anyway. The tension between these two things—love for your team, and your understanding of the rules—creates cognitive dissonance. This feeling can be so uncomfortable, you might start to blame the referee or insist there was no foul in the first place, as a way to alleviate the tension. Now imagine the same behavior in politics, and it becomes even more dangerous. “Partisan-based cognitive dissonance can lead people to reject evidence that’s inconsistent with the party line or discredits party leaders. And when entire groups of people revise the facts in service of partisan beliefs, it can lead to policies that aren’t grounded in truth or reason.”

Jay Van Bavel, a professor of psychology and neural science at NYU, encourages us to remember that we’re all more biased than we think we are. To combat the partisanship problem, he suggests making fact-facing and questioning assumptions a valued part of the culture.


Watch the video here.


To book speaker Jay Van Bavel for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Stanford Psychologist Jamil Zaki Explores the Intersection of Empathy and Tech, on NPR

There are millions of people who want to interact with others in a more productive way online—but how can we empower them to do so? Jamil Zaki, author of The War for Kindness talks to NPR’s Here  & Now about technology and empathy, and how to intertwine them, to make a better, and more human, future for us all.

“Technology platforms don't help their shareholders by making users feel happy or socially connected, but by keeping them online,” said Jamil Zaki in a recent interview for NPR’s popular program Here & Now. And when keeping people online is prioritized at all costs, it’s easy for social media companies to see all engagement as good engagement—even though things like anger, vanity, and drama are a huge pull to keep people coming back. How can we turn that around and use social platforms to promote social goods, real connection, and supportive communities?


Zaki, the Director of Stanford’s Social Neuroscience Lab, mentions apps like KoKo, where people can go to ask for, or give, emotional support. Studies show that the users of this platform who found it the most rewarding weren’t who you’d necessarily think: “Believe it or not, the ones who had the sort of most positive outcome were not those who were receiving help, but the ones who were giving help to others,” Zaki explains. “Oftentimes we think of kindness to others as something that sort of will, deplete us. But instead, it turns out being kind to others helps us as well.”


As it stands right now, the world wide web can be a dark and even dangerous place—but it’s not without hope. As individuals and companies alike start to better understand the true value of empathy—something Zaki explores in detail in The War for Kindness—the internet can evolve to better integrate it. “I think if you rewind to 10 years ago and look at an old issue of Wired, people were breathless thinking about the wonderful global community that we'd be able to have through the internet,” said Zaki. “And I think that that potential remains.”


To book speaker Jamil Zaki, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

Why Are Older Women Choosing to Live Alone? Psychologist Susan Pinker Explores for CBC

In her book The Village Effect, award-winning author and psychologist Susan Pinker wrote about the undeniable, life-affirming benefits of social bonds and face-to-face connection. More recently, she spoke to CBC about why an increasing number of seniors—particularly women— are enjoying living alone. 

Whether it be in a retirement home or on their own property, more Canadian women over the age of 65 are making a conscious decision to live by themselves—and enjoying it. Susan Pinker, an esteemed psychologist and author, explains that the recent phenomenon has to do with the close, long-term friendships that women form throughout their lives. “Women, much more than men, tend to have […] more intimate, more tightly connected networks of friends and relatives that they keep connected with,” she explains.


Women living on their own report higher satisfaction than men who live alone in the same age group, says to Statistics Canada, a result that Pinker believes is caused by a difference in the strength and number of social ties between genders. “I think it really requires some kind of policy discussion about what's going to happen to these men now because they're cut loose, frankly, and many of them are not at the moment, capable of generating the social contacts that they need to be healthy,” Pinker says.


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Susan Pinker for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Inside the Therapist’s Mind: Lori Gottlieb Sits Down with Wal-Mart to Discuss Her Book, Podcast, and Soon-to-Be TV Series

Lori Gottlieb’s critically acclaimed memoir Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is Wal-Mart’s favorite read this month. The psychotherapist and bestselling author sat down with the company to discuss why the book has struck a chord with so many, and what else we can expect from her in 2020.  

In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb effortlessly shifts between narrating her personal experience in therapy, to discussing her own clinical work with clients. She explains, “It was critical that the voice of me as the expert was the same voice as me as a person, because what I’m trying to show in the book is our shared humanity—that we’re all more the same than we are different.”


Gottlieb contends that the book’s success—it jumped back to number 3 on the New York Times bestseller list at the start of the year—is partially due to an ongoing crisis of connection. “Right now in our culture we’re disconnected in so many ways. We’re clinging to our phones, our devices—I have nothing against technology, but I feel like we also need that face-to-face interaction […] the ability to just be with another person,” she says. “The experience of reading the book feels a lot like that for people and also encourages them to make time to prioritize relationships with the people that they love, the people who matter to them.”


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone will soon be adapted into a television series, and Gottlieb is also in the process of creating an iHeart Radio podcast produced by Katie Couric. Similar to her advice column in The Atlantic, the show’s format will see Gottlieb and TED’s Guy Winch help people with their dilemma’s.


Read the full interview here.


To book speaker Lori Gottlieb for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Should Progressives Invoke Conservative Values? Sociologist Robb Willer Weighs In for The New York Times

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Standford’s Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel explore their thought-provoking research on how reaching across party lines can lead to considerable conservative support for progressive parties—without losing ground among their base.

Where should a Democratic nominee focus their energy to beat Trump in 2020? Should they mobilize the left— like progressive candidate Bernie Sanders—or would they be better off running a more centered campaign, as in the case of former Republican Michael Bloomberg? The answer might not be what you expect. According to Rob Willer, Co-director of the Philanthropy and Civil Society Center at Stanford, both theories neglect the fuller picture of the candidate. “We found that the most effective Democratic candidate would speak in terms of conservative values while proposing progressive economic policies — with some of our evidence suggesting that endorsing highly progressive policies would be best.”


Willer, who was recently appointed Director of Stanford’s landmark Polarization and Social Change Lab, acknowleges that progressive candidates may bristle at the idea of emplying conservative rhetoric like patriotism, family, or the American Dream. However, it makes for a great strategy. “For one thing, Democrats typically tack to the center after winning the nomination, often compromising or abandoning their most progressive policies. Wouldn’t it be preferable to stick to those popular progressive policies, making the case for them using language that would appeal to more Americans?”


Read the full article here.


To book speaker Robb Willer, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency.


Empathy Expert Jamil Zaki Shares Techniques for Nurturing Kindness in Washington Post Profile

In these divided times, it can often seem like empathy is difficult, if not downright impossible to find. But for Jamil Zaki, the Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab, we have a unique opportunity these days to strengthen our ability to relate to and care for one another—maybe even more than at any other point in human history. 

Author of The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured WorldJamil Zaki has earned a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking speakers on empathy in the world. Today’s profile in The Washington Post explores his life’s work on expanding, increasing and implementing empathy solutions. He’s spent years developing the tools to foster what he calls a “kindness revolution”, a concept based on the fact that empathy is not, in fact, an inherent and unalterable trait—but instead, a skill that can be learned, practiced and shared.  


Right now, we’re in a crisis of empathy across political and cultural lines, with trends of disconnection and polarization increasing across all age groups. But it’s far from hopeless. As Zaki tells The Washington Post, “In the three years I spent writing [my book], I discovered more and more evidence that empathy is indeed a skill that we can build, and that doing so is a crucial project for us, both as individuals and as a culture.”


Empathic people fare better at work and relationships, and are more emotionally fulfilled, Zaki says. Not only that, but cultivating kindness is contagious. His current research illustrates how we’re all responsive too witnessing others practice kindness, which spurs an avalanche effect of empathy in all kinds of communities. It’s not that there’s zero genetic component to one’s capability for compassion; but that “there’s lots of evidence that our experiences, our choices, our habits, our practices go a long way to predict how empathetic we become.”


Zaki offers five “kindness challenges”: practical yet powerful exercises designed to push us beyond our comfort zones and toward recognizing, then redirecting our instinct to empathize only with family, friends and people who think or look like us. Eventually, we can learn to apply empathy equally to strangers—even people with whom we strongly disagree. Ultimately, Zaki’s fascinating research explores exactly how we can “hack” empathy for the greater good of humanity. “We can grow our empathy if we want to,” he says. “Our emotions are not animalistic impulses.”


To book speaker Jamil Zaki, contact his exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best: Jonathan Fader’s New Book Hits Shelves Tomorrow

What do you do when conventional coaching methods aren’t getting you the optimal results? You turn to Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best, the first-ever guide to Motivational Interviewing—a proven technique for building relationships—co-authored by leading performance psychologist Jonathan Fader. 

“Relationships matter in sports, and we tend to navigate them through conversation,” write Jonathan Fader, Stephen Rollnick, Jeff Breckon and Therea B. Moyers in their book Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best. The authors outline the practice of Motivational Interviewing, a technique that harnesses the power of good conversation to build trusting relationships—and helps coaches, psychologists, managers, parents and the like, nurture athletic talent. Both inspiring and practical, Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best reveals why conventional strategies for giving feedback and managing conflict often fall short, and instead replaces them with new, proven methods for boosting motivation, improving teamwork, addressing bad behavior, and enhancing overall performance.


The book has received early praise from leaders in the field, including Joe Torre, the four-time World Series champion manager of the New York Yankees. Torre writes, “The information age offers endless possibilities that can help teams and organizations succeed. But we can never forget the importance of connecting as people and building a winning culture of communication, trust, and teamwork. I appreciate the insights of Coaching Athletes to Be Their Best, and its focus on the motivational power of a common purpose.”


To book speaker Jonathan Fader for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Lori Gottlieb’s New TED Talk Reveals How Changing Our Stories Can Change Our Lives

Stories are the way we make sense of our lives. But that doesn’t mean that the ones we tell ourselves are good, or even true. Instead of providing clarity, they often just keep us stuck in the same painful patterns. In her new TED Talk, which has been viewed over 600,000 times in four days, Lori Gottlieb—renowned therapist and New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone—shows us the life-affirming power we have to change our lives through narrative.  

In her years of clinical practice (not to mention years of writing The Atlantic’s Dear Therapist column), Lori Gottlieb noticed that there are thematic similarities to the stories we tell. “Our stories about freedom go like this: we believe, in general, that we have an enormous amount of freedom. Except when it comes to the problem at hand, in which case, suddenly, we feel like we have none. Many of our stories are about feeling trapped, right? We feel imprisoned by our families, our jobs, our relationships, our pasts,” Gottlieb shares.


The problem with attaining the freedom we claim to seek is that it comes with a certain sense of responsibility; responsibility for our role in the story, and the moves we need to make for it to change. “There's something oddly comforting about knowing exactly how the story is going to go every single time,” admits Gottlieb. “To write a new chapter is to venture into the unknown.”


In her funny, honest, and cathartic new talk, Gottlieb opens us up to the possibility that—no matter how scary it may seem—with the right tools, we can successfully rewrite our stories and transform the quality of our lives.


Watch her full TED talk here.


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

The Power of Changing Our Stories: Therapist and Critically Acclaimed Author Lori Gottlieb Joins The Lavin Agency

Lori Gottlieb started her career as a film and TV executive, followed by a period as a nationally recognized journalist. Today, she’s a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author. Though her career trajectory has been anything but linear, the common thread through it all is her genuine curiosity on the human condition, and a deep belief in the power of story. Gottlieb dives into the messy realities of what it means to be human—and shows us how, despite it all, we can create lives of meaning and fulfillment. 

We are all unreliable narrators of our own lives, says Lori Gottlieb. The problem is, we default to thinking that the stories we tell ourselves are accurate. True or not, these stories operate in the background of our lives, influencing the partners we pick, the jobs we choose, and the direction our lives go. When we cling to a faulty narrative, we end up living that life story—trapped and unable to grow. In her critically acclaimed book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Gottlieb invites us into her world—as both a clinician and patient—examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others. 


Moving, transcendent, and deeply funny, Gottlieb offers us a realm of new possibilities. Her talks not only help us change the narratives that are no longer useful, but help us manage the painful loss inherent in change, and embrace our feelings as a guide to getting the lives we want.


Lori Gottlieb, Joel Stein:


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

What is Your Technology Doing to You? Adam Alter Explores on Future Minds

Adam Alter—NYU Marketing Professor and New York Times bestselling author—joins Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Joel Pearson for an engaging conversation on how addictive technology influences our lives. 

Why are so many people addicted to technology? Adam Alter has been investigating the question for years, most notably in his latest book Irresistible. It’s a topic that comes up in his fruitful conversation with Joel Pearson, along with many others. For instance, is there such a thing as sustainable tech? What are the mental health effects of big tech? And can we understand addictive technology as a tax on the poor?


“Screens are pacifiers for adults,” Alter admits. “Everytime we’re a little uncomfortable, whether that’s socially or whether we have some small measure of anxiety, our first instinct is to turn to our phones.” Unsurprisingly, this major shift in instinctual behavior has consequences, for us and for future generations. But there’s always going to be benefits to tech, Alter says, cautioning against throwing the baby out with the bathwater: “The trick is going to be working out just the right balance.”


You can listen to their full conversation here.


To book speaker Adam Alter for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Anecdotes Aren’t Data: Psychologist Steven Pinker Calls for a Stronger Delineation Between Facts and Feelings

What is the one thing wrong with the world that you would change, and why? It’s a question posed by Harvard University to its faculty, in a new ongoing series. In it, professor Steven Pinker shares his desire to temper our cognitive biases with hard facts.  

A president riling up citizens over the supposed lawlessness of the country, even as crime rates are down; a self-driving car crash inciting mass hysteria, despite the fact that human-driven cars have a much higher chance of getting into an accident; a fear of nuclear power based on horrific images—from an accident that had no fatalities.


“Too many leaders and influencers, including politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and academics, surrender to the cognitive bias of assessing the world through anecdotes and images rather than data and facts,” says  Harvard professor Steven Pinker. It is a “destructive statistical illiteracy” that we need to remedy in order to get an accurate picture of the world.


Pinker advocates for a staunch sense of ‘factfulness’ to be  incorporated in our culture, education, journalism, and politics: “Guiding policy or activism by conspicuous events, without reference to data, should come to be seen as risible as guiding them by omens, dreams, or whether Jupiter is rising in Sagittarius.”


Read his full interview here.


To book Steven Pinker for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

How Does Journalism Shape Our Pessimistic Outlook? Steven Pinker for ABC Radio

Why do we tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, but not the future? Psychology Professor and bestselling author Steven Pinker appeared on ABC Radio to discuss how the negative nature of today’s news media fuels our pessimistic attitudes. 

“Journalism is driven by events. Events are usually things that go wrong. It’s very easy for something bad to happen very quickly…a terrorist attack, an explosion, an epidemic, a famine,” explains Steven Pinker, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. “But things going right tend to build up over time, and they often tend to be things that don’t happen. […] And since the news doesn’t cover what does not happen, nor does it tend to cover gradual changes, people are actually ignorant of these positive indicators.”


News, says Pinker, should operate more like the sports page that reports both wins and losses. “In the realm of news, people would have a more accurate picture of the world if it had something more like a dashboard of indicators of the state of the world.”


You can listen to the full conversation here.


To book Steven Pinker for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today.


Caring About Tomorrow: Psychologist Jamil Zaki Explains the Barriers to Changing Behavior

Climate change is a phenomenon that 70 percent of Americans believe is happening, and one they understand to be harmful to future generations. Reversing its effects is possible if we drastically change our consumption habits and behavior—so why haven’t we done so? Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki reveals the science behind our inaction for The Washington Post

“Why would we mortgage our future—and that of our children, and their children—rather than temper our addiction to fossil fuels? Knowing what we know, why is it so hard to change our ways?” These are the questions that Jamil Zaki poses in “Caring About Tomorrow,” his latest op-ed for The Washington Post. The answer is not because we’re indifferent, he says, but it may have to do with the limitations of our empathetic abilities.


Our instincts to care for one another tend to lose steam across long periods of space and time, explains Zaki. “Our actions reverberate across the world and across time, but not enough of us feel the weight of their consequences. Empathy could be an emotional bulwark against a warming world, if our collective care produced collective action. But it evolved to respond to suffering right here, right now.”


So how do we rise to the global task of saving the planet, if our empathy is diminished over time? If even the concept of our future selves is too fuzzy to feel real, let alone the concept of  future generations? Thankfully, empathy is a trait we can learn and build. Like a muscle, it can be strengthened through deliberate practice. In his book The War for Kindness, Zaki reveals how we can increase our empathy, including our ability to care about the future. While Zaki acknowledges that empathy alone isn’t enough to save the planet, he maintains that it is a powerful place to start.


You can read the full article here.


To book Jamil Zaki for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today for more information.

When Should We Use Our Grit? Psychologist and Bestselling Author Angela Duckworth Explains.

Renowned psychologist Angela Duckworth joins Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, for an enlightening conversation about grit, bravery, and challenging yourself outside of your comfort zone. 

How do you get better at things you’re not comfortable doing? Host Reshma Saujani is uncomfortable using her hands to fix things, whether it be putting together furniture or trouble-shooting her devices. Saujani admits she was never taught how to fix things as a little girl, and as an adult, she finds herself losing patience and becoming easily frustrated. So she turned to Angela Duckworth for help: “The feeling of not being comfortable with something is a phobia,” Duckworth explains. “And the treatment for a phobia is extremely effective: exposure therapy. You learn just by seeing it’s not that bad after all.”


Pushing ourselves to do things we’re not comfortable with, then, has a benefit and a value. It offers us exposure, and teaches us that our fears are not definitive. But what about dealing with frustration? Duckworth explains that frustration tolerance is a big part of being gritty. The ability to tolerate frustration, make mistakes, and repeatedly fail, can predict outcomes later in life; college performance, for example.


But, says Duckworth, grit is less important when it comes to the smaller stuff. In those instances, it’s more about grit’s second-cousin, self-control, which she defines as the ability “to do things that are not immediately pleasurable, but are good for you.”  Self-control is like grit in that it requires overcoming a competing impulse. However, the important distinction is that self-control is necessary all the time, while grit is more relevant to high accomplishments and life-changing goals.


You can listen to the podcast here.


Interested in booking a psychology speaker like Angela Duckworth for your next event? Contact a sales agent at The Lavin Agency for more information.

How Does Instagram Affect Our Shopping Habits? Psychology Professor Adam Alter Explores for The Cut

Once a lifestyle app featuring beautifully curated images, Instagram has become the newest, easiest shopping destination. In a new article on The Cut, psychologist and bestselling author Adam Alter explains why we’re so addicted, and how we can manage our symptoms in a digital world of access and convenience. 

Part of the addictive, shopping-fuelled influence of Instagram lies in its ability to make us want things. “You’re seeing the top one percent of interesting people doing the top one percent of the most interesting things in their lives, and that puts you in an aspirational mindset that leads you to shop for betterment,” says Adam Alter, a professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business and the bestselling author of Irresistible.


Moreover, Instagram produces in us a feeling that’s akin to what gamblers experience when they’re playing the slots: sedated, pain-free, almost floating. “It’s an effortlessness that isn’t true about the rest of life,” Alter says. “Instagram is similar — it puts you in a calm state. The problem is, most people can’t get enough of it, so they ignore cues that it’s time to move on to do something else, and sit there for hours and hours.” The more time you spend on the app, the higher the chances are you’ll make a purchase, and the more information you give to advertisers about your preferences.


You can read the full article, including helpful tips to manage your online behavior, here.


Curious to know more? Visit our dedicated Psychology Speakers page, or contact a sales agent at The Lavin Agency for more information on booking a speaker.

Learn from the Best: Daniel Lerner Joins Outlier, an Online Education Platform from the MasterClass Creators

MasterClass brought us online classes taught by some of the world’s greatest minds. Now, Outlier brings us University-level courses from some of the world’s best educators. Daniel Lerner, a mastermind of positive psychology, joins the platform that’s changing the future of higher education. 

The Intro to Psychology course offered by Outlier, the offshoot of MasterClass, will change the way you see the world. It boasts 12 world-class instructors who teach subjects ranging from Happiness and Well-being to Criminal Psychology. Daniel Lerner, critically acclaimed author, speaker, and psychologist teaches “The Science of Happiness” course at NYU—the school’s most popular elective—and he is adapting those insights into his Outlier course. “There are ways to raise our levels of happiness,” Lerner says, and there are few people as qualified to teach you how.


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

New Yorker Writer Maria Konnikova Dives into the Psychology of the Con for NPR

In her New York Times bestselling book The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova investigates the mind, methods, and motives of con artists. A newfound expert on the topic, Konnikova analyses real-live cons in the latest episode of NPR’s Rough Translation. 

When she began writing The Confidence Game, New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova noticed that there was a common thread in the way stories about con artists were told. In these narratives, the con artist was often elevated to the status of hero, a champion of crime, while the victim became “the mark”: an object of pity, bordering on contempt.


Throughout the course of her research, Konnikova realized that there is a negative effect to romanticizing con artists, just as there is a negative effect to believing we’ll never be conned. Both leave us vulnerable. “One of the things you realize when you study con artists is that we’re conning ourselves all the time, about who we are, about our stories, and con artists just pick up on that,” Konnikova explains. “They figure out how we’re conning ourselves. That’s one of the reasons we’re so susceptible.” In her talks, Konnikova translates the lessons of the con into actionable insights for how to better anticipate the needs of clients, employees, and core audiences.


In this episode of Rough Translation, Konnikovan analyzes real-life examples of cons submitted by listeners. You can listen to the full episode here.


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

Jamil Zaki Awarded PECASE: the Highest Honor Bestowed by the US Government to Scientists

Established in 1996, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) acknowledges outstanding contributions in STEM education and community service. This year, Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford University Jamil Zaki received the prestigious award.

Much of Jamil Zaki’s research focuses on how we can build and strengthen our connections to one another in a world that’s become increasingly polarized. Author of the acclaimed book The War For Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, Zaki informs us that empathy is not a character trait, but a skill we can develop with dedication and practice. Zaki was nominated for the PECASE award by the National Science Foundation for his exceptional, groundbreaking contributions to the field. He is one of twelve faculty members at Stanford who was honored.

Now an in-demand empathy speaker all over the world, Zaki shows us how empathy in action can transform our professional, creative, and personal relationships.


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

Learning to Care: Lavin Speaker Jamil Zaki Challenges Us to Exercise Kindness

Can human beings teach themselves to become kinder? According to science, all signs point to yes. Stanford psychologist and author of The War For Kindness Jamil Zaki has designed a week-long kindness challenge to push people outside of their comfort zonesand into connection with each other.

Humans are the world-class champions of empathy, superior to every other being on the planet when it comes to understanding and helping one another. That being said, practicing empathy isn’t always easy, and the conditions of modern lifeubiquitous technology, heightened stress, social polarityhave made it even harder to connect. In The War For Kindness, Jamil Zaki reveals that contrary to our cultural beliefs, empathy is more like a skill than a fixed traitmeaning that, just like any muscle, it can be strengthened with a little bit of hard work. As a result, Zaki has developed the Kindness Challenge: a series of exercises designed to stretch your empathy muscles and help you connect to one another.


The experiment originates from a class Zaki taught at Stanforda ten-week experiment exploring generosity, goodwill, and empathy from both a scientific and personal perspective. In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Zaki writes, “I designed ‘Becoming Kinder’ as an empathy gym for my students. At the end of each week, I handed them a ‘kindness challenge,’ designed to help them push past their social comfort zones and connect with others in new ways.”


Starting July 8th, Zaki will take the Kindness Challenge out of the classroom, releasing a new video challenge on Facebook and Instagram every day for a week. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences with the hashtag #KindnessChallenge.  

“My own research demonstrates that simply believing empathy is a skill, rather than an innate trait, inspires people to try harder at it, even connecting with people of different races or political persuasions. My students worked at kindness and grew as a result. If more of us follow suit, we have a chance to mend our social fabric.”


To book speaker Jamil Zaki or another Psychology Speaker, contact The Lavin Agency for more information.

Can We Unite Society Through Empathy? Jamil Zaki Explores for The Economist.

How can empathy counteract political discord and alienation? According to Jamil Zaki, the answer is building it into our  institutions and interactions. The Economist’s Open Future Initiative spoke with Zaki on how we can begin to heal our fractured society, starting with his new book The War for Kindness.

Empathy is the “psychological super-glue” that connects people, according to Jamil Zaki, Stanford psychologist and author of The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. Unfortunately, it appears that empathy is a skill we’re rapidly losing. “Counteracting these trends means putting people in the position to replace ‘us and them’ with ‘you and I,’ as well as the incentives to see outsiders as people, rather than mere symbols of their group,” Zaki explained to The Economist. “One reliable way to do this is to bring people from different groups together under egalitarian circumstances and with shared goals.” 


How to Use Empathy to Better Your Life | Jamil Zaki


The first step in re-learning empathy is understanding that it is under our control; the second is identifying its value and benefit. Empathetic individuals often experience greater happiness, less stress, and greater professional success: “Poetically, one of the best ways we can help ourselves starts with caring for each other.”


Curious to learn more? Browse our dedicated Psychology speaker selection, or contact The Lavin Agency for more information on booking a speaker for your next event.

How Do We Build Empathy in a Fractured World? Learn From Jamil Zaki’s The War for Kindness—Out Today.

As a child stuck in the middle of his parent’s contentious divorce, Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki had his first lesson in empathy. “That two people’s experiences could differ so drastically, yet both be true and deep is maybe the most important lesson I’ve ever learned,” he writes in his new book The War for Kindness, which hits shelves today.

With The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, Zaki uses a scientific framework to drive home the idea that empathy is something that we can all learn and benefit from: “When people believe they can become more caring through effort, they put in that effort, including working harder to connect with people who look or think differently than themselves.” Garnering early praise, it was recently featured in the Harvard Business Review, and has been called “a masterpiece” that “will stay in your heart forever” by Grit author and Lavin speaker Angela Duckworth.


Modernity is eroding our sense of empathy, says Jamil Zaki. But there’s a lot we can do to reverse this troubling trendAs Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab, Zaki has explored and studied the neurological foundations of empathy, as well as the social. Empathic powers are not so much a trait gifted to a lucky few, he argues, but a skill that can be cultivated by anyone, at any time. Moreover, it is a skill that he believes should be central to our lives.


“Empathy evolved as one of humans’ vital survival skills,” Zaki writes, noting that over millennia, humans have become less aggressive and more perceptive of one another’s thoughts and feelings. It is only through our foray into the modern world that we have lost touch with our evolutionary empathy.


BUILDING EMPATHY: How to hack empathy and get others to care more | Jamil Zaki | TEDxMarin


“Empathy and kindness sound like rosy topics, but our culture has made them thorny,” Zaki explains. “We’re surrounded by alienation, animus, and exhaustion. These forces push against empathy, making it feel emotionally unaffordable. Choosing to care anyway requires fighting back against those forces. In many contexts—such as our polarized political climate or in the face of growing cynicism—empathy is an act of defiance.” 


To book speaker Jamil Zaki or another Psychology Speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

These Speakers—Behavioral Scientists, Grit Experts, and Psychologists—Help Audiences Stick to Their Goals

It’s a month into 2019, do you know where your New Year’s resolutions are? These speakers—behavioral scientists, grit experts, and psychologists—help audiences define and stick to their goals, both at work and at home.  

Angela Duckworth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit—her landmark work on the importance of passion, perseverance and character to overall success in life. Her talks are in incredibly high demand among educators, athletes, and business leaders—anyone interested in cultivating top performers. In the video below she uses the behavior of national spelling bee champs to illustrate the importance of grit in reaching a goal.   


How to Reach Your Goals | Angela Duckworth



When it comes to achieving goals, sometimes your environment can be more harmful than helpful. This is called choice architecture, and it’s something you can design and control to help you make better decisions, more often. In the video below behavioral economist and Wharton professor Katherine Milkman explains exactly what choice architecture is, and how you can make it work to your advantage—at home, and at work. 


What is Choice Architecture? | Katherine Milkman



Positive psychologist Daniel Lerner teaches the “Science of Happiness”—the most popular elective at NYU. In talks he breaks down the science of achieving your goals, revealing that there’s a right way and a wrong way to get there: “when we do things that we’re really passionate about, harmoniously, we can rise to the top. Studies show that whether you’re harmonious or obsessive there is very little difference in our ability to rise up.” 


Daniel Lerner: Do What You Love. You’ll Achieve More.


To book one of our behavioral scientists, grit experts, or psychologists for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency.  

Lavin Speaker Lera Boroditsky Had the Most Popular TED Talk of 2018

Lavin speaker Lera Boroditsky had the most popular TED talk of 2018. Millions have watched her explain how language shapes the way we think. Watch it below.

In her funny and fascinating breakdown of how language shapes the way we think, cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky draws on examples from the field—an Aboriginal language rooted in direction; Russia’s many words for blue; the way blame is assigned in English—to show language’s ability to create reality. “The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and flexible the human mind is,” she says. “Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000.”


How language shapes the way we think | Lera Boroditsky


To book Lera Boroditsky for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Empathy is a Skill. New Speaker Jamil Zaki Can Teach You How to Practice It.

Jamil Zaki is Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab, which aims to unpack, understand, and ultimately teach empathy: “empathetic practice becomes empathetic habits becomes empathetic people,” says Zaki in his acclaimed TED Talk. It’s a skill, he explains. We just have to start seeing it that way.

Empathy isn’t a static figure. It moves and changes, and right now in our fraught political climate, it’s actually eroding. That’s why, says Zaki, “it matters that we realize empathy is a skill that can be developed. When people think they can’t get better at something, they shy away from it, when they think they can grow, they open up instead.”


In warm, generous keynotes, Zaki offers real practices that he uses in his lab to develop empathy in people, along with eye-opening anecdotes to illustrate exactly how it works. Everyone wins when there’s more empathy: “patients of empathic doctors are less depressed and employees of empathic managers are less stressed,” he tells us. Zaki’s exciting, practical take on empathy will actually change the way you interact with your family, your friends, and your co-workers. 


BUILDING EMPATHY: How to hack empathy and get others to care more | Jamil Zaki | TEDxMarin


To book Jamil Zaki, or another speaker on empathy like Megan Phelps-Roper, contact The Lavin Agency, their exclusive speakers bureau. 

In His Brand New TED Talk, Steven Pinker Argues that the World is Getting Better. But, We Must Adjust Our Perception to See It.

“You can always fool yourself into seeing a decline if you compare bleeding headlines of the present with rose-tinted images of the past,” says speaker Steven Pinker in his just-released (and standing o-garnering) TED Talk. But, he goes on to ask, what does the trajectory of the world look like when we measure well-being over time using a constant yardstick?

Creating a funny, compelling, and data-driven talk from his New York Times bestselling book Enlightment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Pinker, a cognitive psychologist, linguist, and Harvard professor, lucidly argues that the world is empirically getting safer, less impoverished, and healthier. No, it’s not perfect. But imperfection doesn’t prevent progress if we learn to see the full story of the facts that surround us. Pinker, with his “constant yardstick,” helps us do just that.   

The Lavin Agency is pleased to represent some of the top talent to appear at TED’s conferences and special events over the years. Visit our TED Speaker and TED Fellow pages to learn more about the TEDxLavin connection.

“An intellectually exhilarating book.” Raves Pour In For Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now, His Masterpiece on Human Progress

Compelling speaker, bestselling author, and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker has already received the ultimate book review from Bill Gates: “It’s my new favorite book of all time.” Now, a week after the publication of Enlightenment Now—a masterfully argued and timely defense of reason, science and humanism in the face of tribalism, authoritarianism, and demonization—a fresh wave of positive reviews have rolled in.

Enlightenment Now is a bold, wonderfully expansive and occasionally irate defense of scientific rationality and liberal humanism.”—The Guardian


Enlightenment Now offers up important ideas about not only the world itself, but also in how we make it our own.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


“The appeal of regressive ideas is perennial, and the case for reason, science, humanism, and progress always has to be made, Pinker concludes. That is exactly what he has achieved in this intellectually exhilarating book.”—Reason Magazine


“This is an important and timely book.”—Times Literary Supplement


“It would be hard to imagine a more encouraging defense than Pinker’s of the reality and possibilities of progress.”—Harvard Magazine


Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is available now wherever book are sold. To learn more about Steven Pinker, or another speaker on psychology, optimism, or society, contact The Lavin Agency.  href=”http: www.thelavinagency.com=”>


Ignore the Headlines, Says Harvard Professor Steven Pinker. Out Today, His New Book Explains Why The World is Doing Better Than You Think.

Newspaper headlines are an endless stream of violence, destruction, and looming threats. But Harvard professor and leading cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker says that we’re actually living longer, healthier, and happier lives than ever before. In his much-anticipated book Enlightenment Now (already named one of The Guardian’s best of 2018 and declared by Bill Gates to be his new favorite), he explains how now, more than ever, we must commit to Enlightenment values—reason, science, and humanism.

Enlightenment Now (out today!) is the natural follow-up to Pinker’s New York Times bestseller The Better Angels of Our Nature, a fascinating analysis of why violence is declining that Bill Gates called “the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.” Picking up where the previous book left off, Enlightenment Now urges us to step back from the gory headlines, which play into our psychological biases, and instead, look at the data. Health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human progress.   


Pinker’s bold new keynote, based on the book, develops these ideas further, offering insights into why our headlines would present a reality so different from what the data shows. He proves to audiences that the most valuable tenets of the Enlightenment are what will shake complacency, repair our democracy, and restore hope in 2018, all with his trademark wit, optimism and clarity. 




The Lavin Agency’s exclusive psychology speakers are second to none. They’re professors at Harvard, NYU, and Yale; they’re managing world-class research labs, and writing bestselling books. Contact us today to learn more. 


“A Meeting of the Minds”: Steven Pinker and Bill Gates Discuss Human Progress and How the World is Getting Better

In advance of speaker Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now, the Harvard professor sat down with Microsoft visionary and philanthropist Bill Gates to discuss the Enlightenment values of reason and science —which Pinker believes are still key to human progress —and why we have no right to expect perfection.

Last year, Bill Gates called speaker Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature “the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.” Now, in anticipation of Pinker’s “sequel,” Enlightenment Now, the two friends met for a front page New York Times Sunday Business feature aptly headlined A Meeting of the Minds.  “The world is getting better, even if it doesn't always feel that way,” writes Gates in his review of the book. “I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.” Discussing what motivates them to believe that humanity is improving, Pinker elaborates on the evidence-based argument that shows how just how different contemporary societies are from their predecessors, which he brings as a speaker to his brand new keynote on the subject. 


More than providing a congratulatory overview of how far we’ve come as a civilization, Enlightenment Now — and Pinker’s attendant keynote — explores how we can adjust to this fact to ensure further progress. As he tells Gates, “One of the biggest enemies of reason is tribalism. When people subscribe to an ideology, they suck up evidence that supports their preconceptions and filter out evidence that goes against them. Contrary to the belief of most scientists that denial of climate change is an effect of scientific illiteracy, it is not at all correlated with scientific literacy. People who believe in man-made climate change don’t know any more about climate or science than those who deny it. It’s almost perfectly correlated with left-wing versus right-wing orientation. And a move toward greater rationality would unbundle them and let evidence inform what the optimal policies ought to be.”


To learn more about speaker Steven Pinker or to book him for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.