The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Photojournalist and Lavin Speaker Eman Mohammed is Now a TED Senior Fellow

An extremely distinguished position offered to only 10 individuals per year, the TED Senior Fellows program supports visionary artists, scientists, doctors, activists, entrepreneurs and beyond whose work makes the world a better and more equitable place. Eman Mohammed, one of the youngest female photojournalists in Gaza, is now a TED Senior Fellow.

Mohammed’s work and talks reveal the human face of war, immigration and discrimination. In the below TED talk, she talks about how she brought Gaza’s overlooked female stories to light.



To book Eman Mohammed for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

In Her Latest for The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith Shows That Our Flaws Are More Attractive Than We Think They Are

“Often there’s a mismatch between how people perceive their vulnerabilities and how others interpret them. We tend to think showing vulnerability makes us seem weak, inadequate, and flawed—a mess. But when others see our vulnerability, they might perceive something quite different, something alluring.” Researchers call this “the beautiful mess effect” and Emily Esfahani Smith, standing-o garnering TED speaker and author of The Power of Meaning, explores it in her latest for The Atlantic.  

Emily Esfahani Smith’s articles in The Atlantic have been read over 30 million times, and her writing on culture and psychology—drawing on neuroscience, philosophy, and literature—have also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TIME, and more.


Watch her celebrated TED talk on the pursuit of meaning, not happiness, as the key to a good life.   

There's more to life than being happy | Emily Esfahani Smith


To book Emily Esfahani Smith for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

Seek a Life of Meaning, Not Happiness, Says Emily Esfahani Smith in Her New TED Talk

Our “single-minded obsession with happiness” is leading us astray, says speaker Emily Esfahani Smith in her just-released hit TED2017 keynote. Smith lays out the four pillars of wisdom that are not about banishing unhappiness, but rather, finding meaning within an emotional spectrum.

“I used to think the whole purpose of life was pursuing happiness,” says Emily Esfahani Smith in her wonderful new TED keynote. “Everyone said the path to happiness was success, so I searched for that ideal job, that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful apartment. But instead of ever feeling fulfilled, I felt anxious and adrift. And I wasn’t alone; my friends—they struggled with this, too.”


As she goes on to explain, happiness is just one reward within the more fulfulling search for meaning. As she wrote in her viral Atlantic article, “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy,” (this, along with her other Atlantic stories have been read over 30 million times), The Power of Meaning, “People who have meaning in life, they’re more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer.” What, however, creates meaning in a person’s life?  Quoting psychologist Martin Seligman, Smith says “Meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you.” So, how do we do that? Watch the video to learn about her Four Pillars: 


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An instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith is also a columnist for The New Criterion, as well as an editor at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where she manages the Ben Franklin Circles project: a collaboration with the 92nd Street Y and Citizen University to build meaning in local communities. Her writing on culture and psychology—drawing on neuroscience, philosophy, and literature—have also appeared in The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, TIME, and other publications. Smith’s talks help us think differently about the stories we tell ourselves and help us identify what makes life worth living. 


Visit Lavin’s dedicated page on motivation to discover our range of galvanizing keynote speakers, all of whom bring no shortage of heart and innovation to their talks.  

LAVIN x TED2017: Meet the Talent Taking the Stage

The 2017 TED Conference is kicking off today in Vancouver, and nine members (comprising six mainstage presenters and TED Fellows) of the Lavin brain trust are there to speak in a diverse set of sessions that all center around the theme of this year’s conference: The Future You. Meet the people taking their timely messages west.

Monday April 24


Session 1: One Move Ahead


Anab Jain: Jain parses uncertainties around our shared futures to create provocative experiences, tools and tactics that we can adopt today. Jain is also the co-founder of Superflux, a consultancy and a lab that operates in the realm of emerging technologies for business, cultural, and social purposes. It’s a future-facing company, and it’s making big waves. 


Anab Jain: Designing the Future


Titus Kaphar:  Kaphar's artworks interact with the history of art by appropriating its styles and
mediums. Working from personal history toward a wider lens—revealing the historically marginalized and erased—he exposes racism, inequality, and a criminal justice system that is anything but just.

The Making Of The Ferguson Portrait | TIME

Tuesday April 25


Session 3: The Human Response 


Martin Ford: Ford imagines what the accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence may mean for the economy, job market and society of the future. In his book Rise of the Robots, Ford looks at how the accelerating pace of new technologies will change, for better and worse, the economy, the job market, the education system, and society at large. 


Automation Nation: Will Robots Take Our Jobs?


Thursday, April 27

Session 9: It's Personal 

Susan Pinker: Pinker reveals how in-person social interactions are not only necessary for human happiness but also could be a key to health and longevity. Whether writing on gender differences, as in The Sexual Paradox, or on why face-to-face contact should be a priority, as in The Village Effect, Pinker’s evidence-based insights help us improve the ways we work, play, and relate to each other. 

Susan Pinker: Face-to-Face vs. Online Communication

Adam AlterWhat makes us incessantly check our phones? Alter dives into the fascinating psychology that drives our tech addictions. In his new book, Irresistible, he explores how tech companies and marketers design games, apps, and experiences with predictable human psychology in mind—and how you can direct, and command, attention.

Adam Alter: Why Gambling is So Much Fun

Friday, April 28

Session 11: The Future Us 

Emily Esfahani Smith: In her book The Power of Meaning, Esfahani Smith rounds up the latest research—and the words of great thinkers across generations—to argue that the search for meaning is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness.

Emily Esfahani Smith,


To find out more about TED cinema events or available livestreaming, click here


To book Adam Alter, Martin Ford, Emily Esfahani Smith, Titus Kaphar,  Susan Pinker, or Anab Jain, contact the Lavin Agency today.

What We Learned from the NY Times’ Saturday Profile on Kimberley Motley

Last week The New York Times ran an excellent Saturday Profile on Kimberley Motley: TED Speaker, star of the award-winning documentary Motley’s Law, and the only Western litigator working in Afghanistan. While serving as a fantastic introduction to Motley’s inspiring work (and captivating personality), it also sheds light on her commitments, genuinely daring cases, sexism in and outside the courtroom, and the current state of law and stability in Afghanistan.

On Being a Woman in a Male-Dominated Environment

In a country where many women can’t leave the home without a burqa, Motley isn’t exactly inconspicuous. Knowing what we do about Afghanistan’s patriarchal structure—and recent history under the Taliban—one might think Motley would encounter countless obstacles merely by virtue of being an outspoken woman. But that’s not quite the full story, as it turns out. “To tell the truth, I get more sexist crap from foreign men than I do from Afghans,” she tells the Times. And any abuse she does receive from male colleagues demanding deference doesn’t slow her down. “I try not to complain, because that’s what people want you to do—they want to see weakness,” she says. Motley’s earned the respect of her Afghan peers, she reveals, by showing it herself. “I’m not coming in and saying, ‘This is the way we do things in America.’ I’m coming in and I’m using the Afghan laws and the Holy Quran. People appreciate real people, and I try to be as real as I can possibly be.”

On Helping a Teenaged Girl Escape from Imprisonment

While working in law isn’t always exciting, Motley has seen her fair share of dangerous, daring cases. As the Times reports, she recently helped a teen girl, lured to Afghanistan under false pretences and imprisoned by her family, escape the country and return to her home in Vienna. The daring rescue involved teams of armed local men, multiple attempts, and surreptitious communications—not your average work for a litigator, certainly.

On Law and Order in Afghanistan

Despite President Ashraf Ghani’s promise that Afghanistan has “overcome the past,” the country is definitely in a precarious position. According to the Times article, numerous NGOs have given up, and billions in aid have been wasted. “This place should look like Dubai, considering all the money that’s been poured into it,” Motley reveals. Now, she’s uncertain of how long she’ll be able to keep up the good fight.

“And things are getting worse, not better,” she says. As coalition forces withdraw, the threat of a returning Taliban (some 60,000 fighters strong) grows ever more potent. As stated in a report from the Council on Foreign Relations, “The Taliban has outlasted the world’s most potent military forces and its two main factions now challenge the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

In this environment, it’s incredible that Motley continues on. But despite the dangers she faces, she’s still at least part-way optimistic. “The fact that as an American lawyer I’m allowed to practice here, that’s progress”—and perhaps a sign of things to come, as the number of licensed lawyers in the country has rocketed into the thousands since she arrived.

“We can all be contributors to a global human rights economy,” says Motley. “We can create a culture of transparency and accountability to the laws, and make governments more accountable to us as we are to them.” To book Kimberley Motley as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

Sparking Change at TEDWomen: Jessica Jackley in the New York Times

The New York Times has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Jessica Jackley's departure from the TEDWomen conference in Monterey, California earlier this month. Jackley (a former TED speaker herself) was asked to leave the conference after bringing her infant son – but after she tweeted about her experience, TED's organizers promised to take another look at their policies when it comes to allowing parents to bring their children to the conference.

Organizers originally explained that TED is meant to be an “immersive” experience, and distractions of any kind – from cell phones to children – are prohibited.

But Jackley's tweets from the conference raised important questions about how a conference designed to promote innovation and new modes of thinking should handle the issue of working parents who want to attend.

June Cohen, the Senior Executive Producer of TED Media, understands why the issue struck such a public nerve: 

“This is a parent’s issue,” she said. “It is in the zeitgeist. Men and women are trying to bridge their work and personal lives in appropriate ways.”

Before Ms. Jackley boarded her flight at the airport, she got a call from Ms. Cohen who apologized and invited her back. “You could tell she wanted to turn it around,” Ms. Jackley said. “Providing a handful of options is a smart response.” TED even refunded her $2,495 registration fee.

…The day after Ms. Jackley left Monterey, TED posted an item on its blog, asking, 'Is it time to change our policy?'”

Jackley's experience has opened up a crucial conversation around the nature of work, parenthood, and the policies of the TED conferences. As the Times piece says, “Speakers at TED conferences are known for instigating change. But attendees can, too.”

Jessica Jackley speaks on social change and entrepreneurship. To book Jessica Jackley as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

Can Humans Feel Data? Watch Neuroscientist David Eagleman’s 2015 TED Talk

Can we create new senses for humans? Is it possible to feel information? Can we experience data the same way we hear, see or feel other things? What would a world where we’re not limited to our five biological senses be like?

David Eagleman answered these questions—and many, many more—in his astounding new TED talk (embedded above).

His speech is the first from the 2015 conference to go up online, and it’s already making huge waves. The talk was one of TED 2015’s most talked-about, and the video’s already racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Garnering a standing ovation and plenty of online buzz, it even impressed festival curator Chris Anderson, who called it “mindblowing.”

So what’s all the hype about?

“We live in a world of information now,” Eagleman says, but “there’s a difference between accessing big data and experiencing it.” As a neuroscientist whose work explores how technology interacts with our brains, that difference is something he’s keen to investigate.

First, Eagleman shows off a vest that he and his lab at the Baylor College of Medicine designed to translate sounds into vibrations for deaf wearers. After just a few short training sessions with the vest, wearers are able to “hear” words, and even repeat them back perfectly by writing them down. In other words, it’s possible to retrain your senses, or even create new ones, by treating the brain as a kind of computing device that can learn new ways to connect and interpret information.

The vest is cool enough on its own—but according to Eagleman, devices like it are just the beginning. As he goes on to explain, we can create systems that assimilate other kinds of information and data and translate them into physical experience, creating new “senses” for all kinds of information. “Imagine an astronaut being able to feel the health of the international space station,” he says, “or you, being able to feel the invisible states of your own health, like your blood sugar and the state of your microbiome.”

It’s astounding stuff—and to hear Eagleman tell it, the possibilities are endless. His vision of a world where data, technology, and experience combine to form new and unprecedented realms of sensory experience is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard before—and it’s absolutely worth watching.

To book David Eagleman as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

The Year in Ideas: 2014’s Best TED Talks, Featuring Four Lavin Speakers

TED has just released its Year in Ideas, the definitive list of 2014's most powerful TED talks. We are pleased to see four talks by four incredible Lavin speakers on the list: Kimberley Motley on defending the rule of law; Eman Mohammed on the courage to tell a hidden story; Sarah Lewis on embracing the near win; and Isabel Allende on how to live passionately—no matter your age.

Embedded above is TED's compilation of the the year's best talks. Below, we've included our four speakers' keynotes. We hope you find them to be as inspiring as we do.

To book Kimberley Motley, Eman Mohammed, Sarah Lewis, or Isabel Allende for your next event, please contact The Lavin Agency.

TED Report: Nina Tandon, David Lavin & Cutting Edge Speakers at TED2013

As David Lavin says in this new interview, the TED Fellows are some of the most interesting and cutting edge thinkers in the world. As the President of The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau, he's had the chance to rub elbows with some of these bright minds both here at the agency and, recently, at TED2013. Some of the work the TED Fellows are doing might not become mainstream knowledge for another 5, 10, or 15 years, Lavin explains in the interview, but their advancements are actually making a difference in our lives even today. He also got to speak at this year's TED event. TED Fellow and tissue engineer Nina Tandon has also spoken at TED in years past. As Lavin notes, Tandon—whose work is poised to redefine how we create tissue for body implementation—and the many other talented TED Fellows are dramatically changing the world.

When People Dont “Get” Art, It Means It’s Working: Design Speaker John Maeda [VIDEO]

People often strive to seek out the “meaning” behind art. In a talk at TEDGlobal 2012, however, design speaker John Maeda argued that the questions art stimulates are more important than “understanding” it. “When people say, ‘I don’t get art. I don’t get it all,’ that means art is working,” he said in the talk. “Art is supposed to be enigmatic…art is about asking questions — questions that might not be answerable.”

As the President of the Rhode Island School of Design, Maeda's artistic merits were recognized from a young age. He candidly recounts a parent-teacher conference in his talk, where his teach told his father that John was skilled in both math and art. The part that Maeda remembers the most though, he says, is that his father later relayed that praise to a customer without mentioning that his son was a talented artist—only that he was good at math.  

“That stuck with me my entire life,” Maeda said. The question of why his father “didn't say art, why was that not ok?” became a central question for him from that point on. While he started his post-graduate studies at MIT (much to his father's delight), Maeda would later study at art school, as well. Much of his career since has focused on the intersection of art with math, science and technology—and the idea that the subjects intertwine and are both of equal merit. The author of several books, including, most recently, The Laws of Simplicity, as well as being a candid and entertaining speaker, Maeda often shares his insights on how design can influence leadership. While he agrees that math, science and technology are vitally important, the inclusion of art in education helps spur creative thinking and makes people more inherently capable of collaborating and interacting effectively with others.