The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Can We Improve Decision-Making Skills? Introducing New Speaker Francesca Gino

New Lavin speaker Francesca Gino is an expert in something most of us could use a little help with: decision-making. She is the author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan, a book that examines why our decisions get derailed and what we can do to stick to the plan—at work, in our personal lives, and as organizations.

In a new Harvard Business Review article, Gino (and her co-author John Beshears) outline how leaders can make better decision-makers. It's difficult to change the way our brain is hard-wired to make decisions, they say. But what we can do is alter the environment in which we make decisions: acting as architects of the context of our decisions.

The authors' five-step process “can be applied to a wide range of problems, from high employee turnover to missed deadlines to poor strategic decisions,” they say. Here it is:

(1) Understand the systematic errors in decision making that can occur
(2) Determine whether behavioral issues are at the heart of the poor decisions in question
(3) Pinpoint the specific underlying causes
(4) Redesign the decision-making context to mitigate the negative impacts of biases and inadequate motivation
(5) Rigorously test the solution

For the detailed strategy and how to implement it at your place of work, we encourage you to read the full article in HBR.

In her talks, Gino explores inconsistent decisions played out in a wide range of circumstances—from our roles as consumers and employees (what we buy, how we manage others) to the choices that we make more broadly as human beings (who we date, how we deal with friendships). What factors are likely to sway our decisions in directions we did not initially consider? And what can we do to correct for the subtle influences that derail our decisions? Gino helps you better understand the nuances of your decisions and how they get derailed—so you have more control over keeping them on track.

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

Up Close & Personal: Susan Pinker On Face-to-Face Contact and Happiness

Psychologist and bestselling author Susan Pinker is back with a fascinating new book: The Village Effect. In it, she shows how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience, and longevity—and how it can even save our lives.

A recent feature on Pinker and the book in Maclean's focused on personal happiness and the effects of technology on our social interactions. “Our digital devices are fabulous for gaining information, for scheduling our lives, for reaching the people we want and avoiding the people we detest,” says Pinker. “But those digital devices have not been good for human relationships, because they cannot engender trust.” It's crucial that we put aside our phones and get together with friends and family, otherwise we can't get the most out of our relationships. Maclean's writes: “The benefits humans derive from close interaction—the empathy, the understanding, the firing of mirror neurons that cause us to mimic to whom we are speaking, and the trust all that creates—requires 'being in the same room', Pinker says.” But what about those of us who are shy, or without a close network of relationships? Pinker suggests we find new ways to increase our social circles, especially as we age (she joined a swim team for the benefits of collegiality and locker-room talk). “It’s like a perennial garden; every spring, you find you’ve lost a few plants, and you have to fill in those spaces,” she says.

And, as she points out in the Globe and Mail, face-to-face interaction can have meaningful effects at work: “That simple [move of] having a coffee break at the same time so you could chat boosted [bank call centre workers'] productivity by 20 per cent, and boosted their satisfaction in their work by 10 per cent.” Even casual workplace encounters can deeply impact our personal happiness as well as the company's success.

The bottom line is this: we need to set aside time, every single day, to interact with other human beings face-to-face. Whether it's dinner with friends, a weekly volleyball game, or a lunchtime walk with a co-worker, there are countless opportunities to take Pinker's sound advice, and make ourselves happier, healthier, and more productive in the process.

To book Susan Pinker as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

“Bill Strickland Is Changing The World”: Twitter Reactions to His Recent Keynote

What will the workforce look like in the next decade? How can employers attract the best talent and foster the most productive environments for their employees? Leadership speaker Bill Strickland addressed questions like these at the World Employment Conference in Toronto earlier this month (fellow Lavin speakers Jeremy Gutsche and David Foot also gave speeches at the event). In a speech titled “The Art of Leadership: Making The Impossible Possible”, the community leader discussed key trends in the staffing industry, and spelled out what the future holds for the employment market. He drew on the mantra that he embraces as the CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation: Give people the tools they need, treat them with respect, and they will perform miraculous deeds. The event drew leaders from over 30 countries, many of which shared praise and key takeaways from Strickland's speech on Twitter.

Here's what some of the staffing leaders were saying about Strickland's keynote address:

“Wow what a story. National Center for Arts & Technology. Bill Strickland changing the world.”
—Steve Jones (@ Jones4staffing), President of Business Leadership Corp

“Use the arts to unlock imagination and you'll also unlock a passion to learn.”
 —Melissa Alvares, (@ melisonit), a marketer, quoting Strickland

“The arts is a great way to [engage] kids in learning.”
—Kevin Dee (@ KevinDee300), CEO of Eagle Professional Resources Inc., quoting Strickland

“A beautiful environment makes beautiful people.
—Rituparna Chakrabort (@ ritu205), co-founder & senior VP of India's staffing agency Teamlease, quoting Strickland

Busy Work: James Fallows Talks to Productivity Guru David Allen

Do you feel like you're being bombarded with what seems like an overwhelming number of tasks 24/7? James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic, talks with productivity expert David Allen in a recent article about what it takes to “get things done” in a time when emails and digital communication make it difficult—if not impossible—to disconnect. With the advent of digital technology, many theorists have proposed that we are now living in a state of information overload where we are inundated with snippets of content around-the-clock, making it much harder to be productive.

Allen disagrees, however, and says that “information overload is not the issue.” He continues: “If it were, you’d walk into the library and die. As soon as you connected to the Web, you’d just explode.” So, if the influx of information being thrown our way isn't attributing to our mounting stress levels, then what is? It's the constant call-to-action that digital technology creates, Allen tells Fallows, that causes this GSA (Gnawing Sense of Anxiety). The information itself is not the problem, but rather, the fact that we are constantly being handed tasks that need to be prioritized, leaving us feeling like there is always something to be done. When we are at work, we are thinking about home, he says, and vice versa. We constantly have to decide what's most important, and worry that what we are currently doing isn't as important as something else we could—or should—be doing.

When Fallows—who used to focus on technology writing in his early days with The Atlantic—questions whether technology will help or hurt us in the future, Allen says that more of us will feel busier as digital technology becomes more entrenched in our routines. Allen's advice? Externalize those pressures: write them down, save them online, whatever works—just get them out of your head so you can focus on one thing at a time. In the series, Fallows will  alternate moderating interviews with another Atlantic writer, and speak with people on the cutting edge of technological change. As a gifted writer with a knack for drawing out excellent stories (and for telling them on stage), it will undoubtedly be a column to watch.

Bryant Terry Cooks Up Savory, Diplomatic Dishes With The American Chef Corps.

Lavin speaker and food justice advocate Bryant Terry has been selected as one of less than 100 chefs to be inducted into the newly formed American Chef Corps. program. The Chef Corps. is a prestigious group of top-rated chefs who will prepare dishes promoting diplomatic exchanges. The program hopes to unite people around the world through an exceptionally unique and delicious culinary experience.

As a speaker, Terry argues passionately about the important role that both food preparation and access to quality cuisine can play in combating important social issues. The Chef Corps. work in a similar vein: throughout the program Terry will cook, and learn about, American food and its ability to send a strong cultural, social, and political message.

Terry views food as a movement and as an indicator for what is taking place in the world. In his interactive talks, and in his work with b-healthy!, the culinary specialist shows us how there is much more to food than simply being a vessel to curb hunger.