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The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

2020 Revealed the Soul of Our Democracy. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s New Book Shows Us How to Heal

2020 compellingly reveals what the pandemic laid bare about our culture, our institutions, and ourselves.—Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted

An NYU professor and the director of NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, Eric Klinenberg recently sat down with us at the Lavin office to explore what the pandemic did to usand how we can heal. Today, our politics are deeply polarized and misinformation runs rampant. Gen Z’s are losing trust in a system they feel let them down. Community initiatives that came together in the absence of government support are undervalued and underfunded, and our institutions haven’t stepped up to fill in the gap. If we want to overcome these challenges, we need to go back to the year that supercharged them.

“Crises allow us to see ourselves more clearly,” Eric tells us. “In a crisis, we learn who we are, we learn what we value, we learn whose lives matter.” We must work through what the pandemic showed us if we want to build solidarity, foster strong leadership, and face the next crisis when it comes.

His new book, 2020 (out now!), is “a gripping, deeply moving account of a signal year in modern history” (Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee). He follows seven ordinary people in New York in the midst of the pandemic—like the bar owner who slowly became radicalized by the lack of government support, and the Jackson Heights woman whose pandemic-era mutual aid network has become a free legal clinic for immigrants—to explore how we can cultivate resilience and community together.

A thoughtful and engaging speaker, Eric offers vital talks on how the lessons of 2020 can help us strengthen our democracy, giving audiences hopeful reminders of our shared humanity and practical strategies for doing the daily work of community-building. “Mutual support and connection is the best resource we have for getting through this on the right side,” he tells Lavin.

An Urgent New Book on America Today. What We’ve Become by Dr. Jonathan Metzl Offers Hope for a Stronger Democracy

These issues are not just about one people or class of people in America, it’s about all of us. We are connected by our common humanity. Jonathan’s work gets to that.—Mark Ruffalo, Emmy Award-Winning Actor

What is the meaning of community in an armed society? This is the question that psychiatrist and author Jonathan Metzl tackles in his urgent new book (out now). What We’ve Become is not just a book about guns,” Jonathan says. Rather, it’s about how we can still build a healthy democracy: by creating structures “that foster everyday life, education, pleasure, and commerce, bolster shared investment rather than mistrust, and welcome people who can engage with one another free from fear.”

A professor who teaches in red-state Nashville and lives in blue-state New York, Jonathan offers a unique and nuanced look into the different narratives we tell across the political spectrum, and the common desire for safety and freedom that can bind us together in community.

What We’ve Become has been hailed as “consistently persuasive” by Kirkus, which calls it “a powerful, convincing effort to reframe the discussion.” It’s a snapshot of where we find ourselves today in America, and a compelling argument for the actions that we need to take to move forward.

The Skill of “Deep Curiosity”: Scott Shigeoka’s New Book Is Already on Amazon’s Best Books of 2023

“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.

Scott’s new book Seek, out this week, has already been named one of Amazon’s Top 20 Science Books of 2023. His ideas are catching on nationwide, with people discovering—or rediscovering—the power of their curiosity thanks to him. He made an inspiring appearance on The Today Show, and his book has been widely praised as being vital for leaders, managers, veterans, financial planning experts, and everyone else.

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.

Prominent Black Trans Activist Raquel Willis Says We’re Not Free Until We’re All Free, in Her “Powerful New Memoir” (TIME)

“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 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 Mercer’s New MemoirThe Road Years: The Legendary Comic Celebrates Canada with Humour and Heart

“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.

“Inclusive Leadership Is a Practice”: Daily Steps for Transforming Your Company Culture, from Minette Norman’s New Book

“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.”

Technologies Like AI Will Reshape Society. Let’s Make Sure Everyone Prospers. MIT Economist Daron Acemoglu’s New Book

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).