The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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

Two New AI Talks from the TED Mainstage: Lavin speakers on Education, the Brain, and New Technologies. Watch Now!

The fusion of our minds with technology is not science fiction—it’s today’s reality. At TED, Nita Farahany discussed the enormously disruptive potential of neurotechnology. (Think brain-sensing devices that track productivity and health, among other things). “We just might address everything from neurological disease and suffering to creating transformational possibilities for the human experience,” Nita says. In tandem with the literally endless applications and opportunities, we must also advocate for greater awareness, stronger laws, and stricter guidelines—we must fight for our “cognitive liberty.”

Watch the TED Talk here: “We can and should be hopeful and deliberate about the choices we make now, to secure a right to self-determination over our brains and mental experiences.”


AI isn’t going to destroy education—it’s going to save it. As the world discusses the destructive potential of AI, Sal Khan, founder of the ground-breaking Khan Academy, is unlocking its ability to support student and teacher success. In his eye-opening TED Talk, Sal reveals Khanmigo, the AI tutor developed for Khan Academy, and its solution to a global education problem. With real examples, Sal showcases AI’s powerful ability to accelerate learning. “The most poetic use case is if AI can be used to enhance HI: human intelligence, human potential, and human purpose.”

Watch the TED Talk here: “We’re at the cusp of using AI for probably the biggest positive transformation that education has ever seen.”

Leadership Lessons from Hollywood Super-Producer Lynda Obst: “Project Calm, so Nobody Makes the Fire Bigger”

What do a business leader and a Hollywood producer have in common? Surprisingly, a lot! “You have to project control of the filmmaking process, and then it’s not going to run off the rails,” says Lynda Obst. “And that’s like the basic competency of a CEO.”

A celebrated Hollywood producer with more than 16 hit films under her belt, Lynda knows how to lead in unimaginably high-pressure situations. She’s helmed films like Contact and The Fisher King and worked with stars like Tom Hanks and Robin Williams, and the lessons she’s learned from her incredible career are widely applicable to any company—including yours.

In talks, Lynda pulls back the curtain on the star-studded world of Hollywood, offering practical lessons and fascinating anecdotes to show you how you can lead and build trust in high-stakes environments. She draws on her bestseller Hello, He Lied, a modern classic about getting ahead in any business, to show you how to swim with the sharks and live to tell the tale. She explains why you shouldn’t do everything your studio (or your boss) says, how you can keep massive teams motivated for long periods of time, why you need to have multiple projects on the go while you work on your passion project, and so much more.

Lavin’s Hua Hsu Wins 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Stay True—His Book on Friendship, Pop Culture, Asian-American Identity

New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu was catapulted to literary stardom with his breathtaking memoir Stay True, which was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and countless other media outlets. It also recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography: with his book, the judges note, Hua has “crafted a transformative addition to the Asian American canon and to the critical conception of what a memoir is capable of.”

Stay True tells the story of Hua and Ken, who struck up an unlikely friendship despite their very different interests, and the marks that their time together left on Hua’s life. In a world of immense diversity, Hua shows us how staying open to difference and disagreement can help us develop our own complex identities, both as individuals and as communities.

“We fixate on differences,” Hua tells Lavin, “when what really matters—not just in friendship, but in friendship as a model for community—is the dreams and visions we share, and how we help each other see things that we can’t see alone.”

Building A More Equitable Society with Sunlight, Art, and Education: Bill Strickland on PBS NewsHour

Bill Strickland grew up in a rough neighborhood. He estimates that 30% of his friends “ended up dead or in the penitentiary by the time they were 30 years old.” But a chance encounter with an art teacher and a pottery wheel put him on a lifelong journey of learning—one that he’s now replicating with his own students. For over 50 years, Bill’s been running the Manchester Bidwell arts and training center, which provides job training to thousands of disadvantaged youth and adult learners. His work was recently featured on PBS NewsHour.

Manchester Bidwell offers students all kinds of training programs: from baking to medicine to horticulture. “They didn’t sign up for a poverty program. They signed up for a world-class training center. And that’s what this is,” Bill told PBS. Over the half century since Bill founded it, Manchester Bidwell has partnered with brand giants like Heinz and Bayer, won awards, broken records, and reshaped how we all think about social change.

Bill’s powerful leadership inspires hope and empowers people to become the best versions of themselves. His commitment to providing environments that allow people to learn with dignity has led him to help establish 13 other training centers based on the Manchester Bidwell model. Former president Obama once named him one of 25 members of the White House Council for Community Solutions. Bill has received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and a White House “Coming Up Taller” Award.

Watch the PBS segment on Bill and Manchester Bidwell below:

Untold Stories of Social Justice Solidarity: Heather McGhee’s New Podcast Based on Bestselling Book

Racism costs everyone—so when we come together to fight for justice, we all win. In Heather McGhee’s New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us, she explores how racism is at the heart of many of our most crucial social problems, and proves that fighting for racial equality will help us all prosper together. Now Heather is bringing all-new research to her podcast, premiering today, which tells the stories of ordinary people crossing divides to forge a better future.

In a recent Vanity Fair interview, Heather talked about the courage and optimism that helps those she interviewed get their kids to school and save for the future. “Getting back out on the road and experiencing conversations with countless numbers of people in the community really helped me get another shot of that optimism and that sense of hope,” she said. The podcast, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground, features interviews with a third-generation dairy farmer, a surfer, a fast-food worker, and many more people who are finding strength in their communities and changing the world.

Heather’s book The Sum of Us spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. #1 New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Antiracist) said, “This is the book I’ve been waiting for. The Sum of Us can help us come together to build a nation for us all.”


The Cyber World Is for Everyone: Digital Security Veteran Tarah Wheeler Joins Council on Foreign Relations

If you think cyber issues don’t affect you or your business, think again. Seemingly nebulous threats like security breaches can compromise our reputation and our customers’ trust, but Fulbright scholar Tarah Wheeler has good news: we can take action. “Computers aren’t magic. They’re pleasingly reconfigured dirt that are useful tools, like an anvil or a frying pan or an F-35,” she says. And with a little help, we can make sense of the cyber world and keep ourselves, our companies, and our loved ones safe.

Tarah was just appointed to a senior fellowship for global cyber policy at the Council on Foreign Relations: a think tank and publisher whose goal is to start a conversation around foreign policy. She’s been a cyber project fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and Symantec’s senior director of engineering and principal security advocate.

The author of Women in Tech, Tarah’s spent her career demystifying technology and connecting big cyber questions to the non-tech sphere. Her accessible talks provide us with actionable strategies for keeping ourselves safe and building trust with our customers—for everybody, not just for tech experts. “You can learn and understand anything you want to,” she says. “This world that we get to live in is crazy, but it’s real. And you can be part of it too.”

Watch Tarah explain easy cybersecurity steps that you can take today:

Just 30 Minutes Can Transform The Way We React to Stress: David Yeager’s New Scientific Study in Nature

Sweaty palms, racing thoughts—when we face down stressful situations, our minds and bodies conspire to throw us off. And with anxiety levels spiking during the pandemic, we face down stressful situations every day. But psychologist and researcher David Yeager is proving that it only takes 30 minutes to transform the way we react to stress: turning it from a threat into a challenge.

David and the co-authors of the study—which was just published in Nature, the world’s top journal—spent years testing a simple 30-minute exercise with thousands of high-schoolers and college students. The exercise combined two different areas of existing research: the idea that ability is achievable through effort and support (growth mindset) and the idea that the physiological responses to stress can be helpful. Students were given strategies and practical scenarios, and asked to write about what they might do next time. 

The study authors found that the exercise changed the way students thought about stress, turning it into a means to energize and motivate themselves. But it also changed the way they physically reacted to stress: their bodies responded physiologically like the situation was a challenge instead of a threat. Changing students’ reactions to stress helped them lower their anxiety levels and excel at their classes in the long term: in one school, 63% of students who did the exercise passed their math and science classes, compared to only 47% of students who didn’t do the exercise. 

David is a leading expert in the psychology of persistence. He’s co-authored work on grit with grit pioneer Angela Duckworth, and studied growth mindset, purpose, and how we can fail and still continue to improve. His work has appeared in The New York TimesThe AtlanticScientific AmericanThe Wall Street JournalThe Guardian, and more. In his engaging speeches, he gives us a framework for how to persevere in the face of failure, push through difficult times, and become lifelong learners.