The Speakers

About Our Speakers

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Martin E.P. Seligman

Author of the best-selling book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being; Director, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania

Commonly known as the founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman is a leading authority in the fields of Positive Psychology, resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism. He is also a recognized authority on interventions that prevent depression, and build strengths and well-being. He has written more than 250 scholarly publications and 20 books. Dr. Seligman’s books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been best sellers both in America and abroad. Among his better-known works are Flourish, Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism, The Optimistic Child, Helplessness, and Abnormal Psychology.

In 1998, Dr. Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association. His primary aim as APA President was to join practice and science together so both might flourish – a goal that has dominated his own life as a psychologist. Since 2000, his main mission has been the promotion of the field of Positive Psychology. Dr. Seligman is expanding Positive Psychology to education, health, and neuroscience, and has applied his research to groups like teachers and students, the U.S. Army, athletes, and every-day people. His goal is to make the world happier.

Dr. Seligman was born in Albany, NY and received his B.A. from Princeton University, Summa Cum Laude (Philosophy), 1964; Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (Psychology), 1967.

Dr. Seligman lives with his wife, Mandy, and their children. He is an avid bridge player and has won over 50 regional championships. He was inspired by Aaron Beck, a renowned psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and the father of cognitive therapy.

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Susan David

Psychologist, Harvard Medical School, Author of the #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Emotional Agility

Susan David, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and an award winning Harvard Medical School psychologist. Her new #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Emotional Agility based on the concept Harvard Business Review heralded as a Management Idea of the Year, describes the psychological skills critical to thriving in times of complexity and change. She is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and guest on national radio and television. Named on the Thinkers50 Radar list of people shaping the future of organizations and management, Susan is a sought-after keynote speaker and consultant, with clients that include the World Economic Forum, EY, United Nations, Google, Microsoft, NASDAQ, and many other national and multinational organizations. Her focus is on defining and executing effective strategy, especially in the areas of engagement, high-performance leadership, and culture change. Susan is the CEO of Evidence Based Psychology, on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, a Cofounder of the Institute of Coaching (a Harvard Medical School/McLean affiliate), and on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Thrive Global and Virgin Pulse. Susan is also core faculty of the global Homeward Bound, an all-women leadership program that culminates in an expedition to Antarctica and aims at increasing the influence and impact of women in the sciences. . Originally from South Africa, Susan lives outside of Boston with her family.

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Adam Grant

Organizational Psychologist and New York Times best-selling author

Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s 40 under 40. He is the author of three New York Times bestselling books that have sold over a million copies and been translated into 35 languages. Give and Take examines why helping others drives our success, and was named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, Apple, the Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal—as well as one of Oprah’s riveting reads and Harvard Business Review’s ideas that shaped management. Originals explores how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink; it was a #1 bestseller praised by J.J. Abrams, Richard Branson, and Malcolm Gladwell. Option B, with Sheryl Sandberg, is a #1 bestseller on facing adversity and building resilience.

Adam is the host of WorkLife, a TED original podcast. His TED talks on original thinkers and givers and takers have been viewed more than 12 million times. He received a standing ovation at TED in 2016 and was voted the audience’s favorite speaker at The Nantucket Project. He writes on work and psychology for the New York Times, has more than 2 million followers on social media, and features new insights in his free monthly newsletter, GRANTED. Adam was profiled in The New York Times Magazine cover story, Is giving the secret to getting ahead?

Adam earned his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and his B.A. from Harvard University. He is a former magician and Junior Olympic springboard diver.

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Alexi Robichaux

Co-Founder & CEO, BetterUp

Recognized as a leadership and development innovator, Alexi is the co-founder and CEO of BetterUp, the first leadership development platform to connect coaching to sustainable behavior change. As CEO, Alexi leads BetterUp on its mission to enable all professionals to live with greater purpose, clarity and passion.

Prior to BetterUp, Alexi was the Director of Product Management at VMware, where he led product and design teams in building enterprise collaboration software that earned Gartner’s “best in class” distinction. While at VMware, Alexi experienced first-hand how the relationship between employees and employers needed to evolve to support the innovation-driven work of the future.

Alexi is currently Chairman for Youth Leadership America (YLA), a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 2003 that fosters peer-to-peer leadership development and civic engagement in high school students. Under Alexi’s leadership, YLA has collaborated with leading companies including Disney, Google, and Hilton Hotels to coach and mentor future leaders.

Alexi holds a BA degree in political science and non-profit management with Summa Cum Laude distinction from the University of Southern California.

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Angela Duckworth

New York Times best-selling author, Grit, CEO and Founder, Character Lab

Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change For Good initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for low-income children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2012, celebrated its twentieth anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher in the public schools of New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela has received numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education, including a Beyond Z Award from the KIPP Foundation. Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a #1 New York Times best seller.

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John Seely Brown

Co-chair of the Deloitte Center for the Edge, visiting scholar at USC

John Seely Brown is the Independent Co-Chairman of the Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at University of Southern California (USC), and an Independent Director on the Board of Amazon.com. A master integrator and instigator of productive friction, John explores the whitespace between disciplines and builds bridges between disparate organizations and ideas.

John was formerly Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the Director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)—a position he held until June 2000. In his more than two decades at PARC, John transformed the organization into a truly multidisciplinary research center at the creative edge of applied technology and design. He integrated social science and the arts into traditional physics and computer science research, and expanded the role of corporate research to include topics such as the management of radical innovation, organizational learning, complex adaptive systems, and nano-technologies. John was also a Cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). His personal research interests include digital youth culture, digital media, and the application of technology to fundamentally rethinking the nature of work, in order to enable deep learning across organizational boundaries—in brief, to design for emergence in a constantly changing world.

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Gabriella Kellerman

Chief Innovation Officer, BetterUp

Gabriella is the Chief Innovation Officer at BetterUp, and Head of BetterUp Labs. A Harvard-trained physician and behavioral science researcher, Gabriella is also the co-founder of the technology company LifeLink, and a former executive at Castlight Health, where she developed one of the earliest behavioral health technology platform products. Prior to that she worked at Discovery Health and the World Health Organization. Gabriella also serves as an advisor to a number of early stage technology companies, and as a contributor to The Atlantic and Scientific American Mind. Her research on behavior change and flourishing has spanned the fields of neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, neurology, economics, and public health.

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Jacinta Jimenez

Head of Coaching, BetterUp

Dr. Jacinta M. Jiménez is a Stanford University trained and licensed Doctor of Clinical Psychology and a Board Certified Coach. Spanning more than a decade, Dr. Jiménez’s professional work is dedicated to synthesizing scientific research and directly applying it to the positive development of leaders, innovative programs, and technology. As an international keynote speaker and frequent contributor to national news outlets, including CNN, Women’s Health, ABC News, Oxygen and Headline News, Dr. Jiménez provides her expert opinion and thought leadership on a wide variety of psychology topics. Her deep knowledge of human behavior and psychological theory makes her an authority in catalyzing positive behavior change within individuals. Dr. Jiménez currently serves as Head of Coaching for BetterUp, overseeing the strategic design, development and implementation of learning for their global network of hundreds of leadership coaches within BetterUp’s mobile platform.

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Damian Vaughn

Chief Program Officer, BetterUp

As a former NFL player turned entrepreneur, management consultant and media executive, Damian works as a business strategist, leadership coach and executive educator inspired by the drive to create sustainable value to an organization’s shareholders, employees, customers and greater society. Damian completed his Ph.D. in positive developmental psychology under the tutelage of Dr.Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience) investigating the flow state at work and in elite sport. Damian was the recipient of the NFL Player Networking Event’s Crystal Award for Excellence during Super Bowl XLIX for his work in Career Transition Practice and Study. Also, Damian was a featured expert in HBO’s 2014 documentary film, State of Play: Happiness, exploring the challenges professional athletes experience transitioning into life after sport.

Specialties: Leadership Development and Advisory, Strategic Management, Organizational Development, Positive Developmental Psychology, Applied Neuroscience, Performance and Leadership Psychology.

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