Angela Duckworth

Grit, more than talent, IQ, looks, or wealth, is a powerful indicator of success.

Author of Grit, the Instant New York Times Bestseller | Pioneering Researcher on Grit, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

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Angela Duckworth | Author of Grit, the Instant New York Times Bestseller | Pioneering Researcher on Grit, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

In her landmark research, psychologist Angela Duckworth reveals the importance of character to success in life. Her pioneering work on grit and self-control—showcased in her instant New York Times bestseller and viral TED Talk—is in high demand among educators, athletes, and business leaders alike—anyone interested in learning what makes a top performer and what any of us can do to cultivate character in ourselves and those around us.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out … Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

— Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-founder of the Character Lab, a nonprofit committed to advancing the science and practice of character development. Her groundbreaking book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is an immediate New York Times bestseller. An expert in non-I.Q. competencies like grit and self-control, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant and has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Her TED talk on grit has garnered over 15 million views across the web, making it one of the most-viewed of all time. She has been profiled internationally, in places like The New York Times MagazinePsychology Today, and National Geographic, which calls her “a born giver who’s driven by an impulse to do good in the world and right inequities.”


Today, Duckworth is working on the forefront of behavioral change. She’s collaborating with fellow U Penn faculty member (and Lavin speaker) Katherine Milkman on the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good initiative. With sweeping research and advanced technology, they’re working on new ways to ensure that making good but difficult decisions—regarding diet, health, exercise, education, savings, and more—is much easier, and even rewarding. “If we can solve enduring behavior change,” Duckworth says, “we can address every major social ill that confronts humanity.”


“I won’t just have a job; I’ll have a calling. I’ll challenge myself every day. When I get knocked down, I’ll get back up. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest.”

— Angela Duckworth, Grit

Before her career in research, Duckworth was an award-winning math and science teacher as well as the founder of a summer school for low-income children that was profiled as a case study nonprofit by Harvard Kennedy School. She completed her BA in neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc in neuroscience at Oxford, and her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In June 2016, she was named Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology for her “intellectual integrity and unquestioned commitment to free and open discussion of ideas.”

Speech Topics

True Grit The Surprising, and Inspiring, Science of Success
Who succeeds in life? In this talk, Angela Duckworth presents her influential work on grit—the tendency to pursue long-term goals with perseverance and passion. She describes the predictive power of grit for performance in a variety of fascinating contexts. Duckworth has studied groups like the West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee competitors, rookie teachers, students from the Chicago Public Schools—all people performing in high-stress environments—to look at the correlation between grit and achievement. Drawing from these examples, and others, Duckworth explains what makes gritty individuals different from others, and, shares her belief that grit “can be instilled and cultivated by anyone, anywhere, and at any time in life.”