exclusives | October 29, 2015

Lavin Weekly #13: Chang, Samuel, Ellenberg, & Crosley

1. The Word You’re Looking for Is ‘Equity,’ Says Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang—author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Total Chaos, and, most recently, Who We Be: The Colorization of America (to be released in paperback this January!)—shared his thoughts on the use and abuse of the hot-button, hopeful, but often misapplied word ‘diversity.’ In The New York Times Magazine article “Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning?” Chang argues that the word “is an empty signifier now,” though he still believes in its possibilities. He prefers the word ‘equity,’ since diversity has become “deradicalized,” a broad sweep and possible excuse for passivity or inaction, or even “a code word for ‘all those other folks.’” If you haven’t read it yet, Chang’s Who We Be investigates the state of racial progress in America with verve and sophistication, combining finger-on-the-pulse understanding of the day with sweeping historical authority. He’s thus the perfect go-to for anyone trying to help, rather than hinder, the march of equity with their words.

2. Alexandra Samuel Argues Digital Marketers Shouldn’t Be Scared Off by Numbers

In the Harvard Business Review’s “The Best Data Storytellers Aren’t Always the Number People,” digital tech expert Alexandra Samuel continues to offer excellent advice for content marketers using data to tell compelling stories about their brands, services, and clientele. The fact that many of these people might be intimidated by raw numbers might actually be to their benefit, since “what really matters is your ability to craft a good story,” Samuel writes. Creating accessible content that conveys a broader message, one loaded with intriguing insights that target the right audience—these are “the core competencies of a good communicator.” Thus Samuel has some encouraging advice for professional communicators looking to take advantage of data, even if they aren’t especially suited to math and numbers (here, and in her amazing keynotes!).

3. There Might Be More to a Streak Than Pure Chance: Jordan Ellenberg in Slate

Mathematician and How Not to Be Wrong author Jordan Ellenberg has some pretty hot news for basketball fans (and bookies): apparently, ‘hot hands’ might be more than just a basic illusion (in other words, the more successful shots a player sinks in sequence, the more likely he or she is to hit the next one—the “on fire” shooting streaks of popular imagination). In a recent Slate article, Ellenberg summarizes—and translates into layman’s terms—recent findings that seem to suggest that “shooters really do run hot and cold.” At least, according to economists Joshua Miller and Adam Sanjurjo, who’ve discovered a flaw in preexisting work that claimed the hot hand was a myth. Ellenberg’s article is another instance of how he’s bringing math to the masses (it touches everything we do!), helping us make better decisions in life, business, as well as in sports.

4. Hear Sloane Crosley All Across America (on the Radio, at Least)!
This past week, Sloane Crosley has been featured on a number of lively radio broadcasts to promote her latest book, and debut novel, The Clasp. On WNPR, she describes how the “coming-of-age-too-late” story drives The Clasp’s dented, quasi-adult protagonists. On PRI’s Studio 360, she reveals how she quit her successful job as a book publicist to become a full-time novelist, and how her hearty fear of failure prevented her from regretting the decision. And on the Craft show, she talks about “the wonderful and overwhelming” responsibilities of fiction—a departure from her past two books, I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, two bestselling collections of essays. Crosley makes for a great interview—funny, self-deprecating, and relatable—and she brings the same blend of intelligence and entertaining insights to her keynotes.

To book Jeff Chang, Alexandra Samuel, Jordan Ellenberg, or Sloane Crosley as the keynote speaker of your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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environment | October 28, 2015