Contact Jamil For Booking

Jamil Zaki

There isn’t one level of empathy. We can grow it through practice—individually and collectively.

Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab | Author of The War for Kindness

Contact Jamil For Booking
Jamil Zaki | Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab | Author of The War for Kindness
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Empathy is often stereotyped as a squishy soft skill, and irrelevant or harmful to the bottom line.  But in reality, it’s an organizational superpower that makes collaboration more efficient, employees happier, and leadership more effective. It’s the competitive advantage in the workplace—and anyone can get better at it. JAMIL ZAKI, a Stanford psychologist and one of America’s pre-eminent speakers on empathy, draws from his acclaimed book, The War for Kindness, to share his powerful, practical take on exactly how empathy enhances company culture, fosters collaboration, and leads to more loyal employees.

“In this masterpiece, Jamil Zaki weaves together the very latest science with stories that will stay in your heart forever.”

— Angela Duckworth, author of Grit

Everyone’s catching on to the fact that empathic people perform better at work—but not everyone knows how to implement strategies to increase workplace empathy effectively. That’s where Jamil Zaki comes in. As Director of Stanford’s Social Neuroscience Lab and author of The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, Jamil Zaki has earned a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking, pragmatic, and requested speakers on empathy in the world. 85% of CEOs in a recent survey said empathy was important to their bottom line, and 90% of their employees said they’d be more loyal to an empathetic company—yet in that same survey, over 90% of those employees said their company wasn’t empathetic enough. It’s clear that for companies to attract—and retain—top talent, they need to strategize how to close the gap between the values on their walls and the reality their teams experience inside them—and Zaki is uniquely equipped to lead the way.


He knows that empathy is more than just one thing—and it manifests itself in multiple ways. Not only is it an organizational superpower and a learnable skill, but it’s also contagious. His current research shows we are all responsive what he calls the “kindness contagion”: seeing others enact kindness spurs a cascading and unifying effect in communities of any size and stripe. Creating environments that encourage empathy leads to a positive cycle of an increased sense of community, trust, and loyalty—which in turn enables leaders to be more effective. Zaki shares what science reveals about how empathy works, and the common misconceptions that lead companies astray when trying to cultivate it, and explores the power of empathy to amplify connection and productivity—while providing concrete strategies for how to grow it.


“Jamil Zaki is one of the bright lights in psychology, and in this gripping book, he shows that kindness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength,” says Adam Grant, bestselling author and professor at Wharton. With warmth, wit, and straightforward exercises that can be swiftly implemented, Zaki’s audiences walk away with a deep understanding of not only the true nature of empathy, but its power to change our professional, creative, and personal relationships for the better.


At Stanford, where he is also an assistant professor of psychology, Zaki’s unique work spans several domains, including social influence and prosocial behavior. New research from his lab examines how to encourage empathy for people from distant political and ethnic groups, and also how caregivers and healthcare professionals can balance empathizing with their patients and maintaining their own wellbeing. Zaki received his BA from Boston University, his Ph.D. from Columbia University, and postdoctoral training at Harvard University.


Speech Topics

Corporate Culture
Empathy A Key to Thriving Workplaces
Empathy is often stereotyped as a squishy “soft” skilleither irrelevant to, or problematic for, the bottom line.  In fact, the opposite is true: empathy is an organizational superpower that makes collaboration more efficient, employees happier, and leadership more effective.  Empathy tracks bottom line success and people have caught on.  A whopping 85% of CEOs in a recent survey said empathy was important for their bottom line, and over 90% of employees said they’d be more loyal to an empathic company.  In the hunt to recruit and keep top talent, making team members feel seen and heard is a key competitive advantage.  It also helps orgs cultivate more inclusive and open communities.  
So, now that companies are picking up on the value of empathy—what happens next? An increasing number of organizations have started trying to roll out empathy as a corporate value, but the results are often mixed, with many failing in tragic or comic fashions. In the same survey where CEOs sung empathy’s praises, over 90% of their employees said their company wasn’t empathic enough.  In other words, there’s a gap between the values leaders are putting on their walls and the reality their teams are experiencing on the ground.  
In this talk, Stanford’s Jamil Zaki  will share key insights from the science of empathy—showing corporate leaders that 1) empathy is more than one thing, 2) it’s a learnable skill, and 3) it resides not only in people, but in cultures. Whether you’re the head of HR at a global organization, or the founder of a 4-person start-up, Zaki’s talk is required listening for anyone who wants concrete strategies for bringing empathy in the workplace.
The War for Kindness Building Empathy in a Fractured World

Empathy is in short supply. We struggle to understand people who aren’t like us, but find it easy to hate them. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. In 2006, Barack Obama said that the United States was suffering from an “empathy deficit.” Since then, things seem to have only gotten worse.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In his groundbreaking book The War For Kindness, Jamil Zaki shares cutting-edge research, including experiments from his own lab, showing that empathy is not a fixed trait—something we’re born with or not—but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. He also tells the stories of people who embody this new perspective, fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances:a former neo-Nazi who is now helping to extract people from hate groups; ex-prisoners discussing novels with the judge who sentenced them; Washington police officers changing their culture to decrease violence among their ranks; and NICU nurses fine-tuning their empathy so that they don’t succumb to burnout.
With clarity and passion, Zaki offers us an inspiring call to action. The future may depend on whether we accept the challenge.