Anna Akbari

Speech Topics

What’s your story? How do you design your life? Embarking on a search for identity is the first step on our path toward professional and personal success. From The Moth to TED Talks to the rise of podcasting, we are as obsessed with storytelling as we are with questions about identity. And the new imperative for brands is not just to develop a catchy slogan and jingle, but to tell a compelling story — ideally one consumers want to integrate into their own.

If we can’t articulate who we are, and if we aren’t in touch with the very tenets of living that help us to thrive, then our metric for personal “success” remains elusive. Questions of “Who am I?” and “What makes me happy?” confound each of us at some point. And finding the answers starts with an attempt to not only tell your story, but to make sense of it — the “so what?” of both the search for identity and powerful storytelling.

In Disrupt Your Identity, Anna Akbari invites you to rethink the traditional, linear career and life path model and gives you the tools to defy convention and rewrite your story — without turning your entire life upside down.

Living your life like a startup is about maximizing flexibility, embracing defeat, and failing up. Using the Startup Your Life principles, you actively create the life you want, regardless of the stage you’re in or the hurdles you face. It’s not about “happiness someday,” but now.

In this presentation, Anna Akbari, PhD, demonstrates how to reach personal fulfillment in all areas of life by using the same strategies that power Silicon Valley’s greatest startups. You can live your life like a startup to enhance well-being and success, regardless of your profession or stage in life. This methodology nurtures innovation, increases employee retention rates, and clears out the mental cobwebs. Let Anna help you game the system as you hustle and hack your way to happiness.

This presentation offers a framework for effective innovation initiatives within the enterprise, including executive team buy-in, innovation as an everyday activity, and enabled employees. The presentation builds on the Startup Your Life methodology and emphasizes the role that individual employees play in transforming large organizations — while improving themselves in the process.

We are merging with technology— techno-bodies engaged at work and play. Most of us struggle to manage our connection to technology in a way that feels healthy and balanced, often at the peril of our personal relationships, the work we produce, and even our own sanity. How do we reclaim some “sacred space” and allow ourselves to find flow in an overly mediated world? Navigating the ever-changing landscape of technology/human connectivity can overwhelm even the savviest of techies and frazzle even the most zen amongst us. This presentation offers rules to guide you toward digital happiness, personal well-being, and enhanced productivity in a hyper-connected world.


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Anna Akbari, PhD is a sociologist, writer, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Sociology of Style, an image and life coaching company, and a partner in HVCK, a Silicon Valley innovation consultancy. A former instructor at New York University and Parsons School of Design, she is a frequent public speaker and media personality and has written for and been featured by Forbes, CNN, The Atlantic, Time, The Economist, Financial Times, TED, Bulletproof Executive, and dozens more. Her book, Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness, teaches people to enhance happiness and success by living their lives like a Silicon Valley startup.

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