Meg Jay Profile Photo

Meg Jay

Keynote Speaker

Developmental Clinical Psychologist specializing in Twentysomethings

Meg Jay is the author of The Twentysomething Treatment and The Defining Decade. A recent New York Times profile called Meg “the patron saint of striving youth, a prophet-like figure for a generation of young people buried under mixed messaging”, and her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most-watched to date. Bringing twenty-five years of experience with twentysomethings to every talk she gives, Meg's insightful, revolutionary, data-driven work brings help and hope to twentysomethings and to those who care about them.

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Meg Jay Profile Photo

Meg Jay, PhD, is a developmental clinical psychologist who specializes in twentysomethings.

She is the author of The Twentysomething Treatment: A Revolutionary Remedy for an Uncertain Age, Supernormal: The Secret World of the Family Hero and the cult classic The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and on NPR, BBC and—maybe most important for her audience—TikTok. Meg earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. She is on faculty at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville. 

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Meg Jay Profile Photo
Meg Jay

Why 30 is not the new 20 | Meg Jay

Meg Jay’s Speech Topics

  • The Twentysomething Treatment: A Revolutionary Remedy for an Uncertain Age

    There is a young adult mental health crisis in America, and it is a crisis of proportion and of perception too. So many twentysomethings are struggling—especially with anxiety, depression and substance use—yet, as a culture, we are not sure what to think or do. Perhaps, it is said, young adults are snowflakes who melt when life turns up the heat. Or maybe, some argue, they’re triggered for no reason at all. Yet, even as we trivialize twentysomething struggles, we are quick to pathologize them and to hand out diagnoses and medications.

    Join Meg Jay as shares her age-specific approach to young adult mental health. Her work is a proven prescription that reveals what twenty-five years of work with young adults—and the latest research—can teach us about what works with this age group. It is a revolutionary remedy that upends the medicalization of young adult life and advocates instead for skills over pills.

    Key Takeaways Include:

    • Why our twenties are the most difficult time of life as well as what uncertainty has to do with mental health.
    • Why our mental health is most likely to improve outside of a doctor’s office—through skill-building and why, for the young adult brain in particular, the time for skill-building is now.
    • What are the skills twentysomethings need—or what exactly they need to be practicing or doing—for better mental health in their twenties and beyond.
    • Why mental health gets better as we get older and why, in the meantime, embracing uncertainty may be the most life-changing skill of all.

    This talk offers help and hope to twentysomethings—and to the friends, parents, partners, teachers, and mentors who care about them—just when they need it the most. It is time to take young adult mental health seriously, not because twentysomethings cannot get better but because they can.

  • The Defining Decade: Why Our Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now

    Did you know that 80% of life’s most defining moments take place before age 35? That the brain changes more in our 20s than at any other time in adulthood? That personality changes more in our 20s than at any other time in life? That over half of us are married or are dating or living with our future partner by the age of 30? That the first ten years of work have an exponential impact on success? 

    In this inspiring and practical talk, Dr. Jay makes clear just how much our 20s do matter and how you—or your twentysomething students, workers, or children—can make the most of them now. With authority, humor and compassion, she shares the unique power of the twentysomething years and how they change our lives.

    Key Takeaways Include:

    • Why “Who am I?” is a question best answered not with a protracted identity crisis, but with one or two good pieces of something called identity capital.
    • How joining the world of work can make us feel better, not worse.
    • Why it’s the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will change our lives for the better.
    • How we pick our families and not just our friends.
    • How the twentysomething brain gives us our best chance for change.

    The Defining Decade is a talk—and a developmental sweetspot—you don’t want to miss.

  • How to Work: On Getting and Keeping Jobs—and Twentysomething Employees

    The average young worker will have nine different jobs by the age of 35. Most will wind up in positions or careers that they’d never heard—or that didn’t even exist—when they were in college. And although work is the leading source of stress and anxiety for twentysomethings, it is also the single biggest driver of growth and change. Sure, we might all need to take a so-called mental health day once in a while, but showing up for work is, in fact, good for us—and maybe even better for us than anything else. 

    Join Meg Jay as she teaches young workers the skills they need to get and keep the jobs they want most—and/or as she helps employers get and keep the workers they want most too.

    Key Takeaways Include: 

    • How to use weak ties, or people we don’t know well, to find new jobs.
    • How to manage the anxiety that comes with new jobs and big decisions.
    • How to build identity capital, and skills, that come with you wherever you go.
    • Why our learning curve in our twenties predicts our earning curve in our thirties and beyond—and what remote work has to do with learning.
    • How to talk to higher-ups—and how higher-ups can listen.
    • A simple cure for imposter syndrome: Stop pretending and lean in to what you don’t know.

    If you’re a twentysomething, or you manage twentysomethings, this insightful, engaging, data-driven talk will change how you work and how you work with others.

  • How to College: The Secrets to Success at School and in Life

    Americans are losing faith in the value of college. The costs are up, and benefits are down, as tuition and debt are rising faster than are the salaries graduates can expect to earn. Still, college graduates do, on average, earn more than their high school graduate counterparts, and they live longer too. Yet, nearly half of today’s young adults—and almost half of their parents—say that maybe young people would be better off not pursuing higher education. What was once seen as a solid investment is beginning to look like more of a gamble. 

    Whether college turns out to be a good bet does depend, to some extent, on external factors such as fees and loans and majors and unemployment rates, but it also depends on what you—as an individual—do while you’re there. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, often with a once-in-a-lifetime price tag, that can and should forever change who we are for the better. Join Meg Jay as she explains why it’s not whether you go to college—or even where you go to college—but how you go to college that matters most. 

    Key Takeaways Include: 

    • How to “get it together” by making a master calendar.
    • How to wake up in the morning—and to the fact that college isn’t like high school.
    • How showing up for class is how you show up for life.
    • How not to cheat (yourself) while you earn your degree.
    • What college can teach you about hybrid work and the modern career.

    This talk is for anyone who wants to be sure that students are getting the most for their money, their opportunities, and their time.

  • Supernormal: The Secret World of the Family Hero

    Whether it is bullying, the loss of a parent to divorce or death, an alcoholic parent, a mentally ill parent or sibling, domestic violence or neglect, or emotional, physical or sexual abuse, early adversities are experienced by nearly 75% of us. Yet, often such experiences are kept secret, as are our courageous battles to overcome them. 

    In this compelling and compassionate talk, Dr. Jay reveals the secret world of the family hero: those who soar to unexpected heights after early adversity. These are “the strong ones” in families, the everyday superheroes who have made a life out of dodging bullets and leaping over obstacles, even as they hide in plain sight as students, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artists, lawyers, actors, athletes, parents, and more. Naturally, we are amazed by those who rise above their pasts, yet as we have focused on “How do they do it?” we have forgotten also to ask, “How does it feel?”

    Key Takeaways Include: 

    • How common the most common childhood adversities really are.
    • What fear does to the brain, how this results in keeping secrets, and what secrets do to our health over time.
    • How chronic stress leaves our fight-or-flight mechanisms switched on, how this contributes to determination and courage, and how this affects our health over time.
    • Why fighting for a better life—or ourselves or others—is good for us, and why putting down the cape is sometimes necessary too.
    • Why love might be the strongest superpower of all, and why relationships can be the most difficult places to be brave.

    Hearing about Supernormal will change the way you think about yourself and those you love.


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