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Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson's Speaking Fee Over $70,000
Exclusively available through WSB

Walter Isaacson

“Smart people are a dime a dozen. What matters is the ability to think different... to think out of the box.”

Best-Selling Author; Acclaimed Historian and Journalist; Professor of History, Tulane University

Expertise In:

  • Creativity
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Leadership
  • Business Growth and Trends
  • Media and Journalism

Audience & Industry

  • Corporations
  • Board Meetings and Executive Briefings
  • Senior Management Groups
  • The Technology Industry
  • Associations

Best-selling author and highly acclaimed journalist, Isaacson gives voice to the historical figures and business icons who have shaped and transformed our nation and the world.

Walter Isaacson is a Professor of History at Tulane and an advisory partner at Perella Weinberg, a financial services firm based in New York City. He is the past CEO of the Aspen Institute, where he is now a Distinguished Fellow, and has been the chairman of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine.

Isaacson’s most recent biography, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (2021) offers a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies. He is also the author of Leonardo da Vinci (2017), The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014), Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992), and coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986). He is a host of the show “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and CNN, a contributor to CNBC, and host of the podcast “Trailblazers, from Dell Technologies.”

Isaacson was born on May 20, 1952, in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at The Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He joined TIME in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of digital media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, and then president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003.

He is chair emeritus of Teach for America. From 2005-2007 he was the vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, which oversaw the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States, a position he held from 2009 to 2012.He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of the Arts, and the American Philosophical Society.

He serves on the board of United Airlines, the New Orleans City Planning Commission, the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Society of American Historians, the U.S. Defense Department Innovation Board, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

Featured Videos

Walter Isaacson's Speech Topics

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

    Walter Isaacson shares with audiences how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies. Driven by a passion to understand how nature works, Doudna and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. The development known as CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Isaacson shares with audiences how it opened a brave new world of medical miracles while also exploring the moral questions and implications for the future.  

Lessons from the World’s Great Innovators

    From Leonardo da Vinci and Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs and Jennifer Doudna, what are the secrets to being creative and innovative? How do you foster teamwork and new thinking?

Additional Speech Topics

Black Lives That Mattered: The Long Fight for Racial Justice 

Sick: Divisiveness, Gridlock, Stalemate, and Hyper-partisanship in the Time of COVID

What’s Wrong with Washington?

Vote! The Fight Against Voter Suppression and Election Interference 2020

Lessons Learned—How to Avoid the Mistakes of 2016 and Defeat Donald Trump in 2020

One Nation: Healing America in the Post-Trump Era

Post Election Analysis - Whether Your Party Won or Lost, Where Do We Go from Here? 

Us, Too: Why America Needs Women Leadership More than Ever

Women in American Politics: Are We There Yet?

Black Leadership: Past, Present and Future

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

In this presentation from his book, The Innovators, which is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and a guide to how innovation really works, Walter Isaacson tells the story of the people who created the computer and the Internet.  What talents allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their disruptive ideas into realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail? Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s and explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page. He tells the story of how their minds worked, what made them so creative and how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.  For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, Isaacson reveals to audiences how these renowned figures actually made it happen.

Timeless Leadership

What secrets do history’s luminaries share?  Esteemed author Walter Isaacson—who was given exclusive and unprecedented access to the Steve Jobs—is widely considered to be one of today’s most insightful biographers. Isaacson’s ability to brilliantly capture the unique cultural currents surrounding America’s greatest leaders and creative thinkers is showcased in his best-selling books on Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin and Henry Kissinger. Bringing audiences closer to these remarkable figures, Isaacson discusses the vital information that can be learned from them—including the common traits they share and how those traits can be used to empower today’s business leaders.  Sharing fascinating details of how success came to each of these men through the questioning of conventional wisdom and a willingness to explore new ideas, he provides an astute analysis of timeless leadership principles and the lessons they can teach us on fostering the creativity necessary to compete in a new century of globalization.

Steve Jobs: A Life

Based on his best-selling book, Steve Jobs, Isaacson shares with audiences the riveting story of the roller-coaster life and intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing. At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. Isaacson takes audiences on the journey over the past two years in writing the book and the story about the man himself which is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership and values. Jobs put nothing off limits for Isaacson when working on the book, encouraging the people he knew to speak honestly, and  speaks candidly himself, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes and colleagues provided Isaacson an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry and compulsion for control that shaped Jobs’ approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Leonardo da Vinci

Art, engineering, and technology. Anatomy, geology, and weaponry. What do these subjects have in common? They were studied with passion and imagination by Leonardo da Vinci. At the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, he is history’s most creative genius. Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo to life, highlighting all we have to learn from him. His myriad interests remain an enduring recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, at times heretical. His relentless curiosity demonstrates the importance of not just receiving knowledge but being willing to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented rebels from any era, to think differently. Isaacson draws from the original Renaissance man to teach audiences the importance of creativity and challenging the status quo.

Works by Walter Isaacson

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Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs (opens in a new tab)

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Walter Isaacson

The Innovators (opens in a new tab)