Walter Isaacson Profile Photo

Walter Isaacson

WSB Exclusive Speaker

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

"Smart people are a dime a dozen. What matters is the ability to think different… to think out of the box." – Walter Isaacson

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Walter Isaacson'S SPEAKING FEE Over $70,000

Walter Isaacson Profile Photo

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 has been the CEO of the Aspen Institute, the CEO of CNN, and the editor of Time Magazine. 

Isaacson’s most recent biography, Elon Musk (2023), is an intimate chronicle based on spending two years by Musk’s side. He is also the author of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (2021), 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, 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 became the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. He became CEO of CNN in 2001 and the 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 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. He has also been a member of the U.S. Defense Innovation Board.  

In 2023, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Joe Biden. 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 and Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

Featured Videos

Walter Isaacson Profile Photo
Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson on The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna and Gene Editing

Walter Isaacson Profile Photo
Walter Isaacson

Why Walter Isaacson Writes About Innovators Who Make History

Walter Isaacson Profile Photo
Walter Isaacson

Is Curiosity a Mark of True Genius?

Walter Isaacson Profile Photo
Walter Isaacson

Meet Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson’s Speech Topics

  • The Triumphs and Turmoil of Elon Musk

    For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meeting, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?

  • 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 Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jennifer Doudna, what are the secrets to being creative and innovative? How do you foster teamwork and new thinking?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Additional Speech Topics:

    • Ben Franklin and America’s Virtues
    • Einstein – His Life and Universe
    • The Media and American Culture
  • Timeless Leadership

    What secrets do history’s luminaries share? Esteemed author Walter Isaacson—who was given exclusive and unprecedented access to the subject of his most recent book, Elon Musk, 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 Jennifer Doudna, 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.

  • 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.

What other organizations say about Walter Isaacson

The evening with Walter Isaacson was wonderful. Walter was a total gentleman and engaged with our clients in the crowd before the event (which I appreciate is difficult). He then gave a masterful presentation that was informative, thoughtful, and entertaining. The responses from our guests have been nothing short of fabulous. This was our 15th speaker series event; over the years we have had speakers that clearly did not put in the work to bring a great presentation…and we have had wonderful speakers who clearly care about the evening and put in the extra effort. Mr. Isaacson was the later…and we are sincerely appreciative of the work he put into his presentation. 

Town Hall/Speaker Series

What other organizations say about Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson was amazing and generous with his time and his brilliance. His talk was around Jobs, Einstein and Franklin and how these three amazing men were very much alike and in the Q & A we asked him about how they differed. We had a subscriber tell us that his lecture alone was worth the price for his entire subscription and have had rave reviews from our audiences.


What other organizations say about Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson is the quintessential professional. He delivered an insightful presentation and had a clear connection with our industry and our mission. He was well prepared and delightful to work with from start to finish. 100 percent recommended.


What other organizations say about Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson’s interview Saturday as part of our campaign launch Homecoming weekend was perhaps the finest interview I have ever seen on campus, and I am quite certain based upon the reaction from our VIP audience that many, many people in the audience felt the same. We could not have hoped for a better result.

Universities & Colleges

What other organizations say about Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson continues to gift us with his profound wisdom and insight. His voice is light years above the fray, and he masterfully chronicles the history, trends, and personalities that are shaping the world. I recently had the honor of interviewing Walter in front of 300 Beneficial Bank customers. It was a thought provoking and engaging session and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Financial Services

Works by Walter Isaacson


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