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A.J.  Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs

Best-Selling Author & "Human Guinea Pig"

Biography

Immersing himself in alternate lifestyles and long, hilarious experiments (usually with himself the guinea pig), writer AJ Jacobs tests the limits of behavior, customs, culture, knowledge — and his wife's sense of humor. Read More >

A.J. Jacobs' writings stand at the intersection of philosophy, Gonzo journalism and performance art. Stubbornly curious and slyly perceptive, he takes immersive learning to its irrational and profoundly amusing extreme -- extracting wisdom and meaning after long stints as a self-styled guinea pig. For his widely circulated Esquire article "My Outsourced Life," he explored the phenomenon of outsourcing by hiring a team in Bangalore to take care of every part of his life -- from reading his emails to arguing with his wife to reading bedtime stories to his own son. A previous article, "I Think You're Fat," chronicled a brief, cringe-inducing attempt to live his life in Radical Honesty, telling all the truth, all the time.

In his new book, Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, A.J. shares his journey of thanking every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The results take him across the globe, transform his life, and reveal secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected. Jacobs is also the author of The Know-It-All, which documents the year he spent reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z, uncovering both funny and surprising factoids but also poignant insight into history and human nature. In 2007 he released The Year of Living Biblically, in which he attempted to follow every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible for an entire year. His book later inspired the CBS original comedy Living Biblically, which follows a man’s decision to live strictly by the Bible. His recent book The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment is a collection of numerous personal experiments, including living according to George Washington's rules of conduct, outsourcing every single task to India, and posing as a woman on an online dating site. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDTalk: My Year of Living Biblically

A Year of Living Biblically

Speech Topics

Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey

In this keynote, A.J. reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous and more connected. He provides wonderful insights and useful tips, from how to focus on the hundreds of things that go right every day instead of the few that go wrong to how our culture overemphasizes the individual over the team. "Thanks a Thousand" is a reminder to audiences of the amazing interconnectedness of our world, ultimately teaching us how gratitude can make our lives kinder and more impactful.

The Importance of Self-Delusion in the Creative Process

How can we apply the idea of method-acting to our business lives? This is the question that life-hacker and best-selling author A.J. Jacobs tackles in this insightful (and highly entertaining) talk on the benefits of faking it until you make it. Through a series of examples from his own life, Jacobs shows just how much our behavior shapes our thoughts and our perceptions. Thus, if we want to change our attitude about something, the best way is to “act as if.”

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

A.J. Jacobs lives his life as an experiment. In his New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, Jacobs tackled mental and spiritual challenges; in his most recent book, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, he physically challenged himself to live a healthy life from head to toe. Read More >

In this talk, based on his latest book (which he wrote on a treadmill!), Jacobs shares his journey following the latest medical advice to become his healthiest self—which included trying every diet plan, every workout routine, and every self-improvement tip he could find. Armed with a healthier diet and a healthier outlook, Jacobs encourages audiences to be mindful of the steps they can take to find their own “bodily perfection.” Read Less ^

The Know-It-All: Behind One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

In this engaging and delightful talk based on his New York Times best-selling book, speaker A.J. Jacobs gives a behind-the-scenes look at his journey to “become the smartest person in the world” by reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z, all 44 million words of it.

My Year of Living Biblically

Raised in a secular family, but increasingly interested in the role of religion in our world, A.J. Jacobs decided to learn about the Bible firsthand: by living it. He vowed to spend a year following every single rule in the Bible, from the famous ones (the Ten Commandments) to the often-ignored laws (“don’t shave your beard,” “do not wear clothes from mixed fibers,” and even “stone adulterers”). The result is a fascinating look at religion—one that is both reverent and irreverent, funny and deeply serious.

Change Your Behavior, Change Your Mind

Jacobs’s year of living biblically taught him that the most powerful way to change his mind was to change his behavior. The mind will catch up. As he says, “Fake it till you make it.” It’s how he claims he learned to be a better person and a better businessman.

Walking a Mile in Others’ Shoes

Want to know what your customer is thinking? Live your life as the customer for a week. It’s the same with understanding how your rival thinks. Jacobs stresses the importance of immersing yourself in other points of view to make yourself a better businessperson.

Adapt or Die: Important Business Lessons from Encyclopedia Britannica

After a 33,000-page experiment in extreme learning from the Encyclopedia Britannica, A.J. Jacobs reflects on his experience by formulating six core business lessons from all of history. Adapted from his Linkedin article entitled The Six Most Important Business Lessons From All of History, the author of The Know-It-All explains how taking risks, using your imagination, and stepping up to the plate can greatly benefit companies in any industry. You are sure to learn lots from this clever and engaging speech from “the smartest person in the world.” Read More >

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