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Ron  Suskind

Ron Suskind

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Author

Ron Suskind

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Author


No one delivers stories that shape our times like Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and filmmaker Ron Suskind. His books on Bush and Obama revealed, during the terms of both Presidents, all the key conclusions that now define both administrations and their eras. He did the same with his seminal New York Times opus — appearing the weekend before the 2020 election — defining the Trump Presidency and predicting the "inciting of insurrection" by Trump that ransacked Congress and horrified the world. Rachel Maddow calls Suskind's insight and reporting "intensely prophetic." The legendary journalist, with sources atop both parties, the U.S. government, Corporate America and among foreign leaders, provides actionable information — about where we stand and where we're headed — that is unmatched.

At the same time, NPR calls him “a master storyteller with the lyricism of a poet.” The fact that he is both – an indefatigable investigator and lyrical narrator – is what makes Mr. Suskind so stunningly unique; and makes his works, in print and in movies, among the era’s most consequential and deeply affecting.

Take the year 2020 as an example: As he was sounding his historic red alert about the Trump Presidency for the New York Times, he was also inspiring and co-producing Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up – Netflix most watched movie ever — that would engage and enliven hundreds of millions across the globe about the urgency of Climate Change.

At the same time, he was launching a company, BongoMedia, that is transforming journalism with a proprietary platform – called “the conversation catcher” — for reporting otherwise inaccessible stories by safely capturing off-the-record material and presenting it as compelling, not-for-attribution, written and video content. His debut of the platform in a multi-media event in the New York Times — capturing 40 doctors talking among themselves during initial battles with the beast of Covid — is considered one of the signature stories of the pandemic. “The story allowed me and my hospital’s board of directors fully understand what we were really up against,” said Dr. Steve Corwin, head of New York Presbyterian, the nation’s largest hospital. “And it deeply moved me.”

It did the same for the vast public. Mr. Suskind has been doing this for three decades, with prize-winning stories, books, and films that have shaped the nation’s views about:

  • Race and Opportunity (his Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Wall Street Journal and then critically acclaimed bestseller, A Hope in the Unseen)
  • The War on Terror and America's loss of moral authority (The One Percent Doctrine).
  • The disastrous rise of disinformation (New York Times Magazine, launching the phrase “reality-based” into common speech)
  • The Great Crash of ‘08 and the Obama Presidency (Confidence Men).
  • The power of neurodiversity (Life, Animated, about his son and autism, followed by his 2018 Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated film). The film has changed the way the differently abled are seen across the world.

Historians cite Mr. Suskind as among America's most consequential storytellers of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. He has received numerous honorary doctorates, taught at Harvard, as the Senior Fellow for Ethics, Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, where he created the class, Public Narrative and Justice. He holds five patents for digital engagement technologies, created a suite of apps, called Sidekicks, and invented a therapeutic model for treating autism, “Affinity Therapy,” that allows therapists to harness a patient’s deep interests to augment learning and emotional health.

Among our finest stage performers, Mr. Suskind was the co-host of Life 360, a ground-breaking newsmagazine co-produced by PBS and ABC, and created an NPR podcast, Freak Out and Carry On, with the historian Heather Cox Richardson that mapped the first, defining year of the Trump Presidency. He frequently appears on network and cable television, and regular contributor to the Rachel Maddow Show and to PBS’s NewsHour with Judy Woodruff. On CBS’s The Late Show a few days before the 2016 election, Stephen Colbert credited Mr. Suskind’s seminal 2004 New York Times story as inspiring him to create, The Colbert Report hosted by a character exuding truthiness. “I owe you nine years of my life,” Mr. Colbert said. “I’ll take half that in cash,” Mr. Suskind replied, and then proceeded to be the first to publicly describe Mr. Trump’s methodology as that of a mobster, who had just threatened the American people: “You have a very nice Democracy, here,” he said. “Be a shame if something bad happened to it.”

Speaker Videos

TEDTalk: The Worthwhile Life

'Life Animated' Documentary on a Family's Journey to Overcome Autism

Insurance and Living Life Worthwhile

The Power of Education

Message v. Truth

Confidence Men: Obama and Bipartisan Leadership

Jewish Values for Challenging Times

Character Driven Leadership

Summoning Heroes in Each of Us

What Can I Do?

Presenting the World: Gender and Finance

Life Animated Trailer

Speech Topics

The Insurer's Assurance

Ron Suskind tells a story that has brought audiences to their feet and inspired change. It's about his father, an insurance man, what he did in his life and what he left behind -- a highly irregular policy that continues to pay astonishing dividends. It's a tale that weaves across the last several decades, when the Pulitzer Prize-winning Suskind has become one of the country's premier journalists, sitting with Presidents, and writing best-selling, critically acclaimed books about managing money and risk, life's ups and downs, and America's path to progress. "Insurers don't get the respect they deserve," he says. "I mean to correct that." As we move into challenging times, with risk pools globally facing enormous stress from climate change, Mr. Suskind illustrates how the "world is actually built on insurance -- and surely not finance" and how the industry may have to change to meet the demands of the modern world. The payout: an insurance man's famous son gives the most edifying and inspiring address insurers, of all stripes, have heard in decades.

The "Age of Content" is Dawning. Be Ready. Engage. Or Be Swept Away.

The Digital Age will be a short-lived moniker, says Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind. We’ve arrived at what he calls the "Age of Content," when social media networks — stretched across the globe in just the past ten years – can now be assembled and activated by powerful content. Stories – they are what drives change. It’s how Donald Trump, sending out edgy content almost every day, held the world’s attention and got elected; why Joe Biden’s poll numbers go up and down; and how Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, inspired and co-produced by Mr. Suskind, drove more productive discussion on climate change than has been seen in decades. The hundreds of millions worldwide who gathered watch Netflix biggest movie ever – a dark satire using the metaphor on an onrushing asteroid to sound an alarm on the climate crisis — are now tied together in a network for a next movie by McKay and Suskind, which will direct them to action.

Mr. Suskind, among our most versatile creators of content – who also holds five patents on “digital engagement technologies” – reveals the secrets of how to construct and deliver stories that drive engagement, connection to others and vast networks of change.

Life, Animated: A Tale of Autism & Hidden Potential

Ron's sixth book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, examines his family's twenty-year journey with youngest son, Owen. Having lost his speech at the age of three, Owen used animated Disney movies to make sense of himself and the world. By memorizing these iconic movies and parroting their dialogue, he learned how to communicate and express himself, prompting his family members to create elaborate stage sets to re-enact these films and “speak Disney” along with him. Owen emerged into adulthood with a unique skillset; along the way, he created a method to help other parents and medical experts reach kids with autism. This deeply personal but universally resonant presentation, in which Ron shares stories of Owen's unique journey from quiet solitude to animated communication, showcases an adventure of the human heart — culminating in a memorable father/son appearance on Comedy Central’s annual autism fundraiser, Night of Too Many Stars. The Suskind motto–your passion is your pathway–now guides educators, therapists and parents in tapping the deep potential in all of us.

The Art of Leadership

Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and New York Times Bestselling Author Ron Suskind has spent the majority of his career examining and writing about leadership. He is the author of signature investigations of leadership across decades for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and four bestselling books on U.S. presidents that shaped history. Ron knows leadership—both good and bad. For Ron, successes and failures of leadership are best told through stories that reflect both situation and aspiration—what was the challenge, what was hoped for, what was achieved. And, looking back, what were the lessons learned (many leaders never learn any). In this talk, Ron shares some of these incredible stories and what he learned about leadership from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Dwight Eisenhower, from storied Alcoa CEO Paul O’Neill to “tough-love” Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Failures of leadership, Suskind tells us, are often borne of failures of imagination. And the victories...imagination, as well. If you are a leader or just aspire to be one, this talk is for you.