Emily Esfahani Smith is an author, speaker, and journalist in Washington DC. She draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience—why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering. Her book The Power of Meaning, an international bestseller, was published by Crown and has been translated into 16 different languages. The Wall Street Journal called the book “persuasive,” “elegant,” and “valuable” while the Prospect (UK) dubbed it “an intelligent page-turner.”
She is also an international speaker who has delivered dozens of keynote addresses and workshops at corporations, conferences, non-profit organizations, libraries, universities, and high schools around the country and world. In 2017, Smith delivered a talk called “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” on the main stage of TED, which was based on her book. It’s been viewed over 7 million times.
The former managing editor of The New Criterion, Smith’s articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and other publications. Her articles for The Atlantic “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” (about the Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl) and “Masters of Love” (about romance and marriage) have reached over 30 million readers. In 2017, the New York Times published her article about the novel Middlemarch called “You’ll Never Be Famous—And That’s OK.” Her essay for The New Criterion titled “Eleanor Clark’s Rome” sent her deep into the archives of Yale’s Beinecke Library to research the life and work of a nearly forgotten writer. And her profile for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine of Joe Rago, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who tragically died at the age of 34, was shortlisted for a Folio magazine award in 2018. She’s written dozens of other pieces; you can read more of them here.
Smith is also a reporter for the Aspen Institute's Weave project, an initiative founded by the New York Times' David Brooks to address the problems of isolation, alienation, and division. At Weave, Smith finds and tells the stories of people who are working to rebuild the social fabric.
Smith studied philosophy at Dartmouth College. She received her master’s degree in positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Between 2013 and 2018, she served as an instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Smith grew up in Montreal, Canada, where her parents administered a Sufi meetinghouse from their home. She now lives in Washington DC with her husband, Charlie.
For speaking engagements, she is exclusively represented by The Lavin Agency. Please visit her speaking page here for bio, topics, and videos. You may contact Charles Yao, Director of Intellectual Talent at Lavin, for more information, at email@example.com.