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Ron Suskind

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Author
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Biography

Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, best-selling author, founder of Sidekicks, teacher, essayist and speaker whose impassioned presentations mix monologue with reportage, pathos with humor and global politics with personal ruminations on subjects as diverse as capitalism, care-giving and the future of communication.

He is the author of six bestselling books, the most recent Life, Animated of which examines his own family's two-decade struggle to help one of its members emerge from the shadows of autism through a unique, and wildly creative, form of therapy. Their story has driven activism and research about the compensatory strengths of those with autism and others who are “differently-abled” due to distinctive neurology or sociocultural backgrounds. Ron’s company, Sidekicks, is leading efforts to build a next generation of augmentative technologies to lift and support these communities.

With a gift for conveying complex stories in compelling ways, Suskind chronicles our social and political landscape, offering audiences of all ages and professions an unforgettable evening of insider information and emotional insight.

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Topics

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 struggle with its youngest son, Owen, who is on the autism spectrum. Having lost his speech at age three, Owen seized upon a particular interest in the form of animated Disney movies, which helped him 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 in the Suskind home to re-enact these films and speak Disney along with him. Owen emerged as a teenager with a unique skillset; along the way, he may have created a method for other parents and medical experts to reach autistic kids by following a similar model of emulative expression. This deeply personal but universally resonant presentation is an adventure story of the human heart in which Ron shares stories of Owen's unique transformation from quiet solitude to animated communication — culminating in a memorable father/son appearance with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s annual autism fundraiser, Night of Too Many Stars, where Owen, so long a silent child, joyfully outshines America’s biggest stars. The Suskind motto – your passion is your pathway – now guides educators, therapists and parents in tapping deep potential in us all.

Presenting the World: An Entertaining Evening with Ron Suskind

Get a front row seat to this highly entertaining keynote presentation in which one of the country's most gifted and engaging speakers electrifies audiences with intimate anecdotes and complex global stories culled from his experiences as a journalist, chronicler of Presidents, war-zone reporter, author and father to an autistic son. Ron possesses the unique ability to engage with audiences on a variety of topics, including politics, ethics and family affairs, touching hearts and minds through his deeply personal stories.

Managing Financial Risk: The Scoop on the American Economy

In this presentation tailored but not exclusive to the FIRE professions — "America's core industry," comprising the Financial, Insurance and Real Estate sectors — Ron takes the audience on an edgy, humorous ride through the management of money from risk across history. From the halls of the Medici’s in Florence to the invention of insurance in the 1600s, when risk was first priced, through J.P. Morgan, F.D.R., Reagan and the current players on the scene, Ron shows how risk became underpriced over time, and how this in turn created the cycles of "bubble and bust" that are commonplace in today's economic life. Through tips and stories culled from his journalistic sources — rarely shared with audiences until now — Ron offers a way out of this recurring trap, arguing for a restoration of sustainable values in the private and public sector.

Shedding Light on America’s Path to a Bright Future: Are We Still One Nation Indivisible?

What de Tocqueville called the "bourgeois virtues" — the storied American principles of honesty and craftsmanship, pride of effort, one man/one vote, transparent markets, fairness of competition, rule of law, civil and human rights — have transformed the country and the world across two centuries. In this presentation tying together the key themes of his five critically acclaimed bestsellers, Ron paints a hopeful portrait of what's next for America in the 21st Century. He re-examines these principles, insisting they are the best models yet for preserving the balance of a society and its institutions as seismic changes sweep the globe in this connected age. But in order to maintain this equilibrium, U.S. leaders in both the public and private sectors must avoid the short-term, self-protective impulses that often characterize declining empires in favor of embracing durable models for managing change at home and abroad.

What Can I Do? The Voiceless Have a Say

Deemed "a master storyteller with the lyricism of a poet" by NPR, Mr. Suskind, in this rousing and informative presentation, recalls some the more inspirational stories he has reported on during his three-decade career. His circuitous path has taken him from blighted inner cities in America and dusty side streets in Pakistan to the corporate towers of Wall Street and the hallowed halls of the White House. The connective thread of these stories is how individual actions can change the world, provoking the eternal question of What can one person do to effect change? It's a quandary Ron has confronted countless times in his storied career, through subjects as diverse as an isolated Pacific Islander, a suicidal Lehman Brothers banker, a Somali cab driver and a deeply reflective Barack Obama. These people faced tough choices that bore deep consequences, but their actions ultimately helped pose fundamental questions about how to lead a purposeful life.

Imaginative Caregiving: Follow the Patient’s Lead

In this companion presentation to Life, Animated: A Tale of Autism and Human Potential, Ron delves deeper into the unique method of emulative communication, called Affinity Therapy, that the Suskinds developed to helped their youngest son Owen emerge from the shadows of autism. Audiences learn how the entire Suskind family worked to learn from a child with little speech, who memorized fifty Disney Animated movies. Throw him a line, he’d throw back the next one. When the Suskinds realized this, they began speaking in Disney dialogue, turning their house into an elaborate stage set and playing scenes. Over years, their son’s speech returned; he learned to read by scrolling credits, and eventually rewrote the Disney narrative arc in a story that’s been made into a major motion picture. What’s the lesson? Listen to the patient, let them guide you. Ron focuses on the perspectives of the caregiver and the cared for, addressing the importance of finding a shared language of imagination and how myth, fable and legend are humanity’s longtime pathway to healing.

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