The Academi of Life regularly invites inspirational thought-leaders to share their wisdoms in enlightening Evenings in Conversation. These conversations touch on a range of life lessons, from neuroscience and spirituality, money and morality, commitment, happiness, and much more. Here, everyone has something to teach as well as learn- it’s all a part of conversation.

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Starting as a meditation on mortality after the illness and death of her husband, Margot Adler read more than 270 vampire novels, from teen to adult, from gothic to modern, from detective to comic. She began to wonder why vampires have such traction in our society. Why is Hollywood spending billions on vampire films and television series every year? This interest led her to explore issues of power, politics, morality, identity, and even the fate of the planet which she pens in her latest book, Vampires Are Us: Understanding our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side. She discovered that in a culture that does not do death particularly well, we are obsessed with mortality. Adler writes, "Vampires let us play with death and the issue of mortality. They let us ponder what it would mean to be truly long lived." She further writes "vampires allow us to ask questions we usually bury". What does one value more and what does one value less with a short human life? Is the vampire's frozen 'life' sterile? Does life only mean something when it is part of a cycle of birth, growth, decay, death and the birth of new life? "Every society creates the vampire it needs," wrote the scholar Nina Auerbach. Adler's book explores how vampires have existed in cultures throughout history and how our obsession has continued to grow. Dracula was written in 19th century England when there was fear of outsiders and of disease seeping in through England's large ports. Dracula, an Eastern European monster was the perfect vehicle for those fears. But who are the vampires we need now? In the last four decades, going back to Dark Shadows, we have created a very different vampire: the conflicted, struggling-to-be-moral-despite-being-predators vampire. Spike and Angel, Stefan and Damon, Bill and Eric, the Cullens who are all struggling to be moral despite being predators, as are we. Perhaps our blood is oil, perhaps our prey is the planet. Perhaps vampires are us. "Every society creates the vampire it needs." - Nina Auerbach
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After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Nightline anchor, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes in his life. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out. We all have a voice in our head. It’s what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It’s a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it’s something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. He shares this journey in his new book: 10% HAPPIER: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves us with a takeaway that could actually change our lives. “A compelling honest, delightfully interesting, and at times heartwarming story of one highly intelligent man’s life-changing journey toward a deeper understanding of what makes us our very best selves.” – Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself  
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Jeff Madrick has written a compelling book: Age of Greed a Publishers Weekly Top Ten pick for Spring 2011. Jeff Madrick makes clear in a narrative at once sweeping, fast-paced, and incisive, that the single-minded pursuit of huge personal wealth has been on the rise in the United States since the 1970s, led by a few individuals who have argued that self-interest guides society more effectively than community concerns. These stewards of American capitalism have insisted on the central and essential place of accumulated wealth through the booms, busts, and recessions of the last half century, giving rise to our current woes. Intense economic inequity and instability is the story of our age, and Jeff Madrick tells it with style, clarity, and an unerring command of his subject. What’s different about the book, is that unlike other recent treatments of the financial crisis, it traces the origins of the problem not to the Bush or Clinton or even Reagan years, but all the way to the late 1960s. The real scandal revealed by Madrick’s important book is not the well-known tales of dastards such as telecom analyst Jack Grubman or Internet stock promoter Frank Quattrone, but the more elusive and more consequential story of how the government came to abdicate this supreme responsibility.’ 'The Age of Greed is a fascinating and deeply disturbing tale of hypocrisy, corruption, and insatiable greed. But more than that, it’s a much-needed reminder of just how we got into the mess we’re in—a reminder that is greatly needed when we are still being told that greed is good'. - Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, The New York Review of Books "I will tell you the secret to getting rich on Wall Street. You try to be greedy when others are fearful. And you try to be fearful when others are greedy." - Warren Buffett
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America is on the verge of losing yet another natural resource. In about ten years, three-quarters of American oldest generation will be gone. They will take with them lessons learned about living through illness, failure, poverty, loss and danger…and more basic things like lessons learned about work, love, parenting and growing old. Dr. Karl A. Pillemer, a professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, created the Life Lessons Project in 2004, as a way of collecting practical advice from America’s elders. He knew that for the first time in history we humans have access to the accumulated wisdom of vast numbers of older people. Pillemer, spent five years interviewing hundreds of elderly Americans, and found himself startled by their candor, their insights, and yes, their wisdom. He has summarized their thoughts in a book titled, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. Their advice ranged from: How to be happy on a day-to-day basis The secrets to a successful marriage Tips on raising children Ways to have a fulfilling career Strategies for dealing with illness and loss The importance of long-term care How to grow old fearlessly and well His book has been getting a lot of buzz since released…it has hit a nerve! It’s been written and talked about on: CNN, PBS, Huffington Post, New York Times, The Daily Beast, Tampa Bay Times, Psychology Today, Blog Talk Radio and more. "My grandmother would strongly agree with much of the collected wisdom, particularly the adage that happiness is a choice and that a practice of gratitude is intrinsic to being happy. I can't wait to read the book!" -Chelsea Clinton
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We all know the current global economic system is severely troubled. Most people believe that corporate greed plays a major role in today’s economic turmoil and that human values are lacking in business decisions and actions. Money worries top the list of many people. Patricia Aburdene one of the world’s leading social forecasters and co-author of four Megatrends books with John Naisbitt—including the New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000, has discovered another emerging megatrend which she describes in her latest book, Conscious Money. She believes that if you look below the surface of the current economic disaster, there is a holistic, values-based economic transformation underway opening the door to a new era that can bring fulfillment and prosperity. This emerging megatrend she calls: Conscious Money. Conscious Money is a growing movement of people who draw on values, creativity, and the power of human consciousness to clarify and guide their financial choices. Join us for this new, profound and life-changing conversation as Patricia shares how you can make financial choices that reflect your values by: Identifying your unique personal values Breaking down barriers to financial success Partnering & working for companies that reflect your values Expressing your values through conscious shopping Investing in enterprises that honor the planet Patricia has discovered that people want their money life (where they earn, spend and invest their money) to better reflect the values espoused in their personal and spiritual lives. They want to make financial choices that reflect their values and awareness. They also want to develop a new economy and a way of life that grows out of their true values. "We have a new economic era now – where sustainable values and the genius of human consciousness outperform fear and greed." – Marianne Williamson
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Are you one of those people who have been looking for love in all the wrong places? Or perhaps you are someone who has found love, only to find that it fizzles out faster than a lit match in the spring rain? Have you genuinely tried your best to leave behind your pattern of unfulfilling relationships, only to find that you keep on going back to them, again and again? Dr. Srini Pillay will spend an evening with us to unravel the mysteries of love and help us make wiser more informed choices about the loving relationships in our lives. He will address the following questions with cutting-edge scientific answers: Why do so many people look for love in all the wrong places? What can you do about this? Why you end up doing all the wrong things in love despite your best intentions? How can you change this? Why does loving someone else require that you love yourself first? How can you achieve without the hype of a contemporary tabloid? Why do you repeat your destructive patterns of falling in love? How can you escape these patterns? Why does love become so boring so quickly? What can you do to lead a more sustainable fulfilling romantic life? Dr. Pillay will also explain in everyday language how our fears complicate finding and forming loving relationships that last. By helping us understand the science of love, Dr. Pillay will help us move through the roadblocks that prevent us from living a satisfying, fulfilling and magical life. "The secret to living life successfully is to recognize that you can be different from what is happening to you." - Srinivasan S. Pillay
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