What TV’s Past Can Teach Us About Business and Diversity

Using real-life, behind-the-scenes stories from pop culture history, I speak to corporate and tech professionals looking for ways to be creative and inclusive. Along the way, audiences don’t just learn lessons they can apply to their own businesses—they also have fun, watching clips from great shows and learning the trade secrets behind TV’s historic and groundbreaking moments.

And I can do all of this virtually!

“Jennifer gave a fantastic talk. She drew a crowd and connected with everyone. We’re looking forward to booking her again!”

Allison Sansone,
The American Writers Museum


“Her presentation was one of our best-attended events of the year. She is a very engaging speaker, and I can’t recommend her enough. We can’t wait to have her back.”

Chris Barnes,
East Brunswick Public Library

Past bookings include: 92nd Street Y, American Writers Museum, Book Culture (New York City), Book Soup (Los Angeles), Boswell Books (Milwaukee), Gaithersburg Book Festival, Hevreh Festival of Jewish Books and Authors (Berkshires, New York), The J Jewish Community of Louisville, Hemingway Foundation, Nitehawk Cinema, Politics and Prose Bookstore (Washington, DC), Printers’ Row Book Festival, The Shop at NBC Studios, The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, Triad Theatre (New York City), Westchester Jewish Center, Wheaton College, WORD Bookstore (Brooklyn), U.S. National Archives

Talk Topics

The Entangled History of TV Technology and TV Diversity

Every entertainment medium reflects its technology—its delivery system. But no medium’s content has reflected its changes in technology as much as American television has. Who viewers see on screen has always been closely tied to how they’re getting their TV content. This tour of TV’s 70-year history shows how changes in technology have caused diversity to wax and wane over time in surprising and telling ways. From TV’s invention in the 1930s to its takeover of the nation in the 1950s, from the prioritization of wealthy and young (and primarily white) audiences in the 1970s to the rise of prestige cable and streaming in the 2000s and beyond, we’ll explore how every change in the way we received our television affected the representation we saw on the screen. Audiences will come away with an understanding of how changes in technology may exclude marginalized groups or may be used to better encourage the participation of a variety of artists—and how we can leverage this for better cultural representation in the future.

What Seinfeld Teaches Us About Succeeding in Business

Seinfeld pulled off an unusual combination of feats during its dominant 1990s run on NBC: It was regarded as unassailably cool, but it was also a massive hit with tens of millions of viewers. It was risky, but mainstream. It was almost canceled at least twice, but it went on to run for nine years and change television comedy forever, a story I tell in my bestselling book Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything. That’s why it has a lot to teach us about innovation—lessons that can be adapted from their ’90s origins to today’s crowded marketplace. I walk through five major ways Seinfeld creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld made the most of the opportunities they were given to create one of the most enduring sitcoms in TV history—lessons anyone can apply to stand out today.

Before Father Knows Best: What We Can Learn About Diversity from the Powerful Women of Early Television

Women helped to build the foundation of television far more than they’ve gotten credit for. The secret history of the women of early television—pre-Father Knows Best, or even I Love Lucy—can teach us still-valuable lessons about the importance of diversity during a fertile and innovative time in a new and growing industry. In this lecture, we’ll explore how fear-mongering toppled executives’ business sense—and the promising careers of Hazel Scott, the first Black person to host a national show, and Gertrude Berg, the first true sitcom superstar. And we’ll learn how male executives’ failure to listen to women almost killed the longest-running drama in TV history, The Guiding Light, and, even worse, the career of Betty White.