Ashley Merryman

Leadership & Peak Performance Advisor, Two-time New York Times Bestselling Author
  • Merryman uses the science essential to understanding what makes people tick — what motivates us, what inspires us — and then explains how to use these insights to transform our lives
  • Leadership expert who has advised Fortune 100 business executives, military leaders, and top athletes and coaches
  • A two-time New York Times bestselling author whose work has been published in top publications and cited in more than 1,000 books and journals
  • An energetic presence who uses science-based insights to help organizations and individuals unlock new pathways to success and become “Top Dogs” in their fields

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Two-time New York Times bestselling author and sought-after leadership expert Ashley Merryman finds the science essential to understanding what makes people tick — what motivates us, what inspires us. Then she explains how to use these insights to help people discover new ways to succeed.

Merryman has taught Olympians and professional athletes how to perform under pressure, advised Fortune 100 executives on building winning cultures, and coached military leaders on institutional change.

In her speeches, she offers evidence-based techniques and real-world strategies that leaders can apply at every level of their organization. Her talks are filled with fascinating anecdotes and cutting-edge research. Her presentations are always thought-provoking and inspiring, as she makes complex concepts accessible to a wide audience. 

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Merryman brings a unique combination of intellectual insight, empathy, humor, and unbridled energy to her talks. Her passion for her topics is contagious, and audiences walk away from her events with a renewed sense of purpose and concrete strategies for success.

An attorney, advocate, and journalist, Merryman is the founder of The Sherwood Group, an organization that provides leaders with new, science-based tools for success, while she also currently holds an appointment as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow for the Joint Special Operations University. Merryman previously served at the Pentagon, first with a one-year term as the Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion for the Chief of Naval Operations, and then as Special Advisor for the Department of the Navy. During her time at the Pentagon, she invented a new technique for preventing military sexual assault now used by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.

With Po Bronson, it was Merryman who introduced the world to Carol Dweck and her now-famous concept of growth mindset. Merryman’s first book, NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children, co-authored with Bronson, has become one of the most influen­tial books about children ever published. On the New York Times bestseller list for more than six months and an Amazon Top Nonfiction 100 book for more than a year, it has been translated into 20 languages. Their follow-up book Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, also became an instant New York Times bestseller that has since revolutionized the world of elite performance. 

In addition to cover stories and features for leading media outlets, including Newsweek and New York magazine, Merryman has had bylines in the New York Times, the Washington PostTime,, Lawfare, the Guardian, and ESPN — to name a few. She has made countless media appearances, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Fox & Friends, CBS This Morning, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, BBC World News, and more.

Among the honors she has received, Merryman was presented with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the United States Navy, a Poynter Fellow for Journalism at Yale University, and a William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service. Merryman has earned 11 awards for her writing, and her mastery in her field is considered so authoritative that her work has been cited in more than 1,000 books and journal articles to date.

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Ashley Merryman | The Art and Science of Effective Feedback

Ashley Merryman - Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing

Ashley Merryman, "Top Dog" Co-Author

The Modern Science of Leadership. Leadership expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author, Ashley Merryman shares the best insights science has to offer when it comes to transforming the way leaders operate in today’s evolving workplace. She applies cutting-edge research to equip leaders across industries and organizations of every size with actionable applications of the science of leadership. As she walks audience members through methods for advancing their approaches to leadership, she shares evidence-based insights and strategies on various topics, from motivating teams to creating winning cultures. Merryman demonstrates the ways in which leaders can increase their influence, connect with their people, spark high performance, and navigate their teams toward tangible results and sustained success.

Discovering Your Inner Champion: How to Become a “Top Dog” in You Field. In this talk, leadership expert, success engineer and two-time New York Times bestselling author helps audiences across industries and backgrounds discover the champion within. What is the difference between one elite performer and the next? What separates the truly great from the also-ran? It’s not technical skill. It’s the psychological factors. How you perform under pressure.

In this speech, Merryman reveals insights such as:

  • How changes in mindset impact your strategy, psychology, and even physiology
  • The mental techniques Olympians use to come back from defeat
  • How better goal-setting can lead to more goal-achievement
  • Scientifically proven strategies to manage stress


Becoming a Change Agent: Leading Organizational Change. Whether we’re talking about personal growth, new software, or an entirely different organizational structure, we all know change is necessary. We also all know that change is hard. That’s why, in this speech, leaders will gain expert insights from Ashley Merryman on topics such as:

  • Why change is so difficult and emotional — so they can address these concerns
  • How to create messages that inspire support for change initiatives
  • How to identify those who will help lead your change efforts
  • How to respond to those who oppose (or even actively obstruct) change proposals
  • Common mistakes leaders make during a change and what to do differently


When 2+2=5. The Real Science of Teams and Teamwork. In this myth-busting speech, Ashley Merryman will dispel popular falsehoods about teamwork while giving leaders new tools for leading their teams. (For example, conventional wisdom says relationships drive the project. Actually, the project drives relationships.)

Merryman will help leaders:

  • Design, staff, and manage more effective teams
  • Understand when teams can help (or hurt) innovation
  • Learn when you do — and don’t — want a “team player”
  • Improve team communication and reduce inefficiencies
  • Get a struggling team back on track


Increasing Innovation: The Science of Creativity. Expect a lot of audience interaction in this fun and enga­ging speech, as Ashley Merryman explains the science of creati­vity. With examples from neuroscience, psychology, and more, Merryman separates fact from fiction to demonstrate to audiences what creativity and innovation really is.

You’ll discover:

  • The differences between companies that spur innovation and those that stifle it
  • Why the comment box is where good ideas go to die
  • How to identify ideas hidden in your company that could reduce costs and increase revenue
  • Why traditional brainstorming doesn’t work and a more effective way to do it
  • Easy techniques to increase your creativity


How to Get Better: The Art & Science of Giving Feedback. Study after study reveals that, for anything beyond the most basic of tasks, feedback is essential for learning and improvement. Filled with practical advice you can implement immediately, this session is a must for everyone in any leadership position.

In this speech, Ashley Merryman will identify:

  • How to turn giving feedback into a less stressful, more productive experience
  • When to use positive and negative feedback
  • How to motivate your best performers
  • Why your worst performers don’t improve and how to change that
  • Why you should give formal feedback in the break room instead of your office
  • Why techniques such as “the feedback sandwich” backfire and what works
  • Top tips for giving (and getting) feedback


Leading in a Diverse Environment. In an important conversation, Leadership expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author, Ashley Merryman discusses the challenges, as well as strategies for successfully leading diverse environments. This science-based presentation isn’t like any other diversity lecture on the market.

As part of the talk, Merryman tackles topics such as:

  • Evidence-based steps to make hiring and promotion more fair and successful
  • How to create a sense of belonging and why it matters
  • The ways in which inclusion efforts benefit the success of the entire team
  • The “5 B’s” — five simple things every leader should be doing to promote more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments within their organizations


Gender Differences at Work. From job interviews to networking and beyond, men and women differ in how they work, and their experiences at work. During this eye-opening presentation, Ashley Merryman will identify social, cultural, psychological, and physiological factors behind those gender differences.

The goal of this conversation isn’t to put anyone in a gender box. Instead, it’s to pinpoint instances in which these differences may help or hinder individuals, as well as identify what we can do to ensure that everyone succeeds. In this speech, Merryman addresses:

  • The reasons why men assume they are qualified for a job and women assume they aren’t
  • How men and women’s different communication styles impact their effectiveness at work
  • How leadership styles that may increase a man’s authority might weaken a woman’s
  • The ways in which to increase women’s visibility and leadership in your organization

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Ashley Merryman Book Cover: NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children