Amy Alkon is an award-winning, syndicated advice columnist and author who transforms behavioral science research into highly practical advice for how we can all live more satisfyingly and less self-defeatingly. And she does all of this with audacious, take-no-prisoners humor.
Alkon’s weekly science-driven love, sex, dating, and relationships advice column, “The Advice Goddess,” is distributed by Creators syndicate to about 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. She also writes a science-based manners column for the New York Observer. Alkon’s most recent book is the science-based and bitingly funny Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014). Along with positive reviews in the WSJ and other publications, Library Journal gave the book a starred review: “Verdict: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended.”
Alkon got her start in advice-giving with a prank—offering free advice on a Soho Street corner with two friends, starting in 1988. It was just supposed to be a one-Saturday thing but people lined up around the block, and Alkon and her friends, who called themselves “The Advice Ladies,” kept going out through the mid 90s to set up their “Free Advice” sign and a table and chairs on Saturday afternoons on West Broadway and Broome, in Soho. Alkon hadn’t even taken a psychology course in college, but when people started asking serious questions, she mowed through the texts of modern psychology, and, in doing so, discovered the work and thinking of Albert Ellis, the co-founder of cognitive behavioral therapy. Ellis, who advocated a reason-based approach to solving emotional problems, became both a big influence on Alkon and a fan of her thinking. (He read her very first advice columns, which ran in the New York Daily News.)
In the 90s, Ellis himself persuaded Alkon not to get a Ph.D. (“You know what you need to know; it would be a waste of time,” he told her in a letter). Alkon began going to academic conferences, reading journal articles, and being coached by a noted epidemiologist and statistician on how to vet studies, and she began incorporating behavioral science and evolutionary psychology into her books and columns. She came to realize that refusing to narrow herself down to a single field of study (in the way a Ph.D. would require) allowed her to be “transdisciplinary”—well-versed in research across disciplines—in turn, allowing her to provide the most practical and science-based advice to listeners and readers.
Alkon has spoken in venues across the country, including the Traverse City (Michigan) Opera House; at Pace University in Manhattan and at Hollins College in Roanoke, West Virginia; and at the Stargazers Theater and Event Center in Colorado Springs. Alkon was the opening act for LA Weekly’s “LA Weekend” charity event at Los Angeles’ Saban Theatre in 2010. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books often calls on Alkon to interview celebrity guests on one of the main stages.
Alkon has appeared on numerous national TV and radio shows in the US and Canada, including TODAY, Anderson Cooper, Good Morning America, Nightline, CNN, MTV, and Adam Carolla’s podcast. Alkon does regular science-based modern manners segments for Los Angeles public radio station KPCC. She also has her own weekly radio show, “Nerd Your Way To A Better Life,” on which she interviews the luminaries of behavioral science.Download Bio
St. Martin’s Griffin
To lead us out of the miasma of modern mannerlessness, science-based and bitingly funny syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon rips the doily off the manners genre and gives us a new set of rules for our twenty-first century lives.
How to be an entrepreneurial thinker—even if you work for “the man" Alkon worked for international powerhouse ad agency Ogilvy & Mather before creating a a business out of a prank: giving free advice on a Soho Street corner. Alkon went on to self-syndicate her own column to almost 100 newspapers, and takes a unique approach: translating and transforming serious science into practical advice, delivered with biting humor. In this talk, she explains how you can do even an “ordinary” job in extraordinary ways by getting into the habit of using what she calls “entrepreneurial thinking”—practical innovation, imagination, and creativity.
Charm School For Nerds Self-reformed friendless loser Alkon uses the nerd’s home territory—science—to explain how to succeed in love, friendships, and at work.
Don't Die Alone: The science of how to do your very best in sex, dating, and relationships Alkon turns to behavioral science and evolutionary psychology to help you get dates, get laid, and be in a relationship without wanting to chase your partner around the house with a carving knife.
-Iris Blandon-Gitlin, PhD: Chair, Psychology Day Committee
Praise for Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck
"Alkon not only tells readers what good manners are but also provides useful suggestions for politely calling offenders’ attention to their rudeness. And she does this in a ferociously funny style--it’s worth a read for the laughs alone. There is nothing here of the proper arrangement of table setting, nor of how to address a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury; rather Alkon deals with modern problems in interpersonal relationships, such as how civilized people should act when standing in lines, on airplanes, online, and elsewhere. In addition, she officers very dependable, sensible, caring advice to those whose friends or family are coping with terminal illness. VERDICT: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"This book is a gem. Hysterically funny and grounded in science, Amy Alkon explains why so many people are rude and how it's possible to be courteous, even if you're foul-mouthed and clueless about etiquette."
—Dr. Adam Grant, Wharton School professor and New York Times-bestselling author of Give and Take
"I can say without reservation that Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is hilarious, consistently entertaining, and, above all, wise. It’s Emily Post as a beach read."
—Charlotte Allen, The Weekly Standard
"She is chatty, at times outrageous, but full of ideas about living politely in a society that she says has become too big for our brains to handle. As for Oscar Wilde, at the end of his life is said to have commented: ‘The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork.’"
—Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal