Category Archives: Happy At Work

How to be happy at work

Happiness all around world

I am back after a 17-day trip to 4 different countries.

The trip started in Surinam, a small country just north of Brazil. Together with one of our Dutch partners, Gea Peper of The Happiness Bureau, I did a workshop for an HR network.


Surinam is currently facing an economic crisis, so we focused especially on how to create happiness at work in tough times. We were also guests on a Surinamese TV show called Panorama.


After that Gea and I flew on to Curacao in the Caribbean where we did another workshop for HR leaders.2016-10-14-16-48-40

The workshop ended with balloons :) We also did an interview with Dolfijn FM who have their studio right on the beach. Awesome! And of course there was time for a little bit of sightseeing. Curaco used to be a Dutch colony, so the capital Willemstad basically looks like Amsterdam in the Caribbeans.



From curacao I flew to New York City, where I met up with my awesome coworker Arlette to lead our 4th international Woohoo Inc Academy.



9 wonderful people from different US companies had signed up for the 3-day Academy and as far as we can tell from their feedback, everyone had a blast and learned a lot. The Academy included a visit to Next Jump, one of the happiest workplaces we know, and some sightseeing, including a guided tour of Grand Central Terminal and a cruise on the East River.


And following that I flew to Dubai to speak at the 18th Global Women in Leadership Forum, where I did the opening keynote on day 2 and particularly made the point that if we want to create happier workplaces, we need more women in leadership positions.

Here are some reactions from twitter:

And then I flew home. My internal clock is so fried, I’m not even sure I have jetlag at all.

But I’m also incredibly encouraged to once again have had the chance to spread the gospel of happiness at work in some new countries and to find so many like-minded people all over the world who agree that this is an incredibly important topic that businesses need to act on.

In fact, this trip brings the total number of countries we’ve spoken in to 41. Here’s the complete list:

  1. Antigua
  2. Bahamas
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Chile
  5. Croatia
  6. Curaçao
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark
  9. Dominican Republic
  10. Estonia
  11. France
  12. Germany
  13. Greenland
  14. Guatemala
  15. Iceland
  16. India
  17. Ireland
  18. Italy
  19. Japan
  20. Israel
  21. Kuwait
  22. Luxembourg
  23. Netherlands
  24. Norway
  25. Poland
  26. Portugal
  27. Romania
  28. Russia
  29. Serbia
  30. Slovakia
  31. Slovenia
  32. South Africa
  33. Spain
  34. Sri Lanka
  35. Suriname
  36. Sweden
  38. Turkey
  39. United Arab Emirates
  40. United Kingdom
  41. USA

Bob Sutton’s EXCELLENT advice on dealing with a bad boss

How should you deal with a bad boss? Here’s some EXCELLENT research-based advice from Stanford Professor Bob Sutton (51 mins into the video).

On a related note, a journalist once asked me during an interview why employees put up with bad bosses.

Without thinking about it I blurted out “Stockholm syndrome.”

I only later realized I may have been right.

Related posts

Podcast with Søren Lockwood – a (very happy) financial CEO

Michal Srajer, one of our Partners in Prague, is currently travelling the world and interviewing many different people for his podcast about happiness at work. His first interview was with me and you can hear it here.

His second podcast features Søren Lockwood, the CEO of SEB Pension in Denmark, who took his company of 300 serious financial professionals in dark suits through a transformation that has resulted in happier employees, lower absenteeism, happier customers and better results.

You can hear the podcast here:

Søren Lockwood also spoke at our conference this year in Copenhagen, where examined the classic question of whether  you can prove that happiness at work is good for the bottom line. He gave the best answer EVER:


At IKEA, umbrellas are CHEAPER when it rains

Complete this sentence: “When it rains, the price of umbrellas goes __.”

If you guessed up you’d be right in most places. But at IKEA stores, you’d be wrong.

Here’s how they price their umbrellas depending on the weather:


Yes, on rainy days, umbrellas are cheaper :o) What a nice way to make customers happy.

This is no coincidence – happiness matters at IKEA. Their founder, Ingvar Kamprad, once said this:

Work should always be fun for all colleagues. We all only have one life. A third of life is work. Without desire and fun, work becomes hell.

To me, this attitude only makes sense. Making your employees happy makes the business more profitable and making your customers happy keeps them coming back.

It ain’t rocket surgery, and fortunately more and more companies are figuring this out and committing themselves to happiness at work.

Join the first ever conference about happiness at work in India


On November 18+19 we are arranging the first ever conference about happiness at work in India together with Les Concierges and Naresh Jain of ConfEngine.

We have just announced the schedule with an amazing lineup of speakers and workshops, including critical themes like:

  • Finding and using your strengths at work
  • How to have a happy career
  • How to lead with happiness
  • How to deal with stress and busyness
  • Case stories from some of the world’s truly great workplaces
  • How to create more democratic workplaces

… and many, many more great topics. Speakers include:

  • Mikael Kamber, TV news anchor and author
  • Traci Fenton, founder and CEO of WorldBlu
  • Tim Dorsett, Culture Ambassador at Innocent Drinks
  • Nic Marks, Economist and founder of Happiness Works

And of course myself :) See the entire schedule here.

Attendance is limited to 300 people, so better get your tickets now.

Take the Whiteboard Challenge – and help improve it

A loooong while back we shared the idea of playing a game in the office, where you challenge coworkers to come up with ideas that combine two existing themes. You may even offer a small prize for the funniest or most creatives replies.

Here are two examples contributed by Destiney from Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs:

80s Songs & Sweets Movies & Food


Destiney is also looking for more ideas for themes.

Here are two I came up with:

Baked goods + TV show: Game of scones. Breading bad.

Celebrity + Car: Harrison Ford :) Too easy?

There must be a million more. What combination would you suggest? Write a comment!

My 5 favorite Coursera courses for happiness at work

2013-02-07 15.57.48My learning position

Coursera is an AMAZING site that lets you take hundreds of university-level classes taught by highly respected people from different fields.

It’s also my latest addiction. Seriously – I may have a problem. Yesterday I finished one course, and immediately signed up for 4 more :)

I’ve taken courses on many different topics several of which have been directly useful and relevant to happiness at work so I thought I’d share the 5 best ones here:

5: Unethical Decision Making in Organizations
A seminar on the dark side of the force’ that teaches you how strong organizational contexts push good people towards unethical decisions. You will also learn how to protect yourself and your organization against such forces lurking in the dark.

4: Positive psychology
A great overview and introduction to the “science of happiness” taught by Barbara Fredrickson, one of the leading researchers in the field.

3: Introduction to neuroeconomics
Neuroscience, when allied with psychology and economics, creates powerful new models to explain how we make decisions. Neurobiological mechanisms of decision-making, decisions under risk, trust and cooperation are central issues in this course.

2: Critical perspectives on management
Using a wide disciplinary approach – from economics and history to social theory and even a smattering of biblical criticism – the course examines several core management strategies and debunks them mercilessly as wrong and damaging, including:

  • Forced employee ranking
  • The idea that all companies should always grow
  • Shareholder value

Topics include: the function of the firm; the role of incentive; the ways in which narrative forces shape decision making, and how market relationships define the managerial culture in ways that can lead to sub-optimal outcomes.

1: Social pshycology
The best and most interesting online course I’ve taken so far. It examines how we affect each other in groups and almost all of the content is relevant to the workplace.

The course isn’t currently offered but will hopefully return.

But I’ve taken so many other great courses as well. Here are my 4 favorites outside of the field of happiness at work:

  1. Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life
  2. Revolutionary Ideas: An Introduction to Legal and Political Philosophy
  3. Philosophy and the Sciences
  4. Model Thinking

Have you done any online courses? What’s been your favorite things so far? Let me know in a comment!

UPDATE: As I was writing this, I stumbled on a course called Classical Sociological Theory and signed up for that too :) As I said… I may have a problem :)

This company forces a random employee to take 2 weeks off every month

This is just too cool: Every month, financial-services company Motley Fool selects a random employee who gets 2 weeks off and $1,000. Their mission is to spend those two weeks on whatever they want with zero contact with the office.

They do this to show employees that it’s OK to balance work and life and not overwork yourself to death.