Category Archives: Media

All about mass media

I’m on BBC

BBCI was interviewed recently for the BBC Radio 4 program In Business with Peter Day.

They were doing an episode on happiness at work:

A British professor at the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia has done some research appearing to indicate that US corporations with the happiest employees have a financial performance notably better than lower ranked companies.

This is either blindingly obvious or a great mystery, and investors seeking more than merely quantitative data on which to base their decisions are getting interested in these league tables of Best Companies to Work For.

The real question seems to be: Is happiness in the workplace (that may be so beneficial to a company) created by healthcare and staff karaoke sessions and subsidised canteens, or is it deeper than that?

You can listen to the whole program here.

I’m in the New York Times

New York Times

Not only did my article on why “The Customer is Always Right” is wrong generate quite a stir last week (and a lot of great comments) – it also got mentioned in the New York Times!! Woo-hoooooo!!!

And there’s more: if you’re in New Zealand – tune in to Afternoons With Jim Mora on Radio New Zealand National on Tuesday April 1 – there will be a long interview with yours truly.

I think it’s fantastic to see how much interest there is in happiness at work in general and in me and my work specifically! Here are some more of my recent media appearances.

Check out my op-ed piece

MediaToday The CS Monitor published an op-ed piece I wrote called “Yes, you can be happy at work” which talks about the difference between American and Scandinavian attitudes.

A quote:

“You get paid to do your job, not to like it,” seems to be the attitude of most US managers and workplaces. What’s worse, American employees seem to be willing participants in this arrangement. When I ask Americans what makes them happy at work, they rarely talk about the work itself – many tend to see it as a means to an end, rather than as something to enjoy.

The result is that US workplaces are dominated by status-seeking career climbers, where the paycheck is the only motivator, where employee turnover is shockingly high, where bad management is never challenged, where burnout and cynicism are the order of the day, and only Dilbert comic strips provide relief.

Click here to read the whole thing.

It’s inspired by this earlier post about my experiences from a recent trip to America.

Before the paper would publish it, I had to agree to a few edits though. For instance this line didn’t make it into print:

In fact, recent studies have Denmark leading the lists of happy nations – so eat it, Sweden!

Though I kinda figured it wouldn’t :o)

The pleasure principle

NewspapersHey – guess who’s quoted in this article on fun at work in the New York Post? (Hint: It’s me!)

Take note, though, before you run out to buy a pingpong table, or bean-bag chairs for the conference room (as Motley Fool did): If you’re begrudgingly throwing your employees a bone, it’s not going to work, notes “Happy Hour is 9 to 5″ author Kjerulf. There must be a genuine desire to create a fun workplace.

“If you just do it because it’s good business it’s likely to feel forced and unnatural to people,” he says. “Fun has to be real, or it’s no fun.”

The article itself is great – and explains how companies like Motley Fool, search engine makers and many others introduce some fun and games to the workplace.

My favorite example from the article:

Desiree Gruber, president of Full Picture, a public relations and event planning firm, brings her two dogs to work daily. Mookie and Sam roam around to greet visitors and play ball with staff.

“We can never take ourselves too seriously when we have the dogs around,” says Gruber. “Without fail they make the office a more lively, warm, and spontaneous place.”

More interviews with me

MikeI’ve been interviewed a few more times around the web recently.

John Wesley of the excellent Pick the Brain blog interviewed me, and asked questions like “What would you say to someone who finds the work they do, of even the entire industry, to be terribly dull?” and “What is the hardest part of standing in front of a large group of employees and telling them they should be happy at work?”.

And I’m this mont’s guru at Oddpodz. Abe Sauer asked stuff like “If there is one pragmatic piece of advice everyone should know about being happy at and with work, what would it be?” and “How did you get into the profession of helping people be happier?”

Also, 2 weeks ago, I was the guest on a radio program on national Danish radio. A panel consisting of three members of parliament and yours truly had a discussion on workplace stress and bad management, based on two of my previous posts, namely 5 myths about workplace stress and How to deal with a bad boss.

That was a lot of fun, partly because the three parliament members are outspoken, smart, media-savvy people – but particularly because the three have wildly varying political opinions. Ellen Trane Nørby is from a right-wing party (by Danish standards), Margrethe Vestager is from a centrist party and Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil is from a party called the Red-Green Alliance which was formed by merging the Left Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Denmark and the Socialist Workers Party and independent socialists.

That is pretty much a guarantee of a lively debate right there :o) You can hear the entire radio program here – in Danish, I’m afraid.

And continuing my recent media exposure, a journalist wrote this piece about making room for emotions at work, based on my blogpost on the same topic.

Btw: If you’d like to interview me for your blog, I’m game. Email me some questions, and I’ll shoot the answers right back to you.

Great news

I just discovered The Great News Network:

Despite all the negativity broadcasted in news today there is progress being made to better our planet. The Great News Network exists to report it.”
– Ryan Logtenberg, Founder GNN

Some recent headlines:
* Congress presses for torture ban
* A Wide Range of Endangered Animals Given Conservation Boost
* Bangladesh Seizes Rare Wild Birds From Market
* Deforestation rates decrease in the Amazon

Here’s something funny: When I read that last headline, my mind did this trick where it read the first part and then:
1) Assumed that the rest of the headline would be about bad news
2) Started to skip towards other headlines

This tells me, that we (or at least I) have been heavily conditioned to expect bad news in the media. I read half a headline, noticed it was about deforestation in the Amazon and just KNEW that it had to be about a bad situation getting worse.

And the second part of my reaction, the looking away, may explain why people are retreating from many important issues, from rain forest shrinkage to world hunger: The current media coverage has taught us to think, that it’s all bad and getting worse. So why get involved? Why even take an interest – it’ll only depress me.

You could argue, that reporting the bad news leads to increased awareness about the problems. That’s true. But reporting almost exclusively on the bad news leads to a feeling of helplessness that has us giving up BEFORE we ever do anything.

And that’s why we need a new kind of media that is willing to report on the good news. Good news gives us the energy and optimism to do something about the bad news.

Tag this!

There’s a lot of information on the web, so the challenge is always to find the stuff you need. The answer to this has mostly been hierarchies – to create great big taxonomies that hierarchically sort information.

For instance: The web magazine Diversity Inc. is categorized under Business > Human Resources > Training and Safety > Diversity in the Google directory of web sites. Clear, concise and easy to navigate. And cumbersome – knowing what categories exist and placing the information into the right category takes a lot of mental exertion.

So a new way was invented: Tagging! Tagging basically means making up your own words, and sticking them on your web page, image, video, document, whatever. users tag websites rather than categorizing them. Flickr is the most famous example – here’s a picture of the beautiful sunrise seen from our appartment this morning, tagged with cameraphone, sunrise and copenhagen. Tagging is messy but fast and users seem to prefer tagging. Quite simply: Users will tag information but don’t categorize it.

And here’s one opinion about why: A cognitive analysis of tagging (or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular).

The rapid growth of tagging in the last year is testament to how easy and enjoyable people find the tagging process. The question is how to explain it at the cognitive level. In search for a cognitive explanation of tagging, I went back to my dusty cognitive psychology textbooks. This is what I learnt.

There’s a lot of discussion on the web currently about taxonomies vs. folksonomies. Can we trust people to collectively tag information in such a way as to make it easily retrievable, or do we need experts to create official taxonomies that correctly divide and conquer data. My money is on the folksonomies :o) – now featuring happyatwork

I finally got my act together and started using, a website that lets users share links. From their website:

What makes a social system is its ability to let you see the links that others have collected, as well as showing you who else has bookmarked a specific site. You can also view the links collected by others, and subscribe to the links of people whose lists you find interesting.

Clever! I’ve started tagging relevant links with happyatwork – and you can too. Let’s create a store of happy-at-work-related links together.

* See my links here.
* See happyatwork links here.

There aren’t that many yet – but I’m guessing there will be :o)