Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor

Positive Psychology Expert
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Program Descriptions

The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance

Most companies and schools follow this formula: if you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy. This formula is scientifically backward. A decade of research shows that training your brain to be positive at work first actually fuels greater success second. In fact, 75% of our job success is predicted not by intelligence, but by your optimism, social support network and the ability to manage energy and stress in a positive way. By researching top performers at Harvard, the world’s largest banks, and Fortune 500 companies, Shawn discovered patterns, which create a happiness advantage for positive outliers—the highest performers at the company. 

Positive Leadership: Restoring a Culture of Confidence

Confidence, trust and job satisfaction are at historic lows.  When the economic collapse began, the world’s largest banks called in Shawn Achor to research how to restore confidence and forward progress.  While many managers succumb to helplessness, with their teams and clients quickly following suit, Shawn researched those who maintained high levels of success and leadership during the challenge. He found that our brains create confidence based on the belief that our behavior matters to the outcome we desire.  To develop this trust, we must create “wins” for our brain necessary to overcome learned helplessness and must train our brains for rational optimism. 

The Ripple Effect: How to Make Positive Change Easier

Common sense is not common action.  This is because information does not necessarily cause transformation because we require a certain level of “activation energy” to start a change. Shawn Achor’s research in the field of positive psychology has revealed how changes in our own brain due to mindset and behavior can have a ripple effect to a team and an entire organization.  This positive ripple effect can create a more productive, positive work culture making positive change easier. Audiences will learn about the latest scientific research on mirror neurons and mental priming to explain how positivity and negativity spread, case studies on how to become a lightning rod for change, and findings on how a positive ripple effect profoundly affects an organization’s ability to transition and change.

Rethinking the Formula for Success:  The Power of Positive Education 

At schools and companies alike, we are sometimes taught to think: “if I work harder, then I will be successful, and then I will be happy.” This formula–which undergirds much of our educational and professional world–is scientifically backwards. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, explains how positive brains reap a unique advantage raising nearly every educational and business outcome–but only if we get the formula right. By demonstrating how happiness is a choice, we can help students not only cultivate positive habits and mindsets, but achieve higher levels of success as a result. 

Positive Genius: The Key to Raising Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change

What is more important than IQ and emotional intelligence combined? Based on the research in Before Happiness, Shawn Achor takes us to the beginning of human potential to explain why some people are able to make great changes while others remain the same. Before you can make a change at work or home, your brain first constructs a picture of reality; this mental picture already determines your likelihood of success and your ability to harness your brain’s IQ, emotional and social intelligence. In this exciting talk, Shawn takes the audience to the cutting edge of positive psychology and neuroscience to clearly demonstrate how one can become a “positive genius”: one who can continually architect successful, positive realities based upon true facts then transfer those realities to others. 


Why Book Shawn Achor?

  • Based on the science of positive psychology, Shawn provides practical applications for helping leaders to keep teams motivated and engaged.

  • Using humor and interactive experiments that engage the audience, Shawn illuminates how a leader can reduce stress in an organization to increase productivity and success rates.

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    Biography Read more

    Shawn Achor is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. Shawn has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his TED talk is one of the most popular all time with over 4 million views, and his lecture airing on PBS has been seen by millions. Shawn teaches for the Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, and collaborates on research with Yale and Columbia University.

    In 2007, Shawn founded GoodThinkInc to share his research with the world. Subsequently, Shawn has lectured or researched in more than 50 countries, speaking to CEOs in China, school children in South Africa, doctors in Dubai, and farmers in Zimbabwe. He has spoken to the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi, doctors at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and worked with the U.S. Department of Health to promote happiness. In 2012, Shawn helped lead the Everyday Matters campaign with the National MS Society and Genzyme to show how happiness remains a choice for those struggling with a chronic illness.

    Shawn graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics. For seven years, Shawn also served as an Officer of Harvard, living in Harvard Yard and counseling students through the stresses of their first year. Though he now travels extensively for his work, Shawn continues to conduct original psychology research on happiness and organizational achievement in collaboration with Yale University and the Institute for Applied Positive Research.

    Shawn is the author of New York Times best-selling books The Happiness Advantage (2010) and Before Happiness (2013) as well as Ripple’s Effect and The Oran.

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    "We have used Shawn globally to deliver workshops for our Managing Director and Executive Director audiences (both individuals and intact teams); as an estimate he has presented to close to 1000 people at this level at UBS. We are pretty selective about who we would put in front of this level of audience but Shawn never disappoints. The feedback from the seminars he has run for us is amongst the best across any of the training courses we deliver (from memory over 95 per cent of this audience would recommend the training to peers). Shawn has partnered exceptionally well with UBS to tailor his materials and research to our needs. He is always open to feedback and ideas."

    “Shawn brings energy and actionable ideas to countless research studies with flawless delivery!”
    --MorganStanley SmithBarney

    “A short note of appreciation for the outstanding, insightful and inspirational presentation at our Senior Leadership meeting. You have an uncanny ability to modify the content to the audience, and the result is impactful.”

    “I wanted to let you know what a huge hit Shawn was at our recent Conference. Everyone absolutely loved his talk! Having read his book prior to Conference, it was both a great reminder of some of what I’d read, but also a glimpse into how much more is possible. I heard very favorable and positive comments, with so many people saying that Shawn was the best speaker we’ve ever had, and as you well know, Jo, we’ve had a lot of great speakers. So many people, from our intended audience, to our orchestra, and much of the crew, everyone was already putting his ideas and suggestions into practice.”

    “Shawn was the highlight of our entire event! Absolutely the best presenter we’ve ever seen at any conference, anywhere. He is a top-tier presenter, has undeniable content backed with data, relates to everyone on a personal level, and motivates and inspires everyone to improve themselves both at home and professionally.”
    --Mindshare Technologies