Shawn Achor

  • NYT Best-Selling Author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage
  • Positive Psychology Expert

 

After spending twelve years at Harvard University, Shawn Achor has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His research on mindset made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his TED talk is one of the most popular of all time with over 13 million views, and his lecture airing on PBS has been seen by millions. Shawn has lectured or worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as the NFL, the NBA, the Pentagon and the White House. Shawn is the author of New York Times best-selling books The Happiness Advantage (2010) and Big Potential(2018). He has now lectured in more than 50 countries speaking to CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, schoolchildren in South Africa, and farmers in Zimbabwe. His Happiness Advantage training is one of the largest and most successful positive psychology corporate training programs in the world. Shawn’s research has been published in the top psychology journal for work he did at UBS in partnership with Yale University to transform how stress impacts the body, and he recently did a two-hour interview with Oprah at her house to discuss his mission to bring positive psychology to the world.

 

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Rave Reviews About Shawn Achor
“The members and guests of MHCA were treated to a fine presentation when you keynoted our Fall Conference. When selecting our speakers, we strive to find those people whose passion will inspire our members to higher performance and personal growth. Your message certainly did both. Clearly you have touched the heart of MHCA by describing ‘The Happiness Advantage.’ Thank you so much for your message.”

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Shawn Achor
  • MorganStanley SmithBarney
  • YPO-WPO America's Gateway
  • Jimmy John's
  • Corning Credit Union
  • MHCA
Shawn Achor on happiness as a competitive advantage - Get Sharable Link
Explore Shawn Achor's Talks
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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% o ...

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. Based on his new book, The Happiness Advantage (September 2010 from Random House), Shawn explains what positive psychology is, how much we can change, and practical applications for reaping the Happiness Advantage in the midst of change and challenge.

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 ...

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. Based on the science of positive psychology and case studies of working with companies in the midst of an economic collapse, Shawn provides practical applications for raising the belief that individual behavior matters and helping leaders to keep teams motivated and engaged.

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's research in the field of positive psychology has revealed how changes in our own brain due to mindset and behavi ...

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'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.

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 ...

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. Using his signature humor, new case studies and interactive experiments that engage the audience, Shawn makes this research come alive. Shawn illuminates new research he did in collaboration with Yale published in the top psychology journal in 2013 showing step by step how a leader can change their mindset about stress to increase productivity by 30% and lower health problems and fatigue by 23%. Audiences leave with five clear, practical takeaways, which can immediately start to transform their life, raising both happiness and success rates. In this program, participants will learn how to navigate multiple realities at work, cancel internal and external noise, add vantage points to planning, use success accelerants to speed goal completion and use meaning markers to spread positive genius throughout a team, family and an entire organization.

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Biography

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 Orange Frog. Shawn was published in the top psychology journal last year for the work he did at UBS in partnership with Yale University to create a more effective stress training. 

Recently, Shawn sat down with Oprah at her house to discuss the science of happiness, defining success and how we can bring the powerful research-based techniques of positive psychology to the world. To share the message that happiness is a choice, Shawn and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) created an in-depth, two-part Happiness Course to help individuals impact their own lives and the lives of those around them with the Happiness Advantage.

Shawn’s research on happiness made the cover of Harvard Business Review, his research and work on stress in partnership with Yale University at UBS was published in the The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, his TED talk is one of the most popular of all time with over 8 million views, and his PBS special has been seen by yet more millions. Shawn has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as the NFL, the NBA, the Pentagon and the White House. His talks have taken him to more than 50 countries, where he has spoken to CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, schoolchildren in South Africa, and farmers in Zimbabwe.

A Family Business

Before Shawn even moved to Harvard and learned about positive psychology, he participated in several experiments, as his father L. Joseph Achor, found that his two children made good study subjects in his neuroscience lab. Shawn credits his parents, years of debate team, and his own experience with depression while working at Harvard to his success as an international speaker.

In 2010, Shawn decided to leave academia and share the power of positive psychology with the world.

To do this, he moved home to Texas and formed GoodThink, a happiness consulting firm, with his little sister Amy the unicorn (herself an expert on spreading happiness as the only person appointed as a point of light by two US presidents). In 2012, Shawn and Amy hired Jordan Brockas VP of Business Development to help grow the strategic direction and business initiatives of the company.

In 2013, Shawn married fellow happiness researcher and author Michelle Gielan founder of the Institute of Applied Positive Research (IAPR). They live in Texas with their son Leo, who reminds them everyday that joy and awe are contagious.