Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor

Harvard Researcher | New York Times Bestselling Author

Is there a connection between happiness and success? Having spent over a decade at Harvard University as the Head Teaching Fellow in Positive Psychology, Shawn Achor is the world’s leading expert on the topic. His acclaimed TED Talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work”, has been seen by over 22 million people around the world and was named one of “the most popular talks of all time”. In his dynamic keynotes, Achor bridges the gap between happiness psychology research and what it means for the workforce and individuals alike.

Achor is the New York Times bestselling author of three books — The Happiness Advantage, Big Potential, and Before Happiness. He has worked with over a third of the Fortune 100 companies, with clients including the NFL, the Pentagon, and the US Treasury. Achor has also traveled to 51 countries, speaking to farmers in Zimbabwe, CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, and schoolchildren in South Africa.

In 2014, Oprah Winfrey hosted a two-hour interview with Achor on the science of happiness and meaning. His research on happiness has also made the cover of Harvard Business Review and has received attention from other top media outlets including The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, and NPR. Achor also has a lecture airing on PBS, which has been seen by millions of viewers.

Achor graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Masters from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics.


Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

Until now, we’ve been taught that to be successful, we must better ourselves and rise above others. The pursuit of fulfilling our potential has been individual and isolated.  Research now clearly shows that this self-focused approach to achievement puts a cap on our happiness and success. It is only by pursuing potential in an interconnected way that we are able to achieve the heights of our potential in business and education. Only by making others better as we grow, can we see what we are truly capable of.

Based on his research, new findings using Big Data that reveal the ripple effect of our actions, and his work in 51 countries, Shawn Achor outlines a five-stage strategy for achieving interconnected success and how to apply them to your work and home life for greater energy, productivity, and success.

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 Achor discovered patterns which create a happiness advantage for positive outliers — the highest performers at the company.

Based on his book, The Happiness Advantage, Achor 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 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 and emotional and social intelligence.

In this exciting talk, Achor takes audiences 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, Achor makes this research come alive. He illuminates new research he did in collaboration with Yale, which was published in a top psychology journal 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 be used immediately to start to raise 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.

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, Achor 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, Achor 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. 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.