Neil Pasricha

Director, Institute for Global Happiness

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 04, 2016 Thank Neil Pasricha on Twitter

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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
Hi all, I'm Neil Pasricha. I am the NYT bestselling author of The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome. My TED Talk is called The 3 A's of Awesome. I've spent a decade in leadership development at Walmart and now work as Director of The Institute for Global Happiness with the mission of increasing happiness levels in organizations. Happy to be here today, so please ask away!
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
Do you think remote working and transparent companies have a harder time with dealing with employees happiness? what are the issues and how do you think they can tackle it? At what point does it become on the individual to take their remote happiness into their own hands?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@bentossell Hi Ben, my opinion is it depends on the company. Here's what I believe:

1. Work is the place people report spending the most time AND the place they are the unhappiest. Bad news. (Source: Killingsworth / TrackYourHappiness.org)
2. The biggest driver of happiness / motivation at work is ... interesting work. (Source: Herzberg / Harvard Business Review "One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees")

So where does that leave us?

I think it leaves us with the same 'happiness hacks' that Emily's question helped answer. Meaning a leader who is engaged in their team's happiness -- and who invests in it -- actually can make a huge difference. Setting aside that 20 minutes a day to focus on happiness. 5 gratitudes. Meditation. Journaling. A walk at lunch. Regardless of whether you're onsite or remote this can be a huge help.

(If anyone's interested in doing this, I created a free workshop called The 20 for 20 Challenge. All slides, facilitator's guide, study backgrounds, etc are included: http://globalhappiness.org/resou...)
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Mike Coutermarsh — Code @ Product Hunt
Hi Neil! When you're prepping for public speaking, can you walk us through your process? (or are you just super naturally talented and wing it :D? )
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@mscccc Hey Mike, here are 5 things I do for my speeches:

1. Do a fully timed and memorized dry run in my hotel room.

It's always clunkier than the one on stage but it helps me mentally think through any hiccups. (For my TED Talk I did maybe 30-40 dry runs at home.) Chris Anderson of TED wrote an HBR piece recommending memorizing the entire speech and I agree.

2. Sound check in the empty room.

I really want to do the soundcheck (even if they don't) and I ask for the room to be empty. Standing on the stage helps me visualize a successful speech and removes A/V from my worry set. I walk around to understand how it sounds from different points in the room. I look at the stage from the back of the room to see what I will look like -- and what the screens look like. Sometimes this means arriving 2-3 hours earlier so the room is empty but I find it worth it.

3. Ask for 60 minutes of silent quiet time in advance.

Helps avoid the dreaded cocktail party where I can drain my energy just before I go onstage. I found I was doing this and then forgetting what stories I'd told before I was onstage. I find the stillness and quietness creates a mental boredom which turns into energy onstage.

4. Try to create speaker / audience trust within 5 minutes onstage.

I learned this from Frank Warren (PostSecret) Try and make references to the event (thanking organizers, commenting on last speech, etc), show vulnerability by admitting something embarrassing that happened that day, and then building trust by thanking and rewarding audience for participating (i.e., giving a book to someone who volunteers, etc.)

5. Always say onstage "I'll be the last to leave tonight" and then actually be the last to leave.

Sometimes this means staying 3-4 extra hours afterwards. But I find a lot of speakers leave quickly and the real value of live is staying around to personalize books and answer all the 1 on 1 questions. The questions get better the longer you stay. I always think of it as a badge of honour when the A/V team leaves before me.

Those are a few! Hope it's helpful.
Amrita Chandra — Startup Marketer
@1000awesome @mscccc These are great, thanks for sharing.
Carmen Schoene — storywriter, cofounder
Hi Neil, do yo have some life case advice to become more awesome in a not so awesome environment? + Thanks for being here
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@macclabs

Hey Carmen,

The hardest times in my life were 2008 - 2010 when I was going through my divorce and best friend's suicide. For me three things helped:

1. Finding an outlet - I journaled every day on my blog 1000 Awesome Things about one awesome thing I found each day. I didn't know then that a famous University of Texas study shows twenty minutes of journaling can put us in a happier mood.
2. Talking about it - I found friends earnest but largely unhelpful. Hard to progress thoughts when one isn't designated as 'the listener.' I found professional therapy best for me. I started going twice a week and then tapered down from there.
3. Taking care of my body - This was the hardest but on days that I could go to the gym or eat a healthy meal or go for a walk outside I found I was able to, inch by inch, become a bit happier.

Don't know what you're going through so I may have mis-hit here... but those were my biggest personal helps.
Carmen Schoene — storywriter, cofounder
@1000awesome Hi Neil, thank you for the complete answer, much appreciated !!!
Jonny Miller — Cofounder @Maptia
The philosopher Daniel Dennett says that the secret to happiness is to find something more important than yourself and dedicate your life to it. I'm curious how you would interpret this through the lens of your own research?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@jonnym1ller Hi Jonny, I hadn't heard the quote but love it. I agree. Secret #4 in my new book is "The Dream We All Have That Is Completely Wrong" and I talk about retirement. Specifically, I recommend "Never retiring" -- ever. (Retirement was invented in Germany in 1889 when lifespan was the same as retirement age.) Instead, I advocate always looking for the 4 S's of meaningful work which actually lead to happiness. The 4th one is to your point...

S - Social - Friends / strong relationships
S - Structure - A schedule and reason to get out of bed
S - Stimulation - Always learning new things
S - Story - Being part of something bigger than yourself

Put in other words, your personal values must align with the company's highest-level mission.

What's the thing you're doing -- and believe in doing -- as part of this team which you couldn't do yourself?
Emily Hodgins — Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What are three things we can all do each day to increase our levels of happiness?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@ems_hodge

1. Jot down 5 gratitudes (Emmons / McCullough, 2003)
2. Go on a brisk 20-minute walk (Babyak, American Psychosomatic Society)
3. Meditate for 20 minutes (MGH / Psychiatry Research)
4. Journal for 20 minutes about 1 positive experience from the day (Slatcher / Pennebaker)
5. Commit a random act of kindness (Lyubomirsky)

I know you asked for three but these five are all mutually exclusive meaning you can just pick one and it'll do the trick... I recommend "The 20 for 20 Challenge" which means doing one for 20 minutes a day for 20 days in a row to develop a new happiness habit.
Emily Hodgins — Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@1000awesome This is great! Thanks Neil. Definitely going to try these. :)
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Andrew Ettinger — Product Hunt
How important is pay in ensuring employees are happy?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@andrewett It's really not. Research shows it's a 'hygiene need' meaning as long as it's above a minimum threshold then it doesn't matter. Everything else -- clear goals, interesting work, people you trust -- matters more.
Hi Neil, how would you handle the rejections?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@oliviameng It's not a hypothetical! I've been rejected a ton. And will continue to be. The key is remembering the phrase "You win some, you learn some" and mentally shifting any loss to a category called learning in your brain.

If I look back on my 20s with one perspective, 1) I quit my first office job after months of stress just before I was fired, 2) I sold my struggling small business below what I paid to start it up, and 3) the person I was married to didn't want to stay together... Three failures.

If I look back on my 20s with another perspective, 1) I learned what type of office environment I work best in (open, non-hierarchical, merit-based -- which lead to a 10-year career at Walmart), 2) my fear of throwing all my eggs into the entrepreneur basket again led me to keep my 'day job' for five years after the success of my blog / books / which lead to no creative fear and a lot more risk / reward longer term, and 3) I had a lot more time to grow my self-awareness before eventually falling meeting the love of my life and having kids together... Three learnings.
Jacqueline von Tesmar — Community, Product Hunt ✌️😻
What are the first tabs you open on your computer/phone every morning?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@jacqvon Right now it's mostly podcasts for me. I can't get enough. I just opened my app and the last three I listened to were:

1. The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
2. Optimize with Brian Johnson
3. Louder Than Words with John Bonini
Emily Hodgins — Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Neil thanks for joining us! What started you on the pursuit to increase levels of happiness in organizations?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@ems_hodge Studies show work is the place we spend most of our time AND the place we are the unhappiest. Seemed the best place to start.
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
What would you tell your 20 year old self if you could give him advice now?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@bentossell Think of your 20s as a grand experiment. And experiment, experiment, experiment.

I think of it like this. Lifespans are quickly extending into the 100s. Your 0s and 10s are big learning decades. You're learning -- and in school! For a lot of people, your 30s and 40s are family decades. Kids, responsibilities, mortgages. So what would I tell my 20 year old self? Spend 10 years trying everything possible. It will expose you to so many incredible people and ideas and ultimately create a larger, more fulfilling, and more interesting life...
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
What is your favourite TED talk (other than your own haha) to recommend to others?
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Neil Pasricha — Director, Institute for Global Happiness
@bentossell

I really like Drew Dudley's talk "Everyday Leadership" which I find very quickly demystifies and simplifies leadership.

https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_d...
Carmen Schoene — storywriter, cofounder
How do you plan to increase happiness in organizations - how to make people happier as a side-effect, ;-)
?
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Mike Coutermarsh — Code @ Product Hunt
So far in your career, what's the risk you've taken that scared you the most? How'd it turn out? 😀
Ben Tossell — Community Lead, Product Hunt
What can companies do when starting off to make sure there is a focus on happiness?
Emily Hodgins — Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Can you tell us a bit more about the Three A's awesome?