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Article 23

Read Time 4 Minutes

In Part 18-22, I listed some of the best books I have read for managing and developing people. They are:

  1. First, Break All The Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, Gallup Organization [ref. 1]
  2. Discover Your Strengths,  Marcus Buckingham [ref. 2]
  3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck – recommended by Bill Gates! [ref. 3]
  4. Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Kindle Edition, Gabriele Oettingen  [ref. 4]
  5. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Kindle Edition, Shawn Achor [ref. 5]

I also promised I will provide a summary of these books in subsequent articles.  Here is the FIFTH one.

 Let us start with a quiz question: What came first, a chicken or the egg?

 Hmm… There is no obvious answer to this easy question right?

 Let us try another quiz question that is more pertinent to this article.

 Why do we Work Hard and Make Money?

 This is somewhat easier to answer. 

 “We work hard and make money so we are happy!”

 Right? Well, that is the old psychology on happiness, that we were taught and believed.

 According to Shawn Achor, this old psychology is FAULTY. It creates unnecessary stress, reduces creativity and productivity.

 A big problem with the old psychology of happiness, is as soon as we reach our target goal of making money say, Rs 10 Lakh or Rs 50 Lakh per year, we move the goal post and want more the next year. We postpone the happiness!

 Shawn Achor, author, Happiness Advantage [ ref. 5]  has done research on Happiness for over 15 years,  has taught Google, Pentagon and many Global 1000 corporations, and traveled to 42 countries sharing his research findings. His Ted talk is among the top five most popular Ted Talks with over 13 million views. [ref. 6]

 With Shawn Achor’s research findings, increasing productivity just became easier.

Shawn Achor says: 

  • You can increase your productivity by 30% without sacrificing your happiness. [ref. 7]
  • Becoming happier is the key to greater productivity, great success and greater achievement.
  • Happiness comes first, then productivity and then success!


For a really quick overview of Shawn Achor’s research listen to his 13 minute talk at Google. It is fascinating. Watch how he keeps readers engaged with his rapid delivery, humor, one-line references to work done by Adam Grant, Charles DuHigg, Martin Seligman and others.  


What is Happiness?

Modern world defines happiness as pleasure, which is short lived and not worth studying. 

The Ancient Greeks defined happiness as the joy you feel moving toward your potential.

Joy is something we can feel even when life is not pleasurable. 

That is why we see even poor people, smiling, being happy and enjoying themselves!

Shawn Achor’s Research

Shawn Achor did most of his research on Harvard students. He was surprised to find that even though these Harvard students (like IIT students in India) had everything going for them, many of them were unhappy.  

Achor’s research indicates that only ten percent of our happiness is shaped by our external world; ninety percent is influenced by our internal perspective. 

We need to flip the formula around – create happiness here and now because that is what will help us achieve our goals. 

These findings are akin to Gita and the Upanishads’. Don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the future, just focus on now, your important task at hand, and do your very best; Become engrossed in your work , you will be in the “flow” and happy. Happiness is innate. You do not need any material possessions to achieve that.

Key findings:

  • Research shows that we can raise your levels of happiness above your genetic set point and in doing so turn on the human brain to its highest possible level, raising all levels of outcome.
  • Research indicates that “happiness is a choice and happiness is possible.”
  • You can control variables in a lab that you can’t in real life. Real life testing revealed we have the happiness/success ratio backwards.
  • We are terrified of happiness as a society, especially Entrepreneurs. We think if we are happy now, we will become complacent and lose success.
  • Joy fuels us to see our potential, to explore, to invest deeply. 
  • It’s not your genes or your environment that predicts your long-term level of happiness; “What predicts your long-term level of happiness are the conscious choices that you make.” 
  • Re-program how our brain naturally works.  Here are five daily habits to create positive change:
  1. List 3 things you are grateful for. 
  2. 2 minutes of journaling about a positive experience.
  3. 15 minutes of fun, mindful cardio activity.
  4. 2 minutes of meditation.
  5. Write a single positive email. 

Do these five items every day for 21 days to develop positive habits and it turns out, ”we can break your genes and your environment and allow happiness to be one of the greatest competitive advantages in the modern economy.”


Happiness Advantage:  “We fight so hard against the negative in our society we forget to tell people how powerful the positive can be.” It has a ripple effect.  Organizations are uniquely positioned to intervene on their workers’ behalf to make them happier and the result will be more productive, more resilient and, yes, happier, employees.

Shawn Achor cites several examples from his consulting practice in industry. One insurance company, sales department tripled its sales in one year, and were working towards repeat performance the next year. 

Read the book. Shawn Achor shares several insights/ principles/mental-models. It is an easy read. It provides the fastest formula for significant improvement in people’s happiness, unleashing human potential and thereby productivity. 

You will be glad you did. And your people will thank you for helping them achieve that. 

Now it is Your Turn:

  1. When will you read the Happiness Advantage? Listen to the Ted Talk?
  2. How will you summarize your new learning? 
  3. How will you use the learning to massively increase your productivity? 
  4. Your teams’ productivity?

So crank up your Product Development engines… Let us speedup new product development and growth rates. And let the fun begin!


  1. First, Break All The Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, Gallup Organization. See also http://www.gallup.com/press/176069/first-break-rules-world-greatest-managers-differently.aspx 
  2. Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham. See also https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/ 
  3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck – recommended by Bill Gates
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