Shawn Achor – Author of The Happiness Advantage

[quote style=”boxed”]I’m inspired when I feel like I am doing the things that are most meaningful.  So every 90 minutes of work I try to go outside, play guitar, read for fun, or call a friend.  It’s the reason I don’t burnout anymore.[/quote]

Shawn, author of The Happiness Advantage, has spoken in 42 countries to a wide variety of audiences: bankers on Wall Street, students in Dubai, CEOs in Zimbabwe. Prior to founding Good Think Inc., Shawn spent over a decade at Harvard University where he won numerous distinguished teaching awards for his work. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Masters from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics. In 2006, he was Head Teaching Fellow for “Positive Psychology,” the most popular course at Harvard at the time. When the global economy collapsed in 2008, Shawn was immediately called in as an expert by the world’s largest banks to help restart forward progress. Subsequently his lectures on happiness and human potential have received attention from The New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and NPR. The New York Times recently named Shawn a “world-famous expert” on positive psychology. For more information about Achor please visit:

What does your typical day look like?

I’m traveling for speaking or research about 5 days a week.  When I speak, I only do so for 1-3 hours, so I have the entire rest of the day.  I have a list of positive habits that I do every day which include reading for fun, guitar when home, working out or playing tennis or basketball, journaling, and meditating for 30 minutes.  I use those things to break up my work which includes responding to emails after my events, doing research, or writing my new book.

3 trends that excite you?

eBooks (I can read easier while biking at the gym), positive psychology (we need more of it), movies about breaking fate (Source Code, Adjustment Bureau, etc.)

How do you bring ideas to life?

I refuse to talk about things in my book or talks which I don’t do in real life.  That helps keeps me a rational optimist, as opposed to being irrational about what people can do in their lives. It also helps me see where it is hard to keep positive habits and to see the fruits of the research.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired when I feel like I am doing the things that are most meaningful.  So every 90 minutes of work I try to go outside, play guitar, read for fun, or call a friend.  It’s the reason I don’t burnout anymore.  I also try to stop working at 5 pm each day.  I love my work, so it’d be easy to do all day long, but this way I ensure I find meaning in other domains of my life.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I just got back from flying for 65 hours roundtrip to do two low paying talks in Australia and was only there for 2.5 days.  I learned that the hardest part of my job is flying and that I refuse to travel more than 5 hours without getting to enjoy and learn from the place that I visit. I have learned my lesson and am going to stay 5 days in Hawaii next week after a talk.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Don’t wait until you’re successful to be happy.  If you do, you’ll never be happy because your brain will keep changing what “success” means.  Reverse the formula so you start by focusing on creating authentic happiness, then your brain’s success rates will rise.

What do you read every day, and why?

Email. Actually, I’m trying to decrease how much I read the news.  To be honest, I’m trying to spend more time producing than consuming information for a while.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

I love Mountains Beyond Mountains, the book immediately made me want to push harder for the meaningful side of my business. In my mind, it is the biographical proof of the research in The Happiness Advantage.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

The I Journal App, a free app developed by to help me record my gratitudes and journaling each day with audio and a picture.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Michelle Gielan, her research on positive communication is fascinating and so needed in this world.

What are you trying to do with your company?

I want Good Think Inc to be an umbrella organization of thought leaders who are passionate about applying positive research to improve people’s lives at work. The key is research and getting the message to the right people.

What is something interesting about you that people don’t find out often?

I was a volunteer firefighter back in my hometown of Waco, TX.


My website is
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[box border=”full”]This interview is brought to you by two fabulous people. Brianne Burrowes, the editor-in-chief of CareerSparx and IWantHerJob as well as Barbara Teszler of Levine Communications.[/box]