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Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor’s talks have taken him to over 50 countries and a wide range of audiences. His research on positive psychology has impacted many lives.

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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 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and millions have seen his PBS special. 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.

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 the debate team, and his own experience with depression while working at Harvard for his success as an international speaker.

Shawn Achor’s talks have taken him to more than 50 countries and a wide range of audiences, including six battalions of Marines at Camp Pendleton, all the NBA team owners, CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, school children in South Africa, farmers in Zimbabwe, leaders at the Pentagon, and to half of the Fortune 100 companies. Shawn is one of only two speakers to ever be invited to speak to the White House staff at Camp David.

Shawn captures the audience with humor and storytelling and regularly receives standing ovations. Beyond that, he is kind and easy to work with for event planners. Given today’s challenges, his research and speaking resonate now more than ever.

Shawn Achor's Programs

THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE: Linking Positive Brains to Performance

Most business is done under the guideline that: if you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy. This formula is scientifically backward. Over a decade of research shows that training your brain to be positive first leads to greater success at work. Only 25% of job success is predicted by intelligence; the rest is determined by your optimism, social support network, and ability to manage energy and stress positively. Based on Shawn’s book, The Happiness Advantage (2010), and research studying top performers at Harvard, the world’s largest banks and Fortune 500 companies, Shawn explains what positive psychology is, how much we can change, and practical applications and strategies for reaping the Happiness Advantage amid change and challenge.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT: How to Make Positive Change Easier

Common sense is not joint action. This is because awareness does not necessarily equal transformation because we require a specific “activation energy” level to start a change. Shawn’s research in positive psychology reveals how small shifts in our mindset and behavior can ripple out to a team and an entire organization. Audiences will learn about the latest scientific research on mirror neurons and mental priming to explain how positivity and negativity spread, case studies on becoming a lightning rod for change, and findings on how a positive ripple effect profoundly affects an organization’s ability to transition and change.

RESILIENT OPTIMISM: Restoring A Culture of Confidence

Confidence, trust, and job satisfaction are at historic lows. At the start of the economic collapse, Shawn worked with the world’s largest banks to restore confidence and forward progress. By researching the managers who maintained high levels of success and leadership during this challenging time, he found that our brains develop trust based on believing that our behavior matters towards creating the desired outcomes. To overcome learned helplessness, we must create “wins” for our brains and train ourselves to be rational optimists. Based on the science of positive psychology and case studies of working with companies amid an economic collapse, Shawn provides practical applications for raising the belief that individual behavior matters and strategies to help leaders keep teams motivated and engaged.


We are often taught at schools and companies: “If I work harder, then I will be successful, and then I will be happy.” This formula is scientifically backward. Shawn explains how when we flip the procedure and focus on being positive first, we raise nearly every educational and business outcome. By demonstrating how Happiness is a choice, we can help students cultivate positive habits and mindsets and achieve higher levels of success. Based on Shawn’s study of 1600 Harvard students, his seven years as a Freshmen Proctor, and his subsequent work at schools and companies in over 50 countries, Shawn uses the latest research, interactive experiments, and humorous stories to show how simple changes to our mindset and habits can bring this research to life and create Happiness and success for our schools and ourselves.

POSITIVE GENIUS: The Key to Raising Success, Spreading Happiness & Sustaining Positive Change

Why can some people make significant changes while others stay the same? Based on the research in Before Happiness (2013) and cutting-edge positive psychology and neuroscience, Shawn takes us to the beginning of human potential. Each of us has a picture of reality, and this mental picture determines our likelihood of success and our ability to harness our brain’s IQ, emotional and social intelligence. Using his signature humor, new case studies, and interactive experiments that engage the audience, Shawn demonstrates how we can become a “positive genius,” someone who can continually use facts to see the most helpful and cheerful reality and then share this reality with others. In this program, participants will learn how to harness the latest research on managing stress that Shawn did with Yale University, 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.

Shawn Achor's Books