My new TEDx talk: “Dare to Foster Compassion in Organizations”

I´m super happy. After my official TEDx premiere at TEDx Bergen/Norway in 2014 (How to be the architect of your own fortune), as of today, my second TEDx talk is available on YouTube. It was filmed at the very first edition of TEDx EBS late in 2016. EBS University (or European Business School Oestrich-Winkel) is one of the premier business schools in Germany and, coincidentally, the place where I obtained my Ph.D.

The talk is named “Dare to Foster Compassion in Organizations”. It draws on research by luminaries such as Jane Dutton, Monica Worline, Adam Galinsky, Laura Little, Jennifer Berdahl, and the late Peter Frost (and even though they are neither mentioned nor referenced on a slide explicitly, Esa Saarinen, Adam Grant, and Robert Quinn).

I hope you will enjoy the talk! And if you do, please consider sharing the news. Thank You!

If you are interested in a (sort of…) transcript of the talk: this was published here a while ago.

How to get Lucky at a TEDx Conference

After having approval by the TED organization, I´m finally and officially allowed to share with you the TEDx talk I gave in Bergen/Norway on October 4. I talked about the issue of luck – and how we all can bring more luck into our lives. So please excuse me if the article’s headline was a little misleading. No here´s the talk. I firmly intend to get a least 100.000 views – so please share it if you like. And below, you´ll find a complete transcript (more or less…) and the history behind it all. Enjoy!

So here´s the story before the story that´s also part of the story. I gave the talk on October 4 (Saturday) – and was invited to give the talk on Monday of that same week – because one of the speakers cancelled on short notice. The week was a regular work week, so my time for preparation and rehearsing was really, really short. Typically TED speakers have a couple of months to prepare and they get coaching to deliver their talk right on point. I´ve had nothing like that.

I had to conceptualize and write my talk, tweak it, and learn it all by myself in some 15 hours. And given these rather difficult circumstances, I´m actually pretty proud of myself – which is a rather un-German thing to do. Typically, when I give presentations, I do have a script or something like that. I prepare my charts and give the talk ad lib – which works out pretty well (based on the feedback I get).

But giving a TED talk is totally different from hosting a presentation in a board room. Basically, you cannot “let the charts do the talking”. You have to be a true storyteller. And in order to be able to do that, I decided to do something which I haven´t done since early high-school: leaning something by heart´. I wrote down what I wanted to say word by word – and then tried to memorize it all, sort of like an actor in a theater. That´s why I´m able to share the script with you right here.

I´ve watched my talk three times by now to evaluate my performance. And it’s really interesting to note where I stayed true to the script, where I forgot something, or put something in ad lib – and how that made the talk better (especially a little funnier) than intended (at least from my point of view).

So here´s the transcript. Enjoy – once again!

Intro Story

TEDx_Bergen_2A great storm came into a town and there was an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood all the nearby homes. The officials ordered everyone to evacuate immediately. A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God! God will send a miracle to save me.” The man´s neighbors came by his house and said: “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”

The flood rose higher into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused once more, saying, “Go save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”

Still the waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop. A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. “Grab the ladder and we will pull you up!”, an officer screamed. But the man still refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”

Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned. An instant later, the man knocked at the pearly gates, was let in, walked straight up to God and asked: “Hey Man, I put all of my faith in you. Why didn’t you come and save me?” And God said, “Geez, I´m so sorry about that. I really tried to save you. I sent you a car, a motorboat, a helicopter….

Main Part

Today, I want to talk to you about luck. Serendipity. Fortune. Originally, I wanted to name my talk “How to get lucky”. Thank God I´ve found out just early enough that this means something else entirely…

So instead, I´ll call it “How to be the architect of your own fortune”. Let´s have a look at that word: Fortune. It can be derived from the name Fortuna – and Fortuna was the Goddess of luck and fate in the Roman mythology. There she is. What you can clearly see: she is blindfolded. That means: she is impartial. She can bestow upon each of us good luck and fortune, but also disaster. The point is: she´s not supposed to care about the recipient. Instead, she is an agent of chance. She is a symbol for the unpredictability of life.

That is what the ancient Romans believed: Luck, whether good or bad, is something that happens to us. We cannot interfere. Some people are born under a lucky star – and some are not. But it turns out that this view about the world is most likely incorrect.

Today, I want to convince you that we all can – at least to a great extent – be the architects of our own fortune. We can change our stars. We can learn how to be lucky. In order to do so, I will draw on the work of a few great scientists, and I will draw on the wisdom of some ancient and some contemporary sages. And I will also illustrate some points based on my personal history.

But let me start with you guys…

Kronen Experiment

TEDx Bergen 2014 - Nico Rose - Kronen ExperimentHere in my hands I have a bill. It is a 100 Kronen bill and it´s worth roughly 15 US dollars. Now the question is: does somebody of you want to have this 100 Kronen bill? It is real. Who wants to have it? Please raise your hands…

Ok, so would somebody please stand up and come to stage and collect the bill? … OK, thank you – a big round of applause to our lucky winner.

So what happened? Why didn´t all of you take to the stage? What were you thinking? I guess it was something like: “Ahem…is he really…no…he´s not really…oh wait he really is…damn…too late.”

What did he do? He/she acted. He said: yes. Go for it. And that is already a big part of the mystery. I believe that luck favors those of us who act. Those that go out and do something. Those, that take a chance. There you have it: take a chance! Luck likes people who say: YES!

Nico´s TED History

Truth is: I´m a lucky guy. I am not on a TEDx stage for the first time. This is the second time. I spoke about how to “not get mad in a traffic jam” at a TEDx event in Cologne last year. But: I wasn´t invited to speak. I was a regular guest just like most of you are today. One of the speakers cancelled right on that day – but instead of extending the break, the organizers did something else: They addressed the audience and said: “OK, so we´re going to split up those 18 minutes by three: and if you feel like giving an impromptu 5-minute TEDx talk, write your name down on a piece of paper, put it on the speaker´s desk during the next break.

So I wrote my name down and put it on the desk. And lucky me: my name was drawn from the stack and I gave my little 5-minute TEDx talk – and it was a big success. There was definitely an element of luck in there. There were 10 or 12 slips of paper on the desk. So my chances were roughly at 30%. I was lucky, definitely.

But: To be invited to give an ad-lib Tedx talk takes more than being lucky. For example, you have to be there in the first place. You have to buy a ticket and show up. That´s straightforward – but nevertheless crucially important. And then, in this case, you have to express yourself. You have to be brave and optimistic and write your name on that slip of paper and tell the world what you have to offer. And then, when your name is acutally pulled from the stack, you have to say yes. You have to go for it. You have to be brave. Just like the fellow who now owns 100 Kronen more than 10 minutes ago.

But that´s not the whole story. In order to give an improvised TED talk, you also have to be prepared. You need to have knowledge and stories in the back of your head. You have to be ready. The books I´ve read, and the seminars I attended, the hundreds of TED talks I watched – all that helped me to be prepared when the opportunity arose. And there we have four essential building blocks for being the architect of your own fortune:

Prepare – be there – express – and say yes! Prepare – be there – express – and say yes!

Sounds good, does it? Let´s look at those four elements in detail

Louis Pasteur – Prepare

The scientist Louis Pasteur famously said: Chance favors the prepared mind. I think he stole that from Oprah Winfrey. Chance favors the prepared mind. Pasteur was referring to scientific discoveries when he proclaimed that – but isn´t that just a special case of being lucky? What he meant was: You have to be able to understand what you see when you see something. You have to be able to connect the dots, discover a pattern – and make sense of it. And this ability, in turn, is based on training, prior knowledge, expertise. That´s what why we tend to get luckier the more we learn and grow.

Woody Allen – Be there

TEDx Bergen 2014 - Nico Rose - Show upLet´s turn our attention to a slightly more modern sage: Mr. Woody Allen. He´s often quoted as follows: “80 percent of success in life is showing up.” And I think he´s absolutely right. We have to go places, meet people, we have to be curious. Be present. Be open. Be mindful. Luck seldom happens to us when at home alone. Luck mostly comes to us in the form of other people. Luck favors those that go out and mingle. If you don´t buy a ticket to a TEDx event, there´s no way you can step in when one of the speakers cancels. If you don´t apply for the job of your dreams, you´re definitely not going to get it. If you don´t talk to the beautiful stranger, you won´t get lucky – there, now I said it. We tend to get luckier the more curious and open we are.

Richard Wiseman – Express

Now let´s also look at some science: Richard Wiseman is a British psychology professor who is known for his unconventional research ideas. About 10 years ago, he´s published a book by the name of “The Luck Factor” – and a lot of what I tell you today is based on his work. He´s got a lot more to say on the topic – but let´s just look at a sentence from the summary section:

Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a state of mind – a way of thinking and behaving.

One thing he found is: Lucky people are not really luckier, they just try harder. They display more Grit, as Penn Professor Angela Duckworth would frame it. Another important behavior is: expressing yourself. And let others express themselves. Show the world what you´ve got to give. Let them know. And listen to what others have to say and to give. Be open. present. Be mindful.

Richard Branson – Say yes

And finally: Say yes! Over the last weeks, I frequently stumbled upon this quote by Sir Richard Branson – and I´m sure he´s knows something about being lucky. The quote goes:

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

TEDx Bergen 2014 - Nico Rose - Richard WisemanAnd that – once again – has a lot to do with the talk I´m giving right now. Actually, I was invited to give this talk just 5 days ago. I met one of the organizers, Tjorben, in Berlin in June. And we met again 10 days ago in London. We had dinner together and he told me how he´s working on the final preparations for this TEDx event. And I said jokingly: “Oh, that´s great. If you do it again next year, you can invite me as a speaker.”

5 days ago, he texted me via Facebook: One of the speakers had cancelled. And he asked me if I would be able to come to Bergen today to speak to you. Now here´s what a proper German should have said:

“Oh, Norway? This Saturday? That´s tough. You know, I have to do the grocery shopping on Saturday, and then there´s soccer on TV…and it´s a really long trip. Hmm. But I said yes. I´m lucky. Truth be told: First, I asked my wife for permission: But then I said yes. Yes is such a beautiful word. Let´s conclude: We tend to get luckier the more we say yes instead of no!

Steven Johnson – The Adjacent Possible

Let´s look at some more science: A couple of years ago, I bought this brilliant book at an airport: Steven Johnson´s “Where good Ideas come from”. In a nutshell, it´s a book about creativity and innovation – and why great ideas mostly do not happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

A core concept of the book is the principle of the “Adjacent Possible” – which Johnson borrowed from evolutional biologist Stuart Kauffman. The idea at the core can be put like this: The adjacent possible is a yet unrealized state – or rather a multitude of unrealized states – of some entity. An adjacent possible is a potential state in the near future that may or may not be realized. But there are always constraints with regard to what is possible. An example from biology: in a world where there are only monads – one cell beings– the adjacent being cannot be a dinosaur. Life cannot jump from one cell to dinosaur directly. But jumping from one cell to two cells – that´s an adjacent possible. Then cell clusters, that turn to into more complex structures – and then, after lots and lots of adjacent possibles, you may get your dinosaur at the end of the day.

Johnson transferred this principle to the world of ideas and innovation. He´s able to show that innovation also moves along the path of the adjacent possible. You couldn´t have the first car without the invention of the wheel, oil refining, and the combustion engine. And you´d have to know about all of these things.

And I believe that´s also why some people are luckier than others. By going out and learning, and talking to people, and saying yes, they enlarge their personal sphere of the adjacent possible. They create an extended space of possibility. They make possible what for other people is absolutely impossible. Prepare – be there – express – and say yes!

Esa – Systems of Holding Back

Let me take this idea to another level – especially the “saying yes” part. The question is: Can we all together turn the world into a luckier place? Yes, we can. Enter Esa Saarinen. Esa is one of Finland´s most eminent philosophers – and he surely looks like one, don´t you think? I had the honor of being taught by him at the University of Pennsylvania shortly before Christmas. Together with a co-worker, Esa has developed a framework he calls “Systems Intelligence”.

A core concept in Systems Intelligence is the idea of Systems of Holding Back. More precisely: Systems of Holding Back in Return and in Advance. Again, the idea is very simple at the core – I´ll give you an example: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl and wants to tell her. But he´s afraid she could say no. So he remains silent. Meanwhile girl also loves boy. But she´s frightened as well. So she also remains silent – and they never become a couple. End of story.

That is a small system of holding back in return and advance. The tragic thing is: This happens every day. Everywhere. Not only with lovers. But also friends, family, co-workers, political parties, governments, and nations. We want to make a contribution. We want to give. We want to do good. But we are afraid. So we hold back. And by collectively holding back we create the “systems of holding back” that make “holding back” even more likely in the future. It is a downward spiral.

Outro

Each of us has to pro-actively counter these systems: So please ask yourself:

  • What are you holding back, and what is the contribution you could make? Today, and in the future?
  • When are you saying “no” when you could and should really say “yes”?
  • How could you bring more luck into your life and that of others?

Prepare, be there, express, and say yes!

Thank you!

TEDx Bergen 2014 - Nico Rose - Team

Foto credits

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 11/2017 (World Happiness Day Ed.)

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

Forbes: Steal Tesla’s Strategy For Growing Grit by Jessica Amortegui


Fast Company: Why A Happy Career Can Still Feel Unfulfilling by Marc Crowley


Inc: Science Says Happier People Are Raised by Parents Who Do This 1 Thing by Jeff Haden


Sloan Management Review: The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work by Christine Pearson


Harvard Business Review: Pressure Doesn’t Have to Turn into Stress by Nicholas Petrie


GretchenRubin.com: For the International Day of Happiness: The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned About Happiness by Gretchen Rubin


Greater Good Science Center: Is the Placebo Effect More Powerful Than We Think? by Alex Shashkevich


Greater Good Science Center: How to Awaken Compassion at Work by Jill Suttie


Greater Good Science Center: What Positive Leadership is Not by Chris White


Huffington Post: The World Is Waking Up To The Importance Of Happiness by Mark Williamson


Guardian: I ❤ you: meet the NYU professor whose love course is becoming a phenomenon by Paul Willis

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 10/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

New York Times: I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares? by Henry Alford


New York Magazine: Awe Is the Everyperson’s Spiritual Experience by Drake Baer


Big Think: Is Technology Destroying Happiness? by Derek Beres


Forbes: Organizational Strategies That Promote Well-Being And Reduce Burnout by Paula Davis-Laack


Harvard Business Review: To Motivate Employees, Show Them How They’re Helping Customers by Francesca Gino


BPS Research Digest: Smarter people are happier, says new analysis involving 80,000 participants, but only a bit by Christian Jarrett


Harvard Business Review: Find Purpose in Even Your Most Mundane Tasks at Work by Valerie Keller & Caroline Webb


Forbes: Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You’re Trying To Become Successful by Lisa Quast


Harvard Business Review: Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter by David Rock


LA Times: UAE’s minister of happiness insists her job is no laughing matter by Ann Simmons


Psychology Today: The Marshmallow Myth by Nick Tasler


Psychology Today: Compassion Is Better than Empathy by Tara Well


Heleo: A New View of the Self: The Psychology of Connection, no author

 

 

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 09/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

New York Magazine: Weirdly, Success Is About Thinking You’re Not That Successful by Drake Baer


Huffington Post: 9 Traps You Fall Into That Limit Your Happiness by Travis Bradberry


Industry Week: GDP is Dead. Long Live ‘Happiness’GDP is Dead. Long Live ‘Happiness’ by Aturo Bris


Globe and Mail: A practical alternative to ‘following your passion’ by Peter Caven


Inc: This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life by Melanie Curtin


Psychology Today: What’s the Difference Between Optimism and Hope? by Utpal Dholakia


Atlantic: How to Find Meaning in the Face of Death by Emily Esfahani Smith


Greater Good Science Center: What Words Do You Associate with Happiness? by Kira Newman


The Hill: Prevent the incivility of the election from infiltrating the workplace by Christine Porath


Psychology Today: Why Money Matters for Meaning by Clay Routledge

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 08/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

Forbes: Two Reasons We Fail to Be Creative by Caroline Beaton


Mindful.org: Can Mindfulness Help Us Navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution? by Jamie Bristow


New Yorker: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds by Elisabeth Kolbert


Greater Good Science Center: What Would Buddha Do About the Economy? by Jenara Nerenberg


The Positive Organization: The Power of an Organizing Image by Robert Quinn


Sciencer of Us: To Navigate a Challenge, Pretend You’re Giving Advice to a Friend by Brad Stulberg


Greater Good Science Center: Can You Change Your Personality? by Jill Suttie


Heleo: Feeling Adrift? Here’s How to Strengthen Meaning in Your Life, no author


Michigan Ross: The Business Case for Compassion, no author


Heleo: Why Bringing Compassion to Work is Good for Business, no author

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 07/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

New York Magazine: Rich People Literally See the World Differently by Drake Baer


American Management Association: Developing GRIT: How To Build Your Optimism And Drive Toward Success by Thomas Boyce


Fast Company: A Psychologist Finally Explains Why You Hate Teamwork So Much by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic


Harvard Business Review: If You Want to Motivate Employees, Stop Trusting Your Instincts by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic & Lewis Garrad


Harvard Business Review: Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive by Ryan Fuller & Nina Shikaloff


New York Magazine: A Strategy for Making Decisions You Won’t Regret by Cari Romm


New York Magazine: This Study on Altruistic Toddlers Will Make You Feel Better About the World by Cari Romm


Huffington Post: Healing Spaces: Expressing Values vs Being Political at Work by Chris White


Heleo: Embrace Authenticity: How to Break Free from the Tyranny of Positivity, no author


Knowledge@Wharton: You’re Happy and You Know It — Why You Probably Shouldn’t Show It, no author


In German

Capital: Zufriedenheit kann man lernen by Christina Berndt

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 06/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

New York Magazine: Psychologists Think They Found the Purpose of Depression by Drake Baer


New York Magazine: Everybody Discounts How Much Fun Matters for Their Next Job by Drake Baer


Psychology Today: Five Secrets to a Stress-Proof Brain by Melanie Greenberg


Psychology Today: How Does Gratitude Enhance Trust? by Todd Kashdan


Psychology Today: Employee Engagement Is Declining, but Managers Can Help by Victor Lipman


Fast Company: These are the 5 things that are causing employees to burn out & what you can do about them by Gwen Moran


New York Magazine: The Contact Hypothesis Offers Hope for the World by Jesse Singal


New York Magazine: Seeking a Sense of Belonging in a Divisive Era by Emily Esfahani Smith


Time: The key to success is not having more by Scott Sonenshein


New York Magazine: The Curse of Being Too Passionate by Brad Stulberg