To my dear American Friends: Do the right Thing today…

nico_top_rockThis is not a political blog and I´m not a political person. And some may even say, the U.S. election is none of my business, being a German citizen. But then, in this hyper-connected, globalized world, who gets to be POTUS is everybody´s business to some extent. Also, I´ve lived in your country for a year. I´ve studied there and some of the people I hold most dear live on your side of the pond. That´s more than enough reasons to care.

On the morning of this election day, I remembered part of the lyrics from the song “American Babylon” by Christian Metal Band Saviour Machine that I listened to a lot in the 90s:

A thousand bloody hand prints stain the walls of liberty.
A stranger hides in dreams denied, awaiting his release.
I’ve seen this picture before.
I never thought that we would end up here.
When fascism comes as an angel of light,
its license parading as tyranny drives forth its son.

Dear American friends: A lot of your (great-)grandparents helped to liberate Germany and the whole world from the tyranny of fascism. Please don’t make the same mistake my ancestors committed in 1932/33. Hitler being appointed to the office of “Reichskanzler” in 1933 was most likely an undemocratic act – but historians agree this was enabled by the fact that 37.2% of the German people voted for his party (NSDAP) in a free election prior to that.

When you go voting today, please remember the most famous passage from your Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And then do the right thing…

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Speaker…

Truth be told: The (almost…) sole purpose of this post is to share this really awesome photo with you.

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It was taken by photographer Benedikt Weiss during my opening keynote on Positive Psychology at the HR Inside Summit 2016 in Vienna three weeks ago. The keynote took place in the beautiful and most stunning Hofburg Palace and was, at the same time, one of the largest crowds I´ve spoken to so far.

The setting was somewhat of a challenge. As you can see, the lights on stage were really bright, whereas the audience was pretty dark. Additionally, there was this gap of at least 25 feet between the first row of people and me – which basically meant I couldn’t discern a single face in the crowd. This was somewhat discomforting since – as most speakers do – I tend to frequently scan the crowd for friendly-looking faces, people who nod, or smile at me. Not a chance in this case – but I guess I did a good job anyway.

Still, if you´re presenting to larger crowds, I´d love to hear your speaking hacks on how to get ongoing feedback from the audience when you basically cannot see anyone…

Want to study Positive Psychology at Penn? This way please…

Martin Seligman & Nico RoseI spent the last weekend in Philadelphia at the Penn MAPP Alumni Meeting 2016 and the annual MAPP Summit. It´s always a great pleasure to meet my former classmates, or to get to know the current cohort of Mappsters, or some my of my predecessors.

If you are thinking about studying Positive Psychology at Penn, I urge you to visit this website: www.pennpositivepsych.org. It contains all the information on the program, e.g., the prerequisites, the schedule, and how to apply. You will also find some alumni stories (including mine).

If you´d like to know more about the study program: There´s an information session on campus on Nov. 10 and a virtual information session on Dec. 8.

Otherwise, the entries in this blog from day one all the way up to August 2014 serve as a documentation of my year in the MAPP 9 cohort (2013/2014). You can basically follow me an look over my shoulder while working towards that photo you see on the right (graduation day with Martin Seligman).

Enjoy – and maybe, we´ll meet one day at some future MAPP summit…

Can we teach and learn Charisma?

In past times, charisma was defined as a divine gift. Either, you had it – or you had to live without it. But not anymore. To answer the question from this article´s headline: Yes, we can.

At least, this is what researchers John Antonakis, Marika Fenley and Sue Liechti propose via an article that was published in 2011 in “Academy of Management Learning and Education”.

To begin, we should ask how to recognize a charismatic person. The answer: We probably do not see it in directly when looking at an individual, but rather in the impact that person has on other human beings. Charismatic individuals manage to win other people over, to evoke certain emotions and a willingness to act. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to label somebody a leader when that person resides on a deserted island. Much in the same way, it´s not practical to call somebody charismatic when nobody is there to witness that radiance.

Charisma is process, a product of interaction.

Now, what can we to influence this process, what can we do to increase the likelihood of being perceived as charismatic? Antonakis et al. suggest charisma (at least: being perceived as a charismatic speaker) can be boiled down to a set of 12 specific behaviors – what they denote as Charismatic Leadership Tactics (CLT).

Charismatic speakers…

1) use metaphors;

2) use stories and anecdotes;

use 3) contrasts, 4) lists, and 5) rhetorical questions;

6) demonstrate moral conviction;

7) share the sentiments of the collective;

8) set high expectations for themselves and their followers; and 9) communicate confidence that these goals can be met.

On the nonverbal level, charismatic speakers…

10) use vivid body gestures and 11) facial expressions;

and 12) an animated voice tone.

Using a sample of managers from a Swiss corporation and another one that consisted of MBA students, the researchers demonstrated that these CLTs can be taught/learned in a relatively short amount of time. During a five-hour training session that consisted of several exercises and analyzing movies and famous contemporary speeches, they were able to significantly improve their participants´ post-intervention performance such that they were perceived as considerably more charismatic (and more leader-like in general…) by their peers.

I think this is fantastic news. Not everybody can be a Barack Obama. But we all could be significantly more charismatic than we are today.

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On the Intersection of Positive Psychology and Pokémon GO

At the end of July, the Pokémon GO app had been downloaded more than 100 million times. These days, you see people using it literally everywhere. I’m really convinced that playing Pokémon GO has a lot of potential for are you f.cking kidding me?

Please go and get a life. If you want to go out in the park, take a good book with you. Here are some suggestions for you…

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Positive Psychology: What would you like to read about?

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I´m not sure if this has happened before – but I feel I´m in a kind of “creative slump” these days. I want to write but all the exciting ideas are evading my mind.

So, I thought I´d reach out to you, cherished reader, to provide me with some input. You know that Mappalicious is mostly about translating original Positive Psychology research into a layman´s format. So here´s my question to you:

What should I write about over the next weeks? Are there any (special) topics in Positive Psychology and adjacent that would like to know more about? Anything, that has not been covered enough over the past three years?

I´d love to see your input. Please leave your suggestions in the comment section.

Thank you!