Mappsterview No. 7: Jessica Amortegui, Positive Business Champion

I was in the ninth cohort (2013/14) of the Master of Applied Positive Program at Penn – and the program is going strong. Consequently, there are tons of brilliant MAPP Alumni out there who have fascinating stories to tell: About their experience with the program, about Positive Psychology in general – and about themselves of course. I really want to hear those stories. That´s why I started Mappsterviews.

Jessica_Amortegui.jpgPlease introduce yourself briefly:

I am an introvert masquerading as an extrovert who still gets deathly shy meeting new people. Luckily this all dissipates when speaking to large groups (the bigger the better!). I have spent the past five years working in Silicon Valley and seeing my uber active boys, age 7 and 4, grow up way too fast.

What did you do before joining the MAPP program at Penn?

I started my career in consulting, first as an external consultant and then moving in-house. I dabbled in different kinds of consulting, from management to organizational development, to change management and human capital. After about seven years, I made the move to inside a company, and really enjoyed it. Besides the reduced travel load, I was able to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with employees. I also loved the awesome employee discount perks (Nike and Victoria Secret were my favorites!) After three years at a software company I am grateful to back at a product company building cool tech gizmos that I can procure with the coveted an employee discount. 🙂

What got you interested in Positive Psychology in the first place?

I was actually an unconscious, quasi-competent practitioner for a few years without even knowing it! I was delivering these two-day culture shaping workshops that applied many concepts of positive psychology in powerful experiential learning exercises – gratitude, positive emotions, strengths-based perspectives, etc. I became so passionate about the content and delivery that I began to read more about the work. I serendipitously stumbled on the MAPP website in 2007. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and thought I would never be able to squeeze the program into life. In 2013, six years later, I finally made it happen!

You now work for Logitech. What´s your role there?

I lead the Global Talent Development function. I joined a little over a year ago, and started development at the company – they didn’t have anything for employees. It has been awesome to create and build from scratch. The foundation has very much been inspired by the MAPP program. I have had the most amazing sand box to test, learn, and apply what I learned. The company is just over 2,500 employees globally, so you are able to see and feel the systemic change. That has been the most rewarding part of my job – to work at scale and see the impact.

Very recently, your company was awarded with the grand prize at Ross School´s Positive Business Project competition. What´s your project about?

I think of the project like my MAPP capstone – it was nine months worth of work that came together in a variety of mutually reinforcing initiatives. I knew if I was going to imbue positive practices into the organization I would need to pull many levers, and do them simultaneously. I created a two-day workshop that provides all employees an entrée into positive psychology. Participants experience vulnerability and connection, create a team purpose statement, and uncover their character strengths, to name a few. This is what we called our signature Logitech program. In one year, we had nearly 800 employees around the globe go through it – all by word of mouth.

I believe investments like that – in the whole person – will never backfire. It breeds a kind of loyalty that no cafeteria and ping pong table can ever deliver.

This intensive experience was complimented with 90-minute positive deviant workshops that we ran globally. We also rolled out job crafting to the entire organization. Together, employees got hit with tools and techniques that began to build different ways of thinking about themselves and their jobs. They began to reflect on themselves as people – not just employees. I believe investments like that – in the whole person – will never backfire. It breeds a kind of loyalty that no cafeteria and ping pong table can ever deliver.

What are the future plans for your initiative?

We want to build more relevant touch points with our employees. Our first phase was broad and now we are trying to go deep. We are working on producing more custom experiences for different employee segments that can meet them where they are and then take them to where they want to be. We have some cool new tools we are piloting to make that happen; tools that will give every employee one-one-one support and encouragement so they can truly flourish. This story is being written now, so stay tuned!

Given that you’ve successfully implemented Positive Psychology practices at your workplace: What´s the most important piece of advice for HR colleagues who´d like to do the same?

Oh wow – I feel so humbled by this question. I am the one who is always needing the advice! I think, in general, I have to reveal a dirty little secret. I have found some Positive Psychology words can really turn people off – to say you are taking a strengths-based approach, can make some, sadly, immediately shut down. I actually shy away from using a lot of the positive psychology language (this feels like a shame, as I do believe that words create our worlds, à la David Cooperrider!).

I try to describe what I want to do in language that I know matters to the organization. What do they want to see happen? Even if I don’t agree, I know it’s what they need to hear to support my cause. I then craft experiences that have an equal amount of pathos and logos. The employees and leaders the experience and embody it. They begin to talk about gratitude, strengths, connection, autonomy, and purpose – not me. I think there always needs to be a sense of co-creation despite knowing our larger agendas. Sometimes my ego wants to “prove” that my way is the more “enlightened” way. I step back and remember that what’s important is that I am not proving myself, but rather improving my craft.

Where can I get a University Degree in Positive Psychology?

Nico Rose - Martin SeligmanIf you have been following Mappalicious in the past, you´ll know that I was part of the 9th cohort of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program (MAPP) at University of Pennsylvania. To my knowledge, this program has been the first to offer a full-blown master´s degree in this specific area of psychology. And I guess it is save to say that – to this date – it is also the most renowned one, being (in part) taught by Marty Seligman himself, together with some of his closest co-workers.

Ever since running this blog, people have approached me to get info on alternative educational opportunities in the field of Positive Psychology. Accordingly, below you´ll find a list of university-based programs that offer an “official” degree (such as a Master´s) in or closely related to Positive Psychology.

If you are interested in obtaining additional information on alternative learning opportunities, I highly encourage you to visit Seph Fontane Pennock´s site. There, you´ll find a multitude of other programs, such as summer schools, graduate courses, certificates offered by private institutions, and online courses.

Positive Psychology Programs

Master of Positive Psychology at Aarhus University, Denmark: The information given is available in Danish only.

MSc in Applied Positive Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University: You’ll be introduced to research and interventions around topics like positive and negative emotions, character strengths, motivation, resilience, creativity, wisdom and other conditions shown to make a difference to the lives of individuals, groups and organisations. You’ll constantly test your skills and apply them to real-life situations, coming to understand which tools and strategies to use in delivering meaningful, high-impact interventions. The course is taught in Cambridge and Paris. The program is offered as a full-time program (12-15 months); or part-time (28-33 months).

MSc in Applied Positive Psychology at Bucks New University, Buckinghamshire (UK): The course will be of interest to individuals in a range of professions and occupational roles that include (but not limited to): teachers, human resources, organizational development, coaches in different disciplines (such as management or sports), psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors, and medical professionals. It´s a full MSc and can completed part-time over two years, though you may choose to study over three years and devote your final year to your dissertation.

M.A. Positive Developmental Psychology/M.A. Positive Organizational Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, California: Claremont offers several concentrations focusing on Positive Psychology as part of their M.A. program in psychology. For more info, please follow the link.

MSc in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology at University of East London: The program fully integrates positive psychology and coaching psychology to create an innovative training programme for those promoting wellbeing. From the point of view of positive psychology, the course will have a strong foundation in cutting-edge theory and research relating to wellbeing. The coaching element will feature advanced training in working with clients and groups in professional capacities. The program is offered as a full-time program in one year; or part-time in two years.

Executive Master in Positive Leadership and Strategy at Instituto de Empresa (IE), Madrid: This program is designed for experienced executives interested in achieving outstanding business results via the proven, hands-on methods of positive leadership. By gaining a deep understanding of the hard science of positive psychology and human behavior, participants learn how to optimize overall strategy and business functions, architect new work processes, and design organizational structures to achieve optimal performance in themselves and the people they lead. The program is offered part-time over 13 months.

Executive Master in Applied Positive Psychology at University of Lisbon: The information given is available in Portuguese only.

Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Melbourne: The program will equip you to apply positive psychology principles in your professional and personal life, with a special focus on creating and evaluating positive and meaningful change, and promoting optimal leadership within organizations. Learning and assessment will take place through a range of tasks, including debates, case studies, role plays, videos, journal entries and research activities. In addition, you will be encouraged to apply positive psychology principles to your own life and to critically reflect on these experiences. The program is offered as a full-time program (12 months); part-time options are available.

Master of Arts in Positive Psychology (MAPP) at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa: I´m not sure if the program is still offered as the link seems to be broken.

Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: The original, so to speak. The program was the first in the world to offer a degree in this rigorous field of study. Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of the discipline of positive psychology, created the program to educate and train students at the cutting edge of the field. The program’s hybrid model allows you to explore the theory and practice of positive psychology without relocating to Philadelphia, so you can continue working full-time. The program consists of nine courses, completed during one year of full-time study.

Specialization in Positive Psychology & Technology as part of the MsC program in psychology at University of Twente (Netherlands): The information given is available in Dutch only.

Certificate of Advanced Studies in Positive Psychology at University of Zurich, Switzerland: The information given is available in German only.

Do you want to become a UPenn Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP)? This way, please…

Right now, the 11. cohort of Penn´s MAPP program is well on its way. I was in cohort No. 9 (here you can find a summary of my experiences over the two semesters in 2013/14). Our alumni association asked us to pass on this information to potential students:

1) There will be a live information session in Penn´s Huntsman Hall on November 5. For more info and registration:

https://www.applyweb.com/fixie/form/s/T8413mk

2) There will be a virtual information session on December 3. For more info and registration:

https://www.applyweb.com/fixie/form/s/T8513ml

3) You can now apply! Deadline is March 1, 2016. Info on the application requirements can be found here:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mapp/admissions/application

Nico Rose - Penn Commencement

March 20 is International Happiness Day! Join our virtual Conference feat. +30 Positive Psychology Experts

International_Happiness_Day_2015Ever since 2012, March 20 is UN´s International Happiness Day. All around the world, people will celebrate and host events to educate their fellow human beings on all things happiness, well-being, and flourishing.

And I´m in as well – as part of a Virtual Happiness Conference. 32 fellow Penn Mappsters were interviewed on their favorite Positive Psychology subject, among them a lot of people you might already know because they were featured on Mappalicious in one way or the other, e.g. Emilia “Queen of Sisu” Lahti. All in all, there´s more than 24 hours of video material available.

All content will be online for free until March 26. After that, you can purchase the videos. Every cent will go to the Christopher Peterson Memorial Fellowship which helps future students to afford attending Penn´s MAPP program.

As for my part: I was interviewed by the fabulous Lisa Sansom on the role of Positive Psychology in coaching, the subject of Self-Permission, and the “German way” of Positive Psychology. This is the link to the conference site.

Enjoy – and please share to good news!

International Happiness Day Experts

Expressing Appreciation made easy: The Gratitude Bucket

Gratitude BucketWant to say thank you to somebody and don´t know how? Do not fear, for Gratitude Bucket is with you! Gratitude Bucket was created by Zack Prager, a fellow MAPP alum. It´s an easy-to-use website that let´s you create a personal “gratitude space” for a specific person where you (and all the people you invite…) can openly express your gratitude and thereby share it with the world. E.g., this is a bucket for “Sensei” Esa Saarinen after he was injured with a knife earlier this year…

Why should you make another person happy by expressing gratitude? Because it´s one of the most accessible pathways to your own happiness!

Godspeed to MAPP 9! I Love Myself so Much More Because of You…

The Master of Applied Positive Psychology program 2013/2104 at University of Pennsylvania (MAPP 9) is history. While the graduation festivities are still up and coming in May, it´s been the last time for us to come together as a full group since not all of us will come to graduation. It´s been a very emotional weekend with lots of special treats – but I promised not to divulge any details. I don´t want to be the spoiler for the future Mappsters. Let´s just say that some wise person brought a pack of Kleenex for each person in the room…

I´ll just share one thing with you, and that is a sentence that my classmate Guang Zeng said to our group at one point (and which may well be the most beautiful thing I´ve ever heard…)

I love myself so much more because of you!

Before coming into class on Sunday morning, I took this photo of Penn´s Locust Walk that runs across the core campus. It perfectly captures the mood of that weekend as we were frequently reminded of the fact that the end of MAPP 9 is the beginning of our journey in/with Positive Psychology – and not the end.

The Road goes ever on

As Bilbo Baggins sings:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,…
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Is this the end of Mappalicious?
Is this the end of Mappalicious?

Is this the end of Mappalicious?

Certainly not. I´m going to continue blogging on Positive Psychology topics. Maybe not with the same regularity (as other exciting projects are waiting…) – but I will…

How a little Give and Take can get you a Mention on Forbes…

You know, sometimes life is just plain good. This morning, Lisa Sansom, a MAPP alumna, posted a link to the Facebook group on Positive Psychology that she runs. It´s a piece on the Forbes website that discusses the impact of Positive Psychology on psychotherapeutic work and mentions the websites of some other MAPP alumni, e.g., Emilia Lahti and Samantha Boardman.

Will Digital Technology Disrupt The Psychotherapy Market?

So I put a link to that article on Twitter:

Will Digital Technology Disrupt The Psychotherapy Market?

And a couple of hours later, I found this reply by Giovanni Rodriguez, the author of that article:

You´re on Forbes!

That´s how it goes! I guess Adam Grant would be very proud of us… 🙂