"Be the change you would
like to see in the world"
BACK TO SCHOOL… TO TEACH AT SCIENCES PO PARIS
I look forward to start teaching in May my class at Sciences Po Paris, the most prestigious French school of political sciences and public policies. Just as my class at HEC Executive Education, I will talk about well-being and performance in companies inspired by the Danish leadership model based on trust, the freedom to be yourself and the sense of purpose.
I find it very positive that those two top schools in France, which are in charge of training tomorrow’s leaders, are promoting leadership through well-being.
According to an extensive survey by Gallup, 87% employees in the world say that they are “not engaged” in their work, 24% are actually actively not engaged. At the same time, Denmark, home of Lego, Novo Nordisk and Maersk, has the highest rate of job satisfaction in Europe (Eurostat, 2013). It’s also one of the countries where inhabitants and workers feel the happiest at work and in their daily lives, as shown by numerous studies over the last 40 years.
Danish management is focused on well-being at work with a high level of empathy, work/life balance, gender equality. It has had remarkable positive effects in terms of well-being, productivity, creativity, involvement and loyalty of workers in a world in which firms fight for the best talent. This certainly explains at least partly why the World Bank has acknowledged Denmark as number two of the “easiest economies to do business” in their Doing Business Report for 2017.
Looking forward to being back to school!
NOVEMBER 2018: YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE IDEA OF
HAPPINESS: PUBLICATION OF AN OPINION SURVEY I CO-
SIGNED WITH THE OCCURRENCE INSTITUTE
What is happiness in the eyes of French 15-to-18-year-olds? To answer this question, I collaborated with the Occurrence institute and published a poll-based investigation.
We asked more than 1000 young people about their relationship role with played by money, power, beauty and fame in their quest for happiness. These elements are what I called in my second book “the illusions of happiness”. For each of these aspirations, the answers were quite alarming, it seems indeed that young French people consider all these ingredients essential to find happiness. 50% of the respondents consider fame as a goal in itself, regardless of a sense of purpose (being recognised in the streets appears to be more important than supporting a cause, developing an art, etc.). 40% of young girls and 20% of young boys are contemplating having plastic surgery to feel more confident about their looks. And in terms of power, 19 % consider that the true incarnation would be President Trump and only 8 % of the respondents think that women can incarnate power in society.
Polls and statistical trends provide precious information. This is why I propose, prior to my conferences and masterclasses, to conduct polls of the employees I speak in front of, on the topic of well-being at work, in order to get a true idea of the state of mind and perceptions amongst the teams. This allows me to speak in a more direct and impactful way to the audience.
NOVEMBER 2018: I WAS AWARDED THE MEDAL OF CHEVALIER DE L’ORDRE DES ARTS ET DES LETTRES, A HONOR GIVEN BY THE FRENCH STATE
I was very honored and moved to receive the French state decoration “L’ordre de chevalier des arts et lettres” last night by M. François Zimeray, former French Ambassador to Denmark and a passionate defender of human rights, in the magical atmosphere of Drouant .
My story with France is a true love story and I wanted to live here since I was 14 years old however I never imagined that I would write books in French, translated into many languages and be honored this way by France. I just followed my dreams and kept believing in them even when the road got tough sometimes. It was very emotional moment but it was also a wonderful occasion to thank my family and my friends for their love, attention and support, this is my base of happiness in life. I feel very blessed and grateful and I hope that I will be able to give back to France everything I have been given.
NOVEMBER 2018: COMMENTATOR FOR DENMARK ON NEW
FRENCH NEW TV SHOW “BON BAISERS D’EUROPE”
On 17th of November, I was part of the new French TV show « Bons baisers d’Europe » (« From Europe with Love ») with famous French TV host Stéphane Bern. This show allows the audience to discover more about European countries, going beyond some of the clichés we might have .
As for me, I was asked to present Denmark to the French audience. In a relaxed and light-hearted atmosphere, I talked about the themes I care about. In particular, I talked about the Danes’ commitment to their country’s common project, in spite of the very high taxes it implies. I also talked about the school system’s focus on valuing all talents equally so that everyone finds a place within society where they feels good.
Other episodes of the TV show will be aired later on…
OCTOBER 2018: MY FIRST WEEKLY COLUMN ON HAPPINESS
October 2018 – happiness needs to be built on a day-to-day basis, I say it and repeat it without hesitation! This is why I have started a new adventure by writing a short column each week in the Monday edition of the French newsletter TTSO (Time to sign off). The concept of TTSO is to provide readers with the main news of the day in a single medium, in a few minutes each evening, in a serious yet light tone.
I believe that within these few minutes, one should find some time for happiness, don’t you think? This is what I am aiming at every Monday, to start the new week with a positive and constructive thought.
To subscribe and discover my column next Monday, follow the link
SEPTEMBER 2018: LAUNCH OF THE PAPERBACK OF MY SECOND BOOK
Nearly one year to the day of the publication of my second book, the pocket form is now available, titled “Les cinq pièges du bonheur” (“the 5 traps of happiness”), at J’ai Lu editions.
I am pleased that the book continues its journey in a more compact size, which is consistent with its objective of being a day-to-day guide. Indeed, the book explores some of the surprising and nefarious side effects of money, power, beauty, fame, and sex, and looks at how we might better avoid disillusionment to find our own true path to happiness.
Several translations are in process and I cannot wait to present my book in new countries, so as to confront perspectives on the illusions of happiness.
AUGUST 2018: OFFICIAL TRIP OF THE FRENCH PRESIDENT TO DENMARK…
On 28 th and 29 th of August 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron went on an official trip to Denmark… and I was honoured to be part of his delegation and to pay my honors to Queen Margrethe II! I have been convinced for a long time that France and Denmark have a lot to learn from and exchange with each other. After all, the Queen studied at La Sorbonne and married a Frenchman. And Emmanuel Macron is a well-known admirer of the Danish model, and often refers to the Danish “flexi- security”
These two days between the two cultures that I love the most have been invaluable.
Septembre 2017 Publication of my last book, The Illusion of Happiness !
My new book is out !
September 20th, 2017 : my latest book, The Illusion of Happiness was published by Flammarion.
The book explores some of the surprising and nefarious side effects of money, power, beauty, fame, and sex, and looks at how we might better avoid disillusionment to find our own true path to happiness.
MEDEF keynote : the power of being optimistic
On August 30th, 2017, I had the honor to participate in a round table within the framework of the Summer schools of the MEDEF, about the ” power of the optimism “.
Led by Frédéric Ferrer, journalist, consultant and professor in the ESCP Europe business school, the conference showed how to say goodbye to pessimism and to retie with confidence, pillar of growth and prosperity .
2017: a new year, and six new editions of my book Happy as a Dane
In 2017, my book Happy as a Dane will be published in five new European countries: The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. It will also come out in Turkey.
Danish happiness is best when shared; it is thus a great pleasure for me to imagine that new readers will, in their own countries and languages, discover its principles and, hopefully, take inspiration from it.
I wish you all a happy and meaningful 2017.
Women’s Forum for Economy and Society – In Deauville to talk about the sharing economy
This event — one of the five most influential forums worldwide according to the Financial Times — has counted among its guest numerous leading personalities among which Simone Veil, Viviane Reding, Joseph Stiglitz, Angel Gurria, Queen Rania of Jordan and, this year, former French Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron. It was thus a great honor for me to be invited to the 2016 meeting, focused on the theme of the sharing economy.
I had the pleasure to take part in two conferences, which gave me the unique opportunity to exchange ideas with very interesting speakers, among whom Laurence Fischer, two-time karate world champion and seven-time European champion.
In Seoul for the Global HR Forum 2016
3 November – Early this month, I was in Seoul for the Global HR Forum, invited by the South Korean Ministry of Education.
I had the pleasure of taking part in a conference entitled “The working population, are they happy?”, together with my fellow Dane Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute.
Quality of life and its future – conference at Sodexo’s 50-year anniversary
October 4th – On the occasion of the French company Sodexo’s 50-year anniversary, I had the pleasure to host a conference on quality of life and its future. I was looking forward to it, especially since Sodexo is an advocate of the idea that well-being at work is a key factor of business performance.
Following my introduction on the relationship between happiness and quality of life, I had the opportunity to exchange perspectives with three distinguished experts: Sugata Mitra on education, Isaac Getz on management and Laurent Alexandre on biotechnologies.
Happiness as a driver for excellence – EFQM forum in Milan
September 2016 – On September 30th, in Milan, I took part in the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) forum. The 2016 edition of this event was a special one: the EFQM celebrated the double 25-year anniversary of its Award Circle and its Excellence Model.
During my speech, I explained the role of happiness in the development of excellence. This international event was a great opportunity to prove that the organizational models which stimulate performance and success in Denmark can inspire initiatives anywhere in the world.
The Danish network of Goodwill Ambassadors is 10 years old
August 2016 – Denmark does its best to recognize its citizens who share the passion for their country abroad. Ten years ago, it created a network of “Goodwill Ambassadors”. The network has grown since, and now includes 80 people settled in more than 30 countries.
When my book Heureux comme un Danois / Happy as a Dane (Grasset, 2014) was published, I had the honor to become one of the “Goodwill Ambassadors”. I take this mission very seriously, and do my best to accomplish it in France, my country of adoption, but also in every other country I visit for my work.
At the end of August, all 80 ambassadors met in Copenhagen for the annual seminar. We discussed about the perception of Denmark all over the world, and thought about opportunities to share the values we all feel connected to.
This year was a special one: after the seminar, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of this initiative at the Amalienborg royal castle with Prince Joachim (patron of the project), Princess Mary and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
New translations of my book
On the 3rd of May, the book was launched in Russia (56th on the recent World Happiness Report).
On the 6th of May I signed my contract with US publisher Norton (the US are 13th on the report) which works with Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and former Fed director Ben Bernanke. America, here I come!
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION, FEMALE LEADERS AND WESTERN AFRICA
I have been invited as guest speaker for a 4-days seminar centered on female leadership. The attendees were all female civil servants from Benin, Mali and Ivory Coast.
The focus of my speech was on the notion of individual freedom for women, under the title “I feel free to choose my role in society”. I greatly appreciated the quality of the discussion and the questions following my presentation.
My speech at the OECD
February 24, 2016, I was the guest of Secretary of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), Mr. Ángel Gurría.
The “Coffee with the Secretary-General” is an event organized three times a year intended to expose inspirational work from outside the organisation. Amongst the recent invitations figure names such as the economist Thomas Piketty, George Soros the American business magnate, as well as the Italian astronaut
I had the opportunity to expose and discuss the solutions of personnel and collective happiness/well-being proposed by the Danish model. My speech was followed by a session of Q&As where several experts from OECD subjected me questions about the Danish vision of happiness and well-being.
My sincere gratitude to the OECD and the Secretary General Ángel Gurría, for the invitation and the warm welcome they gave me. The debate with an impressive number of participants was both inspiring and enriching for my further work.
Do you have time to be happy? – Keynote talk at the Napoléons
14-17 january 2016 – “Do you have time to be happy?” This is the question I asked the 250 attendees of the talk I was honored to give at the latest Napoléons event at Val d’Isère (France). Among the audience were several founders and managers of successful startup companies, the CEO of Image Sept Anne Méaux and the CEO of Orange Stéphane Richard. The Napoléons is a French network of the leading actors in creation and communication who meet twice a year to share innovative ideas. It is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and French Tech.
I was pleased to share my thoughts with the public on the connections between time and happiness. Looking at it from a long-term perspective I suggested that the way we spend our time is actually the way we spend our lives! I also shared the inspiring findings of Australian nurse Bronnie Ware (1) who during 8 years studied and interviewed dying patients about their regrets when time has run out. Indeed, they did not have second thoughts about not having made enough money or lack of success and fame.
They expressed regrets about not having lived the life they really wanted, due to pressure and expectations from others. Having worked to much, not leaving time to doing things to make yourself happy like seeing your friends more often. They also regretted not having had the courage to express their feelings in relationships and in society in general.
Based on the Danish model that I know particularly well, I shared a few tips from one of the countries in the world where people actually have a general feeling of living the life they want. Work-life balance (2) is of course an essential element in order to leave time to ourselves and our passions in our private life. I also discussed the importance of guiding children yearly in their lives so that they actually end up doing something they feel passionate about and not what parents or society decided for them (3). The freedom to be you and choose your role in the Danish model is also linked to gender equality where not only women have been liberated… but also men! Indeed, men in Denmark have the right to express their feelings, and feel comfortable leaving work early to pick up their children. Being true to yourself and having the courage to pursue a life with purpose is not easy, but it is the choice I made, and I believe that choice is accessible to everyone.
These few insights seemed to find echo in the audience, and I felt that we shared the spirit of my favorite quote from Oscar Wilde: “Don’t try to add years to your life, rather try to add life to your years”.
2. The Danes spend on average one extra hour per day with their family or at leisure when compared with other OECD members: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/work-life-balance/
3. Young Danes are among the Europeans who feel the most free to choose their lives : Survey “les jeunesses face à l’avenir” – Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2008