A Panel of Women that will Rock Your World!

Wednesday afternoon, the last panel of the day on the “women’s track” at Digital Hollywood was The Woman Entrepreneur: The Person, The Opportunity and the Challenge. 

photoHave any idea what that might be about?
Yeah, me either. And I was on it.
In fact, the moderator met with us in the Speaker Lounge before our event and we talked about not having any idea what we were supposed to present under this heading.

So we winged it.
And somehow…magic happened.

The response was amazing. In a small ballroom that was full to begin with, people started coming into the room during the session (a rarity at DH, where panels that start full often shed attendees like fur). At the cocktail party that immediately followed, all of us were told repeatedly that it was one of the best panels people had been to. One wonderful man raised his hand during the session and said, “I have been a journalist for many years and I am never going to forget this talk.”

We just put it all out there — about being a woman, being an entrepreneur, being a human being and all the challenges those raised for us. I guess we sort of figured out what the panel was about after all.

Luckily, the whole thing was caught on tape.  Below is a four-hour (yes — FOUR HOUR) video. Our panel starts at 2:03 and goes to 3:19 — and yes that’s 2 hours and 3 minutes into the video. You can fast forward to it. The women are (from left to right): Mariana Danilovic, Marlene Sharp, Phoenix Gonzalez, Jayna Cooke, me, Elsa Ramo and Jameela Jackson. I adore them all!

Would love to hear your thoughts. I recommend watching the whole hour and fifteen minutes, but if you just want to catch my sections, they are:

  1. 2:08:30 – 2:11
  2. 2:28 – 2:32:40
  3. 2:43 – 2:44:15
  4. 2:49:35 – 2:51
  5. 2:59:30 – 3:02 (responding to the question: “Will men disappear?”)
  6. 3:05 – 3:06:30
  7. 3:11:45 – 3:14

And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) — order now and it will magically arrive on Monday!

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Incredible News About the New Book!

I am thrilled to announce that my new book, How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”), will be released on October 27th, and based on pre-orders, is already in the Top 12 of its category!

Here’s proof, and yes, that is Arianna Huffington’s THRIVE just five spots above me.

HWCSitW (DH"FB") at #12!!

HWCSitW (DH”FB”) at #12!!


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“Happiness in the Workplace” Teleseminar

Last summer,  I participated in a 10-day Happiness-Success Telesummit, giving a talk called “How to Find Happiness in the Workplace Every Day, Whether Sitting at a Desk, Digging a Ditch or Saving the World.” Here is the video I cut together of that talk.

If you didn’t catch it live, I hope you’ll enjoy it now, and I look forward to your thoughts.


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How One Professor, One Student and One Class Showed that One Dollar Can Change the World.

Speech Professor, Tammy Voigt, is a favorite among students at Indiana University Southeast. With a rare 5.0 score on RateMyProfessors.com, it’s no wonder undergrads flock to her classes, but even this veteran instructor can still be surprised by her students now and then.

Junior level speech class SP 324 — Persuasion has always opened with a warm-up speech. The goal for this assignment is for students to use the persuasive techniques that come naturally to them prior to diving into a curriculum of theory and techniques to identify where they could improve their rhetorical skills. In the past, these speeches were hypothetical in nature (“What would you do with a million dollars?”), which never seemed to be fully effective — students were not personally invested in the process (beyond a letter grade), nor did it feel “real” to them due to the hypothetical nature.

So this year, Professor Voigt asked each student to bring in one dollar, which was put into an envelope, then she added a few bucks to round up to $25. So this time, it was real money — their money — on the table. The assignment was for each student to present a persuasive discourse about why he or she deserved the cash, with the class voting and the winning speaker getting it all (and no, no one was allowed to vote for themselves).

Speeches ranged from donuts for the whole class to down payments on engagement rings to pet supplies for a special dog. There were several students who opted to request support for philanthropic causes via sending a $25 check — which was nice to hear, but still didn’t win over the class.

Enter Jonathan Ham, Senior Communication Studies major. He persuaded students to give him the cash to help the homeless — not by sending a check, but by personal action. He even gave his classmates a choice: If he won the money, he could spend all $25 on one homeless person, or spread it around. He promised to video his experience and share it with the class.

Needless to say, he won the $25 and his classmates overwhelmingly agreed that he should spread the $25 around.

Jonathan took his cash, visited McDonald’s, ordered sandwiches from the Dollar Menu, paired each sandwich with a bottle of water (donated by Professor Voigt) and hit the streets in the Louisville/Southern Indiana area, offering a meal to any homeless person he and his friend Lily encountered.

When he was finished, he crafted a video of his day, including a personal “thank you” to each of his classmates in the piece. He shared the video with the class on Wednesday, September 24.

They were overwhelmed at what an impact $25 had that day. Students watched as one of their own left his comfort zone to literally get out there and make a difference. Some realized that their work in college often goes beyond “getting the grade” — as it should.

For Professor Voigt’s part, she’s happy to have turned what was always a simple classroom exercise into a powerful lesson about having a vision and persuading others to see it, and join the fight. “I feel certain that my students left that classroom understanding that fixing the problems of this world can often start with us — and a dollar bill.”

Can’t wait to see what happens next year.

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Observing Unhappy People in Their Native Environment — Online

imagesExactly one year ago, a study came out from researchers at Beihang University in China examining more than 70 million tweets from 200,000 users on Weibo (China’s insanely popular version of Twitter) showing that anger was the most viral emotion on social media. For those of us who spend any time on connection-based sites, this is no surprise. Somehow spreading happiness is less inspiring to people than sharing tales of injustice, casual affronts, righteous indignation, or whatever else gets someone’s ire up. Anger fuels its own fire.

So I should not have been surprised when I recently posted something happy online that was met with instant negativity. And yet, I am — both surprised and disappointed.

You see, I’m taking an online course through U.C. Berkeley called “The Science of Happiness.” There are over 100,000 students in this class, so we have a variety of discussion forums, including Facebook.

On Wednesday, I posted this on the Facebook page for the class:

This should make everyone happy!

1. Free Doughnuts! This Friday, September 19th, is national “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” (I promise, I am not making this up). So if you go into any Krispy Kreme location and say. “Argh, I be here for me free doughnut,” they will GIVE YOU ONE! No kidding. No purchase necessary. What could make you happier than talking like a pirate?

2. Free Coffee! To go with your free doughnut, McDonalds is giving away a free small coffee during breakfast hours starting tomorrow morning through September 29th. Just walk in or drive through and ask for it. Again, no purchase necessary. I know, it seems too good to be true. Free doughnuts and coffee. How can anyone be unhappy with that?

“How can anyone be unhappy with that?”
Silly me! The first reply was:

Personally, I would be ALOT happier if minimum wage was raised to where workers could afford to buy a doughnut and coffee. Argh!

Not sure if the “Argh!” was grumpiness or a funny attempt to talk like a pirate.  If the latter, then I at least appreciate the effort. But come on — You actually felt the need to write something negative in response to a post about FREE COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS?!

The second comment was:

I feel much happier eating healthy nourishing fresh food (even if I have to pay for it)

Okay, then how about sharing where people can get healthy, nourishing food for free? Or are you offering to pay for other people’s healthy, nourishing food?

Just to drive the point home — I, personally, don’t have any sugar or caffeine in my diet. I will not be getting a free doughnut or free coffee, but it makes me happy that those are available to anyone who might want them. It makes me happy to live in a world where something as whimsical and fun as “Talk Like a Pirate Day” is honored by a major corporation, and other people can find happiness enjoying it.

But more importantly — this post was in a forum for people taking a class on happiness!

I’ve been writing and speaking about happiness for almost two years now, and let me make something as clear as possible — responding to a happy thought with negativity will not make you happy. Seeing the bad side of everything does not increase your or anyone else’s happiness. If something exists in the world that makes other people happy, doesn’t really hurt anyone, and it does not apply to you, move along! Attacking it doesn’t make anyone happier, including you!

Look at my original post. It doesn’t ask “What could make you happier than a free doughnut?” It asks “What could make you happier than talking like a pirate?” I would be willing to bet the grouches who complained about that didn’t even try talking like a pirate! Before you knock it, try it. It’s really happy-making. And hysterical. And if you happen to eat doughnuts and you get a free doughnut for doing it — even better!

I am taking this class because I am a truly happy person, and I make it my goal to share and spread happiness, kindness, joy, fun freebies, funny videos, and whatever else I can to make the world less ugly every day, and I struggle to understand those people who feel the need to bring dark clouds with them wherever they go. Hopefully, the class will shed some light on why certain people have a need to make their unhappiness known, and what the rest of us can do to help them reduce or find better outlets for their negativity.

If free doughnuts and coffee aren’t for you, then maybe that was a post that didn’t need your comment. Not every one does. But if you feel compelled to write something, next time try: “There are a lot of things that would make me happier than talking like a pirate or getting free coffee and doughnuts, but I’m happy for the people who will enjoy this offer. Thanks for sharing it.

That’s how you stay happy, spread happiness, and make the world a happier place with you in it. Arrrgh!

– Valerie

p.s. If you want to make sure not to miss any more free doughnut announcements and other happy news, sign up for the Speak Happiness newsletter now. It comes with two free Happiness workbooks and tons more happiness delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

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For Happiness, the Delete Key is Your Friend

Recently, I had to ask a friend for help. This person is in a position to help me, with very little sacrifice, and yet, he said, “No.” He had a long explanation, which I understood and it was reasonable, but still, it had taken a lot for me to ask and this was a setback I wasn’t expecting.

I was in a situation partly of my own making, but largely as a result of someone else’s behavior, and this is the first time in a very long friendship that I had reached out in this way, after many years and many occasions of me being there for him. Yes, this is a person who is asked for favors often, but not by me, and (as he fully understood) — not lightly.

I needed help and I was turned down. But that was okay. That was within the realm of expectation. No one has any obligation to do a good deed for anyone else, and we all live by our own sets of rules. You might find mine inspiring or appalling; there’s no right and wrong, just different world views.

Here’s where everything went sideways.

After the request and refusal, my friend started sending me emails with advice about other ways I could fix my situation. The tone and content of these ranged from patronizing to patently insulting.

Imagine you are plagued with thirst and a person holding a pitcher of iced tea refuses to give you any, then starts sending you emails suggesting that you try to find a source of water, complete with a Google Earth image of all the water in your area. As if that had never occurred to you. As if you hadn’t exhausted that and every other possibility before asking for the tea.

I was at a loss as to how to respond. I let the emails fester in my inbox, as I tried to figure out what to say, letting them piss me off every time I opened my computer. Feeling my body tense up and my mind lose its grip on happiness for a moment. Then it hit me.

No reply was needed. Those emails weren’t about me, they were about him, and his need to feel he was helping me after not doing so in the one way I needed.

So I hit DELETE.

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE. Buh-bye offensive email.

Honestly, it felt great. Then, I told my brain to forget all about them. I didn’t need to forgive him, because honestly, he didn’t do anything to hurt me. In his very tone-deaf way, he was trying to help. Also, who knows if he was so put-off by my request that he was trying to decide whether or not to forgive me. It’s difficult to gauge anybody’s sensibilities in situations like these, and as I said, there is no right and wrong, just different playbooks.

Yesterday was my birthday. He sent me a text with good wishes, and I replied, “Thanks.” I decided to put all of this in the past and let our friendship proceed as if the whole incident didn’t happen. That’s what will leave me with the most happiness.

If writing about it helps even one other person, then maybe everything happened exactly as it was supposed to.

And that makes me happy!

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Upcoming Speaking Event — Don’t Miss It!

Happy, Happy Wednesday!

Tomorrow, 8/28, I will be speaking at the WIN Networking luncheon in Sherman Oaks, giving the talk “How Entrepreneurs can Stay Positive, Move Forward and Avoid Falling into the Failure Spiral” from noon-1:30.

I gave this talk at the WIN Pasadena meeting in July and was immediately invited for an encore presentation at the Sherman Oaks chapter.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend coming to this fun, informative event.

“How Entrepreneurs can Stay Positive, Move Forward and Avoid Falling into the Failure Spiral” is the latest in the Speak Happiness! series of talks and is quickly becoming the most popular. Even I like this one more than the others (but don’t tell them that!)

I also recently had the chance to share How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) at the California Development Foundation’s Reality Check Conference for college-bound women and girls living in public housing. It was a huge success, with many wonderful connection with these determined young women, and I hope to bring this keynote to more colleges, graduate programs, professional schools, and women’s networking events and conferences soon.

If you’re planning an event, conference or employee training and enrichment session, and are looking for a compelling, dynamic speaker, please don’t hesitate to reach out, Valerie@SpeakHappiness.com.

Have a Happy Day!


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#SpeakHappiness Wednesday

IMG_7271 You can make the world happier!

You must have something in your life that you find incredibly cool.  It could be a little discovery, a favorite food, an unknown artist, a great app. You might feel goofy or self-conscious about sharing it, but now is the day.  Tell the world about your cool thing.

Mine is this website: http://detoxinista.com
The recipes are incredible for anyone looking to eat healthier without having to sacrifice real food.

So what’s your? Share it here, on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, via email.  No reason to keep it secret when it could make someone else’s day a lot better. Spread Happiness!

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Happy Quote Sunday!

12d059263ebfd544d33661750bc85663This is true every moment of every day, whether that something incredible is the cure for cancer or just the love one human being has for another.

We live in a magical, wonderful, evolving world.

Go share your something incredible.

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Happy Quote Saturday!

Remember when we all heard this song 3-4 times a day and it made us happy?
Bet you haven’t heard it in a while.
So, here you go!
A little boost of Happy! in your day.

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