Ideas on Finance, Happiness and Sustainability

6. gen, 2018
 
Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

There are so many happiness apps these days it's hard to keep them all straight. So how do you know which happiness apps are the best? Well, some happiness apps are based on the latest scientific research and are created with the expertise of experts in the science of happiness. Below, I review four of the top science-based happiness apps to reveal their strengths and weaknesses and help you decide which is the right app for you.

1. Happify - happify.com

Happify translates the science of happiness into online activities that can be completed right from your phone or computer. With the advice of a variety of happiness experts, Happify has created a platform to engage in writing activities and games designed to increase happiness.

2. Just One Minute - rickhanson.net

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. created Just One Minute to translate the neuroscience of happiness into an effective happiness app. Based on activities from his popular book, Just One Thing, Dr. Hanson has made it easier than ever to practice the activities he has spent his career building.

3. Greater Good in Action - ggia.berkeley.edu

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (who I often work with) has developed a platform called Greater Good in Action to help people engage in science-based practices for a meaningful life. The practices, which are drawn from research in positive psychology, clinical science, and elsewhere walk you step-by-step through activities to that enhance skills like empathygratitude, and mindfulness

4. Super Better - superbetter.com

Super Better has gamified the process of building happiness by creating short easy activities that you complete as you go on quests to build happiness-boosting skills like resilience. The activities provide you with quick wins to jump-start your happiness journey.

Comparing happiness apps

Although there are lots of ways to compare and contrast happiness apps, one way is to look at each app's features and select the happiness app that seems like best fit for you.

Happiness app features

Chart made by Tchiki Davis

*Note: This chart is somewhat subjective and is based on my own interpretation at the time of review. These app features are also likely to change over time so this chart may be out of date.

Source: Chart made by Tchiki Davis

Variety of activities

There is research to suggest that a greater variety of activities in a happiness program results in greater impact on your happiness. All of the apps reviewed here have adequate variety.

User Dashboard

All of the happiness apps had some form of user dashboard. However, I found the Just One Minute dashboard to be the easiest to understand and navigate.

Progress Tracker

All of these apps have a way for you to track the activities that you have completed. Happify and Just One Minute also let you go back and read responses you wrote down in the written activities. What none of these apps had, however, was a way to track your progress improving your happiness and well-being.

Interactive Activities

These apps all had some kind of interactive activities. Some include audio, some have you complete activities on your computer or phone, some are written, and others are games. Happify appeared to have the greatest selection of interactive activities.

Onboarding Quiz

Happify was the only app that had an onboarding quiz, but it was unclear what the purpose of this quiz is. Your responses to the quiz don't appear to affect which tracks you can choose from or your other experiences on the website. So the onboarding quiz may be more of a nuisance than a benefit at this point.

Forums

Although some of the other happiness apps say that there is a forum, Happify was the only app that seemed to have a functioning forum at the time of my review.

Reminder Setter

Just One Minute has a great feature where you can set what days and times you want to get reminders. While the other happiness apps send you automated reminders, I personally liked this feature as I could chose to get reminders at a time when I am free.

"Share Your Successes" Tool

Although all the happiness apps allow you to share the activities on social media, Just One Minute was the only app that tailored that message specifically to focus on completion of the activity - to celebrate your success. This was a nice touch.

Domain-Specific Content

All of these apps focus on general skills derived from mainly from the science of happiness. None of them include activities to help you manage specific challenges, like stress at work. However, Greater Good in Action has a few activities that help you manage challenges in romantic relationships or parenting in ways that boost happiness in children.

So which happiness app is the best?

All of the reviewed happiness apps had different strengths and weaknesses. Which one is the best? You'll have to decide for yourself.

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6. gen, 2018
6. gen, 2018

 

 

By on January 2, 2018 in Blog

culture drives financial results

As social media and search engines become more intelligent and prevalent, companies are battling the image that others outside the organization see as well as what employees feel. Entrepreneur Magazine even said that, “Company culture is more important than ever. It’s not that company culture was ever unimportant, but it’s quickly proving to be a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have.”” Have you ever worked in a company that had a bad culture? I have. I counted down the minutes until I could leave the office. Work for me was not enjoyable. As the financial leader of the company, I was not focused on driving financial results. Simply put, culture drives financial results.

Culture starts with your team. Before you add anyone else into your organization, click here to access your free 5 Guiding Principles for Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.

How Company Culture Drives Financial Results

Before we get into how company culture drives financial results, what is culture? Investopedia defines culture as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” In other words, you cannot say and it be with culture. Culture is organically developed over months or years. It depends on how is in the organization and how the organization acts as a whole through trials and successes.

Culture is also often created by the corporate governance and leadership of the organization. The tone starts at the top. Cultural changes happen also, especially when there is a change in ownership. A change in ownership can bring a change in governance, personalities, processes, and even language. Depending on the complexity of business, it may take from one year to three years to really complete an integration of an acquisition. The leadership of the organization must know what is going on in the culture of the organization as this has a direct effect on the bottom line.

Increased Performance

If employees are happy in an organization, then they will have increased performance. Some of the causes of increased performance stems from increased flexibility, professional development, and knowing that they are making their mark on the world.

Millennials are the largest generational cohort in the workforce in today’s world. As a result, they are spreading their desires in the workplace to other generations. For example, they value flexibility – the ability to work remotely, to have a standing desk, to work in a co-working space, to have odd-hours instead of the 9-5.

Additionally, they want to be further trained and develop. I once had an employee who told me that they didn’t care about the money if they were able to get professional development. At first, I was hesitant to provide that extra training because they were just going to leave me for more money after I had invested. But that employee didn’t leave. In fact, that employee was the most loyal in my organization.

Millennials are a funny generation! They definitely think outside the box and often bring ideas that the “traditional” worker would have not thought about. A good leader needs to know what drives his employees. What I have learned is that they want to know they are making a difference in people’s lives. They want to know that they are doing more good than harm. This could be supporting the homeless community or sponsoring an orphan. Or it could be storytelling how the organization’s efforts changed a customer’s life. It’s a simply thought, but when you expand work outside of the four walls of your office, those employees have more purpose and passion about their work. Thus, increasing their performance.

culture drives financial results

Increased Productivity

Additionally, you can also expect increased productivity from good company cultures. Think about Google and their office environment. With ping pong tables, napping pods, and playful environments, employees are told that they can have fun. Many times, entrepreneurs and executives think that working hard 8-12 hours a day will result in incredible results. But the employees feel like they can’t relax. There’s increased stress, decreased productivity, and eventually high turnover.

Increased Retention

Staffing, recruiting, hiring, and talent acquisition is both costly and time consuming. When you factor in the time to review resumes, interview, hire, train, onboard, then pay and provide benefits, that individual is an expensive asset on your financial statements. A good company culture will keep and retain those talented assets.

Looking to add more people to your team? Before you start recruiting, download our free 5 Guiding Principles for Recruiting a Star-Quality Team.

Examples of Company Culture Driving Financial Results

One of our team members once helped transition a company through a merger. All hands were on deck. There was no room for mistakes. And every client of theirs seemed angry. The product was great. Clients had great success from implementing the products. But it was clear there was something severely wrong! Employees were either fired or they quit. Within several months after the merger was official, the company was in financial distress. What we found that it wasn’t pricing or the product… Instead, it was the company culture! A good culture has gone bad.

Another example comes from a study that focused on the financial results of companies with and without performance-enhancing cultures. Needless to say, there is a strong correlation between company culture and growth. In the book Corporate Culture and Performance, John Kotter argues “that strong corporate cultures that facilitate adaptation to a changing world are associated with strong financial results.” When we talk about company culture driving financial results, it’s impacts more than just profit – but the shareholders, employees, and economy.

It’s Start With Who You Hire

Zappos has been known for its culture and prides itself in attributing its success to its corporate culture. What they have realized is that it starts with who you hire. Instead of looking at a resume for credentials, the recruiters essentially court them in a relationship. Similarly, we frequently say to our clients that if you can’t have lunch with a potential hire, do not hire them. When you take an employee out of an office and into the real world, you see how they really perform. Are they rude to the waiter? Or are they patient and kind? Do they hold the door open for people or let it fall in their faces?

For example, the CFO position should have discretion, responsibility, and confidence. If they show up to the wrong coffee shop for a meeting due to assumptions or carelessness or if they are indecisive in choosing a meal, then you need to assess whether they are capable for the position of CFO.

Personality Over Credentials

We once had a client that emphasized that trust was by far the most important quality for their CFO to have. It didn’t matter if they had X, Y, and Z qualifications. In fact, the CEO would rather hire someone who maybe wasn’t as qualified but he could trust over someone who was both qualified and untrustworthy. Especially when considering those high level positions, chose personality over credentials. Obviously, we are not saying to hire someone that cannot do their job. But if you had to decide between two candidates with similar credentials, chose the one that will fit your culture the best.

Be Slow to Hire & Quick to Fire

Bad employees can be a huge drain on resources and can potentially cause more damage than anticipated. That’s why the best corporate cultures are slow to hire and quick to fire. Those entities are protecting their most valuable intangible assets. In order to determine which candidates are the right fit for your company, download and access your free 5 Guiding Principles For Recruiting a Star-Quality Team whitepaper.

5. gen, 2018

A recent Tweet from Mariana Mazzucato reopens the debate on the contribution of Finance to Economy. The Tweet refers to a Washington Post article of some time ago.

A different reading of the article included in the text invite to check the sources.

While WP suggests to the brightest to follow a career outside Finance, Nobel Prize Robert Shiller has a different view.

He is the inspirer of this blog:

What is the role of Finance in Society, how Happiness and Finance can live together?

My inspiration is Robert J. Shiller’s "Finance and the Good Society": “What I want most for my students - he writes, – near and far, young and old – to know, is that finance truly has the potential to offer hope for a more fair, just - and Happy I add - world, and that their energy and intelligence are needed to help serve this goal.”

See also here

4. gen, 2018

Wracked by recent debates on the decline of academic integrity and deficiencies in mental health services, Harvard is in a period of soul-searching. At the center of all this existential introspection is Harvard’s overworked student body. Crushed under the weight of demanding course loads and extracurricular activities, most Harvard students would admit that, at least once, they have questioned the meaning of their toil—or wondered whether their efforts are truly worth it all. As a recent Crimson column explains, Harvard students may be more likely to struggle with “certain basic issues of existence: mortality, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.” For a potential answer to our existential woes, we should look to the writings of the absurdist philosopher Albert Camus.

In his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus recounts the story of the mortal Sisyphus—condemned by the gods to roll a stone up a mountain for all eternity. Every time Sisyphus reaches the summit, the stone rolls back down, forcing Sisyphus to begin the task again. Faced with a seemingly endless cycle of problem sets, papers, and midterms, many Harvard students can relate to Sisyphus’s plight. The completion of each week’s assignments signals only a brief reprieve until the proverbial stone rolls back down and the assault of the next week’s work begins. And when the work piles up and stress builds, finishing yet another paper can seem as meaningless and frustrating as pushing a stone up a mountain. Indeed, Camus saw the fate of “the workman of today, [who] works every day in his life at the same tasks…[as] no less absurd” than that of Sisyphus.

For the industrious Greeks, Sisyphus’s punishment was the ultimate torment—a meaningless task with no hope of completion (many Harvard students, with their Alexandrian ambitions and Stoic work ethics, might concur with this viewpoint). Sisyphus was a pitiable figure, an object lesson for those who dared defy the gods.

Camus, however, had a different perspective. As an absurdist, Camus believed that human beings seek meaning in existence, yet the universe is inherently meaningless, indifferent to this need. In Camus’s view, Sisyphus was the archetypal absurdist hero—burdened by this meaningless task and facing an uncaring universe, Sisyphus acknowledges and accepts the absurdity of his fate.

For Camus, this acceptance is crucial. At Harvard, many of us feel indignant or resentful when life seems unfair or when the burden we carry—personal, academic, or otherwise—grows too heavy. Yet when Camus’s Sisyphus makes the long walk down the slope to retrieve his stone, he is not sad. On the contrary, Sisyphus is at peace. Left by fate with no other options, Sisyphus revolts in the only way he can—by accepting his absurd situation, joyfully shouldering his burden and making his ascent once again. In Camus’s famous words, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

I don’t agree with Camus’s assertion that life is totally meaningless—after all, we are all at Harvard to pursue meaningful personal, intellectual, and professional goals. Nor do I think that the work and toil of our everyday lives, however Sisyphean, is inherently meaningless. Nonetheless, Camus’s conclusion remains rather profound. Sisyphus’s acceptance of his fate has a certain nobility—his eternal struggle against fate gives us inspiration when the universe seems arranged against us. Regardless of whether we choose to accept the absurd, or if we believe that life has inherent meaning, the lesson of Sisyphus is that when we feel as if the universe is indifferent or uncaring, the best response may be to happily accept this injustice and move on.

Indeed, it is inevitable in the hustle and bustle of life at Harvard that we’ll occasionally lose sight of the greater meaning in our lives. It is precisely in these moments of desperation that we should heed Sisyphus’s example. So next time you shoulder that burden and prepare to climb that academic hill, crack a smile. Laugh in the face of a silent universe indifferent to your lack of sleep, your stress level, or the fact that you haven’t left the library all day. Faced with the absurdity of a 15-page paper due the next week, it’s your best means of revolt.