Designing (for) Happiness

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What we think drives our happiness often doesn’t. So what does? And how can knowing this help us create strong brands and companies? Understanding happiness is crucial to building successful relationships, products, and organizations. Yet recent research suggests that our definition of happiness is often confused and misguided. In this class, we explore new data on happiness, focusing on: re-thinking happiness (a happy you); designing happiness (a happy company); spreading happiness (a happy brand). Students will work together to use an iterative design-thinking approach to understand our own definitions of happiness, uncover what really makes us happy (vs. what we think makes us happy), prototype solutions/products to increase our happiness, and design happy companies and brands.

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How to Tell a Story

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“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” Stories are all around us. Stories move us, make us feel alive, inspire us to be more than we would be otherwise. As famed screenwriting coach and author of the screenwriting bible, Story, McKee says: “Story is not only our most prolific art form, but rivals all activities—work, play, eating, exercise—for our waking hours. We tell and take in stories as much as we sleep—and even then we dream.”[1] Despite our love for stories, most of us leave stories to “storytellers” – fiction writers, journalists, and film makers. But we all have this skill. We simply need to hone it. The question is – how can we hone it? In this seminar, we will break down the basic elements of storytelling, elucidate the power of the verbal as well as the visual, and discuss how storytelling helps build brands and organizations.

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The Power of Social Technology

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In the past year, a dizzying number of people have written about (and blogged about, tweeted about…) the mechanics of using Facebook, Twitter, email and YouTube, yet none addresses one of the biggest desires of individuals and corporations: how to leverage the incredible power of the new social technology to make a difference. (No offense to the dancing cats and exploding Pepsi bottles.). Thus the goal of the class is simple: to help you harness social technology in support of a clear single, focused goal – and in so doing cultivate social good. To do so, we’ll travel with the Obama campaign as they use social technology to create political change, with Kiva as they foster economic justice by making micro-loans easily available, and with for-profits like eBay and Nike as they illustrate how social good and profit-making to go hand in hand. We’ll gain insight from leaders from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, learn a framework to structure your thinking and your action, and provide a PoST Toolkit that will get you started on using all the most important social technology tools. Ultimately, this course demonstrates that you don’t need money or power to ignite seismic social change. We’ll show you how with energy, focus, and a good wireless connection, anything is possible.

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Power of Story to Fuel Innovation

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We all want to innovate, but how do we do it? You not only need a big idea, you also need people to create it and people to buy into it. Your big idea needs a story. Stories fuel innovation. They hold the power to transform listeners; to take listeners on a journey that changes how they think, feel or act. This interactive course covers the variety of roles story can play in an organization of any size, and why a coherent story is transformational for a new venture. What makes an effective story in business? When can you use stories in business? And how do you tell a good story that can be harnessed by social networks for impact? We will explore why story is at the heart of effective innovation and how story can be used to transform culture. By the end of this course you will have cultivated a new tool to use in driving innovation in your organization. 

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Sustainable Human Behavior

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The goal of this class is to create a sustainable toolkit to cultivate positive habits for our future by building a sustainable self (habits to create a calm mind and healthy body), sustainable connections (tools to sustain thriving relationships) and a sustainable planet (a beautiful planet based on a vision of long term shared prosperity). We will discuss pioneering research on the three key pillars that make human behaviors sustainable and students will present a final project that cultivates positive habits for our future.

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Designing AI to Cultivate Human Well-Being

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A multi-disciplinary cross-listed course focused on the goal to help build AI technology that effectively understands, communicates with, collaborates with and augments people. This class aims to expose (a) GSB students to deep learning and AI techniques focused human well-being, and (b) CS students to business thinking and design thinking, as well as frameworks and social science to better understanding human well-being and human-centered designs.

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Rethinking Purpose

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We assume happiness is stable, an endpoint to achieve our goal to chase. It’s not. Recent behavioral research suggests that the meaning of happiness changes every 5-10 years, raising the question: how might we build organizations and lives that cultivate happiness? Research suggests it is better to aim for meaning. In Rethinking Purpose, we explore how to rethink purpose in work and life. Students will hear from guests and take a field trip to see how Google has reconsidered purpose. Building on design thinking principles, you will create personal moonshots and a path to continue to find those moonshots over the life course. Lastly, we’ll map out how to use time in ways that would help build innovative teams, products, and ultimately lives that have meaningful, lasting impact in the world.

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Humor: Serious Business

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There exists a mistaken belief in today’s corporate world that we need to be serious all the time to be taken seriously. But research tells a different story. In this course, we delve into the behavioral science of humor to reveal why it is a secret weapon in leadership (and life) to yield influence, fuel creativity, defuse tension, foster resilience, and strengthen relationships on your teams and with customers. You’ll learn tools and frameworks for understanding your humor style (hint: everyone has one), how to read the style of others, and how to harness humor styles to become a more effective authentic leader at work. You will leave this class with both a practical toolkit and a fundamental shift in mindset: navigating your life on the precipice of a smile. 

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The Power of Story

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Stories can be a powerful tool for persuasion and leadership. Traditionally, business people persuade using only the left side of the brain, or reason. However, persuasion occurs, just as much (if not more) through emotion. By developing the right side of the brain, engagement can be better built through “uniting an idea with an emotion.”[2] A critical tool is storytelling. In this seminar, we will illuminate the power of story in business by revealing the key elements of storytelling, elucidate the power of the verbal as well as the visual, and discuss how storytelling helps build brands and organizations. The goal of the class will be to Understand what are the four more important stories to tell in business, and learn how to create a story bank; a repository of stories that you will use as a leader. By creating powerful stories and then communicating them in your own way, you’ll see how brands, careers and businesses can gain momentum.

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Designing for VR/AR

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Put on a headset or glasses, and you will be transported to an entirely different world. You could be moving through a business room in China, saving the world as a superhero, or following a girl through a Syrian refugee camp. As a medium, Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to be the ultimate empathy machine, connecting humans to other humans and nature in a profound way never before seen in any other form of media. In this class, we will draw on behavioral science and immersive experiences to shed light on the potential of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Students will be given a foray into the applications of VR/AR in different industries, understand how the virtual world affects perceptions of self and others, and then reflect on these insights to incorporate these learnings into the real world. Note, the focus of this compressed class is not technical and will focus more on VR than AR. 

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