Emotional health isn’t just an abstract idea we should strive towards. It’s a skill that can be learned just like anything else through practice. This thesis is the basis on which Nataly Kogan built her company, Happier, and people are starting to catch on.
Before developing her program, which is now part of the corporate training curriculum at massive organizations like SAP Concur, Nataly spent years research, testing, and developing daily practices that would create major shifts in her mindset and life. Through her popular talks she caught the attention of corporate leaders, and Happier @ Work was born.
In part two of our interview with Nataly she talks about the initial hurdles she faced as she attempted to reinvent her business and how she landed on a concept that’s changing the way executives and leaders approach professional development.
Please note that these time stamps were noted during the recording of the episode, and although they’re not accurate they should give you a general idea of when in the episode a particular section was discussed.
20:06 So can you talk about how you kind of reconcile the process and the speed at which you follow what you want to do but then actually apply it in a way that can help you sustain doing that thing every day and how you did it for yourself and Happier?
20:23 It’s a really great question. Maybe I’ll connect to the speaking, but I think it’s a great story around happier, and where the company come from and how I started it. So, this was 2011ish, broadly 2010, that time. And I at the time was the VP of Consumer Experience at a company called Where where I ran the full design UX consumer experience team.
21:03 That’s what I had done at Microsoft. That was my technology path and we’d ended up selling the company to PayPal successfully. I’m just not a big company person. Also, commuting from Boston to San Jose was not a thing, with a young child. And what really hit me in that time is I was completely burned out and not necessarily my full kind of exhausted, full-on burnout all came later actually in the middle of Happier. But I was burnt out and I was unfulfilled.
22:11 My father is a scientist, so I’m a geek in that regard and I was super curious. So I started reading all this research and it just, it was completely insane to me when I was reading because it ran counter to how I thought about happiness and emotional health, right? I thought happiness is something you struggled to achieve and you have to achieve your way into. And here’s all this research that was saying absolutely the opposite, that your emotional health is a necessary input into fulfilling life, not an output that it actually helps you be more successful and that there are all of these small things you can do to cultivate it.
25:05 I started Happier to share what I learned and made a difference for me with other people because I was tapping into my sense of meaning. What brings me meaning is to teach other people things that will benefit their lives. The Genesis of Happier was in the moment that I connected to my sense of purpose. I didn’t use these words at the time, but it was very clear to me. Happier is not a technology company. Happier is a learning and development company.
27:59 Vadim: Do you think it was instrumental to have a teacher, because you mentioned there briefly that you did have someone, maybe it was kind of someone that helped you have accountability as well, but someone that helped guide you along that path. Is that pretty key to the process?
28:14 Yes, and this is why we created Happier, and this isn’t a plug at all, it’s just the why. It’s why we created a Happier @ Work program where we go in and we work with companies, we teach these skills to teams. It’s why we have a leadership program. We just launched this fall an elevating women leaders program where we’re taking 16 women executives and leaders and entrepreneurs through this year long program to learn all these skills and practice in a supportive environment. It’s why I speak, because I am the teacher.
32:18 Sergei: So can you talk a little bit about the first steps you took toward redesigning the company and how you are able to attract those customers and why you think you are able to stand out from the crowd of all these experts that we see out there?
32:49 It’s been really difficult and a huge challenge. Even though I knew that this method that I developed worked for me, I didn’t know if I could build a business around it for the reasons you said, right. There is so much on mindfulness and happiness and emotional health.
34:03 But I had built the ability for me to take 18 months and essentially not work. And by the way, every month in those 18 months, I tried to get back to it and it wouldn’t flow because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t done the inner work yet, but when I was back and ready, speaking was the first thing that I started doing. So it’s not about come in and inspire people and leave. A mindset shift is something we have to make. One of them is that this is a skill and here are five core skills underneath it and everything is about these one to two minute tangible individual practices, team practices, leadership practices and that approach. Treating it as a skill to practice continuing to learn. You could see it was resonating, it was impacting teams. It’s something that people could do.
38:57 So focusing on emotional health as a skill, teaching it in a highly practical, actionable manner that’s been the huge differentiator.
42:36 I encourage people to find out more about what Nataly does and her work happier.com. Thank you so much.