LIMITED SUMMIT SERIES: Building a Culture of Happiness with Sunny Grosso

Hands-on Management 3.0 leadership workshops focus on tangible practices to help managers, team leaders, middle management, and C-level executives increase employee engagement and foster transformational change within their organizations. Start Your Leadership Journey Today!

Sunny Grosso

Culture has been a buzzword in the business world for decades now. And, in many instances, that’s all it was: an empty word. But in recent years, as competition for quality employees has increased, workplace culture is no longer an afterthought. For companies who take it seriously, it can be both a recruiting tool and a competitive advantage. And it has the added benefit of bringing just a little more happiness into the world.

Today we sit down with the master coach and Delivering Happiness Culture Chief Sunny Grosso, who has spent years helping companies across the globe build and grow strong, distinct workplace cultures.

Learn more about Sunny here.

*This podcast was recorded LIVE on LinkedIn. Follow us for future live interviews here.

Key Points

  • The importance of happiness at work
  • The start of Delivering Happiness by founder Tony Hsieh
  • How to get started with creating a culture of happiness
  • What is your North star; the importance of values

Have you ever pondered the following questions?

  • How do we give people and their happiness the attention they deserve in our organizations and transformations?
  • How do we enable change for people and not push change on people?
  • How do we create the culture and environment we need for people to express themselves?

Of course, you have! That’s why you listen to our podcast. But while podcasts are a one-way street, our Forward Summits are all about interactions.

Anna Löw will present a case study on their move to a 32 hours work week, the pitfalls, and their successes.

So come and join the conversation at our upcoming summit: HAPPINESS AS THE ‘WHY’ IN AGILE TRANSFORMATION, held in Berlin, Germany, and Online from 30 November – 2 December 2022,

You’ll get to hear from our kick-ass keynote speakers Sunny Grosso; Svenja Hofert; Debra Corey; and Fransisco Mahfuz. Take part in our practice, case study, open, and global networking sessions in Berlin and online!

Go to our designated Forward Summit Website for more info and tickets.


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Sunny Grosso Podcast 

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] Culture has been a buzzword in the business world for decades now, and in many instances, that’s all it was an empty word, but in recent years as competition for quality employees has increased and workers have redefined what they look for and value in an employer. Workplace culture is no longer an afterthought. For companies who take it serious it can be both a recruiting tool and a competitive advantage, and it has the added benefit of bringing just a little more happiness into the world. Today we share our recent LinkedIn live chat with a master coach and professional culture chief who has spent years helping hundreds of companies across the globe build and grow strong distinct workplace cultures.

We discuss what she’s [00:01:00] learned in our work and the recommendations for business leaders hoping to move past the buzz words and get down to the business of making people happy at work.

Before we dive in, you are listening to a limited series by The Happiness at Work Podcast by Management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness.

We are currently in the run up to our forward flagship summit, which will be held from 30 November 02 December Live in Berlin, and from your computer screens. This year is all about happiness as to why in agile transformation. In this limited series, we’ll be speaking to partners, conference speakers, and those with ultimate know-how about happiness in Agile transformations.

We’ll be publishing regular in the run up [00:02:00] to the summit, so make sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a beat. And do keep listening for a special promo code for our podcast enthusiasts. Thinking about joining our summit,

Nadine Koehler: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another live podcast recording. I’m here with Elisa, our Happiness at Work podcast host. And Sunny Grosso, one of the keynote speakers of Forward Summit and today they will record a podcast and whenever you are having questions, please drop them in the chat. I will pick them up from there and make sure they are reaching Elisa so she can ask these questions Sunny as well.

But now stage is 


Elisa Tuijnder: Have Fun, great, thank you, Nadine. Thank you. Everybody listening. So happy to have you here. So yeah, let’s just [00:03:00] jump right in with what we are here to do. So our guest today is the lovely Sunny Grosso. She’s a master coach, a global speaker and culture chief at Delivering Happiness, the world’s first coachsulting company, which helps organizations use the science of happiness to co-create adaptable organizations that grow people, profits, and purpose. So to not just survive, but also to thrive. So thank you so much for joining me, Sunny. I’m really happy that you’re here. It’s so good to be here with you, Elisa. Oh, fantastic. That’s jump right in, right?

But before we get to your work and experiences and what is this all about? This. In business. Let’s ask the question that we always ask everybody. What does happiness mean to you? 

Sunny Grosso: And I love this question. You’re certainly not the first to start with it, and it is a simple one and a very hard one to answer even after I’ve been in this field studying happiness and wellbeing for about a dozen years, and there’s also about 25 years [00:04:00] of research in the field.

So the definition that I gravitate towards, is science based, because everything that we do is science based. And there’s really two main ways that happiness is measured, and I think that this is a fantastic barometer for thinking about our personal happiness. One is what are your feelings of joy, contentment, satisfaction, and how do they compare with how often that you are feeling now?

Worthless. Useless. Not necessarily just sad. Because there are darker emotions that are very healthy for us. But when you stay in a sadness for a long time, there can be some more detrimental, negative emotions that can impact us differently. So positive emotions like joy and contentment. And then the other barometer is in general, how do you feel that your life Is it good?

Is it worthwhile? Or do you feel that it’s not very important or you’re not doing what you’re meant to do? So I really look at these two paths to understand personal happiness. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I hope you are happy, and I [00:05:00] hope our listeners, here on the link to live and on the podcasts are also happy. So please reflect on this question.

While, while you’re listening as well what is, what does happiness mean to you? Because it’s a very personal question. Speaking of happiness, , let’s get into this. So as a speaker, you’ve talked about the value of happiness as a business model a lot. And those may not seem to the naked eye or some people like that.

They’re not very much complimentary ideas, but a lot of organizations are starting to learn otherwise, and obviously that’s why we are here as well. But that’s why your, the whole ethos of your company. So could you talk a bit about the value of happiness in the working world and how this can. Things like, productivity or profit.

Sunny Grosso: Yeah, and it’s interesting because about, 12, 13 years ago when I started dabbling around in this work, happiness was a dirty word at work. You did not talk about it. It was an emotion. You leave your emotions at home, you show up at work, you put on a professional mask and you do your job. Life is for [00:06:00] living outside of work. So we were really in that paradigm for a very long time, and we’ve seen that just crushed through the pandemic. So through the darkness of the pandemic, there have been really some very enlightening opportunities to rethink the way we work. But what we’ve learned, even before we started doing this about 10 to 10 to 12 years ago, is that happy employees leads to happier customers because you can’t give what you don’t have. You can give it for a short amount of time, but pretty soon you’re gonna hit it at the end of that runway. You need to fulfill your tank. So happier customers, of course, leads to more satisfaction and a more successful organization.

Now, that’s a monetary formula. So there’s something else that’s happening here though that’s not just about money. So if you start with happy employees, that leads to happier customers, you have a more successful company, that’s great. But also what you’re doing is you are increasing the meaning and the impact and the happiness of lives.

So it’s really what we call the double ROI. [00:07:00] So you get an ROI in terms of the return on investment for the happiness in your organization, but you also get an ROI for your people. And that’s really powerful because that starts to, to circulate and just create its own cycle, which is what we talk about when we talk about culture.


Elisa Tuijnder: Amen. Yeah. And that needs to be doubled down on that message. Everybody should hear that. So you also said that the culture of happiness can give, you, can give companies an competitive advantage. So how do you see that competitive advantage? In which areas does that concentrate? 

Sunny Grosso: This is also something, some, some of the myths about, happiness being lollygagging at the water cooler, messing around, using your iPhones to scroll through Twitter all day. That’s there’s types of happiness that are more productive than others. Just as a little caveat, you can mess around. But also more meaningful, deeper types of happiness.

The types of happiness [00:08:00] Eudomonic, for example, what the ancient philosophers would talk about. Those bring a very different impact to, your presence at work, your energy at work. So some of the statistics that we know that have been out there for a long time and they just get stronger and stronger, more and more meta-analysis. Look at, multiple studies and pull them together. New studies come out all the time. Different elements take lead a little bit and compete for which one is most important. But the elements remain pretty similar and the statistics do too. And that is that happiness is seriously good for business, as I know, but we’re talking up to 300% more innovation. And I know that’s something that we’re really starting to think about. That’s really important in terms of how adaptable and agile we need to be in this business world. 21% higher productivity is a Gallup stat, 147 higher percent earnings per share. When you look at the broad perspective, And then also things that are [00:09:00] extremely detrimental and a real issue these days, like burnout and stress go way down.

And we’re talking about numbers in the sixties there. And the way that works a little bit, just to give you a sense of this, is that when you are engaged and happy to be doing something that you’re good at, you’re working in a strength based approach. A new word that we’re using at work is love.

Another one that you would’ve been booted out of, you would’ve been booted out. Absolutely. Board room, we’re talking out loud, at your work, now, Marcus Buckingham is doing a lot of work around that. Around that. Yeah. Love it. Work. Yes. And it’s not really okay to like your work anymore.

It’s much more powerful to love it. You don’t need to love all of it. It’s only about 20%. But when you do, when you feel like you are contributing to something meaningful, when you are utilizing your skills, and also when you care about the people around you. It becomes more than putting the mask on, showing up, punching and punching out.

We see really drastic increases in performance because [00:10:00] you wanna perform for that person next to you because you care about the project that you’re on. In other ways we can think about values, for example. A lot of companies have values, but if you believe, that something is important and you’re able to act in accordance with that value every day at work.

You don’t have to put the mask on and be someone else. You have more energy to show up and be yourself. Then you also start to see your energy increase. And there’s a biological reasons for all of this as well, but essentially what happens is we feel better, so we get all these positive emotions, coming in joy, excitement, gratitude, pride. You may feel proud of where you work. And these release neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin. We’ve heard a lot about some of these molecules, and what these do is they send a signal, Through your body now, have you ever thought about emotion? If you break down that word, it’s [00:11:00] energy in motion.

So emotions come in, they are signals, they’re information for our body, and they actually send information through it. When you’re sad, you usually have less energy. You shut down. When you feel happy or proud, then you usually open up. You ever notice that you feel more energy so you can actually feel them running through you and they also prime your brain to work differently.

So we organize information quicker. We can adapt to changes. Ever notice when you are down, you are not adaptive. Something, they come along, a big change in a project you’ve been working on, and it could be just the end of your day. You have no energy to deal with it when you feel up and a twist comes in the road, you can probably handle that a lot better.

So it actually physiologically also PR primes our brain to function better. 

Elisa Tuijnder: I’d love that. I fully agree, fully support what you just said. And I’d love to hear from the people listening with us here on LinkedIn, what was a time when happiness really made a difference or that you can remember it was a competitive advantage or an advantage for yourself or for your [00:12:00] company.

So yeah, let us know and then we’ll see what good it did for you as well. But in the meantime, let me just ask you about, Delivering happiness. The company that you work for, I’ve introduced you, your culture chief there. And it fully has a very similar backstory than that Management 3.0, which we found out when I had when I talked to one of your colleagues for the first time about this keynote.

Tell us about that origin story. How did it come about and how did you get involved in it? 

Sunny Grosso: There was this guy named Tony Hsieh, and he had a little startup called So they were selling shoes online, and he had this idea that if you make people happy, then you’re going to have a more successful business.

So his idea was, hey, we’re not really that great at happiness. And if we wanna be good at it, we should study it, shouldn’t we? Just if you wanna run a marathon, you’re gonna practice, you’re gonna study, you’re gonna look at nutrition and understand how to actually run that [00:13:00] far. So as he started studying happiness, he said what if we, instead of following a traditional business model, actually, we’ll roll this in. 

The science and the principles of happiness. There’s so much research here on how to help our people create an environment for them to thrive and feel good. So the giant experiment that was Zappos went on for a long time and then became, the case study and how you utilize happiness. They grew to a, multimillion dollar company.

They were acquired by Amazon at a certain point. So through that, Tony Hsieh and Jen Lim said, Hey, this is a good idea for businesses. Why don’t we actually help businesses do this? So the delivering happiness, the organization was born and that’s when I joined, right at the very beginning. We started to say, What is a model that we can help roll this out to all organizations around the world?

So we started to pull other elements from all of that science. We started to create frameworks and models, utilize ’em, test them. For me, I’ve been studying [00:14:00] happiness and wellbeing this whole time. How Not just it. Businesses, not just statistics, which was a very big part of it at first because you had to get people to listen, right?

But very much how does it affect people? Because we are always humans at work. So it always starts with the most, basic and common denominator is that your people matter. Your people create the results for you. And even as robotics and AI and the world continues to increase in complexity and technology soars around us.

Is more and more valuable, what humans can do. So that human element is really what it comes down to. So we’ve been studying and applying that, globally for, I’ve been to about 30 countries now and worked with organizations in all kinds of industries, even in countries and industries that think that they are different.

For example, in Japan, there’s a very different approach to work there, and I’ve had the honor and privilege I would say, of learning again and again that people are humans. Wherever you go, we [00:15:00] just express ourselves differently. So this is the stuff that we’ve seen really works and we’ve been helping organizations achieve not just financial results, but really human results 


Elisa Tuijnder: It’s funny that you mentioned Japan because we have one of our Management 3.0 facilitators who will be doing a talk at the conference about, the state of Management 3.0 and the state of happiness in Japan, and how he struggled to break through that barrier and, but now it’s taking off it’s, Yeah it is there. It is absolutely 

Sunny Grosso: there. Fantastic. We launched a DH Japan about five years ago, so Cool. Yeah. 

Elisa Tuijnder: We’ll be able to compare notes and we’ll be able to compare notes. 

You talked about Tony Hsieh and I remember when I started my career, I was coincidentally working for a small management consultancy firm.

And that was the thing at that point. And I was like, this is amazing. And then, yeah. And then I ventured [00:16:00] off into something else. And then now I’m back to this amazing thing and obviously talking to you which is also crazy. He was obviously very widely revered as a business leader and a pioneer in, in this work.

So were, how was it working alongside of him? Just have to double check here, ask you about that. . 

Sunny Grosso: I love that question because most of your audience probably knows that he passed away. That’s a very untimely and tragic. So we miss him tremendously. And honestly, I didn’t work side by side with him that much.

Pretty much he and Jen Li started delivering happiness and we took off , so we were kinda out in the world. Yeah. We had opportunities to come together and discuss how things were going, whatnot. But what I will say is he extremely humble. So just so much about other people and about their experience and he was also such an innovator.

What [00:17:00] else can we do? And try, Let’s try something new. He was always experimenting on himself first and others around him, and that humility was really grounding because it helped us focus on others around him. And so that’s something that’s been with us the whole time. And he also really believed in community.

So he was, a little introverted and shy, but always had a huge community around him because his focus on people was just innate. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And that permeates in delivering happiness, I think still today, right? ? It does indeed. Yeah. So how, we talked a little bit about this, but did you, What was your personal journey towards, Cause I just mentioned that I remember being in this management consultancy firm and the book about Zappos came out and was the thing and I always thought somehow I wanted to go back to this. So how did you get to happiness? Did you wake up one day and go, or were you born to be in happiness and wellbeing? 

No, not personal journey. Despite 

my name, [00:18:00] Sunny. 

That’s why I thought you were pretty 

Sunny Grosso: Yeah, Sunny was not always Sunny

I’ve definitely heard that one before. No. I actually was brought up in a household that my mother was a survivor, to be quite honest she’s an incest survivor. She’s had a lot of challenges in her life. She divorced my dad when I was five years old and married another woman when I was six, really sought different paths for her own happiness, but her mentality was always in survivorship and growing up with that around me, I so badly wanted to learn how to thrive.

But that DNA was a part of me, so I really had to work at it. It took a lot of evolution, but it wasn’t something consciously that I was moving towards. I just knew what I didn’t wanna do. A lot of us know that when we’re young, what we don’t wanna do, so we’re moving away from something, and I was aimlessly wandering around. I had actually, tried a lot of different [00:19:00] business approaches. I had flatlined a number of times, found that the title and status were increasing, which is a great feeling for a while. Ooh, I’m making more money. I’m making outta the world. But then my happiness was not, I was feeling bad.

I was feeling alone. I was feeling that there was this gap, something really missing that nobody was talking about and I didn’t understand, but I knew it didn’t feel right. So I continuasly was looking for getting away from these things that weren’t working until a young CEO gave me this book called Delivering Happiness , about a different approach to happiness.

And it was about approaching it through work and through passion and purpose. And for the first time in my life, I actually started moving towards happiness and wellbeing. And so that was really a crucible moment for me, understanding that it was inside of me and that it was about moving towards, not away from something.

And I remember saying, they said, Oh, do you want to join the company? We’re just starting it. We’re [00:20:00] conceptualizing it. And I thought, Consulting. 

That sounds really boring. 

I thought that’s, and that’s about being in offices and giving businesses advice and wearing a suit all the time.

Yeah. Wearing a suit and putting on that mask. And, that’s what I knew about work and what everybody knew about work. And they said at the time no. It’s gonna be different than that. It has to be, and that’s why you’re perfect. So we started to take that vision and roll it into what could this mean?

How do we infuse more humanity? And really a lot of that initial, the case was made by Zappos. That’s why Zappos is so big, because they proved that that business model works. And then our job was to take that and to expand it into a model that would fit any yorganization. So what is a one size fits all way that you can apply this and drop it into any organization and find what happiness involving means to you and your people.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Let’s take it back to the organizations. That meta level what are the [00:21:00] problems that they’re all facing at the moment? You get to be in a multitude of companies across the United States, but also across the world, like we just agreed or talked about. So what is leading them to focus more on their culture?

What is that common challenge that you see that gets them through the door with you. 

Sunny Grosso: It’s been so cool to see this shift. Productivity was a big one for a while. Engagement was a big term before that, and right now since the great resignation, the great quit, quiet quitting, fast quitting, it is absolutely around attraction and retention.

Yeah. Yeah. How do you get great talent? How do you keep them there? How do you. The issues aren’t that much different from pre pandemic. It’s just, it blew up. It blew out of the water. From attracting and retaining great talent to creating sustainability in that. So there was also a time where culture hacks.

We’re in hack this, hack that hack your brain, hack the four hour work week, and now it’s evolved [00:22:00] to, Those hacks are great. They give you little quick wins. They give you that shot of dopamine, right? And they give you some progress, but they’re not going to consistently perform for you in the long run.

Real change takes time. So I have also seen that organizations are now. In many ways, thanks to this pandemic of ours to shift to sustainably creating happiness and wellbeing or environments for those for your team. And that’s a deeper dive, which is extremely rich and very valuable for your business when it’s done with the attention and intention that you can bring to it because it really defines who you are and what happiness means to you so that you can put out the bat signal and your people can find you.

And when you get your people, the right people on board, you’ve got a huge advantage already. And then it’s just about continuing to weave in these other elements of wellbeing. Not going directly at it, not we’re gonna make you happy. Nobody can do that. Only you can choose that only you know exactly your happiness [00:23:00] fingerprint.

But we do know about five to 10 different categories, themes, approaches that are very important to your happiness. So we help organizations define those. For example, a sense of connectedness. Very important. Now that so many organizations are hybrid and remote, what are you doing to connect and unite your employees beyond that superficial level?

Not talking about Facebook likes. I’m talking about when you can call, pick up the phone and call somebody up and say, truly, something’s going up with me. I wanna talk about it. Or how are you. And have one of those kind of meaningful connections. That’s one. Another big one is a sense of progress and growth.

Are you moving, are you growing? Are you finding meaningful growth in the tasks and the work that you do? Because when we’re not growing, we are pretty much going in this economy and environment. So the mentality of our work has changed, and that’s a real gift that, [00:24:00] one of our founders says, Let’s not let a good pandemic go to waste.

So it’s really a gift of the time is to lean into those more and to look at how we can co-create more happy and healthy mentally and emotionally healthy spaces for our people to thrive.

Elisa Tuijnder: Have you ever wondered about one of the following questions? How do we give people and their happiness, the attention they deserve in our organizations and transformations? How do we enable change for people and not push change on people? How do we create the culture and environment we need for people to express themselves?

Of course you have. That’s why you listen to our podcast. But while podcasts are a one way street, our summits are all about interactions. So why don’t you [00:25:00] come and join the conversation with our kick ass keynote speakers, Sunny Grosso, Svenja Hofert, Debra Corey, and Francisco Mahfuz. Take part in our practice sessions, case study sessions, open sessions and global networking, both in Berlin and online.

Go to That is For more info and tickets and as a podcast listener, use the code forwardpod at check. That is forwardpod to let us know you are a friend of the pod and receive some special Martie, the management monster goodies.

Yeah, I talk a lot about the hope, the silver lining of the pandemic and yeah, like that. You said that too, [00:26:00] and for me as well that first question of what gets them through the door. It might be different each time, but actually it’s just a symptom of not having a great work culture, it always actually boils down to the same thing.

It just manifests itself a little bit differently, and then the problem is a little bit more acute each time, and that’s why they come. Yeah. Let’s talk about culture, right? So let’s talk about this essence of culture. What can, what kind of strategies or approaches do you recommend for people that are already trying to build a culture from scratch or there’s always some type of culture, improve the culture or grow the culture that they already have?

How do we go about that? 

Sunny Grosso: I think right now, one of the key things to look at is what is your mentality? What is your ideology about people at work? We’ve been through many, so through history [00:27:00] we have thought that humans don’t wanna work. They’ll show up and do the least amount possible, that they need discipline, that they need regiment, that they need strict guidelines, that it’s about compliance.

We’ve thought that people wanna do good work, but they have, natures that drive them awry that they’ll goof off if they can. We’ve thought that people also wanna do the best work that they can, and sometimes things get in the way. And, you may also think that people wanna do the best work of their lives if you give them the opportunity.

So really start by examining what is your mentality about that? Because when you start to create your organizational culture that’s going to rear its head. So you may not get through the whole thought process of it, but why? The how you are designing your workplace is a byproduct of what you think people are there to do and how they’re capable.

So if you put in a lot of rules and regulation, you’re going to get a culture of compliance. It starts with your belief. If you believe, that people are there to do their best work every day. And that things [00:28:00] get in the way. You may become one of those, leaders who are removers of obstacles. So wherever you, your belief pattern is gonna show that it’s very hard to see because it’s about looking at ourselves, but it’s also an essential skill for leadership.

So start there and then start small. Start with your, What’s most important to you? Now, there’s a DNA in every organization. You can think of values as that dna. You can also think of it as like the root system. In a force where trees grow, their roots go down. Now you can have one tree and its roots can go down, and that one tree can be standing on its own.

But when a storm comes. It can be uprooted pretty easily. Now you may have a forest of trees. You can think of like Sequoia trees or I don’t know what kind of trees you have around there. We have oak trees here as well, . So 

Elisa Tuijnder: we don’t have sequoias in Belgium. We don’t have, they’re just part of the world, but we got, we know them because obviously they’re that beautiful and famous. [00:29:00] 


Sunny Grosso: are. And they’re actually a pretty great metaphor because they’re some of the tallest trees in the world. And you would look at them and you would think their root system must be very deep. It’s not, It’s actually some of the shallowest, it’s about four feet. That’s really interesting.

For trees that can grow 400 feet. . But the way that they support the growth to that height is that all those roots are co connected. So they mingle together underneath the surface. They hold each other up basically. And that’s what your values can do when you have alignment of values. You can use that DNA to grow everyone in your organization stronger and taller.

And then a storm comes by and all the trees are together with their root system together. It’s very unlikely that some change. The environment’s gonna topple you over. So finding out your values is really key. And also your purpose. What’s our North star? What is it beyond money that’s got nothing to do with title, nothing to do with status, but what is it that we really hope to give or [00:30:00] achieve or change in this world?

And then utilize that to make decisions as you’re a north star out there. And I think it’s very easy to go awry and to make short term decisions based on money, based on all the change that’s happening around us. It’s exponential is the word that’s been used and it. Absolutely. I propose from what we’ve seen too, so to whether those changes that North Star’s very important.

You have to be able to get your direction and say, Are we making the right long-term decisions for our culture, our people? 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. So Phil is asking on the chat whether there’s like a time line that you can do so can an organization actually changed culturally in one year of time? And I know there’s a lot of different, inputs and parameters for that.

But in your perspective is is there something. Timeline wise that you can talk about? 

Sunny Grosso: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And of course it depends. So one of the major, starting points is how inspired and ready are your leaders. [00:31:00] Do you have some of the ingredients? Do they believe in doing this for the right reasons?

Is it about monetary, quick wins? So the way to get people, but there’s also ways to get people on board. So we always start there with a culture transformation or change. And, the word transformation is too long term these days. It’s almost approaching any long term change.

So it could just be a values change. But the starting point is do leaders understand what it means to them personally? So this is not, Yeah. Let’s do it. That’s great. Go and take care of that. It’s, Wait a minute, how do I feel about this? So the work has to be done individually first, and then you start to get the commitment.

So get through that stage first. Why does it matter on the me? Me is in the middle, then go to the we level, the team in the organization. Okay, what are some elements that we want to adapt and change? Also, what’s our magic? A lot of organizations really skip over that. We want to [00:32:00] encode that magical DNA in the company as well.

And from there, start to roll out initiatives. You need supports of course, and we almost always launch some sort of a culture ambassador team so you, it’s not just top down, of course, that does not work. You have to democratize the change. People don’t like to feel that change is happening to them. We’ve got to let them be a part of that change, involve them in those processes, give them a say.

Not always necessarily their way. Be transparent about it. So if you take the right steps, there’s a lot of little human steps that you’re hearing in this that will set you up for success. And really the timeline has to involve those little human steps that make change approachable because. Just one last thing on this.

In general, humans don’t like change. That’s not choice. Do we choose change? That’s great. We wanna change our outfit, we wanna change our hair, then it’s novel. One study says that we like about 10% of change in our life and the other 90% [00:33:00] we want stability. Something to depend on. So we need to create those conditions for successful evolution of 

Elisa Tuijnder: culture.

Yeah. Yeah. And that is actually hardwired in our brains. So it’s literally a biological thing. Yeah. So Sarah is one of our, is our community builder. She’s asking, what’s your favorite success client story what was your favorite transformation, and what was also the hardest one?

So she likes to see the opposite side of the scale. 

Sunny Grosso: She likes to see you involved. Okay. One amazing story is Northwell Health. They have over 50 hospitals in the United States and some 50,000 employees. And what’s really stunning to me about this story is healthcare workers had it about the worst through the pandemic.

I know education took a hit too, but there’s some industries that really wasn’t literally life and death every day. They were told [00:34:00] not to go home and to spend time with their loved ones after being on, 20 hour shifts where they could contract this virus that could kill them, and then they could kill their family.

And we had worked with Northwell Health on first. First they wanted to rebrand. Oh, we’re rebranding. Wait a minute. Our values look a little old. We’re not sure those really represent us. So it was a business idea to do a rebrand to get more business as they grew. And then they said, wait, we’re not living our values.

And when we came in, we said you’ve got to live your values, honestly from who you are. So we started with that same approach. Me. So we worked with the leadership on what is it that you truly value? What is your purpose? What’s the North star? What brought you here? Once we achieved some clarity, We started to help them to enact some practices to roll that out.

So they actually rolled that, a program like that out to everyone in the organization. They landed on a culture of care. I’ll forget now, but it’s like commitment, appreciation, [00:35:00] respect engagement. Some, something like that. Care stood for what they believed in, and they let everybody say, You know what?

It is about care that I care about. I’m a committed person. I really believe in relationships. This is important to me because of who I am, because of my roots. So now my roots are intermingling with yours and they’re coming together. Yeah. Once we had that started there the leaders started to share stories about what different elements of care mean.

So every time that they had a meeting or an opportunity to speak, leaders would stand up and share a story of care about one of their hospital workers. One of their patients. And so this foundation was set before the pandemic, but what’s really amazing to me is how they stuck to it and amplified it in the pandemic.

When they were told not to go outside or just to, with the patients, they would wheel the patients out who had actually survived covid. Celebrate with them holding up signs and, giving them a sense of progress, [00:36:00] talking about how it was possible that they did this. So through these practices, they not only survived the pandemic, you could say in ways they thrived.

So they made a movie about them called the Front Line, which is about what they faced during that time and they’ve continued to climb on the best places to work. I believe they were down around number 90 on the best places to work. And they rose way up somewhere in the top 10, or could have been 13, I’ll have to look those up for you.

But, so they saw incredible impact. One of the hardest . We were working with an organization they were actually in Kazakhstan. Their slogan was, We build happiness. They were in construction. Oh, wow. Yeah. . Yeah. And so they said, We’re not really sure that we’re building happiness. So we came in and what they had was a very hierarchical top down driven culture of control and command.

And there was not a lot of freedom, autonomy, choice, individuality. [00:37:00] There was no real room for people to really openly be themselves. So they needed to grow. They wanted to become global, so they needed attract, retain, and get that under control. So one of the hardest things that they had a change of CEO.

In the middle of the project and the new CEO really wanted to go back to this command and control, so the carrot and the stick as we were, inviting values and co-ownership and participation into the changes of the organization. So that’s really back to that first comment that I made, which is to think about your mentality.

Mentality matters. What is, what do you think people are capable of? What do you think of their nature? And this is maybe hard to think about because it always points back at you. Your thoughts come from your own pattern. So we end up having to look at ourselves and our history, and sometimes it’s a challenging one to consider.

So that was hard. 

Elisa Tuijnder: I can imagine. Yeah. [00:38:00] So here at Management 3.0, we’re absolutely, super excited that you’re coming to Berlin and that we get to meet you there. And here you talk not only, not once, but twice because you’re also leading a workshop for us and then doing a keynote talk. So the keynote talk is called Humanity and Wholeness for High Performance.

Don’t, and I don’t want you to spoil anything, but do you wanna tell us in short what you’re coming to do with the workshop and with the keynotes and you know why it’s gonna be really cool?

Sunny Grosso: Yeah. Elisa first let’s set the stage , we have been through a lot . Yeah. So there’s no ignoring what’s happened and I think we are still processing it.

So we’re gonna start right there with looking at the impact that some of the changes through the pandemic have had on us and our business and what we want. Some of them are very obvious and well known. We mentioned the Great Resignation earlier. There’s also other major changes in the business landscape.

So those have an effect on us, and humanity is really back to the core and to the center of this. [00:39:00] What are the amazing things that’s happened through the pandemic is we have really been given a blank page of sorts to reinvent stubborn, old paradigms of the past that were deeply entrenched and ingrained in our thinking.

Of course, we’re going to work nine to five. Of course, you’re showing up in the workplace and also, more subtle things in terms of the mindset. Why do we work? Do we work for money so we can go out in the world and then have our happiness out there? Or do we work so that we can find fulfillment in meaning and happiness right here in the workplace?

Because the most recent science says, If you’re not happy at work, then it’s very hard to actually be happy in the rest of your life. So we wanna challenge some of those old paradigms and really take advantage of this huge opportunity that we have to redesign what work means around us. And that always starts with that reflection of the individual and the team level.

So I’m going to share some [00:40:00] tools, science, what we’ve learned in 25 years of positive psychology, and also keep it interactive so that there’s a few experiences that your guests are gonna take home with them, where they see and understand some of these concepts. And even have a quick, some quick discussions whether you come to the workshop.

Which will dive much deeper on some of these. Or if you come to the keynote, we’re gonna still have some opportunity to talk about what do these mean and how do I apply them? There will be some simple tools to apply and we’ll also talk about the trick. To turning good habits into culture. So there’s a one time effort you can make those culture hacks are out. Really, it’s not about that anymore. It’s really about consistency. You wanna create habits and rituals in your organization that you know. You brush your teeth once, You don’t not get a cavity. You make it a habit. Brush your teeth every day. You start to create a people for a place for people to connect in a more meaningful way.

You start to look more towards a higher purpose. You define that, you roll it out, and then you [00:41:00] utilize it daily or weekly. So it’s these small changes that we can start to adapt, that we’ll create that environment for happiness and wellbeing for our people. And also really important is the new norm is so much about adaptability.

It is how we respond to disruption in the environment. And that’s not gonna change. By all predictions, it’s gonna continue. The complexity will continue as well. So in order to be adaptable, what do we have to put into place and into effect? So understanding the background and then leaving with some real applicable tools for those.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Fantastic. Sarah says, Oh, that sounds so frustrating about your, scale, the second one. There’s a few more questions but we always end at the podcast and we’re running out of time, so if you have any more questions you’re just gonna have to come to Berlin or go come online to us Because [00:42:00] we’re, our conference is hybrid.

We have for those listening today, we also have a special coupon code of 15% off. So that’s LINKEDINYAY15 and I think one of my colleagues will be happy to to put that into to the chat there for you guys with the links as well. So that leaves me so that I can ask you our question that we always ask which is, we’re really big fan of tangible practices.

It’s very easy to come and say let’s change the culture! But that feels like something very unachievable like this. So we wanna start the first journey. Starts always starts with a, with the first step, or the journey always starts with the first step. So is there anything that our listeners here on LinkedIn and later on the podcast can start implementing tomorrow?

So in addition to some of the things that we’ve already discussed, are there any tips, recommendations? You can offer those people here, to start building a happier life, more value driven [00:43:00] culture in the workplace as well. Absolutely. 

Sunny Grosso: Over my shoulder, Whoops. There, there is the book Beyond Happiness, which is about our experiences in the last 10 years, and there’s a lot of tangible things to apply in that. So that’s a great place to start. And really the impetus of that is that it’s time to go beyond these traditional ideas of what happiness means and really the new happiness is so much about a long term sustainable type. And that is meaning and purpose in your life. Yes, we need pleasure.

Halloween was just here at the, and I dressed up and went out and had a lot of fun, a lot of pleasure, but we always come back to meaning. So there’s, a lot going on in there that I’ll just mention really quick and then I would. You have such an incredible opportunity. It’s when things fall apart, that there’s the most opportunity for change, and that means in you, your individual life and your personal approach to work and in your organizations.

So start with a vision. What could work look like? What [00:44:00] does happiness feel like? Think back to some of your happiness moments at work and then analyze them. Were really good at figuring out what went wrong. Want you to actually pause and dissect some of your success. If you just look at what went wrong, if you’re running away from things like I did for the first half of my life, then we’re only gonna learn how to get away from the things that don’t work.

If you wanna thrive, we have to start to rewire the brain, and we do have a lot of tendencies that keep us in survival to think about how did I succeed and what’s possible next? So that same thinking, apply it and ask yourself the question, what could work be? How could it fill your happiness? That vision is a very important starting point.

And I would love to actually hear some of what that vision sounds like, either through your past experiences or envisioning a new way that you’d like to show up and work and experience. Okay. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah and anybody wanna sharing that one with us today? Wants to share that on the chat what they think it is.[00:45:00] 

Do I wish we had so much more time, but we will have more time. We will have more time very soon. Ah, that’s actually making me nervous that it’s gonna be so soon, but also very excited to see you there and I hope that’s some of the people listening here today now or on the podcast later on will be joining us and will be armed with all these great questions.

So again, thank you so much for joining us Sunny. Can’t wait to see you, can’t wait to discuss this. Can’t wait to see the workshop and get deeper into these things. And your keynote talk as well. 

Sunny Grosso: Elisa, it’s been such a pleasure. You know so much about this yourselves, and I can’t wait to meet you all, I’m very friendly and personable.

I know my name is Sunny, so feel free to reach me and at the conference I’ll be there. So I’ll be looking forward to having some chats with you about really what happiness means and how I can help you. 

Elisa Tuijnder: All right. Thank you. Thank you for being here and thank you everybody that was listening right now and later on.

So thanks again. Thanks everyone.[00:46:00] 

You’ve been listening to The Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review. Share the happiness with your colleagues, family, your friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management 3.0.

Have a listen to more of our insightful podcasts