UNLEASH World Conference and Expo, the world’s greatest conference on the Future of Work and Technology, has just announced Esther Perel and Matthieu Ricard as main stage keynotes in Amsterdam this fall.
If you haven’t heard of Perel, the world’s leading relationship psychotherapist, you are in for a happy surprise. Her unmatched ability to tell it direct has made her a fan-favorite on the TED stage and on her award-winning podcast — where she once told a husband to “shut the f##k up” and listen. Anyone who knows me can attest that this is a lady after my own heart. No surprise, I came across her work four years ago when my own marriage hit the wall and, contrary to all the endless advice and predictions that most family and friends provided, her advice and that of an American friend in Budapest would help change my life in unthinkable (at the time) positive ways.
I observed the audience’s reaction to Mo Gawdat talking last week about innovation and happiness at UNLEASH America in Las Vegas — everyone needed it. I saw earlier this year how Perel won over the large crowd as the best speaker at the South by Southwest Interactive show in Austin, Texas. I’d say that in all our years of producing inspiring keynotes that Perel is one who will make a big difference and celebrate our new mission. Not satisfied that she’s helped change the lives of millions of couples, she has decided to join us in unleashing the chains of workplace relationships in the new digital age; it’s a world every bit as complex as marriage, where emotions run high and hidden and unspoken inhibitions and feelings can sabotage the whole enterprise.UNLEASH has a thriving startup ecosystem and we are working hard to support startups in achieving their often ambitious expectations. Interestingly, 65 percent of startups fail because the relationship between the co-founders stumbles. This is same percentage as for the top 10 countries’ divorce rate worldwide, so we can draw a correlation between the two as we see that more relationships in the world fail than succeed.
The world’s leading analyst on the Future of Work, Josh Bersin, recently highlighted the move from automation to productivity in organizations over the past two years. In the context of the digital revolution, Perel suggests that the way we use our devices in our work and private lives is causing all sorts of new problems to emerge. We all know that square-eyed, always-busy, work-asylum look that rules our world. Perel feels that digital communication can be damaging — that because this kind of communication deprives us of our senses, the levels of distortion between electronic chat and email messaging and face-to-face/voice communication is massive.
Earlier this year, some of our community offered me the common feedback that they were meeting too many people who were unhappy with work/life. Any research data you choose to look at from the past 10 years puts the average at about 54 percent of people being unhappy with their work. How do we deal with this? The UNLEASH team thought it would be a step in the right direction to find the happiest man in the world to close the show this year and send people home with some real fuel and substance, to make a difference in helping us change the world.
I am truly delighted that we will be joined by Ricard, who has been best speaker at Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations, the World Government Summit, at Salesforce Conference and at TED, where his talks on happiness and altruism have been viewed by millions of people. As a trained scientist and Buddhist monk, he has been actively participating in the dialogue between East and West for the past 20 years, and he’s an active participant in scientific research on the effects of meditation on the brain. He lives in Nepal and devotes all the proceeds from his books and activities to 200 humanitarian projects in Tibet, India and Nepal, benefiting over 300,000 people every year.
I am a trained scientist, non-religious, some form of agnostic, and my thesis on holistic science some 20 years ago closed with the idea that there is a hidden order to our world that could become our defining discourse — that linear causality where we dream the future and make it a reality; I believe humanity is collectively encoded to navigate forward. As we have evolved from HR Tech World to UNLEASH it feels fitting to have the first incarnation of UNLEASH World be closed by a Buddhist monk!
Imagine if every person in our community could make the same difference as Ricard and Perel, who reach millions of lives each year — then combine this with Gawdat’s OneBillionHappy.org.
How different can our world be in five to 10 years time? It’s up to all of us to work together to make it different. The work revolution is real, and I feel we have the ship pointing in the right direction. For the generations to come, the choice has to be the idea of a “Star Trek” world we discussed with Vivek Wadhwa two years ago in Silicon Valley, where we boldly step forward into the future.