TRANSCRIPTION

MG:
Good Morning, this is the Podcast “FLOW INTO YOUR FUTURE SELF”…my name is Marco Giannecchini and my guest today is Stefania Sommariva…
Since years I feel blessed to have got the chance to interview awesome personalities around the world… who have decided to take their own responsibility to live a bold life and make a true impact in the world, in the best way they can.

They are just people like you and me, who just wake up every single day for what they really loveto embrace the unknownto get lost in the ocean of life, to look for the isles of wisdom and harmony…to find order in chaos…people who face in a brave manner every day their fears and sense of imperfection…
to become the best future version of themselves and spread what they consider as beneficial for others in the world.

Thanks, dear Stefania for joining my podcast…

I’m so excited to have her today here in front of me…

Stefania is a kind of person that when you speak with her for the first time you feel as your energetic future cloud would start to change

Stefania lives in the present with a part of her mind, and with the other one is navigating in the future world….

Stefania is a business consultant and coach, who loves to share all her knowledge to support and increase wellbeing in the companies.

I’d describe her as an “Explorer of places, people and innovations”, passionate about continuous improvement and always looking for new tools to refine the best version of herself and the organizations.

 Finally, Stefania is in my perception a perfect example of a well-balanced left-brain and right-brain wired person…

 An analytic and eclectic woman, with great discipline and squisite kindness.
Welcome Stefania to my show…

SS:

Thanks, Marco, for the kind introduction. Well, I must say that I accepted with pleasure your invitation because it seems that we are on this planet with the same mission…
“…to support and increase wellbeing in the companies.”

So, tell me, in your experience as medical manager and consultant world-wide for companies with different cultures and size, how well can companies highlight the best side of their employees?

MG:
Looking back to my 30+ years’ career in the industry, in which I got the chance both to work as a line manager with strategic and operative tasks and as a HR manager, responsible for recruitment and development of leaders, I have to recognize the efforts of many companies which are today successful, mainly because they have been able to attract and retain internationally on the long-term the best talents in the so-called “war-for-talent”.

The Real Problem is the gap between the requirement of the modern world, increasingly demanding for a People and Culture (P&C) approach, based on “Freedom, Mastery & Purpose” and the old-fashioned way of thinking, derived from a Taylorism view of business.

In other words employees are more motivated when they feel free to design their own daily agenda, when they can improve themselves in a specific field, mastering it and if they feel strongly aligned with the corporate values of their employers.

In the corporate world, unfortunately the main mantra „If it cannot be measured according the job description and KPIs, it cannot be managed“ many employees have to accept to work for organisations, based on so-called left brain rules (as I mentioned in an LinkedIn article I posted recently).

As my friend Dr. Nikolaus Dimitriadis nicely describes in one of this LinkedIn articles, we have indeed two perceptual systems: one driven by our right hemisphere (right- brain) and the other by the left hemisphere (left-brain).

In a nutshell:

  • The right-brain perceptual system is in direct contact with reality, connects us with the world and other people (empathy lives there), has a more holistic view of a situation, understands concepts more than complex sentences and loves metaphors
  • The left-brain perceptual system develops abstract models of reality, it does not promote/prefer connectivity with people, it uses only sequential logic, it’s very fluent/skillful with language and hates metaphors.

A KPIs-driven relentless measurement is a “left-brain obsession”, a mental loop which keeps on systems, numbers and benchmarks over people, societies and nature.

It is no surprise then that only a fraction of employees globally are really engaged at work.

Just to make a concrete example from the work environment…

What if, e.g., a medical science liaison manager (MSL), working in medical affairs, cannot be easily and directly measured, because of an international codex frame, which prevents her / his activities to be directly linked to a commercial success?

It looks like a paradox because it is a situation in which actually the MSL’s daily job, e.g., in a pre-launch phase, impacts more on the company’s success in the marketplace than those elements that the company is generally measuring.

Nikolaus rightly argues that….

“…the western world’s obsession with individuality, self-interest and technological progress has created the empathy deficit, increased levels of loneliness that “is wrenching society apart”, and that favors psychopaths to run our institutions.

We have let loose the left brain to run the show and humanity suffers from an inhibition of its empathetic right brain!”

It needs a conscious and strong effort not to fall into the left brain’s daily traps.

Our left brain’s thirst for control and predictability is evolutionary beneficial.

But if allowed to take total control of our perception of reality, belief systems and daily behaviors we risk everything. Our future included.

So, coming back to your initial question “how well can companies highlight the best side of their employees?” I think world-wide many companies have done some good steps in the right direction, but they are still at the beginning of a long journey.

MG:
The title you suggested for our podcast is The costs of unhappiness in companies. How positive organizations unleash unspoken talent, heading towards a better future.

What do you mean for “unhappiness in companies” and what effects does it have?

SS:
Many people are victims of overwork and live on the verge of breakdown. These same people are frequently underused because their energies remain blocked and their unique talents unexpressed. These people spend all their work-time just for an economic return. Due to this epidemic of disinterest, they end up getting sick.

Have you ever heard the following sentences?

  • Throw your heart over the obstacle
  • I expect the maximum from you, otherwise we risk closing
  • For me, numbers count
  • Yes this idea is good but we have other things to think about
  • I expect more proactivity
  • We are doing well, but not very well
  • I’m sorry you have a fever but you can’t get sick today
  • Can you do this before you go to your daughter’s play?

They are a clear example of negative chemistry.

REMEMBER: You cannot change a person who sees no problem in his behavior. You can only change the way you react to that behavior.

Emotions are chemical and every time the REACTIVE mode is triggered in our body, we produce a series of hormones such as cortisol (stress hormone), adrenaline and norepinephrine that, if they remain in circulation for a long time, can have harmful effects on health. Don’t forget that our default system is made to overestimate threats and dangers and underestimate opportunities and resources.

MG:
You are making a very important point here…and neuroimaging and neuropharmacology are helping us to understand the vital importance of your comments. We are the brain cocktail that we produce daily. I.e we behave and plan our activities on the base of the neurochemicals which are floating in our synaptic spaces…

So, if we keep our brain and our body constantly under the impression that “we have to react to several possible dangers, we are blocked in a mental matrix, a mental imagery of an eternal battle, in which we have to fight or to fly to survive. And if we have to survive, wellbeing is surely for our brain not the first priority…please go ahead…

SS:

Some numbers to better understand the value.

  1. According to Gallup 87% of employees are demotivated, with a loss of productivity of 500 billion.
  2. In Italy, among the over 50, only 31% feel valued and „active“. The rest is defined in „difficulty“ (46%) or „lost“ (+ 23%) – Valore D & Cattolica University Research
  3. Harvard Medical School shows that the 96% of leader experience the burnout.
  4. The World Health Organization has stated that depression is the main cause of disability worldwide and in 2020 it will be the second disease the world will deal with.
  5. In Europe, 40 million workers suffer from „related work stress“ and in Europe 84 million people suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug addiction – Source Sole 24ore
  6. all these trends are directly related to the low level of employee engagement which, in turn, results in:
  • loss of revenue of 32,7 %,
  • 37% more absenteeism
  • 49% more accidents at work

MG:
Is it possible to improve the situation, in a way which may guide us towards a future of prosperity and well-being?

SS:
“Positive organizations” are a reality today. There is a solid literature supported by numbers, evidence and case studies that shows that this type of organization achieves results above expectations:

  • +300% Innovation Ability (HBR)
  • +44% Retention (Gallup)
  • +37% Sales Increase (S. Achor)
  • +31% Productivity Increase (S. Achor).

The ORG+ are based on the Science of Happiness, that is the set of information, research and practices made available by different scientific disciplines as positive psychology, biology, neuroscience, quantum physics and economics, that have shown that happiness is not only an emotion but a competence, and as such, it can be grown.

MG:
..excellent point…which reminds me that based on new insights on neuroplasticity and epigenetics, the paradigm of corporate cultural learning is changing.
Many companies start to realize that every single employer has to adapt and to learn to increase the survival fitness and the success on the long term of her/his organizations.

And this ideally leveraging on a mind shift accelerated and sustained by a work environment in which she/he can flourish and experience daily wellbeing…please go ahead..

SS:

This information and evidence guide us in shaping the ORG+ as a cultural model, capable of generating and making sustainable over time places where people flourish in relation to others to achieve individual and collective results with deep meaning for both the individual and the company.

A profound cultural change, as urgent as possible.

MG:
Why do these positive organizations release unexpressed talents?

SS:
Positive organizations are places where everyone breathes enthusiasm and genuine passion for what one does, in which one builds healthy relationships, trust and respect among colleagues, in which the leader knows how to be an example of professionalism and humanity.

Contexts in which people feel fulfilled because they have the opportunity to learn, grow and express what they are.

The confidence in their potential and the respect they receive make them feel fully involved and continuously regenerated.

A positive organization is a place where people, as you already mentioned, flourish and achieve results that exceed expectations.

Flowering means growing and prospering, exceeding expectations means doing more than is formally required.

To flourish and prosper people need to feel comfortable, feel good together and exploit the benefits of the physiological condition given by the chemistry of positivity.

So, when we talk about positive organizations, we’re talking about any organized environment that integrates this information into behaviors and processes to generate benefits both internally and externally.

Do not forget that when the purpose that serves mental models based on selfishness and self-interest, behaviors oriented to cynicism and competition appear.

When the purpose – as you mentioned at the beginning – reflects positive mental patterns based on collective goals, people tend to unite, give and do more.

MG:
What have the already existing positive organizations done?

SS:
Positive organizations challenge the conventional organizational model and the whole system of values, principles and beliefs with which most leaders (managers, teachers, public administrators, politicians, parents, entrepreneurs) has built and managed its relationship with the outside world.

Beliefs of conventional model:

  • People are lazy and need to be controlled
  • Life is a jungle, us against them
  • Only the best will survive
  • First the tears and then the cakes
  • Emotions, doubts and dreams must be hidden
  • People are resources to be aligned to the patterns

The three levers to build positive organizations are:

– a purpose, a strong reason that transcends individual interests and therefore recognizable by all members of the organization

– widespread and positive leadership

– consistency in all organizational dimensions (purpose, culture, behavior, processes, procedures, environments and routines).

Here some examples world-wide:

Adriano Olivetti already in the 50’s built the organization following the Positive Organization model: a living system, a network of social relations, a place where people meet, come together around a project worth committing to.

The National Geographic Society uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.
Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has driven impact by identifying and investing in an international community of Explorers: leading scientists, educators, storytellers, conservationists, technologists, and many other change-makers who help us define some of the critical challenges of our time, drive new knowledge, advance new solutions, and inspire positive transformative change.

Patagonia follows this purpose:

They guarantee everything they made because they know prioritizing durability results in consuming less energy, wasting less water and creating less trash. All everyone are doing is in service of their purpose. Whether it is the guy working on social media, the product experts, the women from the laboratory, or the human resource employees, everyone is consciously contributing to Patagonia’s mission

The mission of Ikea is Becoming People & Planet Positive.

They have big ambitions for 2030. Together with co-workers, customers, and partners the world over, they are tackling climate change, unsustainable consumption, and inequality. Our three major focus areas are:

Some examples of how they plan on reaching their goals:
●      Giving IKEA furniture a second life
●      Creating a global clean energy community
●      Introducing more good food that’s good for the planet
●      Aiming to be 100% powered by renewable energy across the entire IKEA value chain
●      Offering zero-emission home deliveries, everywhere
●      Supporting refugees around the world
●      Working with social entrepreneurs
●      Promoting gender balance and equal pay

MG:
It sounds as if we would be at the beginning on a new era, but there is quite a lot to do, before “corporate wellbeing” is part of the companies’ DNA. What can people do in the meantime?

SS:
Your level of happiness is determined by your genetic set-point (accounting for 50% of the variance in happiness), external circumstances (10%), and intentional activity (40%).

Your genetic set-point (50%). Your genes determine 50% of your happiness. In other words, half of your level of happiness is fixed, hence the word set-point. You’re either lucky to have “happy genes” or unlucky to have “unhappy genes.” There’s nothing you can do about it.

External circumstances (10%). This is what shocks most people: Your life circumstances—whether you’re rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, married or divorced, beautiful or plain, driving a new or an old car—only account for a measly 10% of your happiness. This explains why some kids in Brazilian slums just as happy as grumpy millionaires in the Western world can be. “Stuff” and other circumstances just don’t have much of an impact on happiness.

Intentional activity (40%). This refers to our behavior: what we do and how we think. As far as boosting our happiness goes, this is where the money is. Why? Because it makes up a whopping 40% of our happiness. Plus, our behavior is much easier to change than our circumstances.

So, there you have it. That’s how happiness works.

There are two important takeaways here.

First point, happy people aren’t happy because they have more money, faster cars, or better looks than their less happy peers. Instead, where they differ is in their behavior: they engage in more behaviors that boost happiness, such as spending time with their family, practicing optimism, exercising regularly, savoring life’s pleasures, living in the present moment, or expressing gratitude for what they have.

At the neurobiological level, if I repeated every day a behavior oriented to the training of well-being or certain states of mind, thanks to the principle of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis this allows me almost to rewrite the wiring of my brain.

Even though I was born with a genetically unfavorable predisposition, in reality my behavior counts because every concrete experience of mine binds in my brain.

If I’m constantly experiencing a certain kind of things, they create a pattern that becomes a pattern of behavior.

If I wanted to train well-being, positivity and happiness I have to intentionally and repeatedly experience that goes in that direction, shaping my brain towards a form oriented to flourish rather than to depress.

Second point, Positivity is a choice that depends on us.

Every thought, every word, every action, every experience we make leaves a trace in our neural network. So, we have the extraordinary power to make our brains bloom.

How? Choosing the positivity and all that boost it.

MG:
I agree 300 % with your statement..in my TED Talk “The walk from a DREAM to an extraordinary life” I’m sharing my happiness & success code, which is DREAM-THINK-FEEL-ACT…which basically plays around the concept that POSITIVITY IS A DAILY CONSCIOUS CHOICE, which leads almost automatically to “success” !

Now..tell me, Stefania, approaching the end of our podcast, which are in your experience the behaviors that accelerate the development of happiness?

SS:
Here are the behaviors that accelerate the development of happiness as a competence:

– to express gratitude and appreciation

– practice and live kindness

– forget

– savour the moments

– feed and take care of their social capital

– search for meaning

– Meditate

– take care of their own wellbeing

Start being a positive leader of yourself!!!!

MG:
Before we conclude this awesome podcast with you, dear Stefania, would you like to give to the audience some general information on how people interested in the today’s topic can reach you out for having more information on your work / yourself…?

SS:
I am at your disposal for questions, curiosities, insights and sharing.

Write me to: stef.sommariva@gmail.com

MG:
I do not want to try to summarize this incredible, inspiring, transforming conversation with you, dear Stefania.

Stefania accepted to share with you, who are listening to us, the transcription of our podcast today, which you can find in some days on my blog site of my FLOW Consciousness Academy

Just a first final consideration, which matters to me …

“..people are not just working“. Having a job and a salary is not sufficient today.

And “Human resources” are not resources, they are people.

Organizations and leaders e should know that they deal with “people and culture” all the time, with people who are all unique and incredible for their qualifications and experience

People are what make the difference.

Secondly, “positive organizations” are still a new function, which have the power to definitely leave behind the legacy of the past, to embrace new philosophies & styles of work and life, which enable employees to be more intrinsically motivated, to perform beyond expectations, to be more resilient and creative at work…in one word to let them to forget that they are “working” because “they are just doing what they love”….

…thanks dear Stefania, for having shared with us today your story and your insights ….

(end)