‘Feel, Understand, Act’: 5 Questions With World Happiness Summit Founder

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World Happiness Summit WoHaSu

Can a summit make you happier? Can a summit make the world happier? Luis Gallardo—former Global CMO of Deloitte and President of the EMEA Brand Marketing practice at Burson Marsteller, President of the Brands & Rousers Foundation and the founder of the World Happiness Summit—believes it can.

As Gallardo is promoting it, The World Happiness SummitWorld Happiness Summit WoHaSu (WoHaSu) is more than a conference but the start of a global movement to increase the awareness of the elements of happiness—and how to achieve them.

The mission is to educate and evangelize for happiness as a life practice. The summit, which will take place in March 2017 in Miami, is bringing together scientists, psychologists, philosophers, spiritual leaders and cultural icons in a three-day conference that’s the first of its kind.

brandchannel sat down with Gallardo to discuss the upcoming summit and learn why it will be a landmark event for individuals and brands alike.

BC: What’s the story behind WoHaSu? What inspired it, what is it, who is it for—and who do you anticipate attending?

Luis GallardoLuis Gallardo: The inspiration came from the realization that we are living in a moment when more and more people are focused on being, rather than doing. This is the right time to build an event that focuses on something that is fundamental to everyone: developing, innovating and making society more sustainable and friendly—with the ultimate focus on being happy.

The science of happiness is somewhat new. Being richer, having more or achieving your purpose alone isn’t going to make you happier—but happiness will help you achieve that purpose and be more successful.

If you look at nutrition, preventive medicine, corporate well-being, spirituality, financial well-being, positive psychology—there are so many people in the world doing an amazing job of provoking change. We want to bring them together but with focus: talking about how we can be happier.

BC: What role will brands will play at the summit?

A: There are more and more CMOs, chief social responsibility officers, chief happiness officers and chief wellness officers who understand that brands need to do more to improve the well-being of their employees and customers and to make an impact on society. Many are incorporating values of happiness into their core values, such as compassion, altruism, forgiveness, gratitude.

When activated in the right way, those are really powerful for society, employees, customers and other stakeholders. The role of brands is important, but what is even more important is the role of those leading these brands.

BC: What takeaways can attendees expect from the summit?

Instead of remaining passive, the whole dynamic of this event is going to be around changing in groups. We’ll assign attendees into teams of between nine and 12 people, the idea being to create tribes before the event, then have them arrive and grow and discover together.

After the event, there will be a long tail. We’ll have support, coaching, follow-up content from Deepak Chopra and Ismael Cala, and more. We’re building the largest intranet ever used for an event to maintain connections before, during and after the summit. Attendees will have enough support to remain an active part of the movement year-round.

BC: What are some ways you’ve learned to be happier in work or in life?

This has been a journey for me. My background is building brands. I worked at Y&R, WPP, I was global CMO of Deloitte and I was part of the WEF (the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland) for many years as one of its partners. There’s a moment where you need to stop focusing on work, and focus on being.

Now that I’ve been talking to so many professors, gurus and thought leaders, there are so many small tips. One that many brands already know is very important is to have a higher purpose. It sounds trivial but this is something that, with a little help, every person in the world can define and find.

Another is to say “thank you” in a consistent way. There’s an exercise that is very simple, which is to repeat three good things that happened each day. When you do that over a period of 21-40 days, you create a habit. Once you’ve created a habit, your actual brain chemistry starts to change and it becomes easier to be happy.

BC: What are some examples of the business benefits of happiness? How does happiness improve prospects for growth?

Normally this question is asked with the assumption that there is one person in a company whose job is to promote happiness at work. But it’s down to the decisions of real people who realize that positive behaviors provoke positive change in their daily lives.

We know that 95 percent of people leave companies because of their direct manager. Real leaders understand that toxic feeling provoke unhappiness, and people react. There shouldn’t be one leader in the world, at work and outside of work, who spreads toxic emotions and feelings. This is common sense, “Do we want negative and bad leaders managing in our organizations?” I don’t think anyone does.

This is not about productivity, it’s about making a fundamental change in the way we understand our world. However, there are real, measurable increases in productivity that follow well-being. Just doing a little can improve the productivity, and more importantly the happiness, of all people.


The first World Happiness Summit will take place in Miami in March 2017.

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