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Insights About Leadership, Happiness and the Future From Arianna Huffington, Will.i.am and Other Global Thought Leaders

Visionaries gathered at the World Government Summit in Dubai grappled with how to harness the power of technology without letting it overpower our humanity.
Insights About Leadership, Happiness and the Future From Arianna Huffington, Will.i.am and Other Global Thought Leaders
Image credit: Paul Morigi | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The way we work has changed and as a result, the way we lead must, too. People have more communication tools but less time free from distraction. We are all constantly consumed by work and tasks, which results in many employees working themselves into depression and exhaustion. This has to change. It’s not healthy, it doesn't contribute to a more effective workday and data shows that it’s bad for business.

Early this month I attended the World Government Summit in Dubai. The summit had some amazing leaders in various industries speaking and hosting workshops about happiness, mindfulness, leadership and creating the workplaces of the future. Here are 10 insights from summit speakers:

Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global 

“We are working in a world where to be constantly "switched on" is rewarded, where burnout equals success, where we forget to recharge ourselves but not our phones, where we take better care of our devices than ourselves, a world where we are losing sleep and our humanity -- and this is clearly not working. The idea is to fundamentally change the culture we have created that glamorizes people who are all the time switched on and connected rather than those that have their priorities right and prefer to spend time with their children or themselves; and let’s face it, who knows how best to create such a world better than women.”

Related: Arianna Huffington: Talk to Your Children About Your Struggles

Will.i.am., founder of the band Black Eyed Peas and STEM education advocate

“Creating lifelong learners is critical in this century when it is predicted that 65 percent of current students will go into jobs that do not currently exist. We can overcome the issue of access through the use of smartphones. In India, almost 70 percent of students have access to a smartphone. When it comes to addressing personalization, we need to look at how each student learns. This is not possible in the classroom but can be captured on a platform, on which a student profile can be built. Finally, we need to gift students a love of learning, rather than learning through fear of exams, by developing high-quality, engaging and accessible education.”

Related: Will.i.am, 'Dumb-thumbing,' and the Perils of Tech Addiction

Nisha Jagtiani, Group Director and board member of Landmark Group, exclusive partner of the Global Dialogue for Happiness

“Whether you’re a small or large organization, you have an obligation to make a difference in the community -- it all starts with a purpose. This is how companies can really succeed in making a difference. The happiness movement lies in its ability to connect with every employee. That is the biggest challenge for us at Landmark Group since we’re spread across so many regions. But it is also a beautiful reason for us to come together since the pursuit of happiness is for everyone. This is why we call it a movement because we truly believe in its multiplier effect.”

Related: How to Redesign Your Life for Success and Happiness

Andy Schwartz, Principal Investigator in the World Well-Being Project (WWBP)

Social media tools not only have predictive value but increase our understanding of well-being. The World Well-Being Project analyzes millions of Facebook and Twitter posts to predict geographic variations in personality, life satisfaction and mortality rates. By measuring the quality of life through social media, we have been able to create the Well-Being Map, an interactive demographic map of the United States that was generated by analyzing more than 37 billion publicly available tweets.”

Related: Researchers Find That Social Media Can Make You Happier or Miserable

Kazuo Yano, Corporate Chief Scientist at Hitachi Ltd.

“A happy organization is a more productive organization. Small interventions that improve happiness in the workplace have been proved to increase productivity by up to 30 percent. AI allows us to move from rule-oriented processes to outcome-oriented processes.”

Related: 18 Ways to Become a Happier Person

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, renowned economist and Chair of the World Happiness Council

“Work provides a purpose, establishes social relationships, structure and routine in our daily lives. There are four ways in which you can increase your job satisfaction and engagement: by improving work-life balance, by getting essential skills training, by gaining autonomy and, most importantly, by improving the relationship with your superiors.”

Related: The Secret to Happiness at Work Is the Right Job for Enough Money

Goldie Hawn, actress and founder of The Hawn Foundation

"You have a choice to look at the glass half full or the glass half empty...If you look at the potential of that glass half full and think about it for a minute, it would change the way your brain fires -- and change how your neurons wire together. So, the more you look at the glass half full, the happier you'll be."

Related: Entrepreneurs: Your Irrational Optimism Is Necessary

Dr. Saki Santorelli, Director of Stress Reduction Clinic, University of Massachusetts

“To do our jobs well, to take care of our children, to meet our colleagues, to develop teams at work and get the job done -- all of this requires us to be present [in the now]. One of the characteristics of the digital age is the sense of virtual instantaneous connectivity that we have. There is a lot of data that suggests that being ‘out there’ is so appealing, that you are losing some capacity to really touch base with what is ‘here’.”

Related: 5 Ways You Can Use Mindfulness to Fix Your Brain, Decrease Stress and Improve Performance

Fred Kofman, Vice President of LinkedIn

“True leaders have no followers. A true leader is simply the first one heading towards his/her purpose. People don’t follow leaders, they follow the purpose. It is not about what happens to individuals, but the way they choose to respond in a difficult situation and the conscious choices they make for a greater purpose rather than simply reacting -- this is what makes the difference. Being mindful is about always asking what am I going to do, and why.”

Related: How Emotional Intelligence Can Boost Your Career -- And Save Your Life

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy

 “Leaders should not be going against open free trade for their own political gain -- and hence trade should not be politicized. In the United Arab Emirates, there are a lot of challenges arising. Going forward, to ensure the best possible movement of trade, we need to focus on building superior infrastructure and framework. We also have the responsibility as a nation to help less developed countries.”

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