You are here

Harvard ‘Happiness’ Professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar Speaks at Spertus about Creating Great Places to Work

Harvard ‘Happiness’ Professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar Speaks at Spertus about Creating Great Places to Work

A Feature from the October 2015 issue of JUF News.

Thanks to a new initiative at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, this fall Chicagoans will have a rare opportunity to spend an afternoon learning from the author of Being Happy, Happier (a New York Times bestseller), and Choose the Life You Want .

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar will appear at Spertus Institute on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 pm to discuss How Great Leaders Create Great Places to Work.

At a time when employee satisfaction (and sometimes the lack thereof) is important enough to make headline news, frank discussions about workplace happiness are critical. Much of the recent press has focused on major corporations, but the need to create positive work environments is equally — if not more — important for nonprofit organizations and agencies, which often face additional hurdles in hiring and retaining top talent.

According to a recent study by The Leadership Pipelines Initiative, this is particularly true in the Jewish community, which is why Spertus Institute will feature Dr. Ben-Shahar as the inaugural event in its yearlong initiative on Great Places to Work. "Attracting and retaining first-rate professionals is a challenge for many Jewish organizations," according to Spertus President and CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis. "More often than not, organizational leaders have the capacity to address this issue before it becomes a crisis."

An organizational psychologist with a PhD from Harvard University, Dr. Ben-Shahar is known for teaching Harvard's most popular class, Positive Psychology, as well as the hugely successful The Psychology of Leadership. Today, he consults and lectures around the world on leadership, happiness, innovation, and resilience. He lives with his family in Israel and has not made a Chicago appearance since 2008.

At Spertus, he will share groundbreaking research and trailblazing insights on how employers and employees can significantly improve workplace satisfaction and performance. He will highlight best practices from institutions that have successfully helped staff find purpose in their work and have established lasting patterns of personal and organizational growth.

After an intermission, Dr. Ben-Shahar will transition from the philosophy of positive workplaces to the real-world steps participants can take to make their businesses, organizations, and agencies great places to work.

In a recent statement, Tal Ben-Shahar said, "More and more research is pointing to the fact that creating a positive and dynamic work environment is a good investment. Organizations with this kind of work environment bring out higher levels of creativity, engagement, and motivation in their employees. For too long, organizations and individuals have had it wrong-thinking that success, whether financial or other-leads to happiness. In fact, the exact opposite is the case: increasing levels of happiness lead to more success."

"I look forward to speaking at Spertus Institute," he continued, "which has taken a leadership role in bringing the issue of workplace happiness forward in the Jewish community and the larger nonprofit arena."

Tal Ben-Shahar's appearance at Spertus Institute is open to the public. It is designed to be relevant and meaningful to nonprofit and corporate professionals alike, as well as community leaders and trustees, HR professionals, consultants, clergy, executives, entrepreneurs, emerging leaders, and anyone who cares about building better places to work. Tickets are $18 (with a $10 discounted price for Spertus Institute members and groups of ten or more). Student tickets are $8 with a valid student ID.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (312) 322-1773.

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Discount parking is available for $11 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

Tal Ben-Shahar's presentation is a program of Spertus Institute's Center for Jewish Leadership, supported by a generous grant from the Crown Family.

For more information, visit

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tal Ben-Shahar

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar