Episode 50

Transforming Organizations Through Change Agents with Dr. Britta Bibel

Change can be daunting, especially in our organizations, but it's also an open door to endless possibilities. As the lines between our professional and personal lives blur in this fast-paced world, the need for change agents becomes more evident than ever.

In this episode of the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast, Ashish and Anil explore how embracing the role of a change agent is not just about personal growth but about redefining the very essence of organizational success with Dr. Britta Bibel, Founder of Ensomatic Alliances.

Dr. Brita Bibel is a relentless human change maker, a certified high-performance coach, a lifelong dancer, and a mentor who's on a mission to make transformation truly possible and accepted as a productive and sustained way of being radically human.

With over 25 years of experience as a transformational leader and executive coach, she has held key positions as Global Head of Culture, Transformation, Head of Sustainability, Global Head of Compliance and Ethics, as well as Business Excellence in multinational companies like GE and Oerlikon, as well as in Management Consulting. She facilitates large scale organizational transformations as well, helping individual leaders grow to their full potential.

The conversation dives deeper into the impactful ways Britta’s work fosters change and flourishing in both companies and individuals. They discuss the criticality of flourishing in today's world, and how embracing it now can give you a competitive edge or leave you struggling to catch up.

Things you will also learn in this episode:

  • Starting Change by Nurturing Yourself
  • Investing in Individual Well-being and Organizational Flourishing
  • The Role of Change Agents in Organizations

You wouldn’t want to miss this transformational episode! Tune in now and learn how you can be the change you want to see!




Anil Ramjiani:

Hey Happiness Squad! It's great to have you, friends, with Ashish and me, as we host guests who are industry leaders, helping individuals and organizations unlock their inner happiness and flourishing.

Are you seeking to become a change agent to unlock both the flourishing within yourself and of your organization? Our next guest explains how you can achieve this with proven results.

Meet Dr. Brita Bible. A relentless human change maker, a certified high performance coach, lifelong dancer, and a mentor who's on a mission to make transformation truly possible and accepted as a productive and sustained way of being radically human.

With over 25 years of experience as a transformational leader and executive coach, she has held key positions as Global Head of Culture, Transformation, Head of Sustainability, Global Head of Compliance and Ethics, as well as Business Excellence in multinational companies like GE and Oerlikon, as well as in Management Consulting. She facilitates large scale organizational transformations as well, helping individual leaders grow to their full potential. We're lucky and fortunate to have her with us to share examples of these results.

During this incredible episode, Ashish, Brita, and I will delve into a journey that led Brita on her mission alongside specific examples of how her work with companies and individuals can unlock change and flourishing. The results you'll hear will speak for themselves.

Although flourishing is a topic discussed, we are at a tipping point where you'll hear how this can either be your edge by getting a start on this now or find yourself playing catch up in the next few years.

Stay tuned for tips that can have a profound impact on your leadership style, organizational culture, flourishing, and overall performance. So join Ashish and me as we welcome Britta to the Happiness Squad.

Alright. Hey Ashish. Hi Britta. It's a pleasure to be with the two of you. Britta, we are both on this side of the ocean, and one of our favorite questions that we love to ask our guests as we start up is, what is happiness to you? And maybe share with us how your definition has changed since your younger years.

Britta Bibel:

First of all, thank you for having me, Ashish and Anil. It's a huge pleasure to be here with you. To your question, what is happiness for me? Today, it's really about feeling congruent. By that, I mean when what I do, what I say, what I think, and what I feel is in complete alignment.

I also often feel just happy when I have a good night's sleep. That makes me happy as well. In my younger years, it was more related to achievements, having that big career, and earning a lot of money. That was what happiness was about for me then.

Ashish Kothari:

Yeah, we hear this all the time on this podcast and in our own lived experiences, this notion of if-then. Professor Shrikumar Rao was on our podcast and he talked about that mindset that is behind so much of the suffering. I love what you added, Britta, about congruence. What we are thinking, what we are feeling, that's so important because when we are incongruent, that creates a tension from within. That is, it will never let you sleep because even if nobody else knows, you know.

Britta Bibel:

Yes, and often if we don't know, the others know by our posture.

Ashish Kothari:

Yeah. It's beautiful. Thank you. So listen, my friend, you and I got connected over the summer, and the moment I met you, I remember we got on FaceTime together, and we were like two little children. We were giggling, "Oh my God. How do we play together?" It was so funny. Do you remember I had just given a talk, and then we were like, "Oh, half an hour is over." It was so amazing. "Let's go dancing." Exactly.

And you're just filled with life and your mission to make collaboration engaging, joyful, playful, both at an individual level and the work you're doing at the organizational level. It was so clear. You live your work, Britta. Even right now when you came on, I actually felt so much joy just seeing you. My question for you is, were you always this way, or what was a tipping point in your life that set you on this journey to the work you're doing but who you became?

Britta Bibel:

Yeah, I love that question. I have always been like that. As a child, I was a very joyful child and very interested in everything. I was always interested in movement, obviously. We'll come to the dancing part a bit later, but then I had a very busy corporate career for almost 25 years.

In the meantime, I met my husband, we had two beautiful children, my daughter is 19, my son is 15 now. And we have always been working full-time, both of us. So during these busy years, after having my second child, I was at the end of my rope and needed some inspiration.

So I decided to enroll in a master's program in Sustainability and Responsibility at Ashridge Business School, which is now Halt Business School. It was a two-year executive program at Ashridge in Herefordshire, just outside London. Beautiful campus, an old monastery. It's already magic when you are only in that place.

During this two-year program, I was there at Ashridge and in other places as well, for eight times one week. So one full week on this beautiful campus. It was a kind of safe space for me where I could escape the madness of corporate career and family business. This program was deeply transformational for me because it busted a lot of mindsets that I had held unconsciously. It created safe spaces for me where I could really immerse myself into deeper questions.

And you asked about the tipping point. There were many, but there was this one I would like to share where my then supervisor, Dr. Chris Seely, who sadly passed away when the program was almost finished, had reviewed the papers we were to write in between those weeks.

I had written something about team building, and she asked me, "Britta, how do you nurture yourself?" I remember sitting with this question for weeks without an answer. To cut a long story short, this question and the whole program made me start my holistic journey that I am on today.

To answer your question, I learned over the years that I needed to start with myself. If I want to nurture others, I need to transform myself. If I want to invite and instill others on their own journey.

Ashish Kothari:

You know, Britta, the question that begs is, how do you nurture yourself? What are some things you do? We go off script. How do you nurture yourself?

Britta Bibel:

So, I am a passionate dancer and dancing for me is a lot. It's a philosophy, a relaxing exercise, connection, and meeting friends. But that's not the only thing I do. How I nurture myself is also getting enough sleep, getting enough rest, saying no where in former times I would have said yes.

It's also role modeling that to my children, because they have seen me for many years going beyond my limits. I have seen a big change in them after I have come to understand how I have to nurture myself in order to be there for others.

Ashish Kothari:

You know, Britta, I am getting so many inspirations. It's funny how inspirations drop at different times, but this conversation already, so I'm going to share two and I'm going to pass it to Anil.

The first inspiration, you know, when you said, for me, my journey towards what I'm doing, which is growing the pie, came in a monastery, a week-long retreat in Portugal, in Panalonga. My next big moments, big insights have come when I've stopped from the busyness in life.

Britta Bibel:

It's common sense, but not common practice.

Ashish Kothari:

Exactly, right? I did a Vipassana for 10 days and most of the Rewire program, which is all about building habits around so many of these things that you're doing, came in a Vipassana 10-day retreat.

So my first inspiration that I got from there, I got this really strong calling to say, "Hey, stop bullshitting yourself. Next year, book a week, every quarter. Someplace spiritual to just be, even if it's three days or four days, but book it where you're not doing anything, but you're just being." Because otherwise, we cut ourselves from that source of inspiration, introspection.

Britta Bibel:

I also think it's necessary and very important to do this on a regular basis, even while you are at work, while you are in the middle of busy times. That you take this deep breath, that you take these 10 minutes to close your eyes after staring into your screen for hours. And that is like this habit of renewal during every day.

Ashish Kothari:

Renewal during the day. Yeah. Another one of our rewire micro practices was mini breaks, which is how do we take mini breaks? But I think there's this powerful notion of really stepping away. And you know, because even in the vacations that we take, we are so busy doing, running around with the kids, checking out this thing, overfilling. I'm a culprit of that myself.

But this notion of just stopping, you don't have to do anything, you wake up, you read, you meditate, just nurturing yourself, giving yourself the break for inspiration. It's so important. But I'll tell you another one that I just, you know, it's crazy. I'm being called to in this conversation.

d, said, "Hey, you know what,:

So I think this weekend, right after this podcast, I'm gonna go sign us up for some dance classes together. So I think that's something I need to do right after this podcast, because otherwise, it'll be another three years and we'll be talking on a podcast and I'll be saying, "Six years ago, we planned that." But anyway, over to you, Anil.

Anil Ramjiani:

So just for the folks to know, this podcast is obviously going to be posted in the next few weeks. We will post how it went for Ashish and Lizzie, what her birthday was like, and what those dance classes did. So, I'm making a note of that right now, Ashish. That's beautiful.

Just listening to both of you, a couple of thoughts come to mind, but what I want to share is I love this idea of this habit of renewal. Whether it's renewing yourself during your day through a mini break, whether it's Ashish, like you said, taking a retreat, whether it's nurturing yourself. But I also love, it's like this renewal of Ashish, your relationship with Lizzie, and how you're investing time in that. And I think it's really important how we take our time.

My wife Anika said to me the other day, she's like, "I really need a holiday." And I'm like, "Well, we're not going anywhere for the next six to eight weeks. So we have to find a way to have that holiday at home, you know, in the short term." So I think it's a really beautiful invitation to our listeners, you know, to find a way to cultivate and nurture yourself.

Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk, take that pause. Unlock what you embody and really bring it to the surface. And I think that's something that we can all truly benefit from. So I love how you both shared that.

Moving to the next point, Britta, we both know, Ashish and I, that you are doing some amazing work with some high-performance companies and truly unlocking their flourishing. And your experience has canvassed so many industries, like manufacturing, automotive, financial services, consulting, just to name a few.

And I'm sure you've observed multiple high-performance companies that invest in flourishing. Ashish, you actually mentioned the other day, flourishing is something that people probably don't talk about, don't fully understand, almost like how we thought the world was flat 200 years ago.

Could you share with us one or two practices that stood out to you where you noticed that you truly saw a fostering of a culture of well-being and its linked to high performance in those companies that you worked with?

Britta Bibel:

Yeah. Excellent question. So I would say first that very few companies, especially a few years ago, but also still today, would say we invest in flourishing. The starting point is always performance because that is what each and every company has to do: improve performance. But the big differentiator is how companies define performance and how they believe they will get there.

Let's not talk about the latest scandals we can all observe in the banking and consulting industry where performance has a very narrow and one-sided profit maximized definition at seemingly all costs.

In order to come to such a narrow definition of performance, you need to suppress a lot of your innate human responses. In many corporations, we are socialized to suppress our senses, our gut feelings, our human reactions that would all point us towards being able to detect and prevent wrongdoing.

So what do high performing, and I mean long-term, sustainable, high performing companies do differently? First of all, they have a robust feedback culture. This includes that people, managers, know how to give constructive, future-oriented, and developmental feedback. Feedback that people feel safe to speak up to also.

And the other side has learned to listen up, to use the words of Megan Reitz of Ashbridge University. She has written many books about speaking truth to power, which I would recommend dearly. She talks about not only speaking up but also the others need to listen up.

And this regularly creates those productive tensions when both sides are able to listen, to speak, and to dialogue with each other. And these productive tensions, often inconvenient, are spaces in which solutions have to be co-created, and those often have the potential to increase flourishing, in my view.

The second one I would mention is alignment. And here I mean how companies manage to create a compelling and motivating purpose that unites the entire workforce and then align it with their goals and their actions.

So the key thing here is not to have just a statement, which then is never used. But it is about creating and naming this reason why we are here, why we do what we do. I love, for example, Apple's Think Different. It's so easy and yet so powerful because if people have that on the back of their minds every day, it propels their thinking and their acting.

I also love Lego. Lego has created a North Star which says, 'Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.' And I think this also gives so much room for people to fill this with their own meaning. And so once this purpose is created, then setting clear and a few targets is key. Targets that are then broken down and operationalized to very tangible and measurable strategies, initiatives, and projects.

This sounds so easy, but very few get this one right. I've seen it so many times. “Too much” is the biggest challenge and “not clear enough”, meaning not translated enough into what it means for my workforce, also in terms of collaboration. So the art is to formulate targets high-level enough and then break them down so that individuals can measure and see how they contribute, but so that they also see that they do not operate in a vacuum. As long as I achieve my targets, I'm fine, but that they can do it all together.

Ashish Kothari:

Earth conventions. But in the:

If I asked you as listeners, do you believe global warming is real? There might be 10% of you who say no, it's not. Forget about whether our role as humanity in creating it or not, there is debate about that, but at least 10% believe that global warming is not real. 90% believe it. That number before Al Gore came out with his documentary and brought so much into the limelight was 50-50.

So my question is, do you create maximum value through profit maximization? Or, put another way, do you believe investing in your work or well-being at work, both individually and as a system, drives higher profitability?

Do you believe it? I believe it. A lot of people in the room say, of course we believe it. And I'm like, okay, so let me ask you a question. If you believe it, do you act that way? Because actions don't suggest that. They're like, what are you talking about?

Our well-being has gone up. We're spending so much on wellbeing. I'm like, exactly. And what happens? But think about it this way, bringing in another podcast guest we had, most wellbeing investments are considered splitting the pie investments, which means they sit in employee benefits when profitability goes down, or if I feel I'm not going to hit my target, I cut, where can I cut? And I cut those investments. It's also something that you do outside of work, it's splitting the pie.

Hey, I made this much money, this much I'm going to give to my people, this much I'm going to give in ESG to other groups, causes I believe in, this much I'm going to give, et cetera. If you believe that investing in people leads to profit maximization, which professor Yana Manuel in his recent Oxford report highlighted, those who have high work wellbeing scores have higher return on assets, higher profitability, higher shareholder growth. Professor Alex Edmans actually took that even further and highlighted that look, it is actually causation. So higher employee satisfaction leads to 2 to 3.5 percent incremental shareholder returns over 10 years. So he literally proved causation in a peer-reviewed journal.

If you believe that, you would not make wellbeing be the vestiges of employee benefit. But you would make that every person's responsibility. Every leader, it would be woven into how we work, why we work. And that's not where we are. But my invitation, dear friends, dear listeners, is the following.

Just like 99 percent of us believe Earth is round, just like 90 percent of us believe at this point that climate change is real, in the next 50 years, with the increasing evidence around this, with the generation, the next generation of kids who are growing up who will demand this, and from governments who will regulate this, we will in 50 years be in a place where 99 percent of us fundamentally are living this way.

So you will get there either because you choose to or because you were forced to. The opportunity is the following. Do you want to lead the way? Do you want to be science-led and truly lead the way? Because if you do, and this only works over a five-year horizon, doesn't work in six months, 12 months, 18 months, but if you do, you have the opportunity to make flourishing, happiness, work well-being truly be your competitive edge. You can get 20 percent higher profits, 20 percent higher productivity, more creativity, 65 percent lower attrition, and two times higher stock market returns. You can have it and it'll be hard for people to replicate it, but the window is the next five to 10 years. Because after that, a lot of your competitors will be doing that too, and then you have to find the next thing.

Britta Bibel:

Absolutely. I cannot agree more. When many individuals embark on habit building and living a better life, it also builds the culture of an organization. Companies that invest in it for a year or two or three have this competitive advantage that they cannot buy, or a competitor cannot buy overnight. You have to invest the time and the effort in it and ideally make it an integrated effort, as you say, embedded in everything you do, how you think, how you operate. The same thing applies to sustainability. If you live sustainably with yourself, with your health, then your company will be too.

Anil Ramjiani:

Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with this. What we say, Britta, is we want to make happiness your competitive edge. This is something we were chatting about with another colleague. At some point, if everyone's doing it, you'll have to find your next edge. So now's the time to leverage inner flourishing to unlock creativity, anti-fragility, satisfaction, better health, better success.

When you talk about companies who actually bring this to life, like Apple with "Think Different," how we can take targets and break them down into something tangible. Ashish, what you just discussed, how do companies, leaders, and mid-managers really break this down? And almost ask ourselves, is this really effective? Is this driving the wellbeing we expect? Is this growing or is this splitting? I was chatting with a colleague the other day, saying what we offer in terms of wellbeing is really good. And I just asked back, but are these the benefits and wellbeing that our employees are asking for? It's great to have a gym, access to Headspace, time off, but is this really what people need? Companies can talk the talk, but are they truly walking the walk? And I think you've shared a few of those.

So what I'd like to ask now, Britta, is could you share an example of a company that you've worked with or a client that successfully integrated these practices into their culture and what you saw as a result of their performance?

Britta Bibel:

Yes. I would like to mention General Electric, where I worked, and how they have a very strong operating rhythm. It's a tact throughout the year that everyone dances to accordingly. They have defined sessions every year, and the whole company is run within this rhythm. They start with the operating plan, then session one, session two, which is about personal development and the three to five-year planning cycle.

I'm mentioning this because I see here an opportunity to widen that rhythm to other things. It forces an alignment in what you focus on jointly and creates defined slots and spaces in the year, for example, for personal development plans, so people know when that will be discussed and they can prepare for it.

At early con, the company I worked for, we implemented a full transformation program. To make that sustainable, we trained many facilitators and ambassadors, as we call them internally. These people help on a daily basis to role model the behaviors we want to see.

For example, they help discussions and meetings stay above the line. They keep the player mindset and do not participate in toxic blaming, gossiping, or victim behavior, but demonstrate with the right questions and behavior how else you can do it.

They often initiate better cross-functional communication and collaboration. Tying back to your question about how it links to performance, they often made a career step themselves because they adopted constructive behavioral styles that are proven to make people more successful in the long run.

This is part of how these ambassadors first got into this role to serve the company and the new initiative. But at the same time, by adopting all these habits and positive, constructive styles, they become better managers themselves.

I thought at that time, and I push this in companies I work with today, that this is a formidable on-the-job development program for leaders or future leaders because they practice, exhibit things, and it's good for themselves personally. They can take this with them even when they leave the company. These were two things that I saw that really worked well and are really tied to performance.

Ashish Kothari:

And really think about transformation, dear friend. So I was in a conversation yesterday with a pharmaceutical company. And I really want you to think about transformation as we change and we can't go back, versus a change program. There are so many change programs where nothing changes. The only thing that changes is the version of the change program.

People don't change, things don't change. We just change the change program, the next thing, but transformation takes time and really changes you. Through these changes, we become something else. We can't go back. And if we have to do it again, Britta, as we talked about earlier, that transformation is where are the change agents from HR? Don't ask the question. You are the change agent.

Every leader needs to be the change agent, the transformation agent. We have to find people who can be inspiring. They might not be the boss. They might be the lowest person in the organization, but somebody that people turn to, who can be that inspiring beacon. I am different. And only in those contexts can we really create this and can we live it so that we flourish because of the way we work, why we work, and how we work, regardless of economic pressures.

Once we change and weave it into our processes, it's not going to affect and lower our well-being versus current places where it does. And also, if we do it together, we create that accountability, we create that inspiration, we create that support.

So important, my friends. Think about transformation. This is not a program that we offer to our employees in a “split the pie mentality”. It is something we lead from the front as leaders to operate differently.

So Britta, I want to switch a bit from companies and cultures out there. Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world. So I want to talk about how your whole research was around how individuals become agents of change and flourishing.

Talk to us a little bit about that research and the characteristics and qualities of what we can really build in ourselves that we can engender, we can become, so that we can catalyze the transformations out there. We can talk out there all day we want, but it's the person here that starts it. So tell us what you found in your research.

Britta Bibel:

Yes, beautiful. So I found everyone can be and become a change agent. Characteristics and quality-wise, first of all, an agent has a very clear purpose. They have spent some time understanding who they want to be and how they want to be of great service in the world.

This can range from wanting to build the most ethical company in the world to being the best mom to show children how to live a meaningful life. The key thing is they are very clear about that. It also helps tremendously to stay away from politics and gossiping because they are just so focused on their calling and don't get distracted from what's not important.

With this clarity, what these people have, or what they seek to constantly develop, is self-awareness and self-mastery. It's like a self-regulation process that helps them to catch themselves when they get off track.

This mostly entails that they have created a support system around them, which helps and cheers them on. Be it their bosses who give them constructive feedback, friends and family who are honest, loving, and supportive. They live this holistic high performance every day by holding themselves accountable, balancing out their drive, their physical and psychological needs.

It's really about what I feel inside, changing from within. This is like building the habits, becoming aware of what I sense, learning how to translate what I sense into something that can be used in the situation at hand, and can be translated so that other people can hear it. That's really the essence, I would say.

Anil Ramjiani:

I'm inspired by that, truly. Anytime I hear the word change agent, I get excited because that individual or individuals are truly looking to change not only themselves but the people around them, and ideally, the organization around that.

Ashish, I had a conversation the other day with a colleague of mine, and Britta, your answer helps me reflect on it. We think of the nine practices, hardwired for happiness practices, and you almost mentioned several of them in that one answer. I'd love to highlight them because it was the conversation I had with him.

We talked about self-awareness, to cultivate that, to understand your language, your emotion, your body, and how you present yourself as your own unique observer. This will drive certain actions and results that you will realize. This is something that through the new field network, I've been embracing more and more, the bell model and the or model.

How we cultivate awareness, how we give ourselves space more than just patience, like waiting for something to happen and being patient about it. No, create the space and then create the opportunity, cultivate your awareness, and then be the change you want to see.

This is really important for number two, intention. If you're living with intention, everything you're doing is suddenly far more meaningful, far more powerful, and when people see you embodying that around you, whether it's the lowest person on the totem pole, a mid-manager, or a senior leader, you can spark change. You've got to stay true to that and not let go.

Holistic well-being is the third. The more healthy, or as you said, Britta, sleep. You mentioned it several times, and I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of sleep. Ashish, a colleague of mine, I shared our well-being podcast on, 'Hey man, stop drinking coffee after 12.' Good news, since then, he's stopped drinking his post five o'clock coffee. He's in the mornings and noons now. But the importance of just being out, being able to move, being in nature. And I want to also highlight the fourth one, which is community.

As you said, a change agent can only do so much on their own. But if they have the support of the people around them at work, at home, suddenly, they feel more energized. They feel that they can make a bigger change. So my invitation to our listeners is, you would love to be that change agent. In order for you to unlock that, as Britta mentioned, these are certain things you can learn, you can form habits that enable you to bring that change to life in your organization.

Britta, I'll just pause there. It's something that I'm sure you've experienced when you've dealt with individuals that you've worked with and maybe they've applied the ideas and insights that you've seen from your research. Maybe you can share more about that as well.

Britta Bibel:

So basically, all my fellow students in both my doctoral and master studies have emerged with somehow changing the way they work. They changed the way they work either where they are or in a new place, endeavor, or cause. Many of these were really gradual changes, where a seed was sown and then over the years afterward, they have often radically changed the way they live and work.

One great example who comes to mind immediately is someone from the sustainability program, Jon Alexander. He was very successful in advertising in his early years and through his own transformation process through the studies, he came to the conclusion that we need to redefine us as consumers into us as citizens.

So he wrote the book 'Citizens: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us.' I highly recommend that one. He founded the Citizenship Project, which is running in many communities all over the world. He, for me, is just one big example of how the work with self has a ripple effect on everything else we do.

Many others have created interest or support groups either at work or in their communities where, for example, they come together as a group of women or men and they discuss their causes, their issues, their struggles, and how they can support each other to move forward. Again, here it is about creating the space first.

These groups are a virtual breeding ground of amazing initiatives from things like organizing CSR community events to clean the environment, which we did in our company. Also in my company, we installed free mobile doctor access for poor families living around the surroundings of our factories in India. That was one of many initiatives we created in India.

Many of my coaching clients have found their strength and determination to make bold career moves, either into other companies, within their current company, or creating their passion project on the side, growing them until they could make a living out of them.

Ashish Kothari:

You know, Britta, on this notion of change agents, there are a couple of elements that are so powerful. One of the things that motivated me to start Happiness Squad about a year and two months ago was the level of stress and anxiety I was seeing out there, the level of disengagement, disillusionment, loss in meaning. But another thing I was seeing was hopelessness.

I could see it even with my own son, where, when we talked about climate change, sustainability, and so many things, it was just like, 'Well, what can I do?' What is powerful in your work, Britta, which I find inspiring, is that it has echoes of the amazing work of great thinkers like Marty Seligman, who coined the term 'learned optimism' versus 'learned helplessness.' Because if you feel you can't do anything, then you don't want to even get up and do anything. But we all matter.

Another podcast guest said, 'My mission is to help everybody love dog poop.' Love dog poop, like, dog poop. And he explained, dog poop is 'doing of good, power of one person.' Every person matters. The good you do can change the world.

And someone else, Jane Goodall and her work with Roots and Shoots, is about helping kids form identities that they matter. No change is small enough. Collectively, we can all take change. Your work is about not being the victim.

If you are alive, if you are breathing, you have the ability to respond. So choose it wisely. Even if it is the smallest thing, it can make a difference. Remember, a little flutter of a butterfly on the other side of the ocean can unleash a massive storm. So don't feel that you don't matter. You matter.

Anil Ramjiani:

The modern-day butterfly effect. I love that. Nicely said. By the way, this is one that Barry will always say, and it's like, he's like, 'Go mad.' And I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' He's like, 'Go make a difference.' It's powerful.

Ashish Kothari:

So, just keeping an eye on time, Britta, we have one question for you, because if we didn't talk about this, it would be just a shame. And then I'm going to pass it to Anil for the last two questions. The question I have for you is to link all of this - organizational flourishing, agents of change - to dancing as a way to make that agent come alive. Talk about the power of dancing and somatic practices and how they play such a big role.

Britta Bibel:

Yeah. So very simply put, and we have touched upon it before, but our mind and body are one. They are not just connected, but they are one. Therefore, not living in a fully embodied and fleshed way, with taking care of movement, diet, spirituality, is like cutting our performance in half from the outset. So that's my starting point.

Dancing was my avenue back to connecting with my body after a period of drain and overwork, having two kids, being a full-time working mom, and so on. It was about finding the trust in my body again and in the signs I would get from my body. That's the connection.

But maybe some practical tips that I would share that really everyone can do, out of my dance practice. And Ashish, you are super advanced to go and take dance lessons, but you could also just start again with sleeping an hour more than you do.

Go to seven to eight hours every day. Do at least once a day what I call a body check-in. It's a 10-minute practice where you close your eyes and basically scan your body for tensions, for things where you probably feel unwell or areas that are numb or hurt, and then stretch it out, shake it out or breathe.

And of course, if it's something harder or sitting there for longer, you might need different practices like getting massages or significantly reducing your stress level. And last but not least, stretching every day, something that everyone can do, especially in the morning. Start with 10, 15 minutes, stretch yourself out.

These are also basic practices that I do with teams, and you won't believe how much the mind opens if the body is open, so just some stretching and walking can bring about a whole new way of dealing with problems.

Ashish Kothari:

I'm going to add one more, Britta, and a call out to Carolyn Coughlin and Sheila. Two weeks ago, I was at Mobius NPI, and we were dealing with the topic of complexity, except we weren't dealing with the topic of complexity, we were dancing with complexity. We danced our way through something that is a very cerebral, body-felt concept.

So dancing with complexity. My one tip for you is, even if it is for five minutes, play your favorite song and dance every day. Just dance. It has this power. My son yesterday was doing some social science study, and we had told him not to put his headphones on. So he was blaring some music, and I was just dancing as a way to distract him. He was filled with joy. I'm sure he found me super annoying and embarrassing, but I was enjoying it. And we had a nice fire afterwards outside and sat, but anyway, dance, my dear friends, it's unbelievable how much we spend our day sitting. We are in these tight boxes and we want to be creative. Just dance, even if nobody's watching, dance with your family, if you have one, if you don't, dance with yourself, but just dance, let the music move you.

Anil Ramjiani:

Yes, it will. You know, there's some of the work that's been done around, when you feel down, upset, or not very creative, just close your eyes and feel your body. And exactly as Ashish and Britta mentioned, stand up, stretch, dance, do a bit of a jig, sit back down, re-observe. I guarantee if you don't feel a little bit more creative than you were a few minutes prior, we'd love to know, and we will challenge you to keep moving.

So, Britta, on that note, I'd like to shoot now to our rapid fire, which is just a beautiful way for our audience to get to know you a bit better. When you dance, what's your favorite song to dance to?

Britta Bibel:

Oh, I have many, but if I have to pick one, 'Magico' by Mika Mendes.

Anil Ramjiani:

Alright, cool. So, for folks that have been listening to us, we're actually going to be creating a playlist at the end of the year of our guests' favorite songs, and we're going to be putting it out there on Spotify, so wait for it.

Britta, the second question. What's your favorite activity, aside from dancing, when you want to re-energize your body, mind, and soul?

Britta Bibel:

Walking outside, taking lots of fresh air.

Anil Ramjiani:

And for those that don't know, Britta lives in beautiful Zurich, so whether it's a walk on the lake or around town, you're just surrounded by natural beauty. What is your favorite book?

Britta Bibel:

Oh my gosh, I don't have one favorite. I very much enjoyed 'Belonging' by Toko-pa Turner and currently I'm reading 'The Charge' by Brendon Burchard.

Anil Ramjiani:

Love it. So we're going to include this plus the book you mentioned earlier, 'Citizens,' into the show notes in case folks are looking for a recommendation for a book. You've now got three on the back of this. And my final question, and it's a bit biased, but Britta, of the nine hardwired for happiness practices, which would you say is your favorite?

Britta Bibel:

One and two, self awareness and define your purpose.

Anil Ramjiani:

Yes. Well, this is actually the month of November. Our theme is to define your purpose. So, we look forward to sharing more with you, Britta, and our audience. And I just want to say thank you so much, Britta, the joy, the dance, the ideas, knowing it's Lizzie's birthday on Sunday. I've just taken so much from this session from each of you. I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to you both.

About the Podcast

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The Happiness Squad Podcast with Ashish Kothari
Unlock your full potential with the Happiness Squad podcast! Host Ashish Kothari, Founder & CEO, brings leading experts to help you live with more joy, health, love, and meaning. Discover the art and science of happiness to live and operate at your best.

About your host

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Ashish Kothari

Ashish Kothari is the Founder and CEO of Happiness Squad, a company focused on democratizing happiness and touching a billion+ lives over the next 20 years and helping them live with more joy, health, love, and meaning.

Prior to founding Happiness Squad and writing his best-selling book “Hardwired for happiness”, Ashish spent 25 years in consulting, including the last 17 at McKinsey and Co, a premier management consulting firm, helping thousands of clients and their organizations achieve breakthrough performance by building new mindsets and capabilities.

Ashish is a trained ontological coach and a lifelong student of human thriving.