Employee Happiness MOOC on edX
Happier Employees &
Return On Investment
It’s taken three long years for me and my team (Marshall Goldsmith, Ahsan Vency, & Sandrine Muller), and the cooperation of several people, for the course to come to fruition. So, it’s not been an easy journey. But it’s definitely been gratifying.
Overall, I interviewed over 40 people, and excerpts from over 30 of them are featured in the course, some of them are:
1. Shah Rukh Khan, who insisted, SO charmingly, that we do the interview ‘selfie’ style (see here for the lecture-video featuring his interview),
2. Shivraj Singh Chauhan (ex-CM of Madhya Pradesh),
3. Sanjiv Mehta (CEO Hindustan Unilever Limited),
4. Garry Ridge (CEO, WD 40–a billion dollar company), and
5. Juliet Blake (Head TED TV), among others.
One of the questions I often get asked is, Dr. HappySmarts, what’s your motivation to offer MOOCs?
If you are unfamiliar with research universities like UT Austin—where I work—you’d be forgiven for thinking that faculty are incentivized to offer MOOCs. Perhaps MOOCs count as regular courses, you might think. Or, those who offer MOOCs get promoted faster.
The truth is that there is no incentive, whatsoever, for offering MOOCs. If anything, there is a disincentive for offering them. It took me a full 3 years—from conceptualization to completion—to put ALOHAF together, and another 3 years to put together the upcoming MOOC on Employee Happiness. I would have been much wiser, from the perspective of getting raises or recognition within the university, to have spent this time publishing journal articles.
So, what motivates me to offer MOOCs?
It’s a combination of two things. First, I derive a lot more meaning from them. ALOHAF has had a huge impact on thousands from around the world. I get, on average, an email a day from someone, thanking me for it. That counts for a lot in my book.
Second, I believe in online education. The online medium democratizes education, providing access to information for those with limited resources. It gives opportunities to learners who may otherwise have not had them.
This is why, even though I spent a significant amount of personal money to create ALOHAF, I wanted it to be FREE. This is also why, although I have once again spent personal money to create the new course, I wanted it to be offered for the lowest possible amount: $49. (Left to me, I’d have offered this for free too.)
Does this make me foolish? Perhaps. But I’d rather be foolish and pursue a meaningful life than the reverse. And you know what? I’m blessed to be surrounded by “fools” like me.
Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s best CEO coach, could’ve made tons of money with the time he spent collaborating with me on the course. Ahsan Vency, a whiz kid with a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Neuroscience, could’ve gotten a plum job at a prestigious company. Instead, he chose to work on developing a smashing website to complement the upcoming course. Sandrine Muller, a post-doc at Columbia University, spent a whole week to shoot videos when she could’ve worked on her post-doc instead.
Steve Jobs once said, “stay hungry, stay foolish.” Marshall, Ahsan, Sandrine and I have tweaked that advise a little: our mantra is, “stay happy, stay foolish”!
And you know what would make us even happier? Helping you be happier and more productive at work of course! We hope to see you in the new course!!