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The power of experience

What would you choose—to scroll through your friend’s social media pictures of the beach or to feel the sand under your feet; read a romance novel or to experience the intensity of first love; watch a cooking show or sit in a café in Italy, freshly made pasta on your fork?

Real experiences are so powerful. They invite emotion and stimulate thought. Nothing can compare to taking in the surrounds of an experience; the unique smells—someone’s perfume, freshly cooked food—and sounds—like music—that can bring you right back to a moment in time.

Last week I experienced my first big Good Day At Work (GDAW) event. I’ve been to our lunches before and they are great, but this was different. I was joined by a group of people, all eager and waiting to learn something new and be inspired to do something different, just like I was. The event was a full day of inspiring speakers, themes and concepts that push the envelope and intrigued my mind to venture to new places.

As a marketing professional I’ve been a part of a number of events—we are normally the people behind the scenes with a clipboard, carefully structured run-sheet, and mounds of posters and flyers, prepped to the tee for ‘event day’. No two events are ever the same, you could read past reviews, check out old social media pics but there is nothing like just being there.

Our GDAW Lunch Special, as we dubbed it, didn’t hold back with the emotion, launching straight into a talk by Jonny Benjamin, of Stranger on the Bridge fame. Wow… Jonny opened up in a way that made it feel like it was just Jonny and I in the room. He connected each and every one of us in that room to him and his story of struggle through mental illness. When Jonny was just 21 years old he walked down to a bridge in London, climbed over the balustrade, and prepared to jump. To end his life. Before Jonny did though, a stranger started talking to him. Jonny told us how the power of conversation with this complete stranger saved his life. For the first time in what felt like forever Jonny felt safe, not judged. Jonny had suffered, undiagnosed for many years, schizoaffective disorder resulting in him hearing voices for much of his life.

Not wanting to cry in a room full of people I bit down on my lip hard to keep my emotions in check (not that it would have mattered and I certainly wouldn’t have been the only one). Jonny’s talk set up the whole day for an experience that was different. Impactful.

After a much needed, food and drink break (aka time to wipe our tears and blow our noses), our Head of Client Delivery Paula Brockwell took to the stage. To say Paula invokes enthusiasm and excitement to everything she does would be an understatement. Paula is fiercely passionate about workplace wellbeing and takes every opportunity to share her knowledge, to raise awareness and to create real, impactful culture change. Take me, new to the field of workplace wellbeing, Paula has interpreted many a concept (or model as the psychologists say) in the detail I need to integrate myself and do my own part in helping more businesses prioritise wellbeing.

Paula is not about standing-up, talking at people lecture-style. Paula, like Jonny, involves every person in a room in what she is talking about. Paula challenged us to look at what actually makes a Good Day At Work and used our new research which responds to that very question, and explored the role of culture and how core it is in creating more good days at work. The room travelled back to their childhood and reminisced about what a good day meant to us back then, compared to today. I was transformed back to my 10-year self, growing up in Brisbane, Australia. A sporty little girl, I was discovering music for the first time, time with my friends meant everything but I was still very much most comfortable at home with my Mum. I wanted to be a truck driver. Perhaps a slightly unusual ambition for a 10-year-old girl who loved purple, the Spice Girls and swimming. For me, a good day at work was about hitting the open road, an adventure where no two days are the same, and having the freedom and space to be me. I am an avid traveler so I can definitely draw parallels to my actual adult life—and perhaps I was drawn to Marketing for the variety and creativity such a job offers.

After our trip down memory lane it was time again for lunch. I could describe it here but that would void my point—experiences matter—you had to be there. After lunch our panel members went back to the future, lifting the lid on what the future of wellbeing may be: what work in general will look like in 20 years’ time; the role of tech, what we, as people, will want out of work; what will drive employer decision-making and what the psychological contract of the future will be and look like.

It really prompted me to think about where I’ll be and what role I’ll have in the working world of the future. Will I have children then? What will the world be like for them, and their children? It made me think of my own grandparents and how very different the working world was for them. Could they ever have imagined the nature of today’s work?

The discussion was a taster for our main event in March 2017, the Good Day At Work Conversation. It will be another first for me. The event brings more than 200 HR and wellbeing industry leaders together in London. I’ve been told the event is thought-provoking and inspiring and an array of more excellent adjectives. I’ve been told there is nothing else like it being offered in the UK and beyond. It’s experiential, it brings practice to life, attendees leave feeling empowered to make a difference to their people’s lives at work and at home.

Reading my words about the Good Day At Work Conversation is great and all. But to actually experience it—well I guess you have to be there!

In the meantime you can read more words and check out pictures from previous events.




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Guest Monday, 22 January 2018

Cary CooperGood Day at Work®

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

Cary CooperCary on Twitter

Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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