Q&A with CEO Jenn Lim: Dubai’s World Government Summit

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From February 10th - 13th 2018, the World Government Summit gathered thought leaders, policymakers, economists, and experts in human development to discuss the challenges for modern-day and future governments. This year’s summit highlighted happiness in the global space through its first ever “Global Dialogue for Happiness.” Being a part of the Global Happiness Council, CEO Jenn Lim was in attendance with other members to introduce the Global Happiness Policy Report. I had some time to chat with Jenn about the summit, and we thought a Q&A session would help us share how it went! Let's get to it :]


Q: So not a lot of people get to go to Dubai, ever. And this isn’t your first time. What was different about this trip?


A: Yeah so this past trip was my fifth time and our relationship with Dubai has been a super interesting journey. The last couple times, I was here to deliver keynotes at the World Government Summit [WGS] and at a conference on HR leadership. And one of the first times was when we started coachsulting with Dubai’s PMO [Prime Minister Office], who I originally met in Madison, Wisconsin of all of places [laughs] I love that place! But what made this trip different was attending as a member of the Global Happiness Council in Workplace Wellbeing and seeing a full day of the WGS specifically dedicated to happiness. It’s awesome to see how happiness continues to grow and get prioritized on a global scale.


Q: What do you think changed to make it a priority?


A: Not too long ago, some thought happiness in the workplace was a passing fad. People would literally say that to me, not forgetting that I was the CEO of a company called Delivering Happiness. Now, people are understanding that happiness in the workplace can lead to more productivity and profits, and happiness in a community can lead to better health and socioeconomic stability. Hearing about the discussions at Davos and at the WGS, it becomes all too apparent that mental health is something we all need to take on, and happiness has a hand in it.


Q: There were a number of thought leaders, politicians, and economists at this year’s jenn lim goldie hawn world government summit 2018 dubai.jpgWorld Government Summit. What are some notable conversations you can recall?

A: There were so many memorable connections! One that stood out to me was my conversation with Goldie Hawn. I met her at a TED conference a couple years ago, and we were able to catch up on her foundation and how much progress she’s made with instilling happiness in our school’s curriculum. Instead of putting pressure on kids with the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” we should only hope that the answer is just to be “happy.” We can all celebrate that.


Q: You moderated a conversation called “The Return on Happiness,” can you briefly talk about that?


A: I was asked to moderate a discussion with the Landmark Group’s Nisha Jagtiani about their own culture efforts and the topic of happiness in the private sector in general. I thought it’d be an interesting conversation since here’s one of the largest retailers in the region -- 55,000 employees, 22 countries, about 50 brands -- so I was curious about the lessons learned and challenges they’ve been facing. Turns out they’re the same, regardless of geography and industry...which is not surprising in the least since it’s exactly what DH has been seeing over the last eight years. Happiness isn’t rocket science but the day-to-day behavioral change isn’t easy. Which also explains why happiness is about the proverbial journey, whether we’re evolving a company’s culture or nudging ourselves to a more purposeful life.


Q: For the public sector in the UAE, how are they prioritizing happiness?


A: Well when we first worked with Dubai’s PMO [Prime Minister’s Office], we helped them revisit their purpose, define their values and behaviors, and map out a plan of how to scale and sustain happiness across the government. Since then the Prime Minister even created a position in their cabinet [the Ministry of State of Happiness] to highlight the priority. There aren’t many governments who could do the same without that level of commitment and alignment. Now these frameworks are being scaled to their 80+ other government entities and ultimately to their citizens. We know it’ll still take time and persistence to see these changes on national and global levels, but it’s amazing to see how much change can happen at this scale, in a relatively short period of time.


Q: Last question, any fun moments?


A: Yeah! Some of what I enjoy the most about these things is catching up with old peeps and meeting new ones. It was great to catch up with Arianna [CEO,Thrive Global] and hear her new talk. The international happiness community is pretty small so it was nice to exchange our latest war and peace stories we’ve been living through. I also promise myself to do something new on every trip so I officially had my first Dubai hookah experience :)



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Briana Krueger


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