Anatomy of a TED Talk: Shawn Achor

Anatomy of a TED Talk: Shawn Achor

The Anatomy of a TED Talk - Shawn Achor

Last Saturday my husband and I were invited to my friend, neighbor, and Editor-in-Chief Linda’s party. She had designed a gathering especially to celebrate her daughter, Sarah’s “Going Steady” milestone.

As I sat at my table, I simply took some time to take in the ambiance.There were guests of all ages. (The couple sitting next to us have been friends with Linda and her family for over 40 years and had come from Pennsylvania for this party.)  Her son’s band played. The guests of honor, Sarah and David, arrived at the Pavilion in a golf cart festooned with red balloons–David’s favorite color.  They had a Mountain Dew toast.  Linda made her signature chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was a “true life” reunion.

I celebrate Linda and her family– not only for designing this event– but for understanding how to experience happiness!

The road has not always been easy.  Her daughter was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor 43 years ago–one which left her with multiple intellectual and physical challenges.  But last Saturday they chose happiness and invited 100+ friends and family–the people who have been a part of this extraordinary journey and their circle of support through the years– to celebrate and celebrate we did!

So, in honor of Linda, I want to talk about happiness and following my series THE ANATOMY OF A GREAT TALK we will explore Shawn Achor’s talk “The Happy Secret to Better Work”


Shawn immediately engages his audience by starting with a personal story from his childhood:

Minute 00:39: “There are differing accounts of what actually happened that afternoon, but since my sister is not here with us today, let me tell you the true story…”


Minute 06:13: “We’re finding it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”


Minute 06:27: “I applied to Harvard on a dare. I didn’t expect to get in, and my family had no money for college…”

Minute 03:03: “When I started talking about this research outside of academia, with companies and schools, the first thing they said to never do is to start with a graph.”


Minutes 09:09: “I’ve traveled to 45 countries, working with schools and companies in the midst of an economic downturn. And I found that most companies and schools follow a formula for success, which is this: If I work harder, I’ll be more successful. And if I’m more successful, then I’ll be happier. That undergirds most of our parenting and managing styles, the way that we motivate our behavior.”

Minute 11:03: “We’ve found there are ways that you can train your brain to be able to become more positive. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully…”


Minute 10:04: “But our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.”


Minute 11:32: “Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters… “

REVEAL THE NEW REALITY (He actually ends his talk with the new reality)

Minute 11:58: And by doing these activities and by training your brain just like we train our bodies, what we’ve found is we can reverse the formula for happiness and success, and in doing so, not only create ripples of positivity,but a real revolution.”

Preparing a TED talk can be one of the most rewarding and fastest way to deepen the learning about your message, your work and yourself– whether you’ll ever deliver it within a red dot or not! For more information on this model download my FREE EBOOK and

Apply and get selected for a TEDx Stage in 30 days even if you don’t  even have a talk in only 5 STEPS!

Dolores Hirschmann is an internationally recognized strategist, Clarity coach, TEDxOrganizer, Speaker & Author. She has over 20 years experience helping entrepreneurs, companies & organizations realize their potential—by guiding them to CLARITY—to define their CORE IDEA, message and market strategy needed to reach their next level of growth. As a Speaker Coach Dolores guides speakers to go from successful professionals to thought leaders in their field. If you would like to learn more visit: or download her free resource “STAND OUT THE TED WAY”
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