So far I’ve learned that…

Happiness is a serious business.

One of the greatest things about modern society is our increasing acceptance of talking about our emotions. Here's my journey to measuring happiness at a systemic level:

    Arrow yellow from Nic Marks Arrow gray from Nic Marks
  • Photo of Nic Marks in the childhood

    A feeling for numbers

    An early memory was my fascination with powers of two. Counting with my father 2, 4, 8… 128… 16,384… trying to get one further each week.

  • I studied Mathematics and Decision Making at Cambridge

    However upon leaving university I immediately made a poor decision: joining an American management consultancy—just because I was told it was hard to get.

  • Summer of ‘89

    After I quit the firm, my father (anxious for my future!) took me to see Chilean Ecological Economist, Manfred Max-Neef. Manfred thrills me with the idea that most people don't ask big enough questions. Cue a lifelong mentorship.

  • Psychotherapy

    Unsure of my next move, my interest in people led me to follow my mother's lead to become a trained therapist. Mixing psychology with economic statistics excited me. I was ready to get back into the numbers.

  • Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare

    Between the London School of Economics' basement and Tim Jackson's tiny office near Smithfield's meat market, we worked on my first big question: how can we create a language to talk about what a sustainable future looks like?

  • A Wellbeing Manifesto

    Joining The New Economics Foundation, I built a team and for the next 12 years we explored an idea in the spirit of Max-Neef: what would policy look like if people's wellbeing was its aim? The science of happiness was just emerging.

  • A nagging feeling and a new question

    Walking with Monty I saw a power station from the top of a green hill overlooking the Thames. An equation struck me: Could society divide its modern lifestyle and wellbeing by its environmental cost? Could I calculate this efficiency, statistically?

  • The Happy Planet Index (HPI)

    Answering that question led to the HPI, a metric that continues to show that good lives don't have to cost the earth. Using this I consulted various governments on how to think about wellbeing. I presented the findings at TED in 2010.

  • 5 Ways to Wellbeing

    A 2008 project with Jody Aked for the UK’s Government Office for Science. They wanted the equivalent of five fruits and vegetables... for wellbeing. Our findings were picked up globally by public health authorities (now it’s a foundational reference).

  • National Accounts of Wellbeing

    A study of wellbeing across 23 eurpoean countries. Nobel prize-winner Daniel Kahneman called it “state of the art wellbeing measurement”. One highlight was working with the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on its Gross National Happiness.

  • Happiness is your ultimate people KPI

    Building on the last 20 years, I realised that happiness is a metric you can also apply to the workplace. Through weekly feedback loops, teams and organisations can track their happiness as a single KPI.

Three topics your leaders need to learn about:

Building a happier future (RIP GDP)

GDP isn’t going to make a country happier. Building on my TED talk, learn five measurable areas of wellbeing that companies and nations have adopted—and what we need to do next.

Ideal for: Big think events & discussion panels

Happiness is a serious business

Bussiness around the gobe

What happens when companies focus on their people’s happiness? Three decades of stats behind happiness and its impact on mental health, productivity, and culture.

Ideal for: Conferences & events for senior leaders

How to build a happy organisation

Learn positive feedback loops that bring real real change to find out how your team is feeling. And how to become a manager that people want to follow.

Ideal for: Company events & away days

I keynote on these topics

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Audience perspective

Nic is an engaging speaker. His work on happiness in the workplace has been at the forefront of explaining why happiness is a serious business and how happiness can be measured in organizations of all sizes.
Happier employees lead to strong, nurturing relationships—and a more profitable business.

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

Photo of Tony Hsieh © Marius Bugge / Playboy

Get in touch
with me

If you want me in your boardroom to advise how measuring happiness can help your company, or to speak on your stage, please visit my contact page.

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Portrait photo of Nic Marks

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