7 Things We Learned from WorkHuman

Ten months ago we had an idea for a conference about the future of the workplace. Our idea became a reality this month when we launched our inaugural WorkHuman conference in Orlando.

Great minds and great leaders came together at the event with a shared common goal -- building a humanity-focused work culture where employees can feel empowered and inspired to achieve greatness. Speakers, including Arianna Huffington, Rob Lowe, Adam Grant, and Shawn Achor, shared personal stories and inspiring advice and showed attendees how to create a workplace of the future where employees feel happier and, more importantly, feel more human.

Here are seven of our favorite lessons from WorkHuman 2015:

1. It's like being on an airplane. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Put on your own oxygen mask first. - Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington taught us about the importance of fulfilling our most basic, individual needs like camaraderie, friendship, and feeling valued for our contributions. These are all needs that, when fulfilled, help create our best, most positive selves. She reminded us that taking care of our whole selves is a key driver of our success at work. Companies that recognize this will ultimately create a culture that engages and retains employees, and dramatically increases the bottom line.

2. "Pronoia"--a belief that others are plotting for your well-being. - Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia and stimulates a feeling of happiness, positivity and effectiveness. This sentiment is as effective in the workplace as in life. A company with a culture built on positivity, goodwill and appreciation is better equipped to manage and inspire their employees. Adam Grant reminded us of the supreme importance of building positivity around recognition and appreciation in the workplace. He confirmed the importance of recognizing not only those employees that do great work, but also those that are giving the recognition. The result will be a collaborative culture where employees are more motivated to do great work.

3. Relationships are to the social era what efficiency was to the industrial era. - Nilofer Merchant, Best-selling author of 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra

In the industrial era, assembly lines, efficiency and volume of physical output were of paramount importance. As we have moved into the social era, this is no longer true. Success in the social era is driven by the relationships and friendships at work that bring us meaning. The industrial era was defined by our desire to achieve success through our physical output, born from the work we did with our hands. The information era was fueled by our brainpower. The social era, which we are living today, naturally draws from both these eras but is powered by relationships, those interactions that we feel with our hearts. These relationships are key to our success.

4. I've never accomplished anything by staying in my comfort zone. - Rob Lowe, actor and author of Love Life

Rob Lowe inspired us to push boundaries in all areas of our lives, and to harness the power of dreams. By looking at new ways to do old things, and ignoring fear or hesitation, we are capable of achieving greatness at work---and elsewhere. Rob also emphasized the power of relationships when it comes to success, and how drawing strength from our loved ones and peers is a powerful driver of personal and professional triumphs.

5. Gratitude is very different from positive thinking. It makes you vulnerable and indebted to another person. - Robert Emmons, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis

Robert Emmons taught us that there is a difference between a short term feeling of gratitude, and being a grateful person. Research shows that people who are grateful as a way of life reap the benefits. These benefits include being more generous and compassionate, more optimistic, and overall happier in all aspects of life. When someone is truly a grateful person, these benefits will not only be felt from within, but they will also be noticed and appreciated by others. That is the power of gratitude.

6. Don't just tick off the recognition "boxes"- connect the dots, analyze, drive insight. - Ly Bui, Employer Brand Deliver Manager for InterContinental Hotels Group

To truly grasp the power of recognition it should be measured. Ly Bui taught us that for recognition to be successful, we need to breathe recognition into our workplace culture and make it a part of our everyday life; yet we also need to understand the quantifiable value to the efforts. Recognition data helps us track the results of a recognition program to gain insight that has the power to improve recognition practices.

7. Happiness is the secret of better work. - Shawn Achor, New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness

We all have the desire to come to work and leave work happy. When we are happy we perform better and become our best, most positive selves. Shawn Achor reminded us that happiness is not just the secret to a successful personal life, but it is also the secret to a successful work life. If we do what makes us happy, the rest of the wonderful things in life will follow. Shawn reminded us that happiness is a choice and that our perspective on our worlds, both at work and beyond, is a supremely powerful notion.