Reb Rebele is a Senior Research Fellow for the Wharton People Analytics initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and studies personality processes in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Reb earned his Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree at the University of Pennsylvania and taught in that program for nearly 10 years. His research aims to understand consistency and flexibility in human motivation and behavior – particularly in the context of work – and has been conducted with a number of national and international organizations. Reb’s research and writing has appeared in academic journals (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science), books (Flourishing in Work, Life, and Careers), and magazines (Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, The Atlantic). After completing MAPP, he worked on a diverse portfolio of positive psychology projects, including serving as part of a resilience training team working with the U.S. Army and groups of educators, speaking and guest-lecturing on applied psychology topics to organizations and conferences, and working as a strategic advisor to the International Positive Psychology Association.
Robert Rebele’s Speech Topics
Originality: Closing the Gap Between Great Ideas and Meaningful Change
What does it take to make your mark? Even if you don’t aspire to fame or fortune, most of us have some urge to create, some desire to make a difference, or at least some hope that when all is said and done, we will have made some unique contribution to the world that says we were here. So why do so few of us realize our creative potential? For some, there is no shortage of good ideas—but for some reason they never make it out of our heads. Others have plenty of motivation to make things happen—but they are never sure how or where to begin. It takes originality to close those gaps. Originality is the ability to find great ideas for improving the world around you and putting them into action. And in a helpful ironic twist, originality is much more common—and much more accessible—than we think. This talk shares the science of originality and the practical steps that individuals can take to bring their ideas to life and that leaders can use to build cultures of productive creativity.
Working Together: Using Data and Analytics for Better Collaboration and Culture
Call it the paradox of the connected workforce: If it is easier than ever to connect with our colleagues, customers and collaborators, then why do we still find it so challenging to actually work together and get things done? Many of us spend the majority of our working hours in meetings, on the phone or responding to emails, yet if we crunch the numbers, we often have little return to show for that substantial time investment. That’s because collaboration is inefficient and culture is hard to get right. Data shows that in many organizations, the most helpful employees are suffering from collaborative overload, and so-called “star performers” often do little to help their colleagues. At the same time, despite leadership’s best efforts to be mission-driven and values-focused, developing a strong workplace culture is still more of a mystery than an established practice supported by analysis and insights. “Collaboration” and “culture” are big buzzwords for a reason—when done right, they can make work more productive and more meaningful. This talk shows how researchers and industry leaders are turning to data and analytics for insights about how organizations and communities can work together better.
The Four Roads to Meaningful Work
Much has been made lately about the importance of having meaningful work, both for our own well-being and for our organizations’ success. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about meaningful work? This talk unpacks that important buzzword to reveal the four roads to more fulfilling careers—Work is more meaningful when:
1. It leads to clear and tangible results, be they finished work products or people we have helped
2. It offers financial, social and psychological rewards that align with our values and goals
3. It fosters a sense of community and enables valuable relationships, both in the office and at home;
4. It resonates with our identity, our values and the people we would like to be
For general audiences, this framework is especially relevant for anyone interested in getting more from work than just a paycheck, whether they are just entering the workforce, considering a career change or trying to make the most of the job they have. Within organizations, this talk offers insights about how leaders can motivate employees, improve engagement and strengthen culture, and how employees can craft their work (and lives) to be more meaningful.
Giving Ahead: How to Be More Generous and More Successful
In today’s competitive world, we are on a constant quest to get ahead. As individuals, we keep an eye out for any edge that will help us land a coveted job or promotion. As organizations, we can be so protective of our trade secrets and competitive advantages that we sometimes hide them even from our own employees. But what if the things that drive success are not those that set us apart, but those that bring us together? A growing body of research shows that how we interact with others, whether colleagues and clients or family and friends, has a huge impact on what we are able to achieve. And to borrow from John F. Kennedy, the key is not in what others can do for us, but in what we can do for them. This talk shows that our instincts for self-preservation are (mostly) misplaced and explains why givers rise to the top in many workplaces and industries. But it also cautions that the road to doing good and doing well is not always smooth, as sometimes our desire to help can backfire. To become sustainably and productively generous, individuals need to learn how to become more helpful and organizations need to create cultures and systems to support meaningful collaboration.