By Experience


Best Practices For Live Captioning A Happily Broadcast

Live captioning means a human is live transcribing speech into text during a broadcast using software that merges seamlessly with live streaming technology, such as Zoom.

The text from the spoken words could be in the original language (eg. English) or can be translated into another (eg. English speech into Spanish text). It will instantly appear along the bottom of a live streamed virtual event for attendees to read. They are commonly referred to as CART captions, which stand for Communication Across Realtime Translation.

The alternative to live captioning is using an AI software to automatically transcribe all speech-to-text. Again, AI tech can generate a transcription into the original language, or a translation into other languages. AI Speech-to-Text Software is advancing all the time and can be an ideal option for making translations available into all languages with a widget plug for attendees to choose from.

However, live captioning is recommended for single translations (eg. English speech to English text, English speech to Spanish text). The final result will be a more accurate and smooth speech-to-text experience for virtual attendees.

Why Have Captions During a Broadcast?

Including captions to any video content, including a live broadcast, is always an advantage. Captions and subtitles are now common practice on social media, and is a simple step towards accessibility. As a society we are accustomed to and almost expect the option for captions on our content.

For those tuning in with limited audio

Ideally we assume attendees are watching and listening to a broadcast in a quiet space, with headphones and no distractions. However, a part of the appeal and advantages of events in the digital space, is that attendees can attend from wherever they find themselves at that time. For example, on public transport, or with their children running around, or outside in a park ect. Having captions will significantly allow attendees to stay engaged with the event program in the circumstances that they are unable to fully hear the audio.

Accessibility for the Deaf and Hearing Impared Community

As an alternative to an ASL interpreter, having live captions is a necessary and welcome addition for any attendees who are hearing imparied. Find a blog dedicated to adding an ASL interpreter to a virtual event here.

Happily_events_live caption broadcast

Here are some tips from our Happily Broadcast Team when live captioning a virtual event

1. Make sure to hire the right people for the job

If the livestream is only being shown in Zoom, anyone who has experience typing speech-to-text should work. However, if the livestream captions are intended to be shown on an external website or inside the Vimeo / YouTube player live, then the captioner also needs special equipment.

2. Make sure to hire enough people

Typing fast is hard work and to improve work conditions as well as quality of output, we should let the captioners switch off every 30 minutes. In this case, always hire two people instead of just one. The only exception to this might be in a one hour meeting.

3. Write and share a script

It’s really important to let speakers know that there will be captioning and a script will be helpful to the captioners. No script? At minimum, share the run of show with the correct spelling of speaker names.

4. Include translators in tech rehearsals

Conduct a tech rehearsal just with the captioners to test that you can get their captions into the player and/or website. Zoom is very easy. Broadcast is not and requires specific captioning equipment from the captioner.

October 12, 2021

Women's Equality Day Quotes To Inspire You SEO Image

Women's Equality Day Quotes To Inspire You

August 26 is Women's Equality Day in the US!

It marks the anniversary of the 19th amendment being certified and adopted into the Constitution in 1920 granting woman suffrage and women the right to vote. It also prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the US on the basis of sex.

Representative Bella Abzug (a kickass American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist and a leader in the women's movement) championed a bill in the U.S. Congress in 1971 to officially recognize August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.

Happily_Women's Equality Day

In 2021 we may have come a long way from 1920, however, we still don’t have gender equality and empowerment of all women.

Women pay more for basic items than men do (such as shampoo, razors and socks!), and the ‘pink tax’ means that all kinds of things targeted to girls and women cost more, (like toys, adult clothing, kids clothing). A ‘the tampon tax’ has thankfully been abolished in 20 US states, but the 2019 Pink Tax Repeal Act was stopped in Congress.

Compared to their male counterparts American women still make less money, earning 84% of what men earned in 2020. On a global scale, women make only 77% of the amount paid to men, and at the current rate, it will take 70 years (!) for the gender pay gap to close. Think that’s grim? For Black, Latinas, and women of color, the pay gap is a lot worse.

Women make up only 27% of the US Congress in 2021, still making it the most diverse in American history. Around the world, just 25.5% of all national parliamentarians were female (as of March 2021). At Fortune 500 companies, women currently account for just 8.1% of CEOs, and make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math.

At Happily we strive to hire at least 50% women, 30% BIPOC, and 10% LGBTQ+ on every project, and will continue to support equality across all genders. As a proudly femme-foward company, we are fully aware of the importance of empowering women and the gender inequalities that exisit in thousands of big (and little) ways.

Enough stats, here are some quotes to inspire you this Women's Equality Day

Women's Equality Day Quotes 1

Women's Equality Day Quotes 2

Women's Equality Day Quotes 3

Women's Equality Day Quotes 4

Women's Equality Day Quotes 5

Women's Equality Day Quotes 6

Women's Equality Day Quotes 7

Women's Equality Day Quotes 8

Women's Equality Day Quotes 9

Women's Equality Day Quotes 10

Women's Equality Day Quotes 11

Women's Equality Day Quotes 12

August 26, 2021

Fatima Dainkey Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

How to have DEI Discussions in the Workplace with Fatima Dainkeh

Fatima Dainkeh drops in to chat about the value of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) discussions, how trust in a workplace is built, and why DEI strategies are dependent on a virtual, hybrid or in-person model.

Fatima is an expert on how to consciously foster a workplace culture as it relates to topics around racism, sexism, gender identity and the intersectionality of social identities. She's a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) facilitator and uses storytelling as a tool and platform for individuals and groups to connect with one another.

We recognize that our workplace is our microcosms of the general society, right? And so whatever is happening in our world is probably also going to be showing up in our workplaces. One of the main issues we're helping to solve is ‘why aren't workplaces working?'

Fatima Dainkeh, Learning and Development Manager, She+ Geeks Out

Fatima is here to really think about how people communicate with each other and the ripple effects those interactions can have

Fatima is the Learning and Development Manager at She+ Geeks Out, which is based in Massachusetts. They take a holistic approach in providing education and support for organizations to build a strong foundation of diversity, equity and inclusivity within their workplace.

She created a short film, Stories of Black Motherhood (2018). It centers around three mothers in Boston as they talk about the ways in which their lives have been affected by race, class, and gender, and how those topics also influence their feelings and fears about motherhood and the healthcare system in the US.

Fatima received a Master of Public Health in Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation (CAPDIE) and Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Anthropology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

For the complete discussion watch Fatima on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for a teaser into some of the topics they touch on.

Some quick bites from Fatima

On being a diversity, equity and inclusion facilitator and what it means

I've been doing facilitation for close to a decade now, and so for those of you who aren't familiar with facilitation work it's basically a way to create space for folks to discuss any issue.

I specifically focus on diversity, equity and inclusion related issues and that's what I do at She+ Geeks Out and so part of me being a Learning and Development Manager is to critically think about what do our current programs look like, what's the content that we're offering, and how is that supporting not just individual contributors or our community members but also our client and companies. And so one of the key things we do at She+ Geeks Out is really thinking about how do we abolish inequity in the workplace?

We recognize that our workplace is our microcosms of the general society, right? And so whatever is happening in our world is probably also going to be showing up in our workplaces. One of the main issues we're helping to solve is ‘why aren't workplaces working?’ Why are they not working specifically and especially for marginalized identities or folks with marginalized identities. And what can we be thinking about, what can we be doing, what can we be changing to make sure that we're not just creating an inclusive culture, but we're also using an equity lens.

So what do our policies look like? Who's being supported, and who's not? Are we using language unintentionally or intentionally that might be making some employees feel marginalized? These are the questions that we help clients and companies answer and then provide them tips, tools and strategies to begin changing that culture.

On She+ Geeks Out, how they are expanding our understanding of gender and what the + means

When She+ Geeks Out was founded a lot of the work was supporting women in tech and tech adjacent. And so what would it look like to support these groups of people who are in tech spaces but aren't feeling as included or feeling like they're the only?

She+ Geeks Out has evolved to not just support women but anyone who identifies as a woman. But also really expanding beyond the binary when we talk about gender, right? And so She+ that plus is saying like ‘hey this is how we started out foundationally and we have expanded our understanding and idea of gender and are including brave and safe spaces for folks who might identify along the spectrum to come into our community events and spaces because we know that if we work on one type of inequality - like gender inequality - there's still so much more to do. We talk about this from an intersectional standpoint so we can't just talk about gender inequality without talking about homophobia, without talking about transphobia and racism and so forth so that plus really is bringing those concepts together and really you know highlighting intersectionality.

Fatima Dainkey Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Image: Fatima Dainkey. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi.

On how DEI discussions differ for a virtual workplace

It's not the easiest to facilitate virtually, it's not. Because we are talking about topics that are both personal and professional and when we're talking about identities or topics, like, privilege, power, oppression - it's sometimes hard to see what's happening behind the screen. Sometimes videos aren't on, sometimes you don't know someone's actually paying attention and I'm saying that to use that lens as a way of thinking about just working virtually in general, especially if you weren't working virtually before.

And so one thing that we've been thinking about as it relates to culture and how it's changed over time, it's first building trust, right? We often talk about trust being a key component to creating and maintaining inclusive workplaces and if you just started working somewhere and let's say you weren't part of the company until after they became remote, it's really hard to build trust with your manager or to even build trust with your colleagues.

And so what can we do virtually is really think about ‘what can we have conversations about during our one-on-one meetings? For example, what does it look like to have check-in? I know it's so easy to jump into business and say ‘okay what have we done? List all the tasks. Check them off’ And I always say, okay sometimes you might not have an opportunity to check-in, but if you do and when you do, do so, because there's so many things that can be happening in our personal lives that we're not aware of and because we're not in person and because body language is sometimes hard to take note of virtually.

It's so important to take a step back, even if it's five minutes, to say ‘hey, how are you doing? How's it going? What do you need support with?’ and so forth.

On why people are trusting brands more than the government these days

Part of trust is also holding ourselves accountable when you mess up and what we know is that that hasn't always been the case within government structures - at least for folks who have marginalized identities and so when that has happened over time and nothing has been done or we don't feel like adequate measures have been taken, you can see how people begin to look at corporates or businesses because perhaps they feel like the language feels inclusive they've been really transparent about their commitments.

We saw that since summer of 2020 a lot of companies have committed to anti-racist practices. I think there was a recent article that came out this year that said ‘hey let's do a check-in and check on all these companies that said they were going to do x y and z. Let's see how much they've done so far?’ So building trust a lot of times people say you have to earn trust, right? But also you have to show what you're doing and when we think about doing these workshops or supporting our clients one of the things we say is being very clear and intentional with the language right and so whether that's verbal you're just having a meeting virtually or you're typing up that email or you're responding to a social event or unrest that's happening in our society. I'm gonna be able to trust you because I know that one you're paying attention, you care and so these are pillars of trust where it's like, ‘okay you care about who I am as a being, at least, and I'm seeing that messaging.

On her short film, Stories of Black Motherhood

I work with an awesome company named Envision Productions and basically I was in grad school focusing on maternal child health and really looking at health inequities. And being in the classroom hearing folks say ‘hey black mothers or black birthing folks are dying and their kids are dying’ is a lot to take on as someone who identifies as a birthing person but also as a black woman.

And so I wanted to really dig into the data. We always talk about the numbers and it feels so generalizing and it makes black folks look like a monolith and it's like ‘what's the story’, right? What's actually happening within communities? What's supporting, you know, black birthing folks? To support their children and family and what's not supporting them? And so that's sort of what I wanted to get into and using storytelling as a tool to really amplify those voices because they're always there. And so I’m just a really strong believer of ‘what questions are we asking folks?’. And the mothers in that video were so amazing and being open and sharing their experience of being a black mother in Boston.

On why it’s so important to really consider what a change in workplace model (virtual, in-person or hybrid) means for employees and how to best handle a transition

We have to ask ourselves ‘who is benefiting from going back to the workplace? And who's benefiting from a hybrid model? And who's benefiting from a virtual model? And let's be fair, virtual workplaces have always existed before the pandemic. Folks have been figuring out how to develop and build and maintain awesome cultures in virtual workplaces, so it's not brand new - it's been done, it's possible. And if you find that you weren't virtual and you're thinking about going back into the workplace, the first question that we often ask is ‘can you, sort of, first check in with your employees?

I have been in contact with so many of my friends who said ‘hey, we just got a message from the company that said we need - we're going back to work next week, there was no discussion about it or, at least, with my colleagues or with my friends, it was just like made at the top level and there was no transition.’ It was, like, 18 months you've been out of the office, next week you will start and you'll be in the office five days a week...

You just don't do something for 18 months and then drop people in and expect everything to go back the same. We are social creatures and it takes time for us to build habits, so if we've been, sort of, getting used to virtual working and we are parents, we're caregivers, we're trying to figure out what's happening in a virtual world. It's going to take time to be just as effective if we were effective virtually and to feel like we can engage in that in the workplace.

So one thing we say is ‘what does it look like to have a soft transition?’ Meaning ‘okay, can we do a quick survey? Or, a really, you know, focus group? And to just see who wants to go back and who doesn't. If we find that most people are around the hybrid model, well, let's do a soft transition maybe - twice a week people can come into the office.

On a hybrid workplace model and how to facilitate inclusion and engagement

There's so much to consider and I'd say, you know, for the hybrid model finding ways to make sure that people still feel engaged. One of the things that a lot of companies talk about, especially if they were remote before the pandemic and then they became hybrid later, is that the virtual group doesn't get as much love.

So if you're not going into the office it's, like, you're missing out on the water cooler conversations or you're not being able to hang out with your colleagues. And so how can you merge that? How can you do games online, for example. And then have, like, in-person so that folks who are comfortable going in-person can do so, and folks who aren't or have other priorities, can also engage. So there's so so much to consider. I just think it's really important to get a pulse with employees first before making a decision like that.

Want more on this topic?

Here are links to resources and podcasts mentioned in this Happily Live:

July 14, 2021

Women in front of Mac computer

5 Ways Local Nonprofits Can Leverage Virtual Events to Reach More People

Communities are wonderfully diverse and increasingly more fluid. Many people simply move across town or move far from the local community that they once were actively a part of.

However, that does not necessarily mean that they want to step away from supporting it.

They still feel grateful and want to remain connected to the community, to the educational programs, the medical services, homeless shelters, fundraising events and all that good stuff that communities are built upon.

Women in front of Mac computer

Now with virtual broadcasting, nonprofits and organizations can still reach out to members who move away and continue to build awareness.

1. Show where the donations will go or where they went

Are you raising a capital campaign to build or improve a building? People love to take tours! Share a video walkthrough or a guided tour of the new or old spaces. Just do not forget to highlight the donation wall!

2. Host a dynamic virtual dinner party

We are not fans of simply plonking a laptop at a place setting, however, we do love hosting a special virtual dinner table! An event with a special performance, with a special guest, Zoom games, or a hearty agenda for all those who attended.

3. Translate your program

If the community you serve are not all native english speakers, translating your program to your base’s mother tongue(s) will do wonders for strengthening your connection with more people.

4. Move your silent auction online

Take this fresh approach to fundraising that utilizes the proven buying techniques of e-commerce. Open up a 24/7 shop with exclusive time-based drops (and give member discounts!)

5. Share your org’s updates on a more regular basis

With the lower price point of virtual broadcasting, you can keep your community updated on a quarterly basis, you can add live Q&A to get feedback and help ensure everyone is with you.

May 25, 2021

Push to reset the world By jose-antonio-gallego-vázquez

5 Ways to Produce an Event That is Actively Anti-racist

Representing diverse voices is a big thing for us at Happily.

Racism and racial bias should have no place in society, and we do all we can to uproot it from the events industry, or at least, from every Happily event.

We believe that diversity is the reason we at Happily are able to produce the contemporary and dynamic events that we do. We are committed to our diversity goal of having at least 50% representation of women, 30% of black, indigenous, and people of color, and 10% of people from the LGBT community.

Push to reset the world By jose-antonio-gallego-vázquez

So we have some basic starting points for producing an event that is intentionally anti-racist.

1. Add anti-racism in your code of conduct

Clearly outline anti-racism into the proper practices, norms and expectations of an event. This way all those involved, including contractors, will be clearly aware what values the behind-the-scenes of your event should be built on.

2. BIPOC talent first

Do not leave black, indigenous and people of color talent as an afterthought. Start with booking them first and consciously lining up a diversity of talent. An event cannot have ‘too much diversity’.

3. Research your speakers

Do some basic googling and social media research to make sure any guest speakers are not publicly (or even privately) racist. Basically, do not give a racist a platform.

4. Donate a portion of your ticket sales to anti-racism groups and nonprofits

Good folks like The Bail Project, The Innocence Project, Black Lives Matter or Stop AAPI Hate, just to name a few.

5. Be accountable for your actions

If there is a mistake on your part, own it and apologize. Publish a plan to make changes, and publicly learn from a situation or issue. It’s ok, we are all learning and growing.

May 18, 2021

Happily events Janet Lee

AAPI Heritage Month + Podcasting with Janet Lee

Janet Lee drops in to chat about what it is like to work in podcasting, the Asian-American experience for women in the corporate world, and how it is okay to chase happiness over status.

Generally speaking I’ve always gravitated to organizations and nonprofits with a really strong mission. I kind of found that out from a very young age, like in college, that I wanted to do something that was going to make the world less stupid and more empathetic.

Janet Lee, Senior Production Manager, VICE Audio at VICE Media

This Janet Lee is not like other Janet Lees

She has spent over a decade in digital media with a proven track record of developing, producing, and launching high-profile, editorial programs including TED Radio Hour on NPR, WorkLife with Adam Grant and Sincerely, X.

After 7 years with TED Conferences working her way up into different roles, Janet has now found herself in the world of podcast production. She was at Patreon as the Creator Partnerships Lead, and now is currently the Senior Production Manager at VICE. So, Janet knows a thing or two about what makes a successful podcast.

Listen to Janet on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for some fast takeaways.

The power of audio content

  • Audio feels intimate and the connections that listeners have to podcasts are deep
  • There is much opportunity for in-depth storytelling, as there are no rules of duration with a podcast
  • Producing an audio piece can be low-cost compared to a video medium, however, a polished, high-quality and professional podcast show still requires more energy, funds and preparation than most of us realise

Some quick economic stats about Asian American women in the US

Employment rates

Asian women reached a 20-year high of 4,827,000 in Sept 2019, however, dropped nearly 17% (that’s a loss of 787,000 jobs) due to the pandemic. This is compared to employment dropping 15% for women and 12% for men in general across America. Asian women's employment has been on the rise in the past 20 years, on par with population growth Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress


1.4 million AAPI women in 2019 earned below $15 an hour. It is worth noting that there are wide differences of common occupations among AAPI subpopulations, driven by differences in culture, immigration patterns, generational wealth, and continual prejudices around gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and language. AAPI women's median annual earnings vary widely by subpopulation Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress

Gender wage gap

AAPI women working full time, year-round earned 85c for every $1 given to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts in 2019. The gender wage gap varies greatly, with wider gaps for many subpopulations of AAPI women Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress

Unemployment rates due to the pandemic

44% of Asian women over 16yrs who lost their jobs during the pandemic were out of work for at least 6 months as of December 2020. For Asian women 20+ yrs, the unemployment rate in 2020 jumped from 3% in Feb to 16.4% in May. As of Jan 2021 the unemployment rate for Asian women is 7.9%, compared to 5.2% of white women. Unemployment has skyrocketed among women during the coronavirus crisis—and women, particularly women of color, continue to struggle Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress

Are you looking for some new podcasts?

Here are links to resources and podcasts mentioned in this Happily Live:

May 12, 2021

Black woman at Cloud Gate in Chicago with Equality text on back for t-shirt

How to Support Diversity in the Workplace with Zoe Moore

We’re revisiting a Happily Live that discusses an issue we are enthusiastic about; representing diverse voices and fostering inclusion.

As part of our core values at Happily, we are actively dedicated to diversity in the workplace and all Happily events, as well as reinvesting in local and forgotten communities. This chat provides some practical advice and insights that all of us should listen to and be reminded of.

Black woman at Cloud Gate in Chicago with Equality text on back for t-shirt Yes kindness. Yes peace. Yes Equailty. Yes Love.

Chiriga "Zoe" Moore joins Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, to chat about diversity, equity and inclusion in the events industry and how companies can be more intentional in their hiring practices.

What I see in the MICE industry - or what we call meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions and even local events that happen - is there is a lack of supplier diversity. So when you’re looking at the different venues, and the different professionals, speakers, and panelists, or chef and DJs, there isn’t diversity amongst those businesses that we go to.

Zoe Moore, MS, CDP

Zoe Moore is a powerhouse

She is an Army Veteran and a Certified Diversity Practitioner with an M.S. in Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism. Zoe engages with leaders to operationalize DEI assessments, resources and strategic action plans, and is an advocate for supplier diversity to encourage economic empowerment and sustainability.

Zoe is a former Event Resource Broker at LB Alliance, an event resource group that supports underrepresented professionals in the MICE industry. She is also the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for Meeting Professionals International (MPI).

She co-founded CADAZO Consulting Group, a women and minority owned business that is evolving the meetings and events industry through DEI dialogue, coaching, workshops. She is currently developing courses, content and workshops to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This Happily Live is an oldie, but a goodie. To hear all the expert knowledge, watch Zoe in discussion with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for some quick advice.

Some key notes and tips from their chat for businesses wanting to address and strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplace

Go local to support urban sustainability

If you’re putting together an event and will be needing to hire supporting staff, entertainment, catering, performers - whatever it may be - prioritize finding and supporting local talent.

You’ll go into a city and they’ll use national brands. A national company will come in. They will get paid and they’ll take their money right on out. But if you bring local businesses and freelancers, like Happily does, into those events, they make money, they spend it locally and then it does something I call ‘toughen urban sustainability’. Strengthen that local community because they’re part of these events that are happening and not excluded from them.

Zoe Moore, MS, CDP

Know your current workforce so you can set realistic goals

Do an honest and complete survey of the current demographic and diversity of employees. This detailed assessment will allow you to understand the relevant benchmarks you may need to set, any goals you may want to meet, and what areas you may need to focus on.

You have to acknowledge what the landscape of what the workforce looks like.

Zoe Moore, MS, CDP

Assess the inclusive atmosphere of the workplace

Hiring a diverse array of employees is not sustainable if the working environment they join is not inclusive. Only by actively fostering a culture of belonging can a business allow their staff to feel comfortable and let their diversity shine through and their voices be respected. That is when true representation, diversity, equity and inclusion happen.

Now you have to identify ‘what am I gonna do to make my organization or this place inclusive?’ because a lot of people are working backwards. They’re like ‘okay we want diversity. Hire this person. Hire that person’ and they get into the environment and it’s not inclusive and there is no upward mobility so the effort becomes stagnant because you have a high attrition rate.

Zoe Moore, MS, CDP

Be intentional with your hiring process and go to where the people are

Businesses have to be committed to diversifying staff, and not expect a diverse group of candients to come to them. Based on your goals around DEI, you need to be intentional by going into the community and places in which those underrepresented voices in the company can be recruited.

As you begin to hire it has to be intentional. You cannot post something on LinkedIn and say ‘hey, we’re hiring’ and expect people who have never seen your company as diverse or making any true effort. You have to be intentional. Go to the HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities]. Go to neighborhoods. Go to the community centres.

Zoe Moore, MS, CDP

Are you fascinated by this topic?

Here are links to resources and things mentioned in this Happily Live:

April 21, 2021

Hero - Smiley Poswolsky

Friendships in the Age of Loneliness with Smiley Poswolsky

As fundamentally social beings, we humans are at our best when we are experiencing meaningful and fulfilling connections with those around us.

We all think we know what loneliness is. However, in this digital age, we are experiencing a particular type of loneliness that started long before social distancing, lockdowns, and the isolating year that was 2020. Friendships are the answer to happier, healthier and more productive lives both at work and outside of it. So, why hasn’t the average American made a new friend in the last 5 years? And why is only 4% of our time spent with our friends?

Adam Smiley Poswolsky connects with Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, to chat about the loneliness epidemic we’re currently living through, as well as his latest book Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist's Guide to Connection.

The definition of loneliness isn’t how many followers you have, or friends you have on Facebook, or how active your social life is, it’s actually the disconnection between what you want to be feeling in terms of connection, and what you actually feel. It’s that gap. It’s that subjective gap.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

Hero - Smiley Poswolsky

Smiley Poswolsky is a millennial workplace expert

He helps companies attract, retain, and empower the next generation. As a prominent keynote speaker, Smiley inspires and guides thousands of professionals on how to be more connected at work and why those social bonds are fundamental. He has addressed companies and organizations such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Unilever, Deloitte, and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Smiley has advised heads of state and foreign leaders about millennial talent, multigenerational engagement, and fostering belonging in the digital age. He has also spoken in front of 50,000 people in 20 countries, and his video ‘Refusing to Settle: The Quarter-Life Crisis’ for TEDx Talks has over 1.5m views.

In 2017 he launched The Women/Womxn, BIPOC, and Inclusivity Speaker Initiative, which has grown to over 4,000 members. Its goal is to increase opportunities for women and other underrepresented keynote speakers, as well as ensure that they are paid competitively.

He is the author of 3 inspirational books, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters (2014), The Breakthrough Speaker: How to Build a Public Speaking Career (2018), and Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist's Guide to Connection (2021).

For all the enlightening insights you must listen to Smiley on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and you can also read on for a super quick summary.

Some takeaways from their discussion

Loneliness is an epidemic

For the past 20 years our daily lives have been fundamentally changing along with the rise of technology. A shift in how we socialize has happened, and it no longer prioritizes in-person, real life, regular meetups with like-minded people in your community. Loneliness has grown along with this shift. 80% of Gen Z’ers, 70% of Millennials and nearly two thirds of Americans (of all ages) are lonely.

We used to have bowling leagues, we used to meet up with people at the local church, or the VFW, or the town hall, or these Elks Clubs, having kind of these neighborhood-based places where you would just see people and regularly talk.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

Our current relationship with social media is not healthy

The ability to connect with like-minded people that technology has allowed us is truly wonderful. However, we need to be more conscious of how we use it. Only when we use social media as a facilitator can it enable us to nurture or create friendships. Think of it more as a wayfinder; the means in which you can easily find direction, to organize and meet up for conversations and interactions in real life.

Social media can contribute to your wellbeing, but if it’s just the end place, if it’s just like ‘I’m on here and I’m on here’ and I never get off the hamster wheel, it’s really really unhealthy for you.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

We all need a work-wife, work-hubby or a best friend at work

If you have at least 1 close friend at your workplace, you will be 7x more engaged. Friendships in the workplace are so important, especially as we increasingly use technology more and more to communicate and collaborate. Casual conversations as you both make coffee in the staff kitchen, or exchanging ‘good morning’ smiles in the hallway is something we are experiencing less as the world moves away from traditional office spaces.

Here are 3 simple tips for companies and employees to encourage that all important social spirit in the digital space:

1. Enable moments for people’s uniqueness and individuality to shine through in conversation. For example, spend the first 10 or 15 minutes of a Zoom call just chatting before getting into the meeting agenda.

Allowing people to bring their full selves to work, allowing people to share who they are, allowing people to have these moments talking about their hobbies, their passions, things that they’re working on, so people get a sense of who their colleagues are.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

2. Don’t shy away from smaller sized and more personable conversations and meetings.

I also think facilitating more one-on-ones is important, it’s hard to develop a best friend when you are 20 people on a Zoom.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

3. Celebrate each other and lift each other up. Everybody feels good when they feel seen, heard and appreciated, and as a result, the team as a whole will feel more connected. There are even platforms such as that have made it super simple to create a collaborative video montage.

Affirmation and celebration and praise is really important especially right now during the pandemic. Feedback is always important, but right now having channels where people can give praise, give gratitude, celebrate their people is really remarkable.

Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author

Are you fascinated by this topic?

Here are links to resources and things mentioned in this Happily Live:

April 14, 2021


4 Ways to Include an ASL Interpreter in a Virtual Event

The wonderfully adaptable and customizable nature of virtual events is ideal for creating a digital space where those of all abilities can participate, thrive and enjoy themselves.

One of the ways to increase inclusivity and accessibility for the deaf community and for deaf and/or hard of hearing Individuals is by having an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter as part of your virtual summits, virtual conference, virtual fundraisers, or virtual event.

Happily in ASL Image: The word 'happily' in American Sign Language (ASL) signs

A quick note on using live captioning vs an ASL interpreter

Live captioning is when captions of the spoken languages are transcribed in real time, resulting in a seamless and more accurate experience than automated captions.

This is referred to as CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) and nowadays there are many companies that specialize in this service and it can be easily integrated into digital platforms, including Zoom. Live captioning is ideal for forward-facing broadcasts, where attendees are simply observing and taking in what and/or who is on screen.

If the focus of your virtual event is around discussion and verbal interaction of attendees, then most often an ASL interpreter is preferred over live captioning by deaf and/or hard of hearing individuals.

Here are some ready-made options (and things to consider) to integrate an ASL interpreter into a Happily virtual event.

1. ASL on screen all the time

This is perfect for an event via Zoom. However, it is worth noting that this is a little tricker for a broadcast if you would like to reuse any footage across some social media platforms.

The final product will be forced into a 16:9 ratio (horizontal) with ASL and so it will be tough to reuse content for social media platforms that ideally require a 1:1 ratio (square) or a 9:16 ratio (vertical). We are mainly talking about Instagram and TikTok. The workaround for this is to pre-record segments that you want to show later on your social networks or plan for added time and budget to make an alternation in post-production edits.

2. Two feeds at once, one with ASL and one without

This option is straightforward and clean, especially if you are catering for an audience mix of ASL users and non-ASL users. However, having multiple stages will increase costs and affect the budget. Even though it can get really pricey, in the end the result will be an identical event experience for all your attendees.

3. Special Zoom room with a live feed from our broadcasters with ASL spotlit in there

This will add some cost, although not as much as Option #2 described above. Ultimately the event experience will not be identical for all attendees, and may create feelings of isolation and social cohesion.

4. Live captions only for broadcasts and ASL for interactive

This option is a hybrid of having live captions (CART) during a broadcast and an ASL interpreter for any following verbal interactions (eg. in a Zoom breakout room or a Q&A format).

As we mentioned up top, live captioning is ideal for a broadcast as generally the focus is on visual presentations and guest speakers and not on direct interaction with the attendees. If a following item in the event schedule is intended to generate discussion then the live captioning can be switched out for an ASL interpreter.

Would you like some more resources on this topic?

The RespectAbility website is a wealth of knowledge on how we can all contribute to advancing opportunities for those with disabilities.

They are a nonprofit that works collaboratively with organizations to educate and guide them on ways that people with disabilities in communities can be included. Here is a practical guide they have for creating virtual events that are accessible for all.

We are the couturiers of the virtual events world

In whichever way your Happily virtual event needs to be more accessible, together we can design tailor-made UX experiences and custom-built digital platforms for your Happily event and your attendees.

Contact Team Happily to chat about any requirements and let’s create something truly special.

April 13, 2021

Happily events David Spinks

The Business of Belonging with David Spinks

The era of businesses powered by community is here and we are excited by its potential.

David Spinks chats with Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, about what makes a community-driven business as well as his new book The Business of Belonging: How to Make Community your Competitive Advantage.

A sense of belonging, connection, shared purpose, feeling like you are connected to a group of people. And that’s the foundation of this work, you need that, that’s the fuel that makes it all work. And businesses are starting to become aware of that and make community a really core value for both internally - how do we make employees feel like they belong - and then externally - how do we make customers, partners, investors feel like they are all connected and they belong.

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

David Spinks is a rockstar in the community-driven business movement

As a 3x startup founder and an experienced community leader, David has spent a decade advising and training hundreds of organizations (such as Google, Facebook, and Airbnb) in community strategy. Simply put, he is an expert on the intersection of community and business.

In 2014 he co-founded CMX, an international hub for community professionals to support each other through education, and events. Bevy, an enterprise software to power community-driven events, acquired CMX in 2019. David now serves as the Vice President of Community at Bevy to assist companies launch and scale event-driven community programs.

David is now an author with the release of his book, The Business of Belonging, How to Make Community your Competitive Advantage, which is the #1 New Release in Direct Marketing on Amazon! He shares all he has learnt about what makes a winning community strategy, from the fundamental concepts to practical engagement techniques.

For more on his book and for all the expert insights listen to David on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for a quick summary.

A few fundamental notes from their chat

There is a difference between building an audience vs a community

Instead of constantly explaining or showing the value of your business or product to people, a strong community will allow members to create and share that value for you.

Traditional businesses have always been about marketing and building an audience and to build an audience you essentially just help people, you create value, a product, something that they consume. To build a community you help people help each other. You create spaces and platforms for them to create value for each other rather than you, the business, having to create all the value for them.

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

Success lives where business and belonging overlap

The sweet spot to build a community is the place where the value to the business and the value for the members balance. It is the space where they overlap that opportunity and success can be found.

If you go into building community and you are only optimizing for profit you’re not really focusing on how you serve members and really give them a true sense of connection and belong and value, then your community is not going to have engagement...

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

Have clear business objectives for your community

By their very nature, a community grows towards a level of self-sustainability. Starting with a solid foundation of business goals for the community, and a clear understanding of the ways in which you want community to benefit the business, is essential in knowing how and where to guide this ship once it leaves the dock.

If you only focus on creating engagement and you’re not starting with an understanding with what is the business objective you’re trying to drive, how it will ultimately result in ROI, you’ll end up having a community that is engaged but you can’t justify the investment, you don’t know what the return is…

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

Some stats and figures for you

  • Companies with a Vice President of Community have grown to approx. 50 - 100 around the world
  • Globally companies with a Chief Community Officer role have grown to approx. 10
  • Only 12% of community teams feel confident in their ability to measure the business value of community
  • 88% of communities have at least one dedicated community manager
  • 86% of business say community is critical to their mission
  • Community saw more investment through the COVID-19 pandemic with 56% of companies now viewing community as more essential

Have a framework to calculate the ROI of community

Being able to clearly see the value of your community to your business will give you the confidence and information you need to justify and invest more in it. Although gathering these metrics can be tricky, David has developed a framework he refers to as The SPACES Model; Support Product Acquisition Contribution Engagement Success. He dives deep into that in his new book, and has a summary here via the CMX website.

Virtual events are considered more valuable and powerful than ever before

Largely due to the pandemic, virtual events are a format that both companies and participants are now more comfortable with. Businesses have seen the lasting benefits of virtual events; they are highly scalable, they are more affordable, more people can be reached, it has much greater accessibility, and they can be held more frequently than in-person events.

I think virtual events themselves are here to stay because they provide a really scaleable balance to the very time and cost intensive in-person events.”

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

Hybrid event programs will become more popular

Moving forward event programs for communities will be a mix of virtual and in-person events. There will always be a certain sense of magic that happens when a group of people meet in the same physical space, and so, in-person events are important to communities. Ideally the yearly events calendar for a community would have some events as 100% virtual, and others as 100% in-person.

The reality is that virtual tools do not give you the same sense of proximity, connection and serendipity that you get in-person.

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

David is sceptical of hybrid events

The idea of a hybrid event that simultaneously creates an equal sense of connectivity for both the virtual and in-person participants is not something we are likely to see a rise in. They are really two separate events happening at once with two separate experiences for those participating. If the goal of an event is to nurture connections between members, it is ideal to separately utilize the strengths of in-person and virtual events.

[A hybrid event is] a lot harder to do than people think, it’s a lot more expensive to do than people think, it’s not an ideal experience for people because people who are watching online generally just feel left out from the in-person experience, people in-person feel overwhelmed by all the online people and they just wanna talk to the people there in-person.

David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy

Would you like some more?

Here are links to resources and things mentioned in this Happily Live:

April 7, 2021

Gina Bianchini

How to Build a Mighty Strong Community Online with Gina Bianchini

Community development online is a craft. It is many many moving parts should fold and flow together to create a structure that supports, uplifts and serves each one of its members.

Gina Bianchini, an expert on network effects, chats with Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, about what makes a community thrive online, the changing nature of communities in the digital space and how to reframe your approach to community building for your business.

I define community very narrowly… which is; are you creating the conditions by which people can meet and build relationships with other people? Think about it as member to member connections.

Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks

Gina Bianchini is a pioneering woman in the tech space

She is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Mighty Networks, a flexible web platform and community management tool that ‘brands with purpose’ can use to embrace and nurture their community via online courses, events, memberships and subscription content all in one spot. Their mission is to guide in a new era of digital businesses that are built on the power of community.

The precursor to Mighty Networks was the 2004 pioneering social networking website, NING, which Gina is the founder of NING with Marc Andreessen. It is a platform which allows an online presence and community to be built from the ground up.

For all the juicy expert knowledge listen to Gina on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for a quick summary.

Some inspiring takeaways from the chat

Be the ultimate dinner party host

Think about building a community like hosting a dinner party. Not all your guests know each other, but you know all of them. You know what they have in common and what makes each one of them amazing human beings.

So as the ultimate host you would carefully craft an environment in which organic conversations can be fostered, in which your guests feel comfortable and especially in which connections can grow independently of you - so the party can continue even while you step away into the kitchen to check on dinner.

What is our ultimate goal? It is to create a community or a network of people that gets more valuable to every member with each new person that joins and contributes and we are gonna use many different tools in our toolbox to make that network as valuable to as many people as possible.

Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks

Social media is for gaining followers, not for building interconnected communities

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are, as Gina describes, ‘moving in the opposite direction’ to building communities. They are certainly powerful digital marketing tools and important for brand awareness.

However, they are mostly one sided conversations without much significant relationship building happening. If your business goal is to build a thriving community with a sense of belonging, social media platforms are wonderful tools in your box, but they are not the best ones for this job.

So if you think about DMs and the fact that you have Stories and DMs, that’s actually, ‘I talk out at you, you talk back at me’, but nobody's meeting or building relationships with each other. The comments sections, people continue to try to build communities in comments sections but the reality is, it’s really hard.

Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks

A simply recipe for a mighty powerful community

All successful communities, as Gina explains, have cultivated the same sort of environment and culture for strong online community engagement and connecting members. Here are some common threads:

  • People feel part of something bigger than themselves
  • There is an overarching common goal or objective
  • Everyone is learning something new together
  • It is a safe space and a support network

Communities are built online before they can also be successful in the real world

A community with intention blossoms in the digital space, and in-person events are just another way for members to connect with each other through their common interests. By saying ‘online community’ we are focusing on ways in which a community stays connected and interacts in the digital space, in-between or in spite of real life events.

When you focus primarily on the online interactions of the community you are cultivating lasting connections by establishing strong patterns of communications for long after an in-person conference or event has passed.

When you’re thinking about a conference you are better off thinking about how you get people before they come. Before they come. The energy around joining something online that is digital, is before the event, not after.

Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks

Did something spark your interest?

Here are links to resources and other stuff mentioned in this Happily Live:

March 31, 2021

How to Create Fun Online Workshops with Amy Jo Kim

How to Create Fun Online Workshops with Amy Jo Kim

Amy Jo Kim is an advisor to Happily and the mastermind of Game Thinking, a customer-centric process for unlocking innovation in your products that she developed out of her experiences building products with the early teams of eBay, Guitar Hero, The Sims Online, and Netflix.

"The Sims is one of the games where I saw that you could merge vision with a relentless search for market truth and “find the core of fun.”"

Companies fly Amy Jo all around the world to have her teach them the Game Thinking process, but about three years ago she decided to go exclusively online as she saw her teams achieve more progress with her clients in online workshops that she facilitated. In her conversation with our CEO Sarah Shewey, Amy Jo shared some lessons learned from helpful tips on how she structures her own workshops to maximize small group learning online.

Watch the chat from our Learning Center at, and read on for key takeaways from what Amy Jo shared with us.

1. Re-format the workshop into sprints

Turn your all-day workshops into a sprint: a dedicated period of time with a key focus that has a beginning and an end. During a sprint, independent work is supported by daily touchpoints with the group. Sprints help big goals feel less overwhelming and empowers participants to feel confident that the outcome of one sprint will lead to the foundation of the next. It takes a bit more upfront work to layout all the content, but ultimately a sprint achieves better results and is much easier to fit into busy workdays for your executives.

"No one wants to be online all day… With sprints, you meet for one hour every day for a week or two, and you’ll see much better results."

2. Know when to broadcast and when to discuss

Be clear on which parts of your event are in broadcast mode (eg. one presenter to many listeners) vs discussion mode (eg. small group sessions with participation). A helpful exercise is to think about the interactions you want participants to experience with each “Aha!” moment and then decide whether or not you want that to be open for broadcast or discussion.

"Unless there’s a live performance, a 45-minute talk doesn’t work."

3. Prepare for the screen

With workshops, broadcast mode is often much better delivered in pre-recorded, micro-learning segments of no more than five minutes made available for replay. Discussions are also best when done in groups of four to eight, so that everyone can have a chance to speak up. Be sure to design your docs and templates for the screen rather than a printed page, taking aspect ratio into account when you layout your slides.

Want to learn more about Game Thinking?

As Amy Jo explains, game thinking is “developing the right products for the right people and having it drive engagement with a coherent customer journey.”

She cites 3 primary practices that make Game Thinking work:

1. Leveraging super fans to speed up iteration and innovation in the early days,

2. Creating a high-level vision for mastery path/customer journey that you can test and refine to get the right mental model, and

3. Creating a compelling learning loop that empowers your customers to get better at something rather than manipulating behavior.

You can learn more about the concept in her book, Game Thinking.

Sign up her free online course, Create Your Next Hit Service With a Compelling Customer Journey” here.

Thanks again to Amy Jo Kim for sharing her insights with us!

April 6, 2020