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An entertaining journey through international happiness concepts


Helen Russell

travels from Denmark

A charismatic speaker uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country and happiness around the world

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About Helen

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  • As British journalist and bestselling author based in Denmark, starting her career in public relations, Helen knows how to bridge the gap between brands, journalists and experts. She has a talent to fascinate people and shape messages vividly.
  • Helen Russell is described a charismatic humorous speaker who takes her audience on an entertaining journey. In her keynotes she takes her audience on a round the world trip through her expat experience, international happiness concepts and the science of change.

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist, archetypal londoner and exuberant speaker Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.

What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen Russell decided there was only one way to find out: she gave herself a year to uncover the formula for Danish happiness.

From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, the resulting book The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how Non-Danes might just benefit from living a little more Danishly. As an author and expert on happiness, life overhauls, work-life balance and cultural difference, keynote speaker Helen Russell lectures internationally and can facilitate panels and give after dinner speeches.

Helen is a journalist and former editor of MarieClaire.co.uk. She now lives in Denmark permanently and works as a Scandinavia correspondent for the Guardian, as well as writing a column on Denmark for the Telegraph and humorous features for The Times, Metro, Grazia, Wall Street Journal and The Independent, among others. Helen wrote various books, among them the besteseller “The year of living Danishly” and “The Atlas of Happiness”.

‘A lovely mix of English sensibility and Danish pragmatism, vivacious speaker Helen Russell seems to have understood more about the Danish character than I have!’ Sandi Toksvig, BBC host and comedian. ‘Russell is possessed of a razor-sharp wit and a winning self-deprecation,’ The Independent.

Photo by Simon Meyer

See keynotes with Helen Russell
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

The Year of Living Danishly – Uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country

  • This talk is based on Helen’s bestseller “The Year of Living Danishly” and touches upon the key areas that psychologists and experts agree are important in order to live a more content life. The key areas include trust, security, a sense of belonging, equality, addressing the aesthetics (& ‘getting hygge with it’)
  • Helen offers an insightful and useful guide to becoming happier delivered in an entertaining and engaging way. This keynote is suitable for group events, human resources professionals as well as CSR agendas.
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

The expat experience (and how to survive it)

  • In this engaging keynote, speaker Helen Russel provides an overview of the challenges foreigners face when moving to Denmark. Helen combines research with her personal experiences and funny anecdotes.
  • Helen shares practical and useful tips and tricks to make Denmark feel like a home. She covers important areas like culture shock, making friends, keeping your identity. She also shares her top things not to do when moving to Denmark which stem from personal experiences.
  • This keynote presentation is ideal for international organisations as well as companies looking to hire expats.
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

The cultural differences between Denmark and the UK

  • As someone who has worked across Europe, America and Asia, Helen Russell keeps discovering more about what it means to be British. In this eye-opening keynote, Helen shares the most notable differences between Denmark and the UK.
  • When Helen moved to Denmark she was appalled to discover that Danes have no word for “please”, don’t hold doors for each other and talk salary like it’s everyone’s business – something that verges on taboo in the UK. This keynote offers an amusing look at why Brits behave as they do as well as the norms in British society like manners, money, family, traditions and honesty.
  • This presentation is perfect for international companies with employees working in Denmark or thinking of expanding as well as cultural adventurers, schools and universities.
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

The science of change and taking leaps into the unknown

  • In this keynote, Helen Russel presents her discoveries from her book “Leap Year – How small steps can make a giant difference”. Helen spent several years researching the science of change and now presents the best tools and strategies for embracing change.
  • The audience will learn how to feel more confident with decision making, the power of making changes in incremental steps and Helen’s 10 tips for making leaps into the unknown. Helen draws on the knowledge of neuroscientists, psychologists, business leaders, nutritionists and even FBI hostage negotiators.
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

The secrets of happiness from around the world

  • In this insightful keynote, speaker Helen Russel shares the secrets of happiness from 30 countries. This keynote is based on research from her new book “The Atlas of Happiness” and Helen uncovers lots of interesting habits and attitudes that we can all learn from.
  • Helen talks about how she started her book and why we need to look to other countries for inspiration in the face of negative bias. Helen inspires her audience as she shares examples of unique happiness concepts as well as what she learned herself during her research.
Keynote by speaker Helen Russel

Happiness at work post-lockdown

Work isn’t working. Free lunches and colourful bean bags in the office no longer cut it. During the pandemic, the boundary between work and home life blurred more than ever – and studies show we’ve been working an average of six hours extra overtime a week. Burnout is a very real problem and morale is at an all time low. So what can we do to foster greater understanding, empathy, respect – and resilience? How can we find meaning and joy at work? In this informative and engaging talk, Helen explores the different cultural approaches to working life that we can learn from, the origins of the Scandinavian way of working, how it aids productivity, where it falls short, the importance of rest, plus where Malcom Gladwell missed a trick. From arbejdsglæde to autonomy and entitlement to equality, we take a fresh look at the landscape of big business, the rocks in the path and how diversity and rest are our best hopes of navigating them.

What happiness looks like around the world

Watch speaker Helen Russell talking about how does culture influence our view on happiness:

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Interview with Helen Russell

What makes the life in rural Jutland, Denmark, so attractive for you?

For me, living Danishly is about a different pace of life and a realigning of priorities. I spend less money on new shiny things and more time with my family and friends. I run, walk, bicycle (occasionally), indulge in ‘kaffe og kage’ (often), work a 40 hour week (max), and am a little kinder to myself out here than I ever felt I could be back home. Rural Jutland is the antithesis of media London – and it was a change I needed for a while.

What is the most curious insight into the Danish culture you have gained?

There are a few! I was fascinated to discover that a snake autopsy passes for a fun day out in Jutland (ditto crab racing and dancing cows). Being well-lit is also akin to a basic human right in Denmark; paying an extraordinary amount of tax isn’t necessarily a bad thing; and pastry and potatoes might just be the secret formula for happiness…

Can you provide three basic tips on how to be happier?

  • Trust (more) – this is the number one reason I’ve found that Danes are so happy. It makes you feel better and you save yourself unnecessary stress. Plus trusting the people around you can make them behave better – so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Get hygge – for me, this is about more than just the cliched idea of ‘cosiness’: it’s about being kind to yourself, remembering the simple pleasures in life – and being grateful for them.
  • Share – life’s easier this way and studies show you’ll feel better too.

What characterizes 21st century journalism for you?

Today, journalism is about being open to diversifying – both in terms of content and medium. It’s crucial to take up offers of training and show willing by gaining as much experience as you can and developing your social media offering. Journalists can no longer luxuriate in long lunches and the prospect of a job for life – or even a decade. It’s important to be tenacious, courteous and brave. It’s great to have a specialism and become an expert in something – but be nice to everyone along the way as you never know when you’ll need them!

Why should clients use you for their next event?

A well-presented, experienced and entertaining speaker, Helen can add a touch of humour to any event covering insightful, thought-provoking topics in a light-hearted, accessible way. She can tailor talks for clients and will always research her audience to make sure her lecture is spot on.

See keynotes with Helen Russell
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Keynote topics with Helen Russell