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Home » Ron Gutman: The Hidden Power of the Smile (Full Transcript)

Ron Gutman: The Hidden Power of the Smile (Full Transcript)

Ron Gutman

Here is the full transcript and summary of Ron Gutman’s talk titled The Hidden Power of the Smile” at a CEO Summit event.

Listen to the MP3 Audio:


Introducing speaker: It’s my pleasure to introduce the next keynote speaker, Ron Gutman who is the founder and CEO of HealthTap. But besides being a successful serial entrepreneur, he’s going to share with us today one of his TED talks which is on the power of smiling. So with that, Ron Gutman.

Ron Gutman – Founder and CEO, HealthTap

Hi afternoon. I can’t hear! Good afternoon. I was trying for that with the mission of waking you up after lunch and everything. So I’ll try to do that but I’m sure that everyone else talked Steve Jobs, I’ll just say a couple of words. I had the huge honor to be a part of the Stanford Class of 2005 grad school actually. For those of you who have seen the amazing commencement ceremony speech that Steve gave in our graduation, if you didn’t see it, I encourage you to go either on or just on YouTube and watch the talk. It was unbelievable.

And the two things that resonated with me more than anything else is how we ended this talk and he said — anyone knows what he said? Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. So that’s my tribute to Steve.

Today I will talk about an interesting and untapped power that I want to leave you guys with after this talk, that will help you achieve many things that you want to achieve. And I’ll tell you my story.

And my story started when I was a little kid. I always wanted to be a Superman. I wanted to save the world. I wanted to make everyone happy. But I knew that I need superpowers in order to accomplish my dream. In order to find this superpower, I used to look for intergalactic objects from planet Krypton which was a lot of fun but really didn’t yield much result.

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When I grew up, I decided, instead, of looking into science-fiction, going to look into a little bit more serious science. And also, another thing that was important for me is go and learn from people. So I said, ‘How can I find the power that I need in order to change the world? How do I find the power that I need in order to transform things in the way that will be meaningful?’ I thought that one of the best ways to doing this was to actually travel, was to actually meet people where they are, and see how they transform things and learn something from them, live with them, get inspired by them and do the things that I wanted to do.

I actually started my journey with a very fascinating study, a UC Berkeley 30-year longitudinal study that looked in the pictures of students in their yearbook. And then these researchers actually followed these students for 30 years throughout their lives. The amazing thing about this study was that by measuring the students’ smiles in the yearbook, the researchers were able to predict how long lasting and fulfilling a subject’s marriage will be, how well she would score on standardized tests of well-being and how inspiring she would be to others. And these are real studies, this is a very serious study. You can find it at UC Berkeley study. I’m happy to share it with you.

So you want to be a leader, you want to change the world, you want to be inspiring to others, smiling can help. In another year book, I found this picture. When I first saw Barry Obama’s picture, I was convinced that his superpowers came from his super collar. But now I know it was all in his smile.

Another very interesting study, a Wayne State University 2010 study that looked into pictures of baseball cards of Major League players. This was the 1950s cards. By looking at the span of the player’s smile researchers were able to predict the span of their life. Players that didn’t smile in their cards lived an average of about 72.9 years whereas players with beaming smile lived an average of almost 80 years. This is a serious study.

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Smiling is very universal. It’s something that is not only thing that is common here in the US and studies here in this country. Actually traveling around the world and researching smiling I realized that one of the most renowned researchers on facial expression Paul Ekman conducted a very fascinating study about smiling in Papua New Guinea.

And the reason the Papua New Guinea is very interesting in the smile is not only because Paul Ekman was an adventurous guy and loved adventurous travel and he traveled around the world to meet people, understand them really well, but because the people that he researched in Papua New Guinea, the Fore people, the members of the Fore tribe were completely disconnected from what we know as Western cultures as our culture or even Eastern cultures. So they’re completely disconnected.

In fact, the Fore tribe is pretty well known for the unusual cannibalism rituals. What Paul Ekman discovered is that the Fore people attribute smiles to situation the same way you and I would. So there’s something in smiling that goes beyond something cultural. It goes beyond something that we get used to and learn throughout our life. It has to do with us as human beings.

So from Hollywood — right from Papua New Guinea to Hollywood all the way to Beijing, we smile often and we attribute smile to situation that makes us happy. But with a little bit different — how many of you know the emoticon on the upper left side of the screen? Do you know it? Have you seen it before? Where have you seen it? No one! All right, go ahead.

[Audience: Inaudible]

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