Flourishing in the Workplace
Effective Thinking • Positive Psychology • Flow

Seminar Instructors: Caryn Carlson, PhD & Michael Starbird, PhD
Upcoming Course Dates: April 24, 2020 (Online)

This course presents practical strategies for optimizing personal and employee performance via identifying and utilizing character strengths, regularly achieving a state of immersed involvement or flow, and creatively conceptualizing issues and solving problems.

Course Description

Participants will become more successful and effective professionally and personally. They will:

  • Identify personal strengths;
  • Develop methods for achieving a state of immersed involvement – or “flow” in their current work activities;
  • Increase positive emotion in the workplace;
  • Improve their effective thinking strategies, especially to augment innovation;
  • Learn to identify the real questions on which they should work;
  • Learn how to find the essential issues from among the clutter;
  • Learn to use mistakes to guide discovery and reveal issues at the heart of work challenges; and
  • Generate specific action plans to improve ongoing challenges faced by the participants and their organizations.

This course presents practical strategies for optimizing personal and employee performance via identifying and utilizing character strengths, increasing positive emotion and flow, and creatively conceptualizing issues and solving problems.

Participants identify personally relevant areas for improvement or growth and work individually and in small groups to apply practical strategies presented in the course to enhance satisfaction and success both professionally and personally.

Lasting improvements in an individual or organization stem largely from using personal assets effectively. Dr. Carlson and Dr. Starbird will describe the classification of strengths and the relationship between strengths and outcomes in various life domains.

Participants will attain a more refined understanding of their personal profile of strengths by taking an online Character Strengths questionnaire prior to the course. During the seminar, they will then have the opportunity to discuss their strengths and explore methods to develop and apply them. Elements of flow and positive emotion will be discussed, along with interventions for increasing these – and thereby productivity – in the workplace.

One of the basic lessons of this course is that many positive character traits are accessible and available to anyone who takes practical steps to attain them. For example, creativity is not an inborn trait. Everyone can learn to apply strategies of effective thinking to become a creative problem-solver. These strategies include techniques for using mistakes to guide discovery, for asking questions that reveal the core issues of a situation or problem, and for focusing on fundamental components at a deep level as a means to develop expertise at a high level.

Participants exercises and activities designed to help them with their individual challenges and situations. Exercises are designed to help participants to develop the satisfying habit of concentrated focus or flow, to generate specific methods to increase positive emotion in the workplace, and to provide practical strategies for how to create innovative ideas that can be used to see opportunities and solve problems creatively. Participants will be asked to take an issue or problem in their own world and generate specific action plans based on these techniques.

Details & Registration

Location: Online
Upcoming Program(s): April 24, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.6 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this program (six hours of instruction)
Registration Deadline: April 13, 2020

HDO uses Zoom to conduct online courses. Please test your connection prior to registering.

Seminar Pricing

If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact Miles Husid, HDO’s Marketing Coordinator, at miles.husid@utexas.edu.

Spring 2020

Course Leader(s)

Caryn Carlson is a professor of Psychology at UT Austin. Her academic work is in Positive Psychology, which suggests that psychology can be utilized not only to reduce human suffering but also to enhance our potential. The Positive Psychology approach employs scientific methodology to elucidate factors relevant to understanding and promoting what is good in people, including positive emotions, character strengths and virtues, as well as health, well-being, and life satisfaction. She has received several teaching and service awards, including the Raymond Dickson Teaching Fellowship, the Eyes of Texas Excellence Award, and the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award. In addition to her teaching at the university, Dr. Carlson has presented seminars to employees at Apple, Inc.

Michael Starbird is a professor of Mathematics at UT Austin. He has received numerous teaching awards, including membership in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, the UT Regent’s Teaching Award, and the Mathematical Association of America’s National Teaching Award. He has given more than 20 workshops since 2000 ranging in length from 4 hours to 5 days. He has given more than 100 invited lectures since 2000, many pertaining to teaching effective thinking. His video courses in the Great Courses Series have reached hundreds of thousands of people outside of academia. He has also given many presentations to general audiences and some presentations business groups, including the Financial Planning Association and Rotary Clubs.

Who Should Participate?

The majority of participants in our Seminars and Certificate Programs are mid- and upper-level professionals working in the business, nonprofit, government, or military sectors; however, professionals at all levels of experience are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in an HDO Professional Seminar.

While all HDO Seminars are developed with wide-ranging applicability in mind, the following individuals and groups will likely find Flourishing in the Workplace most directly relevant to their work:

  • Senior/Executive Leadership
  • Middle Management
  • Team Leaders & Supervisors
  • Human Resources/Recruiting Directors & Managers
  • Creative Professionals
  • Project Managers


I found the seminar extremely worthwhile, and I’m recommending it to co-workers. Drs. Carlson and Starbird were very knowledgeable and helped us apply concepts to real world situations, which was extremely useful.

– Jeannine Vater, Analyst, Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA)


I really appreciated Dr. Starbird’s approach to effective thinking. The course really opened my mind to making sure I’m setting the right goals and asking the right questions. I’m still thinking about his talk and I was very happy with the topics covered.

– Stephen Jannise, Film Programmer, The Paramount & Stateside Theatres


Drs. Carlson and Starbird used examples, metaphors and experiences from their own lives to fully explain every concept and made a priority to translate these concepts into very useful strategies for professional success.

– Denise McCutcheon Grace, Vice President and General Manager at Converges


The course was very engaging! The practical advice and tools to use at work were certainly helpful. I learned ways to approach real issues much more effectively.

– Richard Bralow, Legal Counsel, TransCanada


This seminar was very engaging and informative! The information about thought process and psychology behind positive emotions/psychology is relevant to both my work and personal life. Wonderful instructors!

– Carrie Nelson, Registrar & Advisor, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Upper School


The thought process change has been very valuable. I’m excited to practice this mindset change in my own life.

– Moses Kai, Electrical Distribution Manager, The University of Texas at Austin