Frank Martela

It is not quite 8.30am and Frank Martela, a philosopher at Aalto University who specialises in the meaning of life, is getting his PowerPoint presentation ready in a hotel conference room. Dressed in a floral-print shirt, a natty waistcoat and a brown felt fedora, he is as cheerful as an off-duty hobbit.”
– The Times

Frank is a popular speaker who has spoken in over 100 different organizations ranging from multi-national corporations to ministries. He has also adviced several executive teams on how to build organizations that support the intrinsic motivation and meaningfulness of the employees. His key topics of expertise include meaningfulness in life and work, intrinsic motivation, self-management, and well-being of nations.

As an academic speaker, Frank has given invited speeches in universities around the world, including Stanford University, Harvard University, Australian Catholic University in Sydney, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and National Institute of Education in Singapore. He has spoken in over 30 academic conferences held in places like Washington D.C., Boston, Montreal, Long Beach, Copenhagen, Athens, and Lisbon. Furthermore, he has lectured several university courses on well-being, meaingfulness and good life in both Aalto University and University of Helsinki.

Typical topics for speaking engagements

A Wonderful Life – How to live a life full of meaning?
Meaning in life might sound esoteric and unreachable but is actually available for us all, if we just approach it in the right way. In this talk Martela will navigate with you through both the philosophical obstacles that prevent many of us from realizing our meaning as well as the shortcomings of our modern consumer culture that has implanted in us a continual yearning for something beyond where we are right now. He will also reveal what modern psychology knows about the topic and what are the most robust sources of meaning in life for us human beings. What you will get is increased clarity around what brings significance to your existence accompanied by practical steps you can start to take on the four pathways to more meaningful living.

Meaningful work – What makes work feel significant and how to engage your employees?
Having a work that feels meaningful has emerged as an increasingly important topic for employee wellbeing as well as the ability of the employers to attract top talent to their companies and keep them motivated and committed. Research has shown that people are willing to forgo significant sums of money in order to be able to work on projects they feel are purposeful. Having done empirical research on the topic, Martela will in this talk explain what meaningful work is and offer four key pathways through which you can increase the meaningfulness of your own work or enhance the meaningfulness of your employees.

The history of meaning of life – Why was the question invented in 1834?
Who coined the phrase ‘meaning of life’? What does the invention of the question have to do with the rise of scientific worldview, a group of German romantics gathered in Jena, and the French Revolution? What was the role of Immanuel Kant, Johann Fichte, Novalis, Thomas Carlyle, Søren Kierkegaard and Leo Tolstoy in the emergence of the topic? And why Aristotle never asked the question of meaning in the right way? Having investigated the history of the grand question, Martela can walk you through the changing worldviews that gave rise to the question as we modern people understand it. Knowing the history has implications for the present, as it allows one to approach the question in a fresh way, and realize the historical roots of one’s own worldview and most sacred values.

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Frank explaining how to find intrinsic motivation at work for the employees of Wunderdog at Budapest, Hungary in autumn 2016.