Program Name: Happiness Without Distance ~ Taiwan-US Positive Psychology Entrepreneurial Platform
Program Host: Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU) Psychology Department, Assistant Professor, Hsiang-Yi Wu
Internship Country: United States of America
Internship Institution: Potentia Labs Inc.
Participants: 8 Psychology students from Kaohsiung Medical University
What is the KMUPSY International Internship?
Through the Ministry of Education’s KMUPSY program, which gives for Taiwanese students the opportunity to experience the global exchange of information and industry, KMU’s Psychology Department was able to host our first overseas internship program. This program was planned by the department’s own Professor Hsiang-Yi Wu in collaboration with David Harris, Potentia Incorporated’s company liaison to Taiwan. Potentia Inc. breaks away from the mold of traditional enterprises and created an opportunity for students to observe how to combine entrepreneurial methods with contemporary trends. Furthermore, learning through an oversea experience gave the students the new mentality to broaden their horizons to become more than just good employees, but to become innovative individuals who will bring new visions and experience to the professional field.
What is Potentia Incorporated?
Established in 2013, Optilife was renamed Potentia Lab Inc. in 2015 and is currently the only platform in the US specifically tailored for companies. Unlike other US sites such as Happier, Happify, Potentia adopts a different approach to Positive Psychology by introducing specialized modular courses geared for enterprises.
To date, Potentia has 6 full-time employees and 8 consultants who are Positive Psychology professors emphasizing different aspects of the field in their research, including: emotions, gratitude, active response, appreciation, altruism, mindfulness, and more. Additionally, Potentia is also developing new modules that include other aspects of Positive Psychology, such as resilience, flow, etc. These courses are designed after discussions with Positive Psychology institutions and professionals, like the following:
The Happiness Institute ─ led by Professor Timothy Sharp
Simply Flourishing ─ led by Professor Corey Keyes
Synergy Programs ─ led by Professor Heidi Hanna
Greater Good Science Center ─ with continuous discussions about future collaborations
Professor Dacher Keltner ─ the founder of the Greater Good Science Center
LaunchBox ─ in discussion about future collaborations
Claremont Graduate University ─ Claremont offers candidates with strengths in program development
Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky ─ works with Potentia’s project manager, Brittany Diaz, and recommends candidates for program development
What did the students do abroad?
During overseas internship opportunity, the provided assistance in translating the company’s Positive Psychology online platform into Chinese, participated in meetings and workshops, discussed the differences between cultures that could affect the market response to a product and the marketing of the product and the differences in the approach and experience in Positive Psychology, as well as established a foundation that will aid in future collaborations.
Additionally, the students brainstormed ways to push the company’s platform into Asian communities. Of course, merely translating the contents into Chinese is not enough, since the cultural differences meant that happiness could be defined very differently. Thus, the students also discussed these differences, through their experiences during their trip abroad as well as through their own understanding of their culture. They dissected the differences using their own background and the Taiwanese culture. Using this juxtaposition method, the students found how different individuals in a culture could be, how different the cultures are, and strengthened their own understanding in the American Culture.
Other than an in-depth analysis of cultural differences, this experience also gave a more defined direction for KMU’s Positive Psychology Center to develop in order to reach a wider audience. Perhaps in the future, the Center would be using an online platform as well after its workshops to continue the students’ growth into the lifestyle of practicing Positive Psychology and allow for more people to be in touch with Positive Psychology. Nonetheless, this experience also opened a door to an international network that will allow for KMU’s Positive Psychology Center to continue working in translating and pushing the platform into Taiwan and other Asian cultures.
The opportunity to work with masters in the field of Positive Psychology was an incredible experience for the students. Prior to leaving Taiwan, each intern did extensive preparations in understanding the background of the professors that they met in the US, created questions they would like to ask the scholars in the meetings. Once they arrived in the States, the students had the chance to interview and pose their questions to some scholars in person as well as Skype others in Canada and Denmark. After hearing and learning from these professors, the students corrected many misconceptions they had developed about the field, grasped a stronger passion in spreading the pillars of Positive Psychology and absorbed knowledge that the textbooks simply could not provide.
Other than just conversations with scholars, the students were also able to meet with members of Potentia. The CEO and founder detailed the hardships in establishing the company, which included finding scholars who were willing to join the team, and overcoming the stress and loneliness of starting a new niche, and securing the funds necessary to keep the company afloat. To outsiders, the company might appear to be picture perfect, but the hard work behind the image is impossible to imagine. After all, starting a company from the ground up requires the same attention and patience in raising children.
Finally, Potentia holds a very unique position as an online-based company, which separates it from traditional companies that have a set office space. While the interns were working the Potentia CEO Dustin opened his own home as a workspace for the students. Compared to the industry culture in Taiwan, this was a very rare experience, and one that has been much treasured.