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In Conversation: THE SCHOOL OF LIFE

We are so excited to be launching The School of Life in the US with their Head of Learning & Development programs.  We sat down with Sophie Johnson, Director of Training, before she headed back to the UK!

What is The School of Life?

We are a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence. We help people to understand their own emotions and that of others and then think and behave in more helpful ways – in love, in work, and when seeking greater purpose and fulfillment in life.

Tell us about your learning and development program (not the sales Pitch but why we would think it’s cool)

A lot of learning and development programs focus on CBT-style techniques: short hacks to think better about a particular issue that’s troubling you. But our curriculum is more open-ended; it helps you to think philosophically, to explore your own psychology, to reflect on key issues in your life and in your interpersonal relationships and then use these insights to arrive at your own personalized answers to challenges at work.

Which came first – the merchandise and the London retail store, or the programming?

The programming! We started as a tiny basement classroom in London 10 years ago.


What’s the process to development new product – how do you choose the subject?  How often do they launch?

The main source of ideas for our new products come from listening to our audiences on our YouTube channel and our blog The Book of Life. We produce a lot of content via these channels and this content often forms the starting point for products and books. We take a subject that our audience is interested in and then determine what the best format is for delivering that subject in a useful tool; this might mean producing a book, a card game, a dice, or a sand timer. We focus a lot of our attention on producing really beautifully designed products. We want to be sure that everything we produce delivers the content that will be helpful to our audience in a format that they will want to keep and return to over and over again. We launch roughly 2 new products each month (including books published by The School of Life Press), so there is always something new to find in our stores.

You’re launching your learning in US this week,  why now?

We’ve refined our offer over the last few years and seen it work really well both in London and around the world (near our other physical hubs). We’re confident that it can offer a lot both to big organisations and small ones, in industries as diverse as tech, hospitality, and hospice care. We know our workshops are ready for a new audience now. America is such an exciting country for us to start working in, but without a pre-existing physical hub, we wanted to make sure we were completely polished and ready to have everything run smoothly before we launched.

What can people who sign up for the Resilience workshop at STORY expect?

They’ll have a chance to reflect on some difficult situations in their life, past and present, and how they have managed to cope and even to grow in those situations. They’re hear about research about how people manage to be resilient in times of difficulty, and they’ll have the opportunity to hear about how other people in the session have coped and grown as well.

What’s something we couldn’t find out about The School of Life on google?

Alain (Alain de Botton is the founder of The School of Life) loves ping-pong/table tennis, so that’s been the Christmas party two years in a row. Finally this year we tried something new-darts.

Complete the sentence. 

The future of work is about emotionally intelligent cooperation and helping to meet customers’ and clients’ higher (that is psychological, emotional, purpose-oriented) needs.