Movers and Shakers Interview with Thelma Lobel, Ph.D. 

Thalma Lobel, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized psychologist and expert on human behavior. Her new book is Whatever Works: The Small Cues That Make a Surprising Difference in Our Success at Work—and How to Create a Happier Office (BenBella Books; July 2020).       


Tell us your name and a little about yourself.

My name is Thalma Lobel. I am a psychology professor and author. I received my B.A. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Tel Aviv University and did my post-doctorate studies at Harvard University. I was a visiting professor at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), NYU, and Tufts University.

I wrote many scientific articles that were published in top journals, but I always wanted to write for the general audience. My previous book, Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence, was very successful; it was published in 15 countries and translated into many languages. My new book, Whatever Works: The Small Cues That Make a Surprising Difference in Our Success at Work—and How to Create a Happier Office (BenBella Books; July 2020), focuses on the work world.  It brings studies that show how to enhance our performance, creativity, and well-being, and offers many takeaways that are especially helpful today, in light of the pandemic, when many of us are stressed and many people now work from home.

I also give lectures all over the world, to employees of high-tech companies, banks, design companies, and more.

What exactly does your company do? 

I am a professor of psychology at the university. The university’s focus is on research and teaching.

What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

I have faced several challenges in my life. One of them was publishing a book for the general audience. I have published many articles in top professional psychology journals, but publishing a book for the general audience is completely different and quite a challenge. Publishing companies receive hundreds of thousands of manuscripts and most of them are not accepted. I am proud to say that my books, Sensation and Whatever Works, were bought by many publishers in different countries and translated to many languages.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

Follow your dream. I did follow my dream and became a psychology professor, but I waited many years till I followed my dream to write books that can help people become happier and successful. I am glad I finally did it.

Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?

I think that my family influenced me the most. My mother always told me that no matter what I choose to do, I should try my best to be good at it. My children always encouraged me to follow my dream and write my books. I admire several people that I have never known but read about them. One of them is Marie Curie, who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win the prize twice. I also admire my children; each of them followed her or his dream and became very successful and happy, doing the things they love.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

No doubt that I am most grateful to my family. My parents always encouraged me to be curious and not to give up. My children and my husband, who were always proud of me and always encouraged me to do more.

What do you see as your greatest success in life?

My greatest success in life is that I believe I managed to maintain a work-life balance. My family was always the most important thing in my life; I was always at home in the afternoon with my kids, and yet managed to develop a career as a psychology professor and an author. Keeping this balance was a major factor contributing to my success and happiness.

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