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We interviewed David Pollock, Executive Chairman and Founder of Chess, about his award-winning Happiness Training. Here's what he said:


In light of Wellbeing Week, why is mental wellbeing so important?

Your brain can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Unfortunately, we're seeing that mental health issues are starting at a much earlier age due to social isolation nowadays. Happiness Training is about learning how to manage your brain and mind in a positive way to take control of how you think.

How was the idea for Happiness Training born?

In 2007, the business was doing well, so I decided to get involved with the Prince's Trust by helping to raise money. I ended up chairing the NW fundraising committee for ten years. The Prince's Trust helps disadvantaged young people get their lives back on track. I was asked to talk about confidence-building for young people.

Happiness Training was born out of all the work I put into prepping my first session. I have since done hundreds of sessions. I have always done a lot of reading, from sports psychology, leadership training, religion; the Dalai Lama is probably number 1. I selected the best nuggets to help train your brain to focus on the positives.

Can you summarise the essence of Happiness Training in a few sentences?

Happiness training is mind management. It teaches you to see the positive in everything life throws at you. Everything is a lesson, even if it's a tough lesson, which will help make you stronger. For example, even death helps us realise that we need to make the most of our time with our loved ones.

Applying that mindset to how the world changed after the pandemic, working from home helps save commuting and travelling time. Those are hours you can now spend exercising or being with family. It has allowed us to reflect on our priorities in life, and in the long run, I expect it will have a positive effect on us.



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What is the role of the employer in people's mental wellbeing?

I have always believed that if we look after our people, they will look after our customers, and that is how you build a business you can be proud of.

Your primary job as a leader is to take care of your team. Mental wellbeing is a critical aspect. Encourage your people to be active because physical wellbeing links to mental wellbeing. Helping those less fortunate in life is essential, too mental wellbeing. The truth is you get more out of doing charity work than you give. We motivate and inspire our people to play their part in the broader community by supporting charities, minimising our impact on the environment, and creating more opportunities through our growth.

When mental wellbeing improves - happiness improves - performance improves.

At Chess, we adopted our home-first approach in early 2020. Is there some advice you would give to people working from home?

Working from home has made us more efficient. There's no more running around to get to offices and meetings. It's so much easier to be on time and get work done. It also gives us a much better work-life balance.

Make sure that you switch off your laptop at the end of the day and get away from the desk – go for a walk, go to the gym, and do something that separates you from work. Find some YOU time.


In Chess, everyone writes down their goals in their new Blueprint at the beginning of the year. What are your goals for 2022, and what advice would you give people to achieve theirs?

We need to get back to growth in 2022. We have weathered the pandemic well. The leadership team has done a great job, and we are in good shape this year to reach new heights. My role is to replace their survival mindset with a growth focus. Leaders always need to be positive –  inspire, focus, motivate, guide your people

My advice is to have some fun in 2022, enjoy your work, enjoy your life.

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