goHappy at SXSW ‘18: Taking On Loneliness

Richmonder Shawn Boyer and an all-star panel have been selected to present ‘Not Only the Lonely: How We Can All Be Happier’ March 9–18, 2018, in Austin, Tx.

Mike Ward
Mike Ward
Oct 17, 2017 · 5 min read

Just a few months ago, we had a thought: with growing research identifying loneliness as among the world’s most threatening health epidemics, perhaps there was something we could do.

After all, our mission at goHappy is to help people live happier lives. And our technology is built to bring people together in the real world — the very thing widely recognized as the №1 factor affecting one’s happiness.

So goHappy Founder and CEO Shawn Boyer started talking to some pretty amazing people, quickly learning just how dangerous loneliness was to all of our health and wellbeing. And in short order, we put together a proposal for creating a forum discussion at our dream venue: Southwest® (SXSW®) in 2018.

You voted for our submission. A lot. (And we’re so, so grateful). Then the SXSW® folks weighed in. And when the smoke cleared — and more than 4,400 proposals were reviewed — our panel was selected. Yes!!!

“Not Only the Lonely: How We Can All Be Happier” is now part of the official SXSW® program, and will take place as a one-hour conversation at the conference March 9–18, 2018 in Austin, Tx. The specific date and location will be shared shortly.

We’ll be using our goHappyHour blog to share more details as SXSW® approaches, but here is some more information about our panelists and other key details. Thanks again for joining us in this important movement — and stay tuned.


A feature writer for the Boston Globe’s Metro section, and a member of the Narrative team, Billy Baker was recently awarded the Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence. A graduate of Tulane University, and the Columbia Journalism School, Billy has been writing for the Globe for 7+ years. One of his stories made him a viral sensation: “The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.” He began by studying it as an outsider, and soon discovered he was right in the wheelhouse of the research and premise. This spawned a deluge of positive feedback, massive page views and follow-up coverage.

Read Billy’s story

Amy Blankson, Author, Speaker & Consultant

Amy Blankson has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between positive psychology and technology. “Knowing that technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve in form and function, we need to know how to navigate the future to achieve a better balance between technology, productivity, and wellbeing,” she wrote in a recent blog. Amy is the only person to be named a Point of Light by two presidents (President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton) for creating a movement to activate positive culture change. A sought-after speaker and consultant, Amy has now worked with Google, NASA, the US Army, and the Xprize Foundation to help foster a sense of well-being in the Digital Era. Amy received her BA from Harvard and MBA from Yale School of Management. Most recently, she was a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course. Amy is the author of two books: The Future of Happiness and an award-winning children’s book called Ripple’s Effect.

Read Amy’s Happy Tech blog

Anika Kumar, Teen Entrepreneur

A 17-year-old incoming college freshman, Anika Kumar is not only reaching across generations to combat loneliness, but she’s inspiring her peers to do the same. “I am incredibly passionate about social justice, specifically surrounding the older adult population,” Anika said. “After volunteering at an assisted living facility in my sophomore year of high school, I became aware of the rampant ageism and social isolation that exists today and causes many older adults to feel unhappy and neglected.” Anika channeled her passion to launch Forget Me Not, an intergenerational nonprofit organization that aims to reduce feelings of loneliness among older adults by partnering them with teens in a companionship phone call program. “The most notable thing about the program is that it is mutually rewarding and lifts the spirits of both the elder participants and teen volunteers each week.” Anika was the valedictorian of her high school class and will attend UC Berkeley, and hopes to continue her work with older adults as a medical scientist.

Read more about Anika’s work with Forget Me Not.

Shawn Boyer, Entrepreneur & Small Business Person of the Year

Shawn Boyer is the Founder and CEO of goHappy, the social media platform that helps you actually be social. “The impetus for starting goHappy was to help people become more intentional about their most important relationships, as I know both in my own life and from the extensive research available, most of us aren’t nearly as intentional about our relationships as we are with our work,” Shawn said. “Yet, our happiness level is so directly connected to the quality of our relationships. It is so exciting to me that through our work, we could possibly help people strengthen those crucial relationships and thereby positively impact their happiness level.” Shawn founded and was CEO of Snagajob, the nation’s largest marketplace, from 2000–2013, and then Chairman of the Board through 2015. Shawn directed Snagajob’s growth from an idea to a marketplace with over 75 million members and 400,000 employers. Snagajob has been named to Fortune Magazine’s Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list 8 straight years, including the #1 ranking in 2011. In 2008, he was named the National Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and received public recognition from President George W. Bush. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Washington & Lee School of Law, and received his LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown Law Center.

Other key details:


Serving up free-flowing advice & inspiration for nurturing…


Serving up free-flowing advice & inspiration for nurturing the relationships that matter most. This is the goHappy app blog. Cheers!

Mike Ward

Written by

Mike Ward

Content marketer. Hired pun. Family writer. Chesterfieldian. DC Improv Best Drinking Story winner. Retired Spider mascot & comic. Minivan pilot. #BillsMafia


Serving up free-flowing advice & inspiration for nurturing the relationships that matter most. This is the goHappy app blog. Cheers!