Intergenerational Inspiration Q&A with Scott Crabtree, CEO of Happy Brain Science

Scott Crabtree teaches the science of happiness and engagement — including engaging across generational differences — to repeat clients such as DreamWorks, Nike, Kaiser-Permanente, Boeing, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and NBC. He spreads the science of well-being at work through keynotes, workshops, online courses, and a card game called Choose Happiness @ Work. I was delighted to interview him and below is our conversation:

1. Intergenerational relationships traditionally focus on people who are “skipped”, non-adjacent generations like grandparents and grandchildren. Have you had someone in your life from a different generation who greatly inspired you?

Dr. Alan Cabelly is a Professor Emeritus of Portland State University who focuses Leadership & Human Resource Management for He is a boomer who has greatly inspired me. He is smart, kind, generous, and productive.

2. What is something you enjoyed doing with the person? What did you learn from him or her?

I learned so much from Alan when we co-developed a workshop called Using Brain Science to Improve Intergenerational Engagement in the Workplace. Alan brought his years of experience and his academic and personal expertise with intergenerational communication. I brought the latest brain science. By both doing our best to learn from each other, we were able to be flexible, bring our best content and ideas to the workshop, and deliver what we learned from each other to our audience.

Scott Crabtree (L) enjoying breakfast with Dr. Alan Cabelly (R) Photo courtesy of Scott Crabtree

3. How has this relationship continued to impact you? Is there something you do or a motto you follow in your personal or professional life that came from that intergenerational connection?

I continue to learn from Alan and carry his wisdom. I summarize what I learned from him as “we have lots of differences at work and generational differences are just one of them. In all cases, adapting our communication and style so we can collaborate is key.”

4. Is there someone in your life now from a younger generation in which you have a special reverse-mentoring relationship? What types of experiences do you share together?

Ayla Lewis is a millennial friend and former colleague of mine. We worked together for years, developing a card game, online course, and presentations together. I learned so much from her. Her drive, determination, and positivity are inspiring. She eventually convinced me that ‘manifesting’ a better future could actually work, when done the right way.

Ayla Lewis and Scott Crabtree enjoying the outdoors Photo courtesy of Scott Crabtree

5. How do you encourage intergenerational relationships in your family, business or community?

By embracing and celebrating differences. Research suggests we make better decisions when we consider more options. We consider more options when we work with people who are different from us. So all kinds of differences, including generational differences, are actually fuel for better decisions and success at work and in life.

Scott Crabtree, CEO of Happy Brain Science Photo courtesy of Scott Crabtree

6. Is there a book, movie or piece of art that has reminded you about the importance and power of intergenerational inspiration?

One of my favorite books on this topic is Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials by Bruce Tulgan. My review of it is here:

7. How can our readers follow you and learn more about your work?

My website is, and I’m active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to share with me about your intergenerational inspiration! I am grateful that you are working to help unite the generations in the workplace. I so appreciation your summary: “we have lots of differences at work and generational differences are just one of them. In all cases, adapting our communication and style so we can collaborate is key.” Collaboration is one of our key values at Bridges Together — a word with Latin roots meaning “to work together”. Thank you again for all you do!



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