Mike: Hey everyone this is Mike Sullivan at MO.com where we feature small business owners and entrepreneurs. Joining me today is Jenn Lim. She is a consultant at Zappos and Chief Happiness Officer at Delivering Happiness. Jenn, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, leading up to where you’re at today.
Jenn: I had graduated from Cal at the time when I got really lucky because I graduated with a Social Science major in Asian American Studies. So I basically had no job and was pretty much freaking out because my parents were saying I told you so, because I wasn’t a doctor or a lawyer. But luckily for me the internet was born so I became an internet consultant at KPMD. So that went on for several years. I went to a startup and as everyone knows the dot.com busted so I lost my job, I got laid off. From that point I had really started thinking things through. There was a combination of things, losing my job and then from a personal side finding out that my Dad had cancer.
So it really forced me to face the questions I never wanted to answer which was what would I do for the rest of my life without fearing failure. What are the things that if I can be true to myself that I’m really passionate about that I would want to do, with or without the money title status attached? Because after losing that all in one second, it really meant nothing to me in the greater scheme of life. So that’s when I started exploring, and I at the same time held my freelance jobs and consulting on my own. That’s how I came across Zappos and Tony, met Tony through a mutual friend. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book “Delivering Happiness,” if you’ve heard of that at all. But, okay, so I met him at Club Bio where he was throwing his parties back in the day, and from that relationship just started consulting at Zappos. So helped them with their relocation to Las Vegas and I then I still help with the, created their culture book at the beginning and now still do it every year.
So that sort of led me to “Delivering Happiness,” because when Tony was approached by publishers to write a book he asked if I wanted to be part of the project since I’m really into writing and it just kind of made sense. So we formed a company around it and it was just supposed to be about the book. You know, not having launched a book before and we thought it’s just, put it out there and it will do its thing. But it became its own startup, and that became, evolved into the bus tour that we took. We bought a bus from Dave Matthews Band bass player. And took that around the country and by the time we came back we realized there was something more than we originally imagined.
So all these people sending us e-mails, personal stories about how they were inspired to make a change in their life. It was not just business either, because “Delivering Happiness” was supposed to be a business book. It was about general life of, you know, I want to change my school. I don’t want to change my hospital. I’m working at or non-profit. Then as the book got translated into more languages it was totally revelatory for me in the sense that people all over the world regardless of age, culture, language, whatever, were seeing a similar thing in wanting to apply these concepts to their life, whether it’s business or home or community.
So that’s why we decided to create the company around it, and it’s just my evolution of my role to be the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer.
Mike: “Delivering Happiness” is the book by Tony Hsieh of Zappos. But it’s become so much more. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s become or what it is today?
Jenn: We call it The Movement, the Delivering Happiness Movement. But essentially we’re a company, and it’s how we look at ourselves as we’re another startup. But we have our purpose of really being able to spread and inspire happiness with these concepts that were talked about in the book of you know signs of happiness and positive psychology and helping people apply that to their lives.
So that’s the company and that’s our goal is really nurturing that community, global community around that. The ways we’re doing that to make a sustainable business is the startup side of it. So we have Delivering Happiness at work, which is sort of like the coaching/consulting piece of helping businesses apply happiness as a business model. We have the shop so very similar to Tom Chu’s. We have merchandise with a mission of creating, generating financial support for the company. But again, it all really, all these things for revenue generation is to support all the people that have come out to say, happen to be a part of it and wanting to be a part of something bigger than themselves and spreading inspire happiness to one another.
Mike: Can you talk a little bit about how Delivering Happiness is working with businesses today?
Jenn: Right, well we actually just launched the, we’re in the eta phase right now, so it’s only been a couple of months. But how we look at it and approach it, and I kind of hesitated using the word consulting. Because coming from a consulting background that’s not what the traditional consulting and kind of wanting to be in the client forever. But we see it as a journey of how culture and things like, how culture and core values can lead to ultimate using happiness as a business model, and the way that Zappos has shown in what they did in their organization.
So starting it in type of workshops, kind of showing them what Zappos has done toward Zappos, and talk about what are your basic sort of core values and culture in your company today. Then sort of leading them through a longer journey of actually going to the client site and seeing what they’re doing and coaching, call it coach the coach but basically it’s like train the trainer model. So kind of going through like eight different steps of what a company can do and how committed they are to really use culture and happiness as a business model.
Mike: In your beta phase, can you tell us what kind of results you’re seeing at this point?
Jenn: Yeah. We started with, our beta clients are basically our partners that we’ve been working with just to test the formats and the frameworks and tools that we’re using. And already from that alone has been really encouraging because they’ve used other sort of consultants before and they’ve tried to go through these measures. But they said just in these couple of months the workshops and the tools have already started changing, at least from a perspective standpoint and outlook. So I think that’s the difference between what we are doing and whatever is out there is we’re trying to use our concepts in a very applicable and tangible way. And in a way that can result in real change.
Mike: It seems like Delivering Happiness isn’t just for businesses, that there’s a personal side. Is that right?
Jenn: Yeah. For us it’s about the community and just, it’s grown so organically through Facebook and Twitter and our website of people coming on and just engaging with each other. Using, Facebook has been our primary platform of people just sharing what they’re doing on a day to day basis. Almost daily reminders of how you can sustain happiness which is ironically enough the hardest thing to do.
So we want to use that and sort of create other ways that communities can engage with each other. So that’s kind of online, and we have offline measures as well. We’re doing things called Town Hall Inspires. So it’s kind of like, imagine like a mini ted. So instead of an eighteen minute talk it’s a four to six minute talk about what inspires you. So like take, for example, what are you passionate about?
Mike: Passionate about small business.
Jenn: Small business, okay. So it will be this four to six minute tight condensed presentation of you saying why you’re so inspired by small business and what is it. So we’ve got things across the board so far. We have people that are really into building businesses to interior design to this guy that brings his, a Barbie doll around the world because he travels so much and he dresses her to the nines and takes really amazing photographs of her with backdrops of Swiss hills. Anyway, it’s really a cool way to get people to interact and show what inspires them and in turn what makes them happy.
Mike: Does Delivering Happiness contribute to success? And by success I mean building, if you’re an entrepreneur, building your business, or if you’re a small business, building your customer base, or if you’re an employee, achieving certain goals, certain levels that you’re looking to achieve.
Jenn: I guess the short of looking at it from that way I think one of the sort of aha kind of moments in that realizing, and that it’s discussed in the book is that all this talk about positive psychology and signs of happiness is basically taking it on the level of an analytical sense of ways to increase your well being. So whether it’s your relationships or the feeling that you’re progressing in the world or the feeling that you have control. Or the sense that you have a higher purpose. And that last one, higher purpose, is, at least the research shows that it’s the most long-term sustainable happiness.
So the aha moment was that those kind of frameworks totally apply whether it’s regular general life or whether it’s a business. And so by being able to amplify your individual happiness or your employee’s happiness, the research also goes back into businesses and companies are actually more successful. If you want to go that route of being more productive and having a long term more sustainable brand. So this just goes back to what’s been studies in books like Good to Great, or even in books of Science of Happiness and meshing that all together. So the trade answer is yes.
Mike: Where does happiness fall or fit with small business?
Jenn: I guess I just see it as whether it’s a small business, big business, non-profit, whatever you’re doing, the concepts are really more about frameworks and how you can look at your organization. So if you’re a small business, coming back to the happiness of yourself and your employees and your partners. It just, whether we use the example of Zappos or we pull data from research around other companies, it’s just gone to show that you actually create more long-term sustainable companies that way.
So by thinking of those things from the very beginning and not an afterthought, I think is really important. Not what are your values, what is your culture and how do you sustain it?
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