Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ted’s Business of Happiness

The Association for Corporate Growth’s (ACG) networking breakfasts always wrap up at 9 AM sharp.

The attendees are the Washington, DC region’s dealmakers. They are the investment bankers and M&A advisors who bring buyers and sellers together. They’re the private equity types and commercial bankers who are sources of capital. And they are the corporate leaders who are always cashing in or cashing out.

There are deals to be made and business to get done. No one dares linger.

This past Friday was an exception. In fact, it was nearly 9:30 AM when ACG president Braun Jones stepped to the podium to thank the speaker and wish the membership a productive day.

What (or more appropriately who) kept this ADD-set clued to their chairs?

It was a presentation from Internet entrepreneur, former AOL executive, professional sports team owner and film maker Ted Leonsis. His topic: an upcoming book Ted has authored entitled “The Business of Happiness.”

Due for release in early 2010, the book is based on a fairly straightforward principle Ted uses as a guide for his life -- happiness brings money and success (not the other way around).

Ted outlined his five core tenets of happiness:

1. Be an active participant in multiple communities of interest. Ted cited the success of social networking sights such as Facebook and Twitter as validation of the importance of engaging with others who hold a similar belief system.

2. Display a high level of personal empathy. These people tend to be our leaders. For instance, Ted pointed out that Barack Obama claimed the presidency because he ran a highly empathetic campaign.

3. Identify many outlets for personal expression. Ted sure has this down. His blog ( is an outlet, as are the multiple social networks and communities where he contributes.

4. Get out of the “I” and be deep in the “we.” OK…it’s a cliché. Yet, Ted talked in detail about how his charitable activities have helped define him as a person.

5. Find a higher calling. This isn’t a religious reference. Rather, it is an evaluation criteria Ted employs to shape the direction of the commercial ventures he is involved in. Whether it is the Washington Capitals hockey franchise or his “film-anthropy” production studio Snag Films, Ted’s mission is to do well while doing good.

Personally, I find Ted’s business of happiness to be a bit too much on the warm and fuzzies for my taste. Plus, it’s relatively risk-less for him to tout such a philanthropic view of the world with millions of dollars safely resting in his bank account.

He’s not working to pay a mortgage, nor does he worry about how to fund his children’s college education.

Yet, this book and his beliefs are no image building play from Ted. He lives it everyday. And because of it he has truly found happiness and (selfishly) the DC community where I live is fortunate to have him.

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