Happiness as Business Model

Delivering Happiness

I’ve written before about how I experienced business school, which, outside of the Entrepreneur Program, pretty much felt foreign, and I, but an alien inside.

Yet, I didn’t understand why.

I love business, how it brings together people, regardless of anything, for a good product. A need fulfilled.

Some people might say I am anti-capitalist because I think our world has suffered by a balance sheet that doesn’t take into account so many aspects of life not measured in dollars. Not measured, not that it can’t be measured.

As a young woman listening to my grandfather and great grandfather talk over dinner about business, I found the authority by which they spoke exciting and exhilarating. Later, with courage, I found myself one night over dinner asking ‘why?’ when I heard something that kinda shocked me. Some executive decision had to be made, and it was going to hurt a lot of people’s livelihoods. I asked why it wasn’t possible to take a different approach, maybe looking more long term, that didn’t require one side to lose while one side won, because somehow, it seemed everyone ultimately lost.

They laughed. Now, I understand why. It was a very naive question, but it was heart felt.

Later, when I was in business school, I felt proud to talk at the table about business now – I had been able to show I could do it too. I had shown and proven that I had gotten over my emotions and left behind the childish caring, that I had become a bonafide business woman.

When I went to law school, I was even more proud, because I had learned how to remove emotion from the conversation, to have an objective, fact-based discussion.

I had been refined from my emotional self, and embraced the ‘real world.’

Yet, I found myself having more and more uncomfortable dinner conversations, now, with professional colleagues, and I figured, either I was to shut up or start searching for whatever it was that kept propelling me to believe that business itself could be more than what the ‘real world’ said it could be.

Obviously, art and film turned out to be the way forward for me, and, I’ve continued to grapple with business as an owner. Over the last year, through meditation to heal a nerve injury in my right arm, I have grown to see how my own understanding of business was narrow, so I’ve looked to mediation on my business as an important tool to increasing sustainability.

About six years ago, I recognized that my professional life had become so removed from this ’emotional’ part of me that I had to find a way to incorporate more heart into the assignments I accepted as an artist, photography and filmmaker. My recent installation Bridge Walkers is the latest of the Flor de Miel – Sweet Entertainment projects completed.

I spend time each year reviewing and considering the business plan for Flor de Miel Media, what is working, what is not, setting goals down for the upcoming year.

This year, I am taking an even deeper look and working with coaches to move beyond my limitations.

Last night, as I was shifting through numbers, an interview with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, on Stephan Colbert’s program caught my eye. (watch it here.)

Tony was speaking about Happiness. Yep, a CEO.

Happiness is something Tony and his team built into the Zappo’s brand.

What was so inspiring for me about Tony Hsieh is that he turned his vision into a business model that is now a New York Times #1 Best Selling book, Delivering Happiness.  There is a website where you can order the book and take a look to learn more.

I was inspired to add Happiness into my business review this year. How happy are my Clients with the work I produce for them, how happy are my employees?

Thinking of my most recent assignment, a book cover, I am happy to say everyone was happy with the process and results. I sent the final Lightbox to the client this morning, and she was sending it along to the editor for a final selection.

Not to say, money is not important. A company must still fulfill a customer need, compensated with money in exchange. We all need it to eat.

Right, the real world.

Well, Delivering Happiness asks why we can’t have both. Why did these things have to be mutually exclusive? As Stephan poses, does business have to cause suffering? If so, why?

How much happiness can the business community generate?

What other benefits can we reap? Some benefits might even be down right economic.

Consider this example. Great company, Canon, from whom I purchased the Canon Prisma MX340. Its been wonderful in every way as a printer and scanner. When problems started two weeks ago, I called Canon, we did a tech check, and then, seeing the machine was broken, I was told Canon would be sending out a free exchange as part of the warranty I purchased. Happy, Happy.

Canon sends the replacement to UPS. I called UPS because I’ve had problems with UPS once before, about needing to call me since I do not have a working buzzer. (Yeah, the landlord’s been called, and called, can called – no happiness). I tell UPS I do not have a working buzzer. Next day, they send out a driver 2x, who doesn’t call, but rings the non working buzzer. No answer. UPS ships the 26 pound printer back to Canon, even though I call to ask them to please not send it back and to please try again by calling when they deliver, but to no rational avail. Unhappiness for me, for Canon. Do you think UPS has followed up on the email? How much time have I spent now on this? How much lost work time? How much wasted gas? Lots of Unhappiness.

No more UPS for me.

So, I decided to learn more about this Delivering Happiness business model. Below is a video with Tony Hsieh, explaining a bit more about the business model philosophy. I look forward to reading the book.

Perhaps Happiness can be a new business model, and a wave of happiness will swim back the tidal overflow of complaints in recent years about the challenge of getting good customer service overall, and even, at the level one would not expect, in trusted institutions.

I wonder how many people consider how those many conversations add up, steal time, and really add up in other ways.

Of course, it’s not all about always making the customer right, it’s about adding in the elements to the balance sheet that are left out.

And, honestly, what is the harm in that,? asks the young girl at the dinner table?

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