I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bert Jacobs, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist of the now $100 million Life is Good: Producer of apparel, Frisbees, mugs and other consumer goods adorned by Jake, the company’s happy-go-lucky mascot. Step into any Hallmark store and even in several airports across the country, and you’ll find it difficult not to smile when you make eye contact with Jake! As Bert put it, “this guy’s got life figured out.”
Rather than become cynical and jaded, turns out that success has led Bert to and his company to adopt a set of Super Powers that allow people to live happy and fulfilling lives:
I asked him what the inspiration was for the company and its awesome Super Powers. He told me that inspiration has come from many sources – his own mom who, even during the most difficult of times, gathered her large family together for dinner each night and insisted that each of her six children “tell [her] something good that happened today;” the little girl with a weak heart who didn’t let it stop her from living a rich and wonderful life; and many others who faced the greatest of adversities, yet found ways to live to their fullest and happiest potential.
During our conversation, he shared a few thoughts on relationships and happy living. Below are a few of my favorite excerpts taken from a combination of our interview and his keynote address at a conference in Orlando, Florida, where I met him this past summer:
- Live with Optimism. According to Bert, “optimism can take you anywhere and everywhere.” He says that there is no failure – you are either successful or you are learning. Even when times are tough, if you think optimistically, it can change the energy in your life for the better. And, when you wake up in the morning, you get to decide – are you going to focus on the good (optimism) or the bad (pessimism)? He suggests optimism as optimism leads to opportunities… in business and in life!
- Connect with People Every Day. By bringing your personal story along wherever you go and sharing that story with others, you are letting them into your life, you are opening the door for more fulfillment and joy. Not sure how to do that? Bert suggests smiling more! He believes when we smile we are more approachable, more attractive and our body chemistry changes for the better. By letting down our guard, we can forge powerful connections. Amen!
- Nothing is More Powerful than Love. When you live just the way you wanted to, you don’t have to run around at the end of your life making up for the things you didn’t do. Turns out, the only thing in life we really need more of is time – time to do the things we love with the people we love. So get out there and love one another!
My advice to us all: Let’s each adopt any number of the Life is Good Super Powers as our own – take them one at a time if you choose. We can join Life is Good in its mission to “to spread the power of optimism” because, as Bert mentioned, “it’s not about the apparel – it’s about the message.” To hear more from Bert, take a look at his inspiring 2013 TEDxBeacon Street talk and check out the Life is Good company website. And, Bert and his brother, John, with whom he co-founded Life is Good, just published a great and aptly named book, Life is Good: The Book, which outlines their story. And, note, 10 percent of all company net proceeds go directly to help kids in need!