The Business of Happiness

I took the occasion of an evening plane ride from Washington to Miami last month to read a new book by Washington Capitals owner and AOL co-founder Ted Leonsis called The Business of Happiness.   The fact that I was happy to be leaving the remains of Snowmaggedon in Washington for the warm climes of Miami (and spots further south) put me in the right mood.

The book has two parts, the first serving as biography and stage-setting for the second half listing of the “six secrets to extraordinary success in work and life.”  (What’s a popular business book without a list of secrets to success?)  When Candice saw the book on my bedside table she remarked, “He has happy eyes.”  That’s a pretty good summation of this book.  Leonsis looks on the world as a business-tested optimist – not a bad way to approach life.

His story of how he ended up at Georgetown University and then used the years in college to figure out his life’s calling is worth the price of the book for anyone with high school children thinking about college.  (I have two in that category.  Having just come off the spring break tour of schools I told them both I wanted them to read that portion of the book.)  It’s a love story to the value of higher education, curiosity, a balanced life, hard work, and planning.

That last point is worth exploring.  Leonsis makes the point over and over again that good businesses plan and that people who want to be happy need to be intentional about their goals.  After a near-death experience, Leonsis wrote out a life list and for a quarter of a century has worked through life goals.  The process, he tells you, has made him happy.  He does own a sports franchise (one of the items on his list), but he hasn’t made it into outer space (another life goal).  For those with more modest goals, Leonsis still makes the point that putting thoughts to paper gives one a systematic plan of aspirations.  And it keeps one open to opportunities.

This isn’t the deepest of books, but you can’t follow a Leonsis read without having a smile on your face and there is a lot to like.

More to come…

DJB

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