Here’s part 3 of the latest 4 part series!
You’ll be glad to hear that this week’s topics are slightly more pleasant!
You know, there was a couple of moments in your book that reminded me of Tony Shea and a book he wrote called Delivering Happiness.
(This is when) you’re talking about the difference between lasting happiness and short term happiness…
I find this such an important point, regardless of the investing or the business side of things.
I think, just in general, to become a happier person in life is so important.
Tell us what you uncovered.
Well, I’ll tell you about something from the discipline of positive psychology.
As your listeners probably know, (there’s) a part of psychology devoted to studying what makes people happier.
And there is what I would consider maybe a greatest hit of positive psychology.
(It’s) called a gratitude visit.
The gratitude visit is a very simple idea. I’ll share with you the way that Martin Seligman, who’s considered the godfather of positive psychology, describes it.
Close your eyes (and) call up the face of someone that’s still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better.
Someone who you never properly thanked. Someone who you could meet face to face within the next month…
Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to that person and deliver it to them.
The letters should be concrete to maybe 300 words ish. Be specific about what he or she did for you and how it affected your life.
Let that person know what you’re doing now and mention how often you remember what they did or said for you.
This sounds really simple right?
It’s just kind of an elaborate thank you for someone who has been important in your life.
It might be a mentor (or) maybe a colleague. It might be a relative. (It) might be an old teacher.
What they found is the people who conduct a gratitude visit see their happiness levels spike for a full month afterwards.
Back to your point about short term versus long term happiness.
We can all think of a lot of things that will spike our happiness levels for 5 minutes or an hour. You know, I would go directly to the nearest Krispy Kreme for that 5 minute rush.
That’s a sure thing.
And so here’s an example of a moment that every single person listening to this can create and probably should create because we all have a lot of people that deserve our gratitude.
It’s not easy. I mean, it it’s hard to force yourself to sit down and articulate something like this.
It can make you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable but I’ll tell you (something).
There is not a person alive who’s ever done this that regrets it.
It is such a powerful thing not only for you. Let’s keep in mind (that) even though it spikes your happiness levels, imagine how it feels for the other person to receive a compliment like that.
We’re good friends with Jesse Itzler here at the investors podcast (and) we’ve had him on our show three times.
I ended up doing a simulated climb up Mt. Everest with him earlier this year.
It was insane.
And Jesse is just a great guy. And when I was out at the Everest event, I got a chance to meet his wife, Sara Blakely.
And you talk about Sarah in your book and I love this story that you tell about Sarah. I would really like it if you could share some of these insights with our audience of Sarah’s story and most importantly, tell our audience about Sarah’s dad.
Yeah, I love this story because one of my worst fears about this book is, you know, we tell some stories like popsicle hotline that are sort of fun and clever and my fear is that parents are going to read this and think that they’ve got to do a bunch of like cutesy stuff.
Not only has every birthday (got to) have a bounce house or something, you know, that it’s about these grandiose (moments).
It’s really not about that and I think Blakely’s story illustrates it.
So first, some back story.
I have to admit when I first started researching this, I knew of Spanx but I didn’t really know what Spanx were. Maybe there are other people out there in my boat (so) I’ll just share some some basics.
So there’s a famous story about when Blakely kind of discovered the idea for Spanx as she was getting dressed for a party.
She had a new pair of fitted white pants she wanted to wear but she had a dilemma. She wanted to wear her pantyhose underneath her pants because they have kind of a slimming effect.
But she also wanted to wear sandals, and for sandals, you need bare feet…
So what should she do? Should she should wear the hose or not?
And so she has this inspiration; a moment of insight.
She cut off the feet of her hose so she can have the best of both worlds. But it wasn’t that great of an innovation because, you know, the severed ends of that hose kept kind of rolling up her legs in an uncomfortable way.
But she thought hey, if we could do this right, we could create a real version of this. Women are going to love this.
So, you know, fast forward to 12 years later (and) she had become the youngest self-made female billionaire in history.
And so people come up to her these days and they say you know, I was cutting the feet out of my hose years before you thought of it. How come I’m not the billionaire?
And to me, this is the real part of the story that separates Sarah Blakely from the others because as most of the listeners will know, the idea is often a vanishingly small part of the success.
Thousands of women probably had this idea but there’s only one Sara Blakely.
Why did she succeed?
Well, let me tell you about the kind of gauntlet of failure that she had to run in order to make this idea come to life.
First of all, virtually everyone that she needed to recruit to her side was male and virtually none of them understood anything about this.
In fact, at one point, she was trying to find some IP lawyers and she met with this one law firm.
So picture them around the table. Basically all men and Sara Blakely.
And she noticed one of the lawyers kept looking around the room a little bit suspiciously…
Much later, the lawyer confessed to her that in that meeting, he thought her idea was so bad that he thought she was sent with a candid camera crew or something.
He was trying to find the camera in the room!
The textile mills that she needed to crank out a prototype of Spanx were all managed and owned by men and none of them understood what she was trying to do.
It was only when one mill owner shared the idea with his daughters who told him hey, call this woman back – that’s a good idea – that she finally had a chance to get the prototype made.
So the real question is not where did this idea come from. The real question is how did she survive just getting door after door slammed in her face?
There are two answers to this.
The initial answer is Sara Blakely, before founding Spanx, had spent years – I mean years – selling fax machines cold.
Talk about a hard degree of difficulty!
When she started her job as a fax machine salesperson, her boss handed her a phone book that was her lead and gave her a zip code…
She had to go door to door selling fax machines.
But if we go one step further, we say how did she have enough grit to survive that gauntlet of fax-machine selling?
She says one important thing happened in her childhood…
When her family would have dinner, her dad would always ask her and her siblings a question at the dinner table.
His question was:
“What did you guys fail at this week?”
Sara Blakely said if we had nothing to tell him, he’d be disappointed.
It seems counter-intuitive, right?
He’s encouraging them to fail.
But she said he knew that many people become paralyzed because they’re afraid they’re going to fail. They’re afraid of what others are going to think.
And so they create this very safe, riskless life.
But she said my father wanted us to try everything and feel free to push the envelope.
His attitude toward me – this is her talking – his attitude taught me to define failure as not trying something I want to do instead of not achieving the right outcome.
And so, back to the point of the book, this is an example of how even in a moment – a question at the dinner table as a parent – you can have an effect on your child that you may not even realize you’re having.
That’s how powerful a moment can be.
Part 4 – the final post of this series – coming next week!