Eat (too much…), Drink (too much…) and Just Be Merry!

Only in America could an event where people are able to eat unlimited amounts of food, drink a plethora of beer, and spend the day at one of the most iconic stadiums in the country make people unhappy, but…sigh…they were there.

The complainers.
The fight starters.
The standing-in-line texters who didn’t move quickly enough and the line-cutters who hopped in front of them and the line waiters who howled in protest.

I am, of course, talking about Burgers and Beer — an LA institution that demands you show up hungry and HAPPY!

On Saturday, the other half and I had the great privilege of going to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the event took place. I had a speaking gig downtown that morning, and (full disclosure), had press passes for both of us, so it was a no-brainer to go.

The LA Weekly puts on several of these food festivals each year (Tacolandia, Cookie Con, The Essentials…) and they are one of the greatest things about this city. As a girl who has a tiny appetite, but wants to taste every item on the menu whenever I go out, this is my jam. And here’s a confession — I like that the lines are long!

It takes me a while to eat each morsel, and I need a bit of time to digest between, so this works out perfectly. Grab a plate from one stand, go get in the next line, eat while inching forward, be ready for the next bite by the time you get there.

Every now and then, take a break to grab a drink (if not a brewki fan, there are still plenty of water stands and other drink sponsors, including Honest Tea and Hubert’s Lemonade). And no one under 21 was admitted — no one! The only children were the people behaving like children.

The weather was perfect, the parking was overpriced, the lines for burgers were long and slow-moving, the lines for beer were short and fast (probably because beer stands outnumbered burger stands two-to-one and it takes a lot less time to pour a beer than grill a burger), the live music was GREAT and the crowd was really friendly. Except for the few who weren’t.

I get it. Some people thought it was too pricey, but c’mon — it’s all the burgers you can eat and beer you can drink for the price of one burger and two beers at most of these restaurants (with tax and tip).

Some people drank too much, but mostly they just seemed to fall over and be funny to watch.

Some people were prepared to be Line Police, even when not called for, and to all of them I say, watch this (and appreciate the irony of who is in it):

Now, spend ten minutes reminding yourself how blessed life is for anyone with the resources and ability to read this.

Here is my thought process whenever my happiness might be challenged by costs, crowds and crankiness:

  • I’m alive
  • My body parts function
  • I don’t live in a war zone
  • I’m safe
  • I’m fed
  • Life is good

Everything else is gravy. On a really tasty burger!

For me, the best burger of the day was Slater’s 50/50, without equal.

A good second was Belcampo’s lamb burger.

And it’s always nice to see LA’s finest keeping the drunks from hurting themselves…


The Most Benefit You Will Ever Get out of Twitter!

Yes, you could sit in the Oval Office all day tweeting, I suppose, but will that really improve your job performance?

Instead, you can use Twitter to make your company a significantly better place to work!

“How?” you ask.

Just read this fantastic and exciting press release from G&A Partners (hint – I’m in it…):

#HRTailgate Preview: How To Score A Winning Company Culture

Think you can become a company culture pro in 140 characters or less? Look no further than our HR Tailgate Twitter chat.

Having a strong company culture is no longer just a mere option in the workforce. A company’s values, rituals and overall spirit make a huge impact on employee happiness and their willingness to stick around. A Columbia University study shows the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with a strong company culture is a mere 13.9 percent, whereas the probability of job turnover at an organization with a weak company culture is 48.4 percent—yikes!

Our first HR Tailgate of 2017 will discuss “How to Score a Winning Company Culture.” Join us on February 9 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST for an engaging chat led by G&A Partners’ Director of Corporate HR Bonnie Scherry, and special guest host Valerie Alexander, speaker, author and workplace happiness expert.

If you’ve never been involved in a Twitter chat, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to participate. A Twitter chat is a live conversation focused on a topic — for this month, ours is workplace wellness. The chat is guided by eight questions; chat participants can engage in dialogue with chat hosts and other chat participants by answering the questions and using the hashtag #HRTailgate. (Forbes shares everything you need to know about a Twitter chat in this article.)

Want to know what to expect? Get excited and gear up for the chat by visiting the recap of past HR Tailgates:“Score a Wellness Touchdown,” “Tackling Social Media in HR,” “How to Score a Work-Life Balance,” “Gear Up for Workplace Safety,” “HR Law: Avoid Being Out of Bounds, and “2017 Workplace Wellness Plans.”

How to participate:

First: Follow your chat hosts on Twitter:

Then: Prepare to share your HR knowledge and learn from others with the following questions:

  • How can HR pros/managers do to minimize the effect of outside factors (like politics) have on culture?
  • How do you screen and interview for culture fit?
  • How do you handle a culture misfit with a new employee?
  • What happens when your culture is sabotaged? How do you “fix” it?
  • How does it affect culture when leaders in your organization don’t follow culture expectations?
  • What do you do with high performers who are cultural “duds”?
  • What are some best practices for a culture “reset”?
  • How do you train employees about culture expectations?

Next: End your answers with the hashtag #HRTailgate to participate.

Ready to show off your knowledge, ideas and questions on all things company culture? Don’t miss out on our award-winning #HRTailgate on Thursday, February 9!

When it Comes to Building Relationships, Giving Thanks is Everything

thanksgiving-day_10065385-031914In this week, when our entire country pauses to give thanks for what we have (at least, I hope that’s what we’re doing, and not just stuffing our faces and running out the door to save on the latest toys), now is the perfect time to share the importance of expressing thanks to others. Look around your world today and see who might be due for a “Thank You”…or two. Whether in the workplace, among family or with total strangers, don’t underestimate the powerful influence of a little appreciation. Or more accurately…a lot!

Appreciation is Good for your Bottom Line!

As a certified Happiness expert who has worked with companies and organizations of all sizes on how to lower costs and maximize profit by making happiness a priority in the workplace, I cannot stress strongly enough how important gratitude is. It is especially important if you are asking an employee to do more than was originally agreed, or pulling someone off one task and putting them on another, even though they were doing a good job on the first one (because we all face the “Tyranny of the Urgent” now and then). Want to save money on turnover, absenteeism and even theft? Lead with appreciation.

“Thanks for the work you’re doing on this. I’m very grateful that you’ve been able to handle it so well. Now, the scope has changed and there’s actually going to be more to do, and I’m happy to know I can count on you for that.”

According to all of the major studies on Happiness in the Workplace (Gallup, Harvard Business School, U.C., Riverside), the number one factor in an employee’s engagement and workplace satisfaction is a sense of accomplishment, the feeling of doing a job well, of making progress on work that matters. As a leader, you increase that exponentially by simply acknowledging and appreciating what they’ve done.

Put Appreciation on Steroids

You don’t have to limit “Thanks!” to just words you remember to say now and then. If you make a full commitment to expressing gratitude to those who work for you or help you out in other ways, you can have a lot of fun with it. Amp up the results! All it costs is your creativity and a little time.

I’m running a Kickstarter campaign right now to launch my tech company’s first product, the Happy Couples Bot. We got a bit of a blow due of the timing of our campaign, but the one thing we’ve stayed committed to from the start is expressing our thanks for anyone and everyone who backed us — often and publicly!

Our first ten backers were all sent this video (either by email or on their Facebook pages):

It didn’t matter that we were making fools of ourselves — in fact, that was part of the message. We are so committed to showing our thanks that we’ll go this far outside our comfort zones.

The next wave of backers got even more appreciation, as we went all-out with one of two videos, depending on which we thought the recipient would enjoy more:

The sincerely foolish:

Or the foolishly sincere:

Our primary goal was to make sure the people who supported us got something fun and heartfelt in return, instantly. The secondary goal was to give them something they could not only laugh at, but share with friends, which several of them did. Again, appreciation is just good business.

So, this week, as you gather around a table overflowing with food and family and love (and hopefully not too much political discord), start thinking of ways to express how thankful you are to everyone who makes your life a little easier, a little better and a little (or a lot) richer.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

(and if you want to get our next video sent straight to you, go ahead and back the Happy Couples Bot Kickstarter campaign!)


How to Recover From a Broken Campaign

happy-couples-bot-cover-imageThis post is not about the U.S. election, although in many ways it is. It’s about what happens in business when you do everything the way you’re supposed to and forces outside your control knock you completely off your game. It’s about rapid pivots and steep learning curves.

The Inception

I’ve been working on the Happy Couples Bot since May of this year. The idea came to me while helping a friend open up the lines of communication with his significant other. I realized that people in committed couples want to do things that make the other person happy, they just often don’t remember to, or even know what that would be.

Having run a successful happiness brand for the past 3 years, with research heavily focused on brain science, I set about designing a tech product that would solve this problem. I also knew apps were a dying sector, as people don’t want to download anything on their phones anymore, and bots are starting to explode. This gave birth to the Happy Couples Bot. Everyone I described it to got excited. Everyone wanted to be part of the company in some way. More importantly, they all wanted to use the product. Right away. Yesterday.

That’s when I looked in my network for an exceptional developer who might want to come on board as a CTO and Co-founder. Enter Tracy Greene. We hit the ground running and started building both the company and the bot. It was awesome and we were speeding along.

We started exploring funding strategies that included angel investors, VC, equity crowdfunding and rewards-based crowdfunding and decided for strategic reasons to go with the latter while rolling out the beta (which will be early next week), then go to other sources. We knew we could raise enough through Kickstarter to cover our costs and generate excitement.

The Campaign

While neither of us had personally run a Kickstarter campaign before, we both had helped several friends through theirs. Add to that the researcher in me spending days absorbing everything anyone’s written about it, and we had a great plan. We lined up our influencers, contacted friends and family, made numerous videos to release throughout the campaign, worked backwards from the date at which we needed the cash infusion, and put it out there.

We knew November was a risky time for crowdfunding, but we figured we could get ahead of the holiday shopping curve. We also chose to have our biggest push after all of the political campaigns stopped asking for money every day. So we rolled out quietly on November 4th, hitting the 25% mark in the first 24 hours, as planned, and prepared for the following week to be huge.

The Gut Punch

We didn’t anticipate what news the following week would bring. November 9th was the day I was going to send the link to the Kickstarter campaign to my entire mailing list. Instead, I had to write a post about maintaining happiness in the face of unexpected outcomes. The first video that was going to go wide, with all sorts of pre-arranged community support, included me saying, “Now that we have our first female President.” I’m a female CEO of a tech company, a former lawyer, former investment banker, former Hollywood screenwriter. Tracy is a female programmer and active in the LGBT community. You can imagine who makes up most of our networks. Regardless of who you supported in this election, everyone can at least acknowledge that people were reeling. Our tribes were reeling.

It didn’t even take until noon on Wednesday before the first influencer who had agreed to blog and tweet about us sent me a note saying, “You know I can’t do this now, right?” I did know. I understood. Hell, I was trying to figure out how I could still do this without seeming completely tone-deaf to my entire community, and it’s my company.

The Pivot

I knew a man — a friend of a friend — who saved for years to quit his job and start a tourist-based company in New York. He opened his doors on August 1, 2001, and somehow, through sheer force of will, stayed afloat. Believe me, I know there is no comparison. I’m not even trying to say there is. We aren’t in that place, or anywhere close to it, but I take his accomplishment as a huge inspiration. Guess what? Sometimes, things don’t go your way. Sometimes people have much larger, deeper concerns than the product you’re offering. Sometimes the road you chose, which seemed tough enough when you picked it, was the easy way and now, there is work to do. Next!

So Tracy and I regrouped and mapped out a plan. As Sheryl Sandberg says, when Option A isn’t available, you have to kick the shit out of Option B. We told our backers (who were mostly friends and family, still) that we would need extra help from them and one issued us a challenge — she said she’ll double her contribution if we can hit 1,000 pledges before the end of the campaign. Given where we were that day, and where we still are, it was a low-risk offer, but we took it!

We shot a quick extra video which we put out today, and will be making 5 more over the holiday weekend, three thanking our current contributors (like the ones we already sent where we badly sing, badly dance and badly lawyer), and the other two letting people know what it means to join our campaign. How much of a difference it might make to the world to have a tech company with only female founders succeed.

Of course, that’s not why we’re doing it. That’s not why I started the company, nor why Tracy joined. We did that to build amazing products that will amplify happiness in the world. But at a time when so much seems broken, it makes us happy to know that we are contributing to all that is good, and setting an example for what is possible. I’m still hoping those who were supporting us when we were all in our happy place will come back on board, but if they don’t, we’ll be okay. We have others who’ve seen the product and are asking to help, so hopefully in the two weeks left of the campaign, we’ll have their enthusiasm to add to our own.

For the past week, campaigns all across the country have broken in unexpected ways and unexpected places, but like a bone healing after a fracture, they will come back much, much stronger. We’re already on our way…

Here was our first pivot:

Click here to join the Happy Couples Bot campaign.

Getting to Happiness on a Difficult Day

Today, either you’re celebrating or you’re heartbroken. There seems to be no middle ground. I’ve strictly avoided politics on this site (and will continue to do so), because I believe happiness can be the core of your being, regardless of who wins or loses a single election. Yes, it fluctuates with the outcome, but it never diminishes permanently. 

However, on this day, I feel a need and responsibility to do what I can for those who are hurting. Never in all the years that I’ve been working to promote and increase happiness in the world have I had a day like today — a day where so, so, so many people reached out and cried, “Help!”

If you are not one of them, then I ask you, as a favor to me, please reach out in kindness to those who are. Happiness is like health, equality and education — it’s better for everyone when we all have it.

If you are heartsick, mystified, feeling betrayed, then I will share with you my Count to Five — the five things I counted this morning that make me happy in this very moment:

  1. Nothing is permanent. This country has had leadership that some have loved and others have hated for as long as we’ve been in existence and it always swings back to the other side in due time. That’s how we stay in balance while always moving forward,
  2. We have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be. Yes, a lot of very ugly things were said, but that was for a different goal — to get the job. Now, the goal is to do the job, and for all we know, positions that were feared most will be the ones abandoned first. Unlike any other figure in my lifetime, this is one we can most predict to be unpredictable.
  3. The people you love are still the people you love and they love you. Hug them extra tight.
  4. We are starting a national dialogue about things we had long ignored. New bonds are being formed. New passions ignited. Maybe the first _________ President (fill in the blank) will be one who was inspired to get involved by last night’s outcome.
  5. We are safe. We’re not refugees, aren’t being bombed, no one will come to our homes in the middle of the night and slaughter us for who we voted for. Democracy marches on. We still have a say in our governance. We still have the power to change the things we cannot accept. We can still fight for one another’s rights. That’s an incredible gift! And we can still honor those who bled and died for this truth by never taking it for granted.

It’s okay to feel the pain. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to give yourself a few hours or days to wallow in it.

Then…Count to Five.

And to those who say that focusing on restoring personal happiness at a time like this is frivolous, selfish or wasted, I defer to the founder of Taoism: 


In love, peace, happiness and democracy,