How the Happiest Founders on the Planet Stay That Way

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We went straight to the experts.

Cereal happy face
According to research, entrepreneurs are amongst the happiest people in the world. So, what’s their secret?


They find joy in the hard work
It’s hard to spot Richard Branson without a grin on his face. “Happiness encourages good life decisions,” he says, “It bolsters wonderful relationships and opens up doors to great opportunities.” In a blog post the Virgin founder shared the inspiration quotes that help him to remain optimism. They include wise words from the Dalai Lama, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from you own actions.”

They embrace their eccentricities (and passions)
The founder of GoPro, Nick Woodman, has been dubbed the “mad billionaire” – and he’s pretty happy about it. He earned the titled because of his devil-may-care attitude and his love of adrenaline sports, which led him to create the iconic action cam. As Nick explains, “I feel like in a world where we all try to figure out our place and our purpose here, your passions are one of your most obvious guides.”

They know their happiness triggers
In his book, Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos shares the tricks he has used to harness a positive attitude. “I made a list of the happiest periods in my life and I realised that none of them involved money,” he explains, “I realised that building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy. Connecting with a friend and talking through the entire night until the sun rose made me happy. Pickles made me happy.”

They escape the city
As the head of a hospitality dynasty, Justin Hemmes is under constant pressure. To cope, he exits the concrete jungle at every opportunity and escapes to a quiet town a few hours south of Sydney (and presumably, his newly-renovated estate in Vaucluse provides some relief). “To be honest, I never fully relax in Sydney,” he says, “It’s a good lifestyle [outside the city]. In the city, you spend your whole time commuting. There you just walk everywhere.” He is also inspired by his baby daughter who is the smiling star of his Instagram feed.

They set the scene
As a Buddhist monk and the founder of the meditation app, Headspace Andy Puddicombe designed the start-up’s headquarters to orientate it towards happiness. In the main space, a wall of quotes reminds staff members to focus on kindness and there’s a tech-free ‘silent room’ where employees can go to work or meditate. The mindful entrepreneur learnt the importance of soothing surroundings when recovering from testicular cancer. “I had the good fortune to be in a lovely environment to recover, so I’d apply mindfulness to walking in the garden or doing my rehab exercises,” he says.

They hire positive influences
The co-founder of Innocent Smoothies, Richard Reed says he and two mates created the company with “a view to create happiness.” Famous for their ‘wackaging’ (quirky packaging) they never took themselves too seriously – and were also careful to avoid toxic employees. “We had a zero-cock policy,” says Richard, “Don’t employ an cocks, don’g put up with an cocks. The vibe of the business to this day is that it’s full of altruism, ambitious people so it’s just an encouraging place to be.”

They vary their experiences
As the co-creator of TED talks, Chris Anderson describes himself in his Twitter bio as a ‘Dreamer. Most days an optimist.’ So, what lessons has he learnt from curating the 18-minute speech platform? “I think a lot of what people get fro TED is the rediscovery of wonder,” he says, “In talk after talk you see people who have done something or discovered something surprising, often at considerable effort, and the cumulative effect is to make you think that life has more possibilities than I’m used to thinking about.”

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