Ted Leonsis has reached the top of the proverbial success heap. With a very impressive resume’, Leonsis, a billionaire has devoted himself to not only financial success but life success. Leonsis worked 15 years with AOL earning himself the position of Vice Chairman and President. He founded Monumental Sports and Entertainment which manages three top level sport franchises; one in the NHL, the NBA and the WNBA. Add to this an investor, entrepreneur, film producer, philanthropist and best selling author. With a resume’ like this you would think he would be the happiest man on earth. This wasn’t the case until not too long ago. Leonsis despite his golden touch soon realized that financial success doesn’t necessarily translate to being happy.
Correlation between Happiness and Business Success?
Many folks suggest this would be a no brainer. Ascend to the ‘top of your game’, have the money, the success and all that it promises - you would be forgiven if you assumed happiness was an automatic part of the package! Many financially successful individuals have discovered what Leonsis has - happiness doesn’t follow the money.
He discovered the Happiness Paradox. In short, the Happiness Paradox is the counter-intuitive relationship between seeking
happiness as an end to itself and actually achieving it. Research has demonstrated a inverse relationship between ones pursuit of happiness as an end unto itself and the elusiveness of feelings of happiness. Research revealed that those who have the most of what is often believed would make them happy (money), often reported feeling the least happy.
The Happiness Paradox demonstrates that those who self-servingly seek happiness as its own end are less happy than those who seek to serve something bigger than themselves. Those who live for something bigger - a cause, a social issue, to serve others, help others - generally unselfishly are those who report being happy most often.
Don’t miss the point, this is not a condemnation of wealth and success - it’s not an issue of wealth but one of focus and purpose. Money and success don’t necessarily mean you will be happy but financial success permeated by living for something bigger makes for success with significance!
To this end, Leonsis talks about the “Double Bottom line.” To be successful with significance, Leonsis asserts that a company needs to be financially successful and successful as a corporate citizen. Successful as a corporate citizen is committing to the community or a cause bigger than its own self interest. For Leonsis, true success of a business is measured by both a healthy financial bottom line and a healthy contribution of money, resources, energy to something beyond the direct benefit of the company.
The double bottom line allows the company employees and stake holders to see that their efforts are more meaningful than a healthy bottom line but they are going a long way to make life better for others. This provides the motivational force of meaning. Research has indicated that when this is done well, employee job satisfaction, performance and retention increase measurably. To put this another way, when employees and shareholders alike experience a greater sense of satisfaction - they are happier!
When Leonsis was asked the best way to start implementing the double bottom line he stated it all started with the CEO and the leadership team. They need to model it in their own lives, with concrete and deliberate actions and decisions reflecting this as a core value. They must be personally invested and then the ‘troops” will follow. The employees need to see a deep sense of commitment at the top. A commitment that affects corporate values, structures and corporate culture.