Happiness Leads To Success?

Happiness Advantage

Happiness Leads To Success

If you took a poll of people you know, would they say success leads to happiness or would they say happiness leads to success?  What would you say?

The answer, according to Achor, is that happiness leads to success.  Here is why: “[Our] brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive” (p. 15).

That does not mean Achor is telling us to “put on a happy face,” use positive thinking to “wish away our problems” or “pretend they don’t exist.”  Rather, Achor is telling us to “be realistic about the present while “maximizing our potential for the future.”  It’s about “cultivating the mindset and behaviors that have been empirically proven to fuel greater success and fulfillment.  It is a work ethic” (p. 24).

This works because our brains are malleable.  The science of neuro-plasticity tells us that “brain change is possible depending on how you live your life” (p. 28).  Therefore, “our potential for intellectual and personal growth” is “equally malleable” (p. 29). Wow!

What is happiness?

Achor’s thesis makes even more sense when he defines happiness as “the joy we feel striving after our potential.”

What is success?

However, Achor doesn’t define success.  If success were defined as human flourishing–as being all that God created us to be — then if we experience happiness in pursuing human flourishing, happiness leads to success.

Experiencing Happiness

Believe it or not, we have control over whether we experience happiness.  We can cultivate the mindset and behaviors we need.

Ways to Prime the Brain

“[Individuals] who are ‘primed’ — meaning scientists help evoke a certain mindset or emotion before doing an experiment — to feel either amusement or contentment can think of a larger and wider array of thoughts and ideas than individuals who have been primed to feel anxiety for fear.  And when positive emotions broaden our scope of cognition and behavior in this way, they not only make us more creative, they help us build more intellectual, social, and physical resources we can rely upon in the future” (p. 44).

What can we do to ourselves and others to prime ourselves with feelings of happiness?  What do you do right before you take a big test, kick a field goal, make a presentation, or shoot free throws?

  • “[Students] who were told the think about the happiest day of their lives right before taking a standardized math test outperformed their peer” (p. 46).
  • In one experiment, doctors were “split into three groups: one primed to feel happy, one give a neutral but medicine-related statements to read before the exercise, and one, the control group, given nothing….As it turned out, the happy doctors made the right diagnosis much faster and exhibited much more creativity” (p. 47).  What made them happy?  “[A] small gift of candy right before they started the task. (And they didn’t even get to eat the candy to ensure that heightened blood sugar levels didn’t affect the results.)” (pp. 47, 48).
  • “Little did Brian know that the more he focused his mind on the potentially disastrous effects of a bad presentation, the more he doomed himself to failure” (pp. 48, 49).

Ways to Lift Our Mood

  • Meditate
  • Find something to look forward to
  • Commit conscious acts of kindness
  • Go outside on a nice day
  • Exercise
  • Spend money on someone else
  • Exercise a strength

Ways to Lift Our Life

How do you see your work?

“People with a ‘job’ see work as a chore and their paycheck as the reward.  They work because they have to and constantly look forward to the time thy can spend away from the job.  By contrast, people who view their work as a career work not only out of necessity, but also to advance and succeed.  They are invested in their work and want to do well.  Finally, people with a calling view work as an end in itself; their work is fulfilling not because of external rewards but because they feel it contributes to the greater good, draws on their personal strengths, and gives them meaning and purpose” (p. 78).

“Try this exercise: Turn a piece of paper horizontally, and on the left hand side write down a task you’re forced to perform at work [or at school] that feels devoid of meaning.  Then ask yourself: What is the purpose of the task?  What will it accomplish?  Draw an arrow to the right and write this answer down.  If what you wrote stills seems unimportant, ask yourself again: What does this result lead to?  Draw another arrow and write this down.  Keep going until you get to a result that is meaningful to you.  In this way, you can connect every small thing you do to the larger picture, to a goal that keeps you motivated and energized” (p. 80).


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The New HEI?

7x7 Awardees

Like many start-ups, the Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative is pivoting to more effectively provide solutions and match our product to the market’s needs.

Related: see “The Evolution of HEI.”


To help students discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling as it relates to entrepreneurial leadership.

Application Calendar

  • Applications and Interviews during November, August, and April of each year.
  • Funding and workshops begin early in the following semester  – spring, summer, and fall.

Application Criteria

  1. Do you have a compelling and unique product or service?  That is, what impact are you trying to have? How are you different?  You must show validation.
  2. Do you have validated customer or market demand/desirability?  That is, do people want what you are offering? You must show validation.
  3. Do you have a workable initial business model hypothesis?  That is, how will you make money? You must show validation.
  4. Is your idea technically feasible?  You must show validation.
  5. Is your team qualified, committed, and motivated for the long haul?  That is, can your team pull it off?  Is it willing to keep trying?  (You must apply as a team.)  Does it have an entrepreneurial track record?  You must show validation.

HEI Starter Benefits

  • Up to $1,000 in funding/student/semester (spring, summer, fall)
    • Students are hired to work on their business model
    • Students must apply as teams of 2-3
    • Payment is made to each student via Hope’s student payroll system
    • CFL pays $10/hr/student.  (Students cannot “double dip” if they are on multiple teams.)
  • A dedicated HEI coach and mentors.
  • Workshops in Lean Startup.
  • Engagement in entrepreneurial community and ecosystem.
  • Access to HEI Advisory Team (advice on legal, financing, etc).
  • Be considered for Yale Entrepreneurship Institute internship.

HEI Starter Requirements

  • Pass: all members must have complete LDRS 231 or HEI Boot Camp or have significant entrepreneurial experience.
  • Attend all HEI workshops (see below) and compete in HEI’s 7×7 and MWest competitions.
  • Work at least 5-10 hours per week outside of competitions and workshops to test and validate your business model — ie, find a business model that works.
  • Meet with HEI coaches and mentors regularly.
  • Utilize resources provided.
  • Visit classes to encourage other students to test entrepreneurship as a calling.
  • Note: student teams must re-apply each semester.  Failure to meet requirements will result in forfeiture of award.

HEI Starter Workshops

Note: we realize some teams will be far ahead of other teams; the more experienced teams will help teach, coach, and mentor the less experienced teams.  Workshops to be held on Tuesday nights — likely late in the evening.

  • Week 1: Problem, Customer Interviews, Intro to Lean Canvas
  • Week 2: Customer Interview Processing and Competition
  • Week 3: Unique Value Proposition and Revenue Streams
  • Week 4: Getting the First Sale and Avenues, Intro to Growth Hacking
  • Week 5: Open work session to clean up any tasks that could use work in the first four weeks
  • Week 6: Partnerships and Stakeholder Map
  • Week 7: Ten Types of Innovation
  • Week 8: Customer Walk-through and Process
  • Week 9: How to Pitch to an Investor
  • Week 10: Open Work Session

Ring Cam ribbon cutting

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7×7 Results

Congratulations to…

7x7 Awardees

  • Wedge:  Matt Baxter, Ryan Billman, Tyler Meidema, Samantha Sterkenburg
  • Mission Bands: Amanda Shepherd, Kylie Boeve, Catherine Hagenbush

Thanks to our Judges…

7x7 Judges

Tyler Essenburg, Seth Getz, Gene Halsey, Angela Huisman, Tim VandeBunte

A great night!

To learn more about our 7×7, see: https://blogs.hope.edu/center-for-faithful-leadership/uncategorized/7×7-investor-pitch-and-learn/

Hope to see you next semester!

To learn more about CFL’s entrepreneurial efforts, see: https://blogs.hope.edu/center-for-faithful-leadership/uncategorized/the-evolution-of-hei/

The Evolution of HEI


The “parent” of HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative) is YEI (Yale Entrepreneurship Initiative): Hope alum Jon Soderstrom brought the idea to the office of Dr. Moses Lee, then Hope’s Dean for Applied and Natural Sciences.

In 2009, under the auspices of Dr. Lee, Adam Loveless helped launched a 10-week summer incubator called HEI.

In 2010 HEI was moved to the Center for Faithful Leadership (CFL).  From 2010-2014 CFL offered a 10-week summer incubator program to 8-10 students.  To be eligible, students had to enroll in LDRS 231, originally offered only in May.  The summer incubator then offered selected Hope students financial, emotional, and social support.

One-page b-plan authors

Discrete vs. Continuous

The 10-week summer incubator program was successful in many ways.  But it was a discrete, temporary experience, not a continuous one.  It began the process of helping students discern, develop, and deploy their skills, but then left the job undone.  We soon learned the impact of HEI is greater if we stopped looking at the entrepreneurial experience as a course and program and began looking at it as a life journey.  So in 2014 we ended HEI’s 10-week summer incubator and converted it to a year-round venue of part-time support, and made HEI part of the CFL Incubator.

Why did that work?  Some students need just a little permission and encouragement to become inductive vs. deductive learners and be creative in pursuit of their dreams.

Liping and Grace


Has HEI been successful?

  • It seeded business ideas.  Drew Born co-created Born Bucks, Born Essentials, and Reindeercam.com; Kylen Blom co-created a number of businesses, including Coast3; Colleen Quick, Stephanie Herder, and Sam Tzou helped create a jamoncillo-based business to support a ministry in Mexico; Russell Fyfe, Sam Tzou, Scott Brandonisio; Grace Theisen; and Jared DeMeester, co-created RingCam; Songs Against Slavery; and Sweet Spot Wheels, respectively; and Matt Gira established Lio and with Danny Vessells and John Bos created Fathom.

StartGarden to the tinkerers

  • It counseled students when their ventures failed, pivoted, or succeeded.
  • It connected many alumni and community members, who serve as pitch judges, coaches, and mentors.
  • It connected students and faculty — Evelyn Ritter, Dr. Peter Boumgarden, and Dr. Graham Peaslee UMP Analytical.  (See more of Evelyn’s story here.)

Spring 2014 Josh

Spark Morpheus 2

prototype jig

Ring Cam ribbon cutting


The impact will be intensified in the future because of a more effective strategy — a pipeline for students who discover entrepreneurship as their calling:
  1. LDRS 231 (like LDRS 292 relative to CFL Consulting) is a boot camp helping students discover their gifts passion.  We do this by taking students through the Customer Discovery process (problem, solution, MVP interviews, etc). To help other students discover their passion, we also offer an abbreviated non-credit (or for-credit boot camp.
  2. Of those students, we will hire/award some to continue as entrepreneurs (or consultants, respectively).  For those students we offer an HEI AcademE experience, like the YEI (Yale Entrepreneurship Initiative) but more compact.  We also connect students to advisers and mentors.  We may even offer HEIers free consulting from our CFL Consulting program.  The students not hired/awarded will be encouraged to apply for CFL Consulting roles in order to help them better understand their gifts and the various roles in the for-profit and non-profit arena.
  3. Of those students, some will become entrepreneurs.  Others will have learned valuable skills applicable to a variety of other roles.  For those few students we offer additional guidance from our HEI Advisory Board.

HEI AcademE diagram


The core of CFL Incubator is HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative).  It guides students by helping them discover, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.  It begins as an experiential learning independent study or class (LDRS 231) and continues with mentoring through and beyond graduation, using relationships as a means to guide both advisers and advisees in discovering, developing, and deploying their gifts and calling.

It is evolving from a course and a continuous program to an ecosystem supported by a tribe.  For the real measure of HEI‘s success will be the impact it has on other people and organizations.  And success is a by-product of the tribe and ecosystem.

mentors and mentees2

Thanks for being an part of our tribe!

To learn more about CFL, click here.

Surviving the “Hairball”

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

“‘This is a giant hairball

So spoke George Parker in a meeting of his department heads and senior managers….The crude little hairball comment was in reference to his very own Creative division” (p. 29).

“‘There is a time when there is no hairball.  So where do hairballs come from?’

I pondered a moment then reasoned:

‘Well, two hairs unite.  Then they are joined by another.  And another.  And Another.  Before long, where their was once nothing, this tangled, impenetrable mass has begun to form'” (p. 29).

“To tap the ability to create, you must spiritually soar into the thin are of the stratosphere — blue sky — where it is possible to ‘bring into existence’ from nothing an original concept.  Hairballs detest thin air like nature abhors a vacuum.  A concrete world where precedents take precedence is are reality more to the Hairball’s liking.  A world honey-combed with the established guidelines, techniques, methodologies, systems and equations that are the heart of a Hairball’s gravity” (p. 32).

“To be of optimum value to the corporate endeavor, you must invest enough individuality to counteract the pull of Corporate Gravity, but not so much that you escape that pull altogether.  Just enough to stay out of the Hairball” (p. 35).

“Hairball is policy, procedure, conformity, compliance, rigidity, and submission to status quo, while Orbiting is originality, rules-breaking, non-conformity, experimentation, and innovation” (p. 39).

“[I became a self-appointed mentor.]  That, in turn, led me into an uncertain but passionate quest to free human spirits, both others and my own.  I gave up sniping at the power of the social order and, instead, focused on becoming a champion of autonomy.  With a thrilling sense of mission, I contrived a private agenda to subvert the stupefying power of corporate culture and provoke the emancipation of creative genius.  My mission became my career….To address those spiritual needs…I concocted…anything that might catch the attention of the sleepwalking geniuses and lure them to wakefulness, help them find the courage to be who they truly were instead of who they thought the company expected them to be and entice them into meeting life with an exuberance that befits humanity” (p. 46).

It is common history of enterprises to begin in a state of naive groping, stumble on to success, milk the success with a vengeance and, in the process, generate systems that arrogantly turn away from the source of their original success….If an organization is to choose vigor over “an ultimate state of inert uniformity” [entropy], it must honor and support both the rational exploitation of success and the nonrational art of groping….Rote is Hairball.  Grope is Orbiting” (p. 92).


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Rework: Getting Down to the Studs of Business


“Plans are inconsistent with improvisation.  And you have to be able to improvise” (p. 19).

“To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference.  That you’re putting a meaningful dent in the universe.  That you’re part of something important.  This doesn’t mean you need to find a cure for cancer.  It’s just that your efforts need to feel valuable.  you want your customers to say, ‘This makes my life better.’  You want to feel that if you stopped doing what you do, people would notice.  You should feel an urgency about this too.  You don’t have forever.  This is your life’s work.  Do you want to build another me-too product or do you want to shake things up?  What you do is your legacy” (p. 31).

“The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use” (p. 34).

“The most important thing is to begin” (p. 38).

“Ideas are cheap and plentiful.  The original pitch idea is such a small part of a business that it is almost negligible.  The real question is how well you execute” (p. 38).

“When you want something bad enough, you make the time — regardless of your other obligations.  The truth is that most people just don’t want it bad enough” (p. 40).

“Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down.  It’s about believing it and living it” (p. 48).

“[No] matter what kind of business you’re starting, take on a little outside cash as you can” (p. 50).

“You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy” (p. 59).

“Embrace the idea of having less mass….Huge organizations can take years to pivot.  They talk instead of act.   They meet instead of do.  But if you keep your mass low, you can quickly change anything: your entire business model, product, feature set, and/or marketing message.  You can make mistakes and fix them quickly  You can chage your priorities, product mix, and focus.  And most important, you can change your mind” (p. 62).

“Stop whining.  Less is a good thing.  Constraints are advantages in disguise.  Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got.  There’s no room for waste.  And that forces you to be creative” (p. 67).

“You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once.  You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well.  You have limited time, resources, ability, and focus.  it’s hard enough to do one thing right.  Trying to do ten things well at the same time?  Forget about it.  So sacrifice some of your darlings for the greater good” (p. 70).

“The content is what matters” (p. 88).

“When is your product or service finished?  When should you put it on the market?  When is it safe to let people have it?  Probably a lot sooner than you’re comfortable with.  Once your product does what it needs to do get it out there” (p. 93).

“Keep breaking your time frames into smaller chunks.  Instead of one twelve-week project, structure it as twelve one-week projects….Then go one step at a time” (p. 125).

“If you’re successful people will try to copy what you do.  It’s just a fact of life.  But there’s a great way to protect yourself from copycats: Make you part of your product or service…. Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too:  how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it.  Competitors can never copy the you in your product (pp. 138, 139).

“People get stoked by conflict. They take sides.  Passions are ignited.  And that’s a good way to get people to take notice” (p. 142).

“Conventional wisdom says that to beat your competition, you need to one-up them.  If they have four features, you need five….When you get sucked into an arms race, you wind up in a never-ending battle that costs you massive amounts of money, time, and drive….So what do you do instead?  Do less than your competition to beat them….(p. 144).

“When you spend time worrying about someone else [i.e., your competition], you can’t spend that time improving yourself” (p. 148).

“Start getting into the habit of saying no — even to many of your best ideas.  Use the power of no to get your priorities straight.  You rarely regret saying no.  But often wind up regretting saying yes….Don’t be a jerk about saying no, though.  Just be honest.  If you’re not willing to yield to a customer request, be polite and explain why.  People are surprisingly understanding when you take the time to explain your point of view” (pp. 153, 154).

“No one knows who you are right now.  And that’s just fine.  Being obscure is a great position to be in.  Be happy you’re in the shadows.  Use this time to make mistakes without the whole world hearing about them.  Keep tweaking.  Work out the kinks.  Test random ideas.  Try new things.  No one knows you, so it’s no big deal if you mess up.  Obscurity helps protect your ego and preserve your confidence” (p. 167).

“When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention — they give it to you.  This is a huge advantage.  So build an audience.  Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos — whatever.  Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.  Then when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening” (p. 171).

“Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics.  Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing.  Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection.  They’ll trust you more.  They’ll respect you more.  Even if they don’t use your product, they can still be your fans” (p. 173).

“Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them.  They’ll feel a bond with you and see you as human beings…”(p. 180).

“Marketing isn’t just a few individual events.  It’s the sum total of everything you do” (p. 194).

“Start building your audience today.  Start getting people interested in what you have to say.  And then keep at it.  In a few years, you too will get to chuckle when people discuss your ‘overnight’ success” (p. 197).

“Come on. There are plenty of intelligent people who don’t excel in the classroom” (p. 215).

“[Hire people who free you from oversight.]  They set their own direction.  When you leave them alone, they surprise you with how much they’ve gotten done.  They don’t need a lot of hand-holding or supervision.  How do you spot these people?  Look at their backgrounds….They’ve run something on their own or launched some kind of project” (p. 220).

“Interviews are only worth so much….The best way [to evaluate the work people do] is to actually see them work” (p. 227).

“Getting back to people quickly is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to customer service” (p. 235).

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