• February 2016

14 Ways to Fall in Love With Your Business

Clad in jeans and his signature Life is Good T-shirt, entrepreneur Bert Jacobs (pictured left) comes out to greet us from behind the giant oak desk set in his corner office of the Boston headquarters of the Life is Good company.

Located on chichi Newbury Street, the co-founder of the $100 million T-shirt company is anything but pretentious. His infectious smile and down-to-earth demeanor reflect the brand that he and his brother, John, have built since they started selling T’s from the back of their VW van in 1987.

“I think that sometimes people look at us and think that we’re in la-la land,” he says. “Like we’re sitting here eating ice cream and throwing Frisbees around on the beach. But we’re not. At least, not always. We’re competitive people who live in the real world. We wake up and fight like anybody else. But we have a deep-seated belief that it’s powerful to be optimistic. And for us, the business is definitely a fulfillment of that philosophy.”

What a pleasure it was to get a dose of his optimism and to share it with our readers as we celebrate the month of love. Scroll down for Bert’s advice. And be sure to read our February Tips for Entrepreneurs column for more ideas on how to fall in love with yourself to better serve your business.

Also in this issue, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, with 14 columns filled with ideas on how to love your business.

And, we leave you with this parting thought from this month’s Quotes column, which gives a nod to 14 of our favorite love songs. Do you know who sang this? “I went sky diving / I went Rocky Mountain climbing / I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu / And I loved deeper / And I spoke sweeter / And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying / And he said someday I hope you get the chance / To live like you were dying.” Check it out.

Here’s to your incredible, indelible, Inkandescent success! — Hope Katz Gibbs, Inkandescent Public Relations

Bert and John Jacobs Are Loving Life

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH: FEBRUARY 2016

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent
Magazine

For Life is Good co-founder Bert Jacobs (pictured far right), making money isn’t the sole goal for his company — and he believes it shouldn’t be for any entrepreneur.

Consider his thoughts on how you can find success, the Life is Good, Inc., way.

Bert Jacobs’ 14 Tips for Success

1. Speak out. I do a lot of public speaking to raise money for our Life is Good Kids Foundation, and 100 percent of the fee goes to raise money for children facing life-threatening situations — such as poverty, disease, and a lack of positive influences. The reality is that when Boston was founded in the 1700s, the average life span of a Boston resident was 29 years. In 1800, it was in the upper 40s, and today it’s 80. Clearly, we must be doing something right. If you take a global view, despite the recent recession and other negative considerations, there is reason for optimism.

2. Find your audience. John and I didn’t have anything when we started except the idea that we wanted to spread the word about optimism. The first day we put the Life is Good shirt featuring Jake on a table for sale, we sold 48 shirts in 45 minutes. We knew we were onto something.

3. Find good partners who believe in you. We started out by working with a local screen printer in Boston, and parked a big truck and a container there, and strung up lights because they gave us access to their electricity. That enabled us to hold onto the equity in the beginning.

4. Be careful about investors. Several people wanted to invest in us, but we weren’t sure they wanted to do it for the right reasons. If you really have a long-term vision for your concept or organization, it’s always best to hold onto the equity.

5. Hire and partner with people who share your vision. We have a deep-seated belief that capitalism can be the most effective way to create positive social change, and so do the other four people who have a financial stake in our company.

6. Listen to your customers. Our customers have taught us a lot about what we might be able to do, and it’s not always just about making a profit. If it were, I think we would sell the company and go public. But I think we can do a lot of other really interesting things with the brand — like saving kids’ lives.

7. Realize that you don’t know as much about your business as you think you do. Thinking you have all the answers is a pitfall companies should avoid as they start to grow.

8. Know what you are selling. We don’t focus on the stitching on a garment, or the softness of the T-shirts. We’d rather talk about how we can all make a difference in the world.

9. Know that your customers can put you out of business in a minute. Do you remember the housewife in the Midwest who blogged about the fact that Apple’s iPhone battery was too expensive and didn’t last long enough? Two weeks later there were 200 letters on Steve Jobs’ desk, and he made a change. She changed Apple.

10. Think big. We believe that optimism creates the opportunities, and as we move forward, we envision that a lot of those opportunities will move the organization outside of clothing — maybe into creating healthy and sustainable food products, and even getting into the entertainment industry. We’ll keep you posted.

11. Delegate everything — except for two things. Always hire your senior staff and hold onto your vision. Other than that, someone else can do almost everything else in your company better than you.

12. Don’t white-knuckle it. I see so many people try to hold onto things so tightly that they white-knuckle it a bit. John was a bit like that early on with drawing Jake. But now we have people who sometimes draw Jake better than he does, and that has opened us up to new options and ideas.

13. Chill-out on the prototypes and focus groups. An even better approach is to get out there and see what sells. Don’t quit your job. Make something and sell it. That’s how you know if you have a viable business.

14. Start from the end. Don’t think about how you can get to the next step, or where you’d like to be next year. Ask yourself this question: When you are old and gray, what do you want to look back on and say that you have accomplished?

The bottom line: As poet Mary Oliver asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” That’s the only question you need to answer when you are starting a business, picking a major in college, or plowing through a midlife crisis. We weren’t created for business, it was created for us. So your business should serve your life’s purpose.

Learn more: www.lifeisgood.com.

How to Love Yourself First: Sage Advice From Ken Page

By Ken Page, LCSW

Everyone’s heard this self-help platitude: We need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. This may sound wise, but it misses a great truth — if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to be taught to love aspects of ourselves, again and again, by the people around us.

As much as we want to control our own destiny, the humbling truth is that sometimes the only way to learn self-love is by being loved — precisely in the places where we feel most unsure and most tender. When that happens, we feel freedom and relief — and permission to love in a deeper way. No amount of positive self-talk can replicate this experience. It is a gift of intimacy, not of willpower.

Yet if our vulnerability is met with derision or disinterest, something tender shrivels and retracts within us, and we may think twice about ever sharing that part again. In my favorite “Alvin and the Chipmunks” episode, Simon falls head over heels in love, but has no idea how to win the (chip)girl’s heart. Dave exhorts him, “Just be yourself.” In response, Simon wails, “I tried that already!” When our authentic self doesn’t work in the world, we create a false self, which lets us feel safe and accepted — but at significant cost. The great psychoanalytic theorist Donald Winnicott said, “Only the true self can be creative, and only the true self can feel real.” I would add that only the true self can bear the risk of deep intimacy.

Every time we face the choice to share our deeper self, we stand at a precipice. Often, it’s just too scary to take the step forward.

Imagine taking a pet you love and putting it in a yard with an invisible electric fence. When it moves outside its allowed space, it gets stunned by an unexpected shock. It will only take a few jolts before your pet gets the message: If it goes too far, punishment will be instantaneous. In a short period of time, your pet won’t act as if the borders even exist; it will simply avoid them. If pushed closer to the danger zone, it will exhibit increasing signs of anxiety. The world outside the fence just isn’t worth the pain.

Now imagine turning off the charge from the invisible fence, and then placing a bowl of food outside its perimeter. Your pet might be starving, but it will still be terrified to enter into the newly free space. And when it finally crosses the line, it does so with trembling; anticipating the pain of new shocks. It is the same with us; even though we yearn for the freedom of our true self, some deep reflexive instinct still tries to protect us from being hurt again.

We can each learn more about our true and false selves by answering these two questions:

  • What parts of your authentic self did you have to hide or camouflage in your childhood?
  • In your current relationships, where are you confined to too small a space? What parts of yourself are you not expressing?

In my work as a psychotherapist, I’ve found that we tend to be ashamed of our most unique, passionate, iconoclastic parts. These aspects of ourselves threaten our safety, but as I explain in my book, Deeper Dating, they are the direct path to love and, not incidentally, to personal greatness. When we suppress these challenging gifts, we’re left with a sense of emptiness and loneliness.

This shame around our most vulnerable attributes is almost universal. And even our best thinking will barely budge it.

So, how do we free ourselves from the thrall of learned shame and fear around our gifts? The best — sometimes the only — way out is through relationships; relationships that instruct us in the worth of our most vulnerable self.

Of the people you know, who sees and relishes your true self? Who isn’t too afraid of your passion, or too envious of your gifts? Who has the generosity of spirit to encourage you toward greater self-expression? These people are gold. Practice leaning on them more, and giving more back to them. They are, quite simply, the way out. They are what I call relationships of inspiration, and we usually need to build these relationships into our non-romantic lives before we find them in our romantic partners. When you date someone like this, recognize what progress you’ve made to let them in, and celebrate that.

© Ken Page, LCSW, 2015
This article appeared originally on PsychologyToday.com


Ken Page, LCSW, is a renowned psychotherapist and the author of the best-selling book “Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy.” His teachings are a message of hope, backed by solid research, for people of all ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientations who are searching for deeper intimacy in their lives. He blogs for Psychology Today and The Huffington Post. He has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, and more. Page has led online and in-person workshops on intimacy and spirituality for thousands of participants worldwide. He has taught at Columbia University, the Omega Institute, the Garrison Institute, and The Shift Network. He is also the founder of Deeper Dating, an inspiring event in which single people get to meet in fun and enriching ways while learning the deeper lessons of intimacy.

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.
 Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

– Helen Keller

We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”

– Douglas Coupland

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

They who give have all things. They who withhold have nothing.”

– Hindu Proverb

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

– J.K. Rowling

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”

– Joseph Addison

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

– Brian Tracy

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

Never cut what you can untie.”

– Joseph Joubert

Confidence is the most important thing you can teach someone… if you can teach them confidence, you don’t have to teach them anything else.”

– Vin Diesel

Anything not worth doing well is not worth doing.”

– Warren Buffett

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am.”

– Maureen Cook

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie

You don’t love someone because of their looks or their clothes or their car. You love them because they sing a song only your heart can understand.”

– L.J. Smith

Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better.”

– Edgar W. Howe

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”

– Thomas Dunn

You must have chaos within you, to create a dancing star.”

– Frederic Nietzsche

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

– Steve Jobs

I’ve come to confirm that one’s title, even that of president, says little about how well one’s life has been led. No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, to learn, and to achieve.”

– Barack Obama

Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”

– Ted Leonsis

The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”

– Marcel Proust

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

My goal was to tell the life side of the story. We have become a nation of voyeurs that expect sensationalism, and that offends me.”

– Kathleen Jo Ryan

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.“


– Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries

Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.”

– W.E.B. Du Bois

Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.”

– Jack Kerouac

If it isn’t good, let it die. If it doesn’t die, make it good.”

– Ajahn Chah

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”

– Eve Ensler

You take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
 A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

Traveling is one way of lengthening life, at least in appearance.”

– Benjamin Franklin

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”

– Lisa Earle McLeod

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

– Robert Frost

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

– Winston Churchill

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

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