“Poor people have big T.V’s.  Rich people have big libraries.”  Dan Kennedy

While this quote may come across as a bit harsh, the main message resonates with me.   Reading is critical to both personal and professional growth and without a doubt, the most successful people I know read multiple business and personal development books each month.  It’s easier then ever to make that happen with the proliferation of e-books, Audible.com, MP3 players, and the ease of ordering product through sites like Amazon.com

So speaking of reading – I am a huge fan of a book I recently read titled The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.  Shawn spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard and this book is a result of one of the largest studies on happiness ever conducted.   I wish every business leader and manager would read this so they will understand how very important having a positive workplace environment is to the success of a business.  I think this is particularly true for small pet companies that can’t pay a lot in salary but can offer big benefits in terms of having a warm, happy, positive culture.  And women are uniquely adept at creating this type of environment.

The basis of the book is this:  Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

Every single business outcome increases when people are positive. Students that are positive score better on their tests.  Corporate culture that emphasizes positivity will result in THREE times greater levels of creativity and employee retention.  Who wouldn’t want THAT?  This book will give you entertaining, practical, easy tips on how to reduce not only your stress but, just as important, the stress of those that work for you.

Research shows that unhappy employees take more sick days, staying at home an average of 15 extra sick days a year.  That’s a huge difference and one that definitely should get your attention.  Not to mention how much more fun it is to go to work in a positive environment.  The Happiness Advantage is why cutting-edge companies like Yahoo have an in-house massage parlor, and why Google engineers are encouraged to bring their dogs to work.  And why, just before noon, Google workers are e-mailed the daily menus at 11 themed “cafes” scattered across the company’s Mountain View, CA campus.  Having fun isn’t just about having fun – these companies know that it also leads to bottom-line results.  The book covers many different ways that people can achieve happiness – happiness is available to everyone if they just shift their mindset and attitude.

The Happiness Advantage isn’t only about how to become happier at work. It’s also about how to reap the benefits of a happier and more positive mind-set in all areas of our lives.  On a personal note, I am an avid cyclist.  I notice a huge difference in my energy levels when I am thinking positive thoughts while cycling versus focusing on something negative.  I’m sure there is an area of your life that you would notice the same type of difference.

I am recommending The Happiness Advantage for all of my consulting clients. I highly recommend it for both you and your staff.

Carol Frank of Boulder, CO, is the founder of four companies in the pet industry and a Managing Director with BirdsEye Advisory Group, where she advises pet companies in M&A transactions and Exit Planning.  She is a former CPA, has an MBA, is a Certified Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory (CM&AA) and holds Series 79 and 63 licenses.  She highly values and incentivizes referrals and can be reached at cfrank@birdseyeadvisory.com.