Bert Jacobs is the co-founder and chief executive optimist at Life is Good, a $150 million lifestyle brand. Prior to his keynote session, Jacobs spoke with ATD22 News about his optimism for life and what he’ll share with ATD22 attendees.
Where did the tagline of your company come from? It’s so simple in many ways, yet it obviously resonates. Why do you think that is?
We sold T-shirts out of our van for about five years until we landed on our first “Life is Good” graphic. On one of our epic road trips, my brother John and I had a conversation about how negative the media was. Our first “Life is Good” graphic became a simple way for people to celebrate the good around them. I think it resonated with people from all backgrounds because we are all human and want the same thing: to live a happy and fulfilling life.
What do you hope ATD22 attendees glean from your keynote address?
If you leave with tools for activating optimism, reflecting on all that is good in your life, and have some fun, I will have done my job.
As chief executive optimist, how did you maintain optimism the past two years, and how can talent developers use optimism to improve their organizations?
We have a saying: “Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is Good.” I wake up every morning and remember that I have a choice to make: either focus on all that is wrong in the world, our business, my life or focus on all that is good. I don’t ignore the hardships, but I choose to focus more of my energy on the good and let that motivate my actions. My advice to any business leader is to:
- Fill up your cup. You can’t share what you don’t have, so the more you prioritize your self-care and happiness, the more your team members will. Getting outside on my bike almost daily during the pandemic was hugely helpful for me.
- Connect as humans. At Life is Good, we find the more we can connect on a personal level, the more invested and engaged our teams are. I will be sharing a powerful tool we use to do that.
You are a strong believer in the importance of employee engagement. How can organizations keep staff engaged while they are working remotely or in a hybrid model?
We saw productivity actually increase when we went remote, and it remains high as we transition into a hybrid model. In 2020, our business, like many others, was facing unprecedented challenges, and our team rallied together to not only survive but emerge stronger than we were before. Regardless of our physical work environment, we find our employees feel more engaged when there is:
- Clarity and consistency in our communication as leaders
- A connection to how their work positively impacts our nonprofit, the Life is Good Kids Foundation