How to Become an Effective CEO: Chief Emotions Officer


Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels

Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).

Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

We’ve shared many glasses of wine together. He doesn’t know what I’m about to tell you, but it’s true (Hi, Chip!). When we first met, and after reading his first book on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I wondered “Is this Chip dude for real? Implementing self-actualization in a company?!?” My curiosity drove me to visit a few of his hotels, including Hotel Vitale, where I eventually concluded: these are the happiest employees I’ve ever met.

He has figured out what makes people tick.

The following post is a guest post by Chip and based on his new book, Emotional Equations. Be sure to read to the end, as there is a chance to win an expense-paid trip to SF to spend an entire day training with him.

Deal-making? Empire building? Self-fulfillment? He’s your guy.


Enter Chip Conley

I graduated from Stanford Business School at age 23 with Seth Godin.

I remember talking with him and others about my aspirations as an entrepreneur and my desire to become a CEO some day. Back then, I thought in order to become a successful CEO, I would need to become superhuman, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But, after 24 years of being a CEO (I founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality, what’s become the 2nd largest boutique hotelier in the world, and sold a majority interest to a billionaire in 2010), I’ve come to realize that the best business leaders aren’t superhuman, they’re simply super humans as they’ve learned how to become Chief Emotions Officers.

Chief Emotional Officer?

Leaders are the “emotional thermostats” of the groups they lead. If you want to dig into the support for this, read this compelling piece by Daniel Goleman, the man who popularized the idea of “emotional intelligence” in the 90s and proved that 2/3 of the effectiveness of business leaders comes from their EQ rather than their IQ or level of work experience.

There are multiple metaphors I use to describe how emotions work in our lives. One that feels very familiar to me is baggage. Our luggage in life is an apt metaphor for me – a guy who’s been a hotelier for a quarter century. Countless times I’ve seen people show up at our hotel front desks with all kinds of baggage, and only some of it the physical kind. Most of us have emotional baggage that may seem invisible to the untrained eye or invisible to the person carrying the baggage. But the results of lugging that baggage around for years is noticeable in how that person shows up at the metaphorical front desk of life. If you are a Chief Emotions Officer, you are more aware of all the bags you’re carrying and how to open your luggage up and make sense of what’s inside.

Opening up a bag, you may find a truly messy interior with things in complete disarray. But, these emotional equations create a certain logic to how you pack and unpack your bags and, in fact, being a little more conscious of what’s in your bag may allow you to discard a few heavy items that have been weighing you down. Creating your own internal logic regarding your emotional baggage will allow you to carry a lighter bag…one that’s eminently easier to unpack.

4 Emotions to Unpack

We’re going to focus on four emotions that you can start unpacking (i.e. mastering).

Think of emotions as existing on a color wheel. Isaac Newton created the color wheel long ago and helped us understand that red plus blue equals purple, for instance. I learned in my research for Emotional Equations – which allowed me to spend a couple of years with some of the world’s psychology luminaries – that there’s an emotional wheel with primary and secondary emotions: the Plutchik wheel. In my book, I evolve this wheel further so you can imagine that Disappointment + a Sense of Responsibility = Regret. And, once you understand the emotional building blocks of Regret, you can turn it from a downer into a lesson. Regret teaches. Fear protects. Sadness releases. Joy uplifts. Empathy unites. Think of your emotions as messages that give you the freedom, rather than the obligation, to respond. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Now, let’s unpack and master the emotions of Despair, Happiness, Anxiety, and Curiosity.


I am very proud of this equation.

It’s the one that started my exploration of emotions through the lens of equations. I took Viktor Frankl’s book and distilled it down to this useful mantra at a time in my life in 2008, when I had a series of friends commit suicide, had a flatline experience myself while giving a speech in St. Louis (literally: my heart stopped, and I dropped), and the rest of my life felt in disarray. If you consider the words “despair” and “meaning” to be abstract or off-putting, consider “sadness” as a tamer version of despair or “learning” as a more concrete version of meaning.

First off, in order for the math to work, “suffering” has to be a constant. This is the first Noble Truth of Buddhism, but it’s also true, and not just in a recession. You can always find the suffering if you want to look for it. I had no idea when I started writing this book that this decade would come to resemble the 1930s in that our near Depression-like economic conditions would persist as long as they have. But while the Depression was a very difficult time for so many people, interview-based research studies show that it indirectly prepared young women for losing their husbands later in life. These women learned self-reliance, independence, and courage early in life, which served them (and perhaps saved their families) when their husbands passed.

So, consider “meaning” in the following way: many of us go to the gym to exercise our physical muscles to ensure that our physical body doesn’t bloat or atrophy. If you’re going through a difficult time right now, maybe – unwittingly – you’ve signed up for emotional boot camp and you’re being asked to exercise emotional muscles that haven’t had this kind of workout for years. But, this isn’t meant to be just agony. It’s meant to prepare you for later in life. The emotions you may be mastering today – humility, resilience, persistence, a sense of humor – will serve you well at some later point in your life, maybe in the not too distant future.

For me, having my long-term relationship end in the midst of my train wreck of a life in 2009 was the last thing I was looking for. Suffering felt ever-present, like the fog during a San Francisco summer. The foghorn that cut through this opaque time was the question I asked myself on my most sad, self-pitying days, “How is this experience going to serve me in my next relationship? How is this going to make me a better partner when I find my true soul mate?”

These weren’t easy questions to ask when I felt radioactive and couldn’t imagine anyone loving me again. But I kept the exercise metaphor in mind. The fact that I could joke with friends about my emotional boot camp helped me realize that great rewards – or meaning – could arise as a result of this painful experience. So, just know that there are fruits to gather in the valley of Despair.


People often have a love-hate relationship with this equation. The proper definitions of the numerator and denominator are what create the magic. “Wanting what you have” can be translated into “practicing gratitude,” having a reverence for what is working in your life. The more tricky definition is in the bottom of this equation. To “have what you want” is an act of “pursuing gratification.” I want something and it’s my job to go out and pursue it or “have” it in order to satisfy that want.

Don’t get me wrong. The act of pursuing something can bring us a sense of accomplishment and take us into that focused “flow” state. But, the risk is that “chasing something with hostility” (some dictionaries’ definition of “pursuit”) or even with just focused attention can completely distract you from what’s in the numerator, what you already have. Socrates said it best, “He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

As a type-A guy who’s spent more than my share of time on the hedonic treadmill, I can tell you that it’s very difficult to simultaneously practice gratitude while also pursuing gratification. Some mystics are able to take the bottom of this equation down to zero, which may give them infinite happiness. But, for the rest of us mere mortals, the risk is not in lack of pursuit, as this is part of what modern society demands of us. The risk is that we completely diminish the power of gratitude.

So, the true power of this equation is in keeping your attention on the numerator.

Someone once said to me that feeling gratitude without sharing it with someone is like wrapping a present without giving it to the intended recipient. So, what are the ways you can show your gratitude in such a fashion that it becomes a habit or practice for you that’s ingrained in your everyday life? For me, I needed to start by having it on my conscious “to-do” list each day. I had a rule that I had to give two face-to-face expressions of gratitude each day at work, preferably to someone who found the thank you unexpected. In fact, I wrote about this in the Huffington Post after one of my recent trips to Bali. What if you thought of your expressions of gratitude like a devotional daily offering?

Let me give you a suggestion about a Gratitude Journal as well. They’re not for everyone, just like personal journals resonate with some while repelling others. The purpose of a Gratitude Journal is to help you be conscious about “wanting what you have.” An alternative means of accomplishing this purpose is to have a Gratitude Buddy. Make it a point to meet with your Buddy once a month (or more frequently if you wish) in a location where there are no distractions and ask each other, “What gifts do you have in your life that are easy to take for granted?” and “What was a recent gift that may have been wrapped up as a pain or punishment?”

For those of you who’d like to explore this equation a little further, I have two suggestions.

1. Check out a research article by Jeff T. Larsen and Amie R. McKibban where they literally put this equation to the test (with inconclusive results, but really interesting findings).

2. Watch my 2010 TED talk, in which I share my key learning from my trip to Bhutan to study their Gross National Happiness Index.


After reading more than a dozen books and 50 research studies on anxiety, I was struck by the fact that 95% of the causes of anxiety seemed to be distilled down to what we don’t know and what we can’t control. You may have heard of the study that demonstrated most people would prefer receiving an electric shock now that’s twice as painful as receiving some random shock in the next 24 hours. This is why, as leaders, we need to recognize that hiding the truth, especially when it’s going to come out at some point in the near future, is a futile mistake that can often just increase the amount of anxiety your employees are feeling.

If we know that the combustible product of uncertainty and powerlessness creates anxiety, we can create what I call an Anxiety Balance Sheet to turn this around. Take out a piece of paper and create four columns. Then, think of something that is currently making you anxious. Regarding that subject, the first column is “What Do I Know” about this issue. The second column is “What Don’t I Know.” The third column is “What Can I Influence.” The fourth column is “What Can’t I Influence.” Spend enough time doing this so that you have at least one item per column but you may find that you have a half-dozen items in some columns.

After you feel complete, what do you notice with respect to the four columns? About 80% of the people I’ve worked this through with are surprised that they have more items listed in columns one and three (the “good” columns) than they do in columns two and four. The reality is that when something is making us anxious, we tend to fixate on those elements of the problem that feel mysterious (what we don’t know) or uncontrollable (what we can’t influence). So, there’s some liberation in just outlining what’s making you crazy and realizing that there may be many balancing positives to those issues that are vexing you.

Now, spend some time reviewing the items in column two (what you don’t know). Is there someone you can ask – your boss, your boyfriend, your doctor – who can help you with some needed information that will move this item from column two to column one? Maybe it’s just doing a Google search? I know it’s scary to ask your boss whether your job is in jeopardy, but remember the electric shock example I mentioned earlier. Anxiety can be more painful and debilitating than bad news. Now look at column four and truly ask yourself, “Are you completely powerless about the items on this list?” I’ve found that having a smart friend sit with me can sometimes help me uncover ways to move items from column four to column three.

In sum, just the act of unpacking your anxiety bag and knowing what’s inside can have a profound effect on reducing your fear of the future.


We’ve had a subtraction, a division, and a multiplication equation so far. Now, we’ll finish with an addition equation around the experience of curiosity. Recent studies have shown that curiosity is one of the most valuable emotional qualities people can leverage during periods of crisis. Fear and most negative emotions train us to narrow our scope. “Fight or flight” reactions are evolution’s means of helping us avert danger. But, oftentimes, we need to move from narrowing our attention to the “broaden and build” way of thinking that Barbara Fredrickson talks about in her book on Positivity. Getting through your own emotional recession may require bigger thinking rather than narrow execution.

When you’re living in a place of fear, it is hard to be curious. But, I’ve found that so much of it comes back to defusing my natural tendency toward reactivity. In other words, it’s learning to pause. Curiosity is not a reactive emotion. It’s one that takes a certain amount of reflection and a willingness to admit what you don’t know. So, ask yourself, “What habitats allow me to be more curious?” I first had to make a list of which habitats made be less curious: the office, any conference room, investor meetings, and spending time with people who I wanted to impress.

So, I knew that these were not places that were going to help me stoke up bigger thinking. Ironically, when I made my list of curious habitats, I found my list to be longer than I expected: anywhere in nature but especially near a beach with crashing surf; hanging out with kids; museums or other experimental spaces with art; zoos; places with a big night sky and lots of stars; my backyard cottage; and any place where I felt comfortable laughing from my gut (it’s hard to be full of humor and full of fear at the same time).

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that seeking the sacred in life opens up my sense of awe and my ability to connect with curiosity.

I’ve recently made a decision to seek out a sacred festival somewhere in the world each quarter as a means of committing to finding habitats for curiosity. As Tim F. knows (he was a fellow citizen of my camp Maslowtopia), I’ve been an aficionado of Burning Man for many years and some of my best business ideas have come out of my time in the desert marveling at transcendent art and having non-linear conversations.

So, if you’re feeling “on empty” creatively, know that curiosity is the fuel you need to seek. In author Liz Gilbert’s 2009 TED talk (TED is another habitat for curiosity), she shares the fact that the genesis of the word “genius” comes from “genie” and that the most creative people in the world are able to become vessels for the genie to inhabit them. My experience is that these genies prefer inhabiting curious places in the world and that’s where they’re most likely to tap you on your shoulder and give you the gift of inspiration that may change your life.

In sum, the more the external world becomes chaotic, the more we rely upon internal logic. This was true in the 1930s when Nazism and political and religious fundamentalism rose. But, that decade also sprouted new thinking from people like Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Viktor Frankl, and Reinhold Niebuhr (who created the Serenity Prayer).

I hope that you find these emotional equations help you to think differently, live better, and truly become the Chief Emotions Officer of your own life. It’s worth the introspection.


Chip is offering an exclusive to readers of this blog: the chance to spend a full day with him in San Francisco.

He’ll cover economy airfare from anywhere in the US (if you’re international, you’ll need to get yourself to the US), and he’ll also cover two nights at Hotel Vitale on the water, or the best alternative if they’re sold out. The usual legal stuff applies: must be older than 18, void where prohibited, no purchase required to enter, etc.

No later than this Friday (1/20/12) at 5pm PST, leave a comment below and answer the following, in order, and in no more than 300 words:
1. What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?
2. How could you apply one of the equations in this post to your life for maximum benefit?
3. What would you like to change or build after a day with Chip in SF?

Only the first 100 entrants are eligible, so the earlier the better!


Odds and Ends: The Crunchies, Winners, and More

The Crunchies, something like the tech Oscars, are currently in the finals, and quite a few of my start-ups have made the cut (I’m honored to be involved with all of them). If you like these products or people, please click through to give them a vote! All of the candidates, many of them friends, are outstanding.

CEO of the YearPhil Libin (Evernote) and Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Angel of the Year – these folks are all incredible, but I have to vote for my man, Kevin Rose.
Founder of the YearLeah Busque (TaskRabbit) For the story of how Leah and I met, as well as how she got me to be an advisor, see this article: “How to Turn $750 into $1,000,000″

Best Tablet AppStumbleUpon
Best Mobile AppEvernote and Taskrabbit
Best Location AppUber (check out the San Francisco grid)

For all of the categories and finalists, go here.

Posted on: January 19, 2012.

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525 comments on “How to Become an Effective CEO: Chief Emotions Officer

  1. 1. “Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering.” Not trying to suck up but this and the following questions from 4HWW helped me move to Germany. Everything is going well =)

    2. As a video game designer, the curiosity equation is one of the equations I work with frequently. In trying to build a whole new world virtually, I have to have an understanding of the world around me whether its architecture, anatomy, math, music, and how humans will react to different scenarios. By always remembering how complex and deep each of these elements are, I can find myself in constant wonder and awe, which really pushes me to learn and further my creations.

    3. A chance at this trip would help me solidify and affirm my goals of self sustainability and independence. I’m working hard to take my developments to the next level and people like Tim and Chip have gotten me there. I’ve often dreamed of making a video game or interactive experience that goes into these kinds of emotional and psychological experiences in life. Chip’s break down here and the mathematical approach make it much more feasible to turn into a type of virtual experience so I’m wondering what he would think of that. I would definitely love to know.

    Great post!



    • Thanks, Rob. Yes, I think some kind of virtual experience where people could go inside their body and understand which sensations or feelings tend to be a precursor to an emotion would be pretty fascinating and educational. We’re working on a diagnostic test that people could take that would allow them to understand their proclivity to each of the emotions in the book from Authenticity to Narcissism to Joy to Regret.


      • Great Chip, thanks for the quick response and I’m glad you’re into the idea as well. I’m not sure that I will win this competition, but I would certainly love talking about it regardless. If you’d like to reach me at Rob(at) or rstorm000(at)gmail my ears will be wide open. Thanks!


  2. 1)Not really an actual inspirational quote but more so a concept-

    -Why be realistic?
    -it was unrealistic to think that when you walk in to a room and you press a switch light would appear until some one thought otherwise..
    -it was unrealistic to have a piece of moulded metal fly over an ocean until some one thought otherwise
    -it was unrealistic to think that you could speak to some one without having to see them face to face, until someone thought otherwise
    -it was unrealistic to think that you could eat whatever you like for one day of the week and still lose weight until some one thought other wise :)

    I’ve never really heard of the study about where people would like to take an electric shock now rather than later but it really does make sense and seems rather intuitive. I think this holds the most substance for me since it provides me with an actionable logic as to why I should deal with issues head on and not postpone them for later because I am ‘busy’ etc….

    3)I wouldn’t really know what I would like to change so I ‘d be more so inclined to understand things that chip is talking about on a deeper level. The concept of emotional intelligence really struck a chord with me even though I’ve only really come in to contact with it after reading this blog post. I think by proxy I would end up changing many things just by actually understanding what he is describing and the concepts he would go through.

    To say I know what I would like to change would be a lie since I think that would all change when I meet him since the goal posts would shift. If I could build some thing it would really be a greater understanding (similar to the change I guess) of emotional intelligence and how I can practically apply it on my self and others. For example the points mentioned about gratitude earlier seemed like actual actionable points and not just some roundabout advice about how you should practice gratitude. I would love to be able to take what I spoke to chip about and help make other people lives better as a result of it.

    That’s all folks!


  3. As a former Sociology/Psychology teacher, I have a very warm place in my heart for Maslow and his hierarchy. I have always thought that it was a great way to break down many aspects of life to evaluate and even predict happiness. To see Chip Conley use it as the basis for running his business is fantastic.
    I wish more CEO’s considered the baseline emotional security of their employees when making decisions. The world would be a happier, more productive place. Thanks for sharing this story!

    PS: I’ve lost 13 pounds and 1.5% body fat on the diet in under 2 weeks. SWEET!


    • I believe the MOST NEGLECTED FACT IN BUSINESS is that we’re all human. So, why not use an iconic theory on human motivation (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) to run your company? If you’re relying on trucks to ship your product, you better have an operating manual for your truck. Same goes for being a leader of an organization full of humans. Thanks!


      • agree- with you chip. And people are wired so differently. Im a very senior executive at a startup and I manage more than half the people in the company- all w varying skill sets and emotions and ways of being! I try to treat the all differently and as they need to be guided! I’m often praised for my content but I know I come off completely wrong at times! I’m working every day on the eq piece and I agree, starting w meditation and practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to have your brain be ready to lead and emotionally prepared. I can’t wait to learn more from you! :)


    • 1) My favorite philosophical comment to people is “Happiness is a choice.” All day, I’m around people who are just negative about everything and when they start complaining (whining) to me, I tell them “happiness is a choice.” I can’t give credit to who may have said it first because I don’t remember…but it’s a great philosphy!

      I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have had an excellent career by most people’s standards; but there is still something missing. I want to have more freedom that I currently do; I want to be in charge more; etc. 2012 is a year of focus for me – and this is one of the big things I’m focusing on.

      3) My goal for a day with Chip would be to get is his head as much as possible. I’d like to learn what has worked, and what hasn’t. You are who you hang around with-and Chip would be an excellent person to spend some time with.


      • Dave

        Reading through all these interesting posts, I wanted to say I hear where you are. When you are living a dream to most people’s standards it can be hard to walk away or even share with others that it isn’t enough. Hard even to work out exactly what is not enough when we are so blessed in so many ways.

        It is always encouraging to hear of others feeling similarly.

        Thank you for sharing!


        ps My post is below – I chose the same quote.


  4. 1) “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    2) DESPAIR = SUFFERING – MEANING I’m putting a new meaning to a 15 year addiction that is giving me a true purpose

    3) I would like to quickly build a community of athletes, business owners, and champions that want to live a fulfilled life on all levels and have the privelege to coach them as a group.


  5. 1. Happiness is not something you postpone for the future, it is something you design for the present.
    2. Happiness is wanting what you have/having what you want.
    Really taking the time to focus on my life and the things in it will help me with this equation rather than always looking to add things.
    3. I have a plan to start my own company and I think this day with Chip would be very helpful and inspirational for helping me achieve that.


  6. 1. “Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.” ~ Nikola Tesla

    This quote reminds me that no matter how hard I strive to succeed & improve, I can’t forget to accept & use my failures as a guide. Without combining both the good & bad experiences & traits- I would not (& could not) be the person I am now.

    2. ANXIETY = Uncertainty + Powerlessness

    By applying the simple four column idea, I clearly see my anxiety (about the time it’s taking to build my muse) is really just a mental negotiation where, because of past failures & fear of the unknown, I seem to be focused on the worst possible outcomes of my decisions rather than the best possible outcome or even the most likely outcome.

    3. Meeting with Chip gives me an opportunity to talk one-on-one with someone who can show me how to effectively take the first steps to improve my tendency to use a “logic only” approach to my decisions when, in reality, emotions (albeit hidden/repressed ones) are clearly impacting them.


  7. 1. You can preach a better sermon by who you are then what you say. – Robin Sharma

    2. Happiness = Wanting what you have / Having what you want

    I used to get gratitude but until I actually started practicing it regularly did it show up in other areas of my life. This equation makes it much easier for me to implement and stick with my habit of journaling about what I’m grateful for. I used to come up with many things I was grateful for like “having a car that takes me from point A to point B” or “closing a deal” and so on.

    I’ve been gaining greater benefit after getting even more basic but also deeper like “my hands that allow me to create words, music, food, express affection and love” or “my organs that process and function so that I can assimilate nutrients, use it for energy and productivity throughout my day and repair my muscles after hard workouts.”

    I’ve gotten so much more connected with my experience of the present moment that so many other emotional matters seem smaller.

    3. I am already on a entrepreneurial journey that revolves around this holistic approach to life and business. Everything is connected and this is the new shift in the business paradigm that I am truly aligned with.

    I want to build my real estate business with solid relationships and principles that reflect this type of self-knowledge and awareness. As well I am working on a web series called The Holistic Entrepreneur where I am making videos, blogs and lessons so that as I learn, expand and live by these principles I can share them with more entrepreneurs with the same mindset.


  8. 1)”Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream. You gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period” Will Smith – The pursuit of happiness film


    3)How to change my present activities to follow my dreams that I want for me, my family and our world.


  9. My favorite quote would have to be “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer. This quote transcends in to many areas of my life. I find it extremely helpful when hitting on your first equation, despair=suffering-meaning. Curiosity=wonder+awe is the equation that will affect my life the most. At this point in my journey getting out of my comfort zone and learning from other cultures and personalities is a huge goal. This would allow me to take my experiences and look at them through a different lens. After spending a day with Chip I would like to build a vision that helps people through their journey by enhancing their health. I want to create an experience for people that will change the way they look at things by enhancing the mind, body, and spirit. Thank you guys for all the inspiration.


  10. 1. “No bees, no honey; no work, no money.” W.P. Proverb
    2. Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness
    Uncertainty, in many cases, just is uncertain, so we won’t discuss that now.
    I’m a highly passionate, happy person that makes things happen, but I’m a worrier. The above equation is heaven sent. Using it shows me – how much power I really do have. Thanks. I have a zest for life that is infectious. Many times people, even strangers come up to me and say “you have such an incredible energy about you.” I want to make sure I am not overshadowing the great with worry. I plan to use this equation regularly as I find it freeing and helps unleash creativity by putting anxiety at ease.
    3. I want to learn how to be a great CEO! Specifically the tools to be emotionally effective when dealing with under performers you can’t fire or outsource. I’m a highly emotional human being- that’s in touch and empathetic, but I’d like to channel that emotion and learn to react more effectively.
    People fascinate me; I think I’d learn a great deal.


  11. 1. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” To me, this means whatever you want to go after in life…do it. Damn the torpedoes and do it.
    2. Wow! So many gems in Chip’s message! In the equation: CURIOSITY = WONDER + AWE. I never thought about curiosity as something you have to work at, “It’s one that takes a certain amount of reflection and a willingness to admit what you don’t know.” Knowing that now, I can choose to be more curious. Choose to find more inspiration in life to push myself and those around me to higher levels. That inspiration that can change my life, is what I seek. Always improve and always dig deeper in life. I am making my list now in one of my curious places, under a large oak tree in the middle of a large field. Action!
    3. I believe we are most like the people we surround ourselves with, so Chip is a great person I would love to spend time with if just for a day. After spending a day with Chip I would like continue practicing the little day to day actions he practices. The little daily habits creates who we are so by replacing the ones I don’t like with some I learn from Chip I will essentially change myself. Which is not only good for me, but good for those around me. By becoming a better person I am helping everyone around me: friends, family, strangers…everyone. Essentially, changing the world! I look forward to meeting you Chip! Thanks for the article! – Will M.


  12. 1. “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, and belonging, and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” –Brene Brown

    2. Happiness = wanting what you have/having what you want. Gratitude is often lost on my generation (in their 20’s) because we’ve been raised to believe we’re entitled to all of our blessings. And I’d like to change that. I would apply this equation in my life by connecting with at least 3 people (teachers, friends, relatives etc.) that have been my light and guidance thus far and thank them. I would tell them how the small things they said and did impacted my life in big ways. But the maximum benefit would come from connecting unconditionally – no expectation for anything in return.

    3. I’d like to make a small change in the way young women are socialized. Despite massive progress in education, many women are concentrated in to the most female-traditional jobs, make on average considerably less annual income than men, and hold few senior management positions. Many of the skills that require success in these positions can be learned. I’d like to build a platform where they can learn these skills.


  13. 1. Less is More

    2. Adding the happiness equation to my life and specifically focusing more on the numerator would bring the max benefit. Physically writing the equation somewhere where I see it on a daily basis would benefit me greatly since I’m currently in “pursuit” mode feverishly caught up on the denominator.

    3. I’d like to work on the anxiety emotion and building control over it. I’m a confident individual, who is comfortable meeting new people and having conversations. But when the amount of people in the room approaches a certain threshold, I get anxious. After thinking about the anxiety column worksheet, I realize it may be for many reasons I can’t influence.

    On top of all this, would just be happy to meet someone I can learn from.


  14. 1. A unique quote I believe in by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas is, “We have 8,000 stores, but if I’d graduated high school we may have 16,000.” As an educator, this is a quote I found in one of Dave’s books several years ago. Now, as superintendent, I actually have this quote on my wall. I think it’s important.

    2. I would apply the “HAPPINESS = WANTING WHAT YOU HAVE / HAVING WHAT YOU WANT” theme for maximum effect. Again, as an educator in a small rural district in northern Michigan has its unique advantages, as well as disadvantages. We are small, so our pay scale for all employees is less than our neighbors (and less than much of the state). We are able to “make some things up” with a calendar with frequent breaks and things like that. Since I’ve been the superintendent here, we have done some things to improve the conditions and focus on marketing the great things we are doing as a school. We believe in our employees because they are the ones who believe in the kids. And it’s all about kids.

    3. After a day with Chip in San Francisco, I would like to understand that it’s all right to try different things in education to build a school district. I would also like to gain some insight into how to step outside the box and build the new education system. I have some ideas, but would like to flesh them out. Moreover, I believe that education sets on the threshold of becoming the next “Big 3″ or even the next Kodak if we don’t figure out WHAT PEOPLE (staff, students, families, community, etc.) REALLY WANT!


  15. 1) This is a quote I created, myself. “Consequences teach better than moral concepts. We obey pain” It came to me after I realized that, although I have a propensity to learn from other’s mistakes that sometimes, I have to feel the pain myself in order to learn.

    2) Happiness = wanting what you have / having what you want. I’m currently a federal employee who works in the social sector of government. I enjoy the help I give others, but I often feel unhappy despite the fact I know I’m making a difference in people’s lives. I think if I could appreciate this fact, I could solve this dilemma.

    3) I would like to increase morale at the office. It’s abysmally low. As for building, I have considered volunteering, here locally. I live near the Gulf of Mexico and I love the beach. One day, it would be nice to create a non-profit that helps take care of the beach or the gulf.


  16. 1. “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” – Steve Jobs

    2. The ANXIETY = UNCERTAINTY x POWERLESSNESS equation is wonderfully applicable. To boil it down, if one can gain any sense of control over the situation or knowledge about the situation – the anxiety can be reduced exponentially. One could use this equation to effectively apply the 80/20 principle to an intangible thing like anxiety. Awesome!

    3. Chip understands that we’re all just people being people. I’m working on an exciting project now that focuses on the fact that humans are still very much stuck with the evolved mental architecture of our ancestors. We’re designed to live in communities of 20-200, not cities of 10 million. I’m studying the various problems we face as humans as a result of our (perhaps dated) mental evolution existing in a modern civilization. Due to his interest in human emotion and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I imagine Chip would have a lot to say on this topic. On the business side, his wisdom on empire-building would definitely help as well.


    • FYI:

      Steve Jobs compared The Whole Earth Catalog to Internet search engine Google in his June 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. “When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation…. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.” During the commencement speech, Jobs also quoted the farewell message placed on the back cover of the 1974 edition of the catalog: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”


      • I knew the origin story so perhaps I should have credited The Whole Earth Catalog circa 1974 instead of Jobs!

        I’ve watched the commencement speech several times. Always good for inspiration.


  17. 1. What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?
    “The mind has to be empty to see clearly” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

    2. How could you apply one of the equations in this post to your life for maximum benefit?
    The Anxiety equation is one that resonates with me in understanding things I cant control or being anxious about things that are irrelevant when I am in the present. Unpack that bag to realize there is little to fear.

    3. What would you like to change or build after a day with Chip in SF?
    I would like to build a happiness quotient into my daily life.


    • Love this quote, Alpesh. It reminds me that for many in the world (those who meditate), the best praise you can give them is that they’re “thoughtless…” In other words, thoughts can sometimes get in the way of experience and essence. I’m writing this as I sit on a sandy Hawaii beach ready to catch some waves. Time for me to be thoughtless!


  18. 1. When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him. -Thomas Szas

    2. Anxiety. As someone who loves watching people interact and figuring out how to they tick, I think anxiety is one of the largest motivating forces behind decision-making. Also, as someone who leads people in a few different areas, I believe it falls on the leader’s shoulders to cast a vision, and empower the follower to reduce anxiety. Having a group of people plagued by anxiety they will never be able to produce anything from a place of strength. Anxiety kills creativity and the desire to do something in well.

    3. Right now I’m working a day job as a UI designer/web designer, and working towards launching an app/website that has to do with giving. Being around Chip, and understanding how/why he does what he does would be priceless. You don’t often find leaders (business, personal, or otherwise) who understand emotion and how to inspire those following him or her. It would be an amazing opportunity to take a couple days and be a sponge.


  19. 1. What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?

    “Life is about getting it less wrong; not right.” Paul Grobstein, Neurobiologist

    2. How could you apply one of the equations in this post to your life for maximum benefit?

    Many people don’t know what they have. Sometimes I forget. It’s easy to forget and to fall out of tune. The thing is, everyone has potential – infinite, unbounded potential. Everyone has a purpose. That purpose is often clouded, but it is there. Everyone has the ability to give freely. Everyone has the ability to be loving and accept love. Everyone has the ability to connect. Everyone has rights – the right to change, to stop, to start, to start over. Everyone has the ability to create and sustain pure bliss, to tune in to the self, to achieve their ideal self, and to create perfect health. I mean, if you think about it, what more could you want? Yes, money is great. Dream jobs are great. But that which we already have, that which is inherent to being human, already gives the potential to create and sustain happiness without chasing pursuits, without supreme attention, without building businesses. We have far more than we realize, if we just expanded our minds and tapped into the right, big picture side of our brains.

    3. What would you like to change or build after a day with Chip in SF?

    To pursue Ayurvedic medicine studies. To build a yoga business and Ayurveda healing center near a national park, perhaps my old stomping ground: Yosemite. To have the means to travel. To make good money freelancing. To practice and internalize Chip’s emotional equations. To develop stronger emotional intelligence.