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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

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

  1. Happiness=Wanting what you have/having what you want is my favorite!

    Quick question for anyone who has shipped/imported goods from China before:

    I want to buy 100 frisbees, about 39lbs, and ship them from China to FL, USA. So far, the cheapest shipping that I’ve found is $400… which is almost as much as the entire order of frisbees. Is there a better way to ship?

    If anyone knows any companies/resources to get cheap shipping, please fill me in and feel free to email me!

    Muchas Gracias,


    • @Chase. Use a freight forwarder and have the shipment be sent to the US via vessel rather than airfreight.The shipment should be a minimum charge (not per ton/m3). Maybe about USD 100 or up to USD 200… Check Kuehne + Nagel, Danzas, Panalpina, DHL. Again, use an ocean freight consolidator rather than an airfreight service. The downside is that the shipment will take about 1 month to get to you. But other than that, there is no “free lunch”. What you have been quoted is probably an airfreight shipment from China.


  2. These emotional equations are a good thing to know, but I wouldn’t rely on them for a cure to suffering. Biology teaches that emotional problems are created from a belief and a series of emotional associations to that belief. Then from there a person can develop phobias or intense amplified uncontrollable emotional reactions that react more like a reflex to certain triggers. And these bad reactions become more sensitive over time. More awareness or meditation does not neutralize these problems but helps calm them. To cure the problem you can try something called EFT by robert smith on youtube for free or 3D mind by Tom Vizzini from Essential skills . Google them as well. Enjoy


  3. Gents: I wrote this on January 23rd:

    1. What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?

    Live as though this were your last day, learn as though you would live forever.-Mahatma Gandhi.

    2. How could you apply one of the equations in this post to your life for maximum benefit?HAPPINESS = WANTING WHAT YOU HAVE / HAVING WHAT YOU WANT

    This as you say has two sides, although I’m not sure they’re love & hate. This is very thought provoking, and requires thought and analysis. We need to learn to be satisfied. As Socrates asked is it better to scratch and itch, or to have never had the itch to begin with? I think that as humans, we still need/want some itching and scratching…

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

    Take a leap of faith and free myself career and otherwise.

    Inspiring, Thank you Chip and Tim

    I also want to add that I live in Tokyo. I would drop the cash to fly and meet with yourselves in a heartbeat. Thank you.



  4. I know I’m late…

    “That which you are afraid of the MOST,
    is what you MOST need to do.”

    Ever since I heard this, it completely changed me. The quote first allowed me quit my regular job to join a friend on his business for the both of us to achieve a freedom which wouldn’t have been possible had we stayed stagnant.

    Since then, I’ve paraglided (in spite of my vertigo), been 15 under 48 degree water (I needed to see if I could do it), and I build up the courage to tell my now girlfriend that I loved her (very hard for me).

    I would use the experience to meet with Chip for the sole purpose of understand the reasons for which I own a business besides making money. I feel like I have a greater purpose in this life which I haven’t fulfilled.

    Have fun brother.


  5. 1. Favorite inspirational quote: Nobody looks good in brown lipstick — Frank Zappa. My favorite quote because it’s succinct, hilarious and puts personal truth at the forefront.

    2. I think the anxiety equation and the exercise that follows is most useful for me — I have a tendency to make myself miserable by focusing on what I don’t know and what I can’t control.

    3. I would like to become a better therapist and better at helping others to realize their dreams.


  6. 1. “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” ~ Albert Einstein
    Knowing oneself is the most important achievement in our live. Without knowing yourself, you can never make honest decisions that guide you towards happiness. After gaining awareness of oneself, it is just as important to use that understanding to direct your desire to improve.

    2. “CURIOSITY = WONDER + AWE.” As we go through life, we are constantly changing (improving?) our paradigms through which we view the world. The difficulty involved to think back to your view with an older paradigm is known as “the curse of knowledge.” Allowing myself to feel more wonder and awe, even in things that I feel I understand, motivates me to appreciate the world and develop my worldview in more interesting directions.

    3. I would use the lessons learned with Chip to guide my research on the combination of rigorous engineering and emotive design in the direction that can have the largest transformative effect.


  7. Being a Ceo without a doubt is all about emotions and most importantly people. You need to know how to communicate with people in an effective way. Empathy is a key emotion that is crucial for communicating because that hits the core of the people you are leading. Emotions are what make the world go around and you have to be able to speak right to them and handle them or nothing will happen.


  8. Would love to be in San Francisco but that may be another time Tim. With that said, I must say you laid down some challenging facts here. Being on top of your emotions is not that easy. In the BIBLE, it is clearly stated that if you have control over your emotions, you are more powerful than the NAVY SEAL :D (Martin’s translation)


  9. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for publishing this. I’ve just been blindsided by my spouse asking for a divorce and this came at the perfect time for reflection.


  10. “Recent studies have shown that curiosity is one of the most valuable emotional qualities people can leverage during periods of crisis.”

    Where can I find these studies? Anyone?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


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

    Right now, it’s: “‘Hell is other people.’ But so is heaven.” – Jonathan Haidt and Jean-Paul Sartre, The Happiness Hypothesis

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

    Oh man. CURIOSITY = WONDER + AWE really struck me. I used to work with kids and adults on this very equation on a regular basis. As part of a citizen science program to identify the corridors that mountain lions were using in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. I was teaching them to access wonder and awe in nature, which we observed unlocked curiosity. Fully activated curiosity plus the wildlife inventory skills and technologies we were training them in resulted in amazing, community-driven insights into the lives and habits of lions, coyotes, bobcats, golden eagles, even salmon, seals, and sharks.

    When I made the transition to entrepreneurship (I owned and operated an ecological design business for years), I could sense that there was a need for many of those “emotionally intelligent” skills and tools, but it took me a while to begin to understand how to transfer it.

    Now, I’m working in the family business (sold to Mitsubishi Materials Corp about 15 years ago), and a huge part of my job is culture and sustainability. We are working in the manufacturing industry in the shadows of Detroit. Where others see an uphill, or even losing, battle for Michigan manufacturing, I see a great opportunity for business/social leaders who know how to access curiosity. In fact, this article helped me see that the emotion of curiosity can actually transform the basic motivations behind business. In my personal experience, short term thinking in life and in business is usually driven by fear.

    The big wins in social entrepreneurship, creativity, organizational learning, and sustainability are going to come through activating both personal and organizational curiosity. And we have to do this on a massive scale, as soon as possible. (Of course, starting with ourselves!)

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

    As I said, I am working at the family run special machining business (a subsdiary of Mitsubishi Materials Corp) as the Special Projects and Sustainability Coordinator. I am working with an design strategy team to design and execute a collaborative program (bottom-up) “to tie production goals to goals for constant improvement, sustainability, happiness, and community contribution”. Ummm… needless to say, time with Chip would help me to do this even better.

    My next goal will be to move this project to a broader scale – to train a team that will advise other subsidiaries like ourselves, and possibly Mitsubishi itself, to do the same. I see moving out into the manufacturing industry as a whole from there. And other industries from there. During this phase, I will most likely focus on speaking and strategic advising in exchange for equity, I think.

    At the same time, I am working to develop two other businesses: 1) a real estate development business that will focus on “regenerative land use planning” on the suburban scale (ie, beyond sustainable – adding value rather than value neutral) and 2) a product-driven social venture of some sort [I want to be the next Tom's Shoes in my own category!].

    So, yeah. I need all the help I can get. :)


  12. 1. What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?
    You carry all the ingredients to turn your life into a nightmare–don’t mix them! (Hafiz, from the poem “To Build A Swing.”)

    2. How could you apply one of the equations in this post to your life for maximum benefit? ANXIETY = UNCERTAINTY x POWERLESSNESS
    This was one of the best exercises I had done in a long time and it reaffirms that sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and keep moving forward.

    3. What would you like to change or build after a day with Chip in SF?
    After reading the 4-Hour WorkWeek and having some major life shifts, (the death of my mother from pancreatic cancer), I started a non-fiction indie publishing business in the hopes of one day quitting my day job and having the income to engage in public service on a global scale. After a day with Chip I would scale up my business by expanding and accelerating my vision and goals; book a plane ticket to another continent and write my resignation letter with a fixed departure date.


  13. “I do not know what anything means, including this, and so I do not know how to respond. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.” ACIM ch14.

    Loved the Happiness formula. I suffer from forgetfullness most of the time and need to remember what I have, all of which I am truely grateful……as long as I don’t forget!.

    Would like to learn how to remember my happiness automatically.


  14. Missed the deadline, I was busy reading 4HWW while unplugged in Mexico. Came home with a whole new plan. Actually the day I got back I was invited to a conference in SF. Don’t know details yet but if we’re not in one of Chip’s hotels I plan to bookend my trip with one or two of them. Thought I’d do the exercise anyway:
    1. Quote: “Life is just what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans” -John Lennon, Beautiful Boy(Darling Boy).
    2. Equation: “Disappointment + Sense of Responsibility = Regret”. I did media, marketing and advertising for about 25 years because I was good at it and it paid the bills. A few years ago I began to realize that the things I used to accomplish things in my business life could be applied with higher levels of satisfaction to my personal life. So I put together a kickass rock band with some of the best musicians around that enabled me to develop contacts with musicians that could work with me in the studio I built in my new house. I only do marketing now for my own businesses, made that decision about 2 years ago and cannot believe what a load that lifted off my shoulders and how much fun it can be, again.

    So if the plans you are making don’t get planned into your day you will be left with regret. Conceive your reality, go about your work and enjoy the moment when what you conceived comes together.

    3. I have a day planned at the end of my week in SF to meet with someone who will be part of a relationship that will be beneficial to both of us, and others. As I read through everyone’s comments about what they would like to change or build after meeting with Chip it occured to me that so many have already conceived what they want with this exercise they may be too busy to make the trip. Great stuff!

    Tim-thanks for your work, I picked up 3 copies of 4HWW yesterday for close friends and associates.



  15. But what minutes!  Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

    The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Finding this purpose can be a difficult journey fraught with much suffering. Loss of love, loss of friendship, physical ailments, and daily disappointments can make us give up and lose our way. Feeling stripped of connections to the outer world we can end up consumed by despair.

    Luckily, life is bursting with a myriad of opportunities to find deep meaning and alleviate despair. Religion was created in part to explain suffering and give us a key to seeing order in a chaotic world. Raising children allows us to imprint our values onto the future . Building a company spawns a legacy of personal spirit and determination. Philanthropy allows us to focus on others suffering and by alleviating it forge deep connections with our community.

    The reality is that we will probably never know the true meaning of why we are here; so we must seize the short moments we have and infuse them with purpose. Filling our lives with layer upon layer of connections can ensure that when one connection grows thin, the others will sustain us.

    I find that disparate experiences can become highly connected when you are open to them and I get the sense that this experience would fall in that category. I ran a not for profit organization for twelve years before starting my company. While I am currently creating an awesome company and have accomplished the elusive four hour work week for myself I need to reconnect with my community and find a truly effective way to give back. This would be my path to generate intense meaning in my life.


  16. Regarding the above submission: I know I missed the deadline, but I wanted to participate in sprite of this. Just writing things down, helps things become clearer for me. Thanks for the opportunity to do so!


  17. emotions are a sign of the home where we came from. I say this from experince where a mother to give your home father tenderly love pocitivismo Rest assured that we at home when we started nuetra the same samples of tender love joys. of course they’re coming at some point some reason to feel sad disagreements or for any reason but love makes miracles. when those motives become a continuous and bitter comiensas and your partner does not cooperate it’s time to say goodbye to not bitter or upset others. to life must be healthy and beautiful emotions is so short little life and so nice that you have to discard all negative.
    thanks for the input


  18. Great article!

    Here are my answers.
    I’ll keep it short and easy to read.

    1 – What is your favorite inspirational or philosophical quote?

    “It’s a beautiful day to be alive, my friend. Be grateful to be still in the game.”

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

    Being genuinely grateful for my life should yield great improvement in my baseline level of happiness.
    So I’ve devised a routine that I do right upon waking up and before going to bed:
    – I go in front of a mirror
    – I look deep into my eyes, exhale all the way and hold my breathe
    – Now I say to myself “It’s a beautiful day to be alive, my friends. I am grateful to be still in the game.” and then I keep on saying “Thank you” until I really, powerfully and genuinely mean it. The last occurence usually feels very intense, especially when I look deeply into my eyes. Then I allow myself to breathe.

    I do that three times in a row.

    This probably sounds scary and extreme, but it’s incredibly effective, fast and it’s free!
    Talk about a good ROI.

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

    As a part-time philanthropic startup advisor and considering myself a fire-starter, I will spread and apply Chip’s best practices for well-being in the startup context.
    Also, I’d like to take this as on opportunity to build a lasting, trusted and value-giving relationship with Chip.

    Thanks everyone!


  19. I know it’s over but I still would like to share.

    1. “Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.” Og Mandino

    I think this equation puts it perfectly by balancing gratitude with ambition. I’ve been in a constant internal battle between wanting to achieve vs. being happy with what I have. This equation clearly laid out that working towards achieving your goals is perfectly fine, AS LONG as you remain grateful with your current situation. At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying the path that’s getting you towards your goal.

    3. I’d like to learn how you start building real estate wealth at a large scale without currently having the capital to invest.


  20. Mr. Ferriss and Mr. Conley, Thank you for this article! Perhaps I may suggest you have a look at a book called ‘the Ethics’ by Spinoza, who was a philospher in the 17th century influenced by stoic thought. Spinoza gives a very detailed analysis of our emotions. I’ve made a summary of his ‘emotional equations’ and I could send it to you if you’re interested. (It’s too big for this blog or the facebook contest.) Kind regards from Switzerland. CR


  21. If you want “life” quotes, you can’t go past Michel de Montagne, a French philosopher in the 1500s. Here’s a small sample:

    “A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. “

    “A straight oar looks bent in the water. What matters is not merely that we see things but how we see them. “

    “Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face. “

    “He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak. “

    “There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.”

    “How many condemnations I have witnessed more criminal than the crime! “

    “How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables. “

    “I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”

    “I write to keep from going mad from the contradictions I find among mankind – and to work some of those contradictions out for myself.”

    “If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love.”


  22. Hi,

    Your words bring out the untermed emotions in me.I am a very emotional entrepreneur. I mix up emotions with business. I always thought that emotions is not good for business. Maybe its true. But your words give a completely different perspective to CEO. Its truly the baggage we carry with us that shows up on the front desk of life. And being the leader of my organization, a lot of discretion is expected from me.I realize, emotions are not bad but to take time and judge how to react between the gap of stimulus and reaction gives the edge.

    Your words do guide me to a better individual. If you have a book which talks about this same concepts, do let me know.




  23. I love this quote Leaders are the “emotional thermostats” of the groups they lead. I believe that emotional responses will be the basis of your success. On how you respond to a certain issues in life. Therefore, we must not be ruled by our emotions. Emotions should not be our master.


  24. Such a very sensible thing to say, and I bet, a lot, if not all, would agree to those equations. Despair= Suffering – Meaning, for one, holds true. Life has its ups and downs, and to those who are getting much of the latter without figuring out what is the sense in every sacrifice, then it’s gonna be unproductive life they are leading to. Well, emotion really is just very strong that it could kill the weak. If anyone surrenders at a few attempts to victory, then one foot might be joining the other into the grave.


  25. I know that I’m late on this but I’m going to say “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

    I posted this around my house. It’s a reminder that when I procrastinate in my business, I also procrastinate in working out. When I don’t practice discipline in my morning routine, I am less disciplined throughout my day. When I give gratitude for one thing I have in my life, it carries to many other things.

    I have been going on an all out assault on my undisciplined tendencies and this quote has helped me focus. I see it and I have to stop procrastinating.


  26. 1. “Don’t Curse the Darkness -Light a Candle”!

    2. Despair = Suffering – Meaning – I work with the Prison Fellowship helping families of inmates

    3. I want to work with baby boomers as the get into “new middle age” and show them the possibilities before them, just like Tim Ferris does with younger folks.


  27. I was hoping Chip would read this.. No need for a prize.

    1. You don’t change reality by fighting the existing model, you create a new model that makes the old one obsolete– Bucky

    2. Despair= Suffering-meaning.

    Life is suffering, is a poor translation of what Buddha says. I liked this one the most.. These are desperate trying times and for some they always will be. I am going to suffer to define my meaning. Thanks Chip.

    3. One day with Chip. I would like to create an organization that facilitates the reconciliation of artifical constructs with the actual capability of Human beings. We can do better, we have to.. We just need the socioeconomic incentive. To sum it up, I am building a better model.


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

    The year is ending:
    I have not left my heart


    Written on the author’s death bed. Tears came to my eyes when I first read this. It sits on a photo of my fiancee at my desk. Never enough time.

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


    I’m a musician that also runs a small record label. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the needs of the organization (packing orders, running the website, promoting releases) and maintaining my creative drive. Ironic, since creativity is what brought me what success I’ve had.

    I think the grind of business has, in some ways, killed my sense of wonder; I need to disconnect a bit, change my environment and learn what drives my sense of curiosity about the world.

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

    I currently run a struggling after-school program. With 100 kids and 20 staff members, constant interruptions, problems, and chaos overwhelm much of my ability to do long-term planning or thinking. Looming over my head is the threat that we could lose our funding if the program doesn’t improve.

    I’m not a CEO. I want to learn to really instill in my staff a desire to help kids, a desire to excel; I need to improve the program and boost attendance, but I’m not sure how. At the same time, I need to solve a fundamental divide within myself: how can I pursue what I love (helping kids, music) without being completely overwhelmed?



  29. Lots to think about. I try to post things relevant to those who are on our Fan but not actually promote our competitors. It’s a tough balance. I decided to jump into Social Media for our business because I could see there were casual conversations occurring on Facebook and the community was often working together to answer questions. I try to provide what the other groups aren’t providing. I am not sure I am going about it the right way with both a FanPage and a Group but we shall see. We’ll also see if Twitter becomes an effective way to connect. Some of our customers do not use the Internet. Many are online but are not using Facebook or Twitter just yet. I don’t know if I am a little ahead of the curve or heading down the wrong road….


    • All CEOs are responsible for determining the overall strategy of a company. For example, the CEO of a car company would have to decide …


  30. Hi, I remembered reading this article from Chip while I was looking for a hotel in West L.A. and found Hotel Angeleno. Any specials for Tim/Chip fans to stay there for two nights this weekend? – I’m sorry for the bluntness.


  31. Hi Jorge,

    It may be a little too late to get you a discount this weekend since it’s now 3 am PST on Saturday morning (would need to work through some of the staff that’s there on weekdays). Feel free to call the hotel directly and say you’re a friend of Chip and see if that helps… will really depend upon how full the hotel is this weekend….not sure about that.




    • Hi Chip, I apologize for not responding earlier. My family and I REALLY enjoyed our stay at Hotel Angeleno despite bleak weekend weather. I didn’t feel the need to use the “friend” chip (pun intended) but thank you so much for responding at 3AM !!
      I’ll take this opportunity to share a simple equation (not sure if it qualifies as an emotional one): Being alive = happiness OR sadness. The point is to draw attention to what’s behind the emotions of happiness or sadness (or others). I think this attention realizes a feeling of gratitude and grace irrespective of the situation one is in.
      Best regards,


  32. Great article, I love reading these success stories and the fact that this story is about a very old industry that has been improved.

    Too many people are looking for the next best thing, when we have a significant amount of opportunities to improve what is already out there.

    This can be done in so many industries and a major profit can be made. Forget about India, China & Mexico competition. Think about how the client purchases and what they and you purchase and walk back from there and improve along the way.

    Take the car dealership, you bring your car in at 6:00 am and you wait for your car (if you don’t take a shuttle to your office) while you wait you walk around the show room and not a single person is in to talk with you about your car or the cars on the floor.

    Further your sales guy does not even know that you are going to be in for service as the operations between the shop floor and the sales floor are not linked.

    One simple process to improve and billions of processes out there.

    Great blog, keep up the good work.

    Gregory O’Donnell


  33. Hey Tim

    I love your information you spread to the world. One of my mentors models alot of his stuff on your teachings. I outsource 60% of my work that is done 120% better than doing it myself and about 300% quicker at the moment increasing my income further and increasing my home time as well.

    Keep up the great information.


  34. I know the contest is over. I want to share a qoute thats helped me get through some tough times. I heard the saying based on a story. There was a king who asked all his subjects to make for him an item that when hes sad and looks at it he will be happy and when hes happy and looks at it he will be sad. no one could come up with anything that fit the parameters till finally a tinsmith made the king a ring. on the ring he wrote “this too shall pass”. the concept has helped me place many challenges into perspective.


  35. Hi guys,

    As I said I would, I wanted to share my experience and what I learned from hanging out with Chip for a day. You can read about it here:

    Tim, thank you so much for your blog and constantly providing excellent material for us readers. And a big ‘Thank You’ to Chip for taking me under his wing and letting me peer into the life of a successful Chief Emotions Officer.

    All the best,


  36. 1. – You are the average of the 5 people you associate with the most.
    This is the only quote one needs. It’s about being with people you admire and helping them in worthy causes. It’s backed up by so much science you could write a whole book on it. It’s about human nature. It’s been such a simple solution to all my anxieties and existential questions. Change your social environment, and you’ll change. Be around the right people, and options and new goals will present themselves.

    Nothing else to add, as the competition has ended.