Why I started Happy Strategy

Photo credit: Albert Yee / albertyee.com

When I was a creative services manager, I started noticing an unusual pattern.

In the morning, I would wake up with a positive attitude, ready to head into work. By the end of the day, I was zapped of all my energy. I felt beaten down and frustrated. Day after day, this kept happening. Refreshed when I arrived to work, burnt out when I left.

I couldn’t understand why. The work was challenging, exciting and diverse. My co-workers were generally great. I had cultivated respectful, trusting relationships. What was happening?

To regain my energy at night, I read case studies of companies like GE, Amazon, and Apple. I wanted to know how they made success and innovation look so easy. One night, I read a story about an employee at a global tech company. He produced great work, made progress quickly and felt personally valued. When he accepted a position with another organization, he assumed he would maintain that same momentum, just with different folks. That didn’t happen. At his new job, he wasn’t able to do the same level of work and he was no longer the same worker. He didn’t feel as fulfilled. The issue was clear.

It was culture.

It was the spoken and unspoken rules, expectations and assumptions of the company he worked for. And it was the same for me. The lack of alignment among teams, behaviors encouraged and discouraged, poor communication — it was all subtly affecting my own attitude and behavior.

Without culture, the teams I worked with had developed their own objectives and made me the unofficial middleman. There was no glue to hold us together and no matter how hard I tried, I fell short in getting people to entertain new ideas or work collaboratively towards a united goal. Everything was a battle and I didn’t have it in me to fight all the time.

Although I could now identify the issues, I had no power to change, well, anything. I especially didn’t have the time to spend on something as big as culture or behavior change, since my workload was already filled with ever-increasing deadlines and deliverables.

So, why did I start Happy Strategy?

I was too frustrated not to start it.

For the last few years of my career, I’ve listened to the stories of friends, family, and co-workers and come to see that the majority of us tolerate our work lives despite feeling frustrated, empty, and uninspired. I began closely studying the collaborative effects of design teams and executive leadership. In 2015, I earned my M.S. in Strategic Design and Management and wrote my thesis on the power of design thinking to improve the employee experience.

Throughout all my research and studies, I kept coming back to one critical point: the biggest risk a company can take is in doing nothing. If engaged employees aren’t given the opportunity to alleviate their frustrations, then their productivity, purpose, and happiness slowly erodes. I know, because I’ve been there. Chances are you have been too.

Happy Strategy is here to solve exactly that. We provide the support and resources to empower you — yes, you — to address your frustrations head-on and help shape a more supportive environment at your place of work. When businesses invest in culture, they encourage more creative thinking, more productive collaboration and a stronger sense of purpose all around.

We now help teams increase happiness by taking a deep look at organizational culture — what’s working, what’s not, and what organizations can do to change their structure, processes, and policies to make their work more streamlined and make sure people are happy to work there.

This is why I started Happy Strategy. So that when we leave work, we feel happier and more energized — and not the other way around.