Ted Leonsis: Finding Success & Happiness Cleaning the Bathroom Floor at the Washington Verizon Center secured payday loans
Why would one of the most successful, entrepreneurs of our time – owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, former Vice Chairman of AOL, award-winning filmmaker and more — end up scrubbing the bathroom floor at the Washington D.C. Verizon Center?
The simple answer is to find happiness and success, but that’s jumping ahead of the story. Leonsis, addressing The Harvard Business School Club of Washington, DC at The Tower Club on October 25th, is by nature a serial entrepreneur. His portfolio of creations and investments is legendary, now numbering Chairmanship of Revolutionary Money, creation of Snag Films and early stage participation in Groupon. Ted’s epiphany came during a much less business-like situation: A plane he was on was going down and all onboard were told to prepare for a crash landing. If ever there were an ideal moment to ponder whether he had lived a happy, meaningful life, this was it.
A born negotiator, Leonsis struck a deal with the Lord. He pledged to give more than he took in exchange for a safe landing. The rest is history and Ted began a lifetime of building and giving.
Leonsis, the son of a Greek immigrant, is also by nature a highly social and curious person. He more than wondered if there were specific character traits associated with happy people, he thoroughly researched the topic. The result is his new book, The Business of Happiness. Ted shares with us some of its essence:
· Success follows happiness (happiness does not necessarily follow success)
· Participate in ventures that have a “double bottom line” – those that do well by doing good
· Discover your higher calling.
Leonsis also emphasized that highly successful people all have certain qualities in common and encouraged each attendee to:
1. Be an active participant in communities of interest.
2. Express yourself. Be heard.
3. Empathize. Understand the position of others.
4. Get out of the "I" and into the "We"
5. Pursue a higher calling.
All of which brings us back to one of the most influential business leaders of our time cleaning bathrooms – and becoming even more successful in the process. The setup is perfect.
Leonsis had publicly criticized the cleanliness of the bathrooms at the Verizon Center without, he noted, even speaking with the sanitation crew and understanding the physical and time pressures associated with their demanding jobs. Naturally, he is criticized for being out-of-touch. But, rather than strike back, he acknowledges his failure to empathize, apologizes to the group and sets a specific date to clean the bathrooms along side the crew.
As fate would have it, on that particular day, the President of the United States asks if he and his daughter could attend a WNBA Mystics game – a first for a standing President. So, Ted spends three hours with the single most important person in the free world, after which he gets down and dirty, thoroughly cleaning the women’s bathrooms following the game. “It’s amazing what people drop on the floor,” Leonsis said. More amazing is that he could now fully empathize with the plight of the sanitation crew, which in turn led him to make certain positive changes, resulting in a measurably higher level of morale across the entire enterprise.
Now, that’s doing well by doing good. Well done, Ted.