Who cares about your job title – tell me what you DO!

Business card

“What do you do for a living?”

Whenever you meet new people, some variant of this question is bound to come up, and probably pretty early on in the conversation too.

And here’s something I’ve noticed: When you ask people what they do, most people will give you their job title. As in
“I’m an engineer” or “I’m a project manager” or “I’m a writer”. Or consultant, speaker, software developer, manager, contractor, freelancer, secretary, or…

But that’s not what you do – that’s just your title. It really says nothing about you or your job, so I always find myself asking follow-up questions. “So what kind of projects do you manage.”

Some titles DO say what you do. If you’re a pilot you fly planes. Teachers teach. Builders build. Coaches coach. But most titles are more ambiguous.

So think about it for a moment. How much does your job title really say about what you do? And what would be a better way of telling people what it is you do in just a few words.

Whenever people ask me, I always tell them that “I make people happy at work.” That is what I do.

This may look like just semantics, but it matters. See, your job title is never going to make you happy at work, but knowing what you do, may. Knowing your contribution, how you add value, how you make a difference – THAT can make you happy at work.

So now it’s your turn. Think of what it is you do in your job and put it a comment here.


QuoteCreating peak experiences for employees and customers is a no-brainer. You gotta do it.

Chip Conley

I agree – it’s a total no-brainer! It’s also easy. And cheap. And companies who do it find that it makes them a LOT of money.

Of course my interest is in creating peak experiences for employees – moments where you just go “MAN, I love working for this company!”

Have you had one of those? What happened – what was the peak experience? How can your workplace give you a WOW moment?

“Office Lady” from Hong Kong is back – and still not happy at work

Ask the CHOA while back I got a comment from Office Lady in Hong Kong who wrote that:

Iíve been miserable at work and, although it took me almost a year, I eventually built up the courage, and Iíve finally quit my job!!

I think itís one of the best decisions Iíve ever made!

And most of all, Iíve found a new job too! No one knows how itíll go, but a change is definitely due and Iím looking forward to a fresh start.

Your site has definitely pushed me on.

:) One happy Office Lady in Hong Kong

So how did it go? Well, Office Lady is not yet happy at work, and she is asking for our advice:

I’m now at another job and I’m again thinking about leaving (hence I’m here again). Yes, it pays better than my last job, my boss is awesome (I don’t think how anyone can have a better boss), I have benefits and so on.

But the work doesn’t inspire me. It’s boring. And I believe I have more potential and more to offer. My job is like acting as a middle-person, passing on requests and documents between our headquarters in the US and our regional offices all over Asia. I don’t “make” anything. I don’t make the documents. People give me documents, I give them to someone else. People give me documents, I compile them in the right order, and give them to someone else.

In my previous job, what drove me to quit was that eventually, I actually DREADED going to work. I’d actually panic in bed on Sunday night. Here, I don’t dread it, but I just plainly find no point in going to work. I drag my work out throughout the day, just so I have enough to keep my occupied.

Question is, should I leave just after 5 or 6 months here? And go find something that would engage me? Risk losing my income, benefits and not finding a boss as great again?

What a great question – and one that many people face. What do you do when work isn’t all that bad, but not all that good either? Is “OK” good enough?

What would you advice Office Lady to do?

It’s true – I’ve been a bad boy


I must apologize – I haven’t been responding to comments on my blog at all for the last month or so and I’ve been seriously lax about it for about three months before that.

Two readers called me on it in the comments – thank you!! I needed the wake-up call.

I feel bad about it, because I used to pride myself on responding to almost every single comment on the blog and I want to get back to that. I have been reading all comments that come in, but that’s not enough to create a good conversation, so here’s my promise: From now on, I’ll devote time to reply to comments on the blog.

I make this promise for one simple reason: the comments here are a continual source of inspiration for me. I have learned so much from your input, ideas, arguments and stories – and the least I can do is reply.

So even though business is craaaaazy busy these days (wooo-hooooo!) I will not compromise on this and I will make sure to leave time in my calendar to make sure that this blog remains an interesting read and a good place to discuss happiness at work.

You guys just have to promise to keep the great comments coming.


Thank you, Indore (India)

Happy at work in India
Making people happy at work in India

I’m back. I’m beat. And no wonder – in 11 days I went Copenhagen – Chicago – London – Bombay – Indore – Bombay – London – Copenhagen.

India, especially, was great. Going there was an absolutely amazing experience. I don’t hesitate to call it life-changing.

I went with one big question on my mind: Will my stuff work in India? Will they like the idea of happiness at work? Will my style go over well with Indians? Will my tools and methods work in Indian workplaces? Will Indian managers see the business sense in making their employees happy?

Happy at work in India
Another happy Indian

I seriously had no idea. I’ve done my thing in many western corporations, but Indian business culture is obviously very different.

Well, my stuff works in India! Boy, does it ever work. In fact, in India, I’m a rock star :o)

Indore Management Association annual convention
The stage for the Indore Management Association annual convention. The place was humongous!

First I spoke at the Indore Management Association’s annual conference where my presentation was a huge hit. People absolutely loved it as you can see from these comments.

The next day it was on to Dewas which is a short drive from Indore where Tata has a plant that makes leather for the fashion industry. Tata is India’s biggest company, responsible for 2.8% of Indias GDP. That’s huge.

Happy at work in India
Making people happy at work in India

I did one workshop for the 20 senior managers at the factory which went very well and the next day I did another full-day workshop for 45 entry-level managers which went even better. Again, people loved the message, the tools and my presentation style.

Happy at work in India
Making people happy at work in India

And then to cap it off, I was taken to Indore again where I gave a presentation to the Indore Management Marshals, a group that meets monthly to discuss management. This group consisted of the member and their wives, most of whom are housewives, so I was asked to also speak about happiness in the family.

That was a fun request, and it made me realize that about 90% of my message actually applies equally well at work and at home. And, again, I was a hit :o)

It was a long trip home (about 24 hours) but I spent the whole time feeling quietly elated – a feeling that persists now that I’m back.

Indore, India
Street life in Indore

And finally a great big thank you to:

  • The students who took such great care of me in Indore, especially Nancy.
  • Everyone at IMA. What a great event you put on.
  • Everyone at Tata Dewas. Thanks for spending so much time on my workshops and for being so positive about them.
  • The Management Marshals of Indore for a lovely evening.
  • James Pal for showing me around Indore and introducing me to Indian street cuisine – which is amazing!
  • S Nand for making it all possible by reacting to my original blog post where I said that I’d love to do some work in India.
  • Vijay Kumar Bhalla for arranging the whole thing so efficiently
  • To every single person I met while there. I must have met hundreds of people and everyone was happy, smiling, gracious, positive and open. Thanks!

You can see many more pictures from Indore here.

Happiness in achievement

Stone sculptureMy friend Annette (who is the CEO of Ňrstiderne) sent me these inspiring words:

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement,
the thrill of creative effort.
The human spirit needs to accomplish, to achieve, to triumph to be happy.

Happiness does not come from doing easy work.
It comes from the afterglow of satisfaction after the achievement of a difficult task that demands your best.

Your personal growth itself contains the seed of happiness.
You cannot pursue happiness by itself.

There is no happiness except in the realization that you have accomplished something.

Happiness thrives in activity.
It’s a running river, not a stagnant pond.

I agree completely. Achievement feels great. We all like to get results, make a difference, contribute value and do work we can be proud of.

My only quibble with this is that achievement is not the only source of happiness at work. I believe there are two things that make us happy at work and getting results is one of them.

See if you can guess what the other thing is :o)

IMA presentation

I would like to say a warm thank you to everyone who attended my presentation at the Indore Management Association’s conference. It was an absolute pleasure.

As I said, I do believe that India has a unique chance right now to become not only prosperous but happy – and that means creating lots of happiness at work.

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions so please write a comment here.

Click here to download my presentation.

Happiness at work – 5 tips to try today!

FiveJames Parr at Omniblog has a great post on happiness at work, and how any company can become happy:

Now you might sit here reading this and thinking ďyeah, thatís all very well in another company, but in ours where weíre just making widgets day in day out, whoís going to be that passionate about working for us?Ē Fair point, in essence. Itís a common notion that we canít all be Google, with a raft of cool people, eager to sign up. Like many common notions though, itís complete and utter BS.

Youíre worried because youíre not making uber-sexy products, or youíre worried that itís just too tough to get your warehouse staff excited about stacking boxes right? Well worry no more. Happiness at work can apply to everyone. Call centres (notoriously high attrition rates) can be happy places. Production lines can be happy places. Banks and leisure centres and council buildings and hospitals and schools and compliance units and McDonalds and everywhere else can be happy workplaces! Itís about doing some basic things right.

He then goes on to list 5 things your workplace could try right now.

He also goes on to say some very nice things about yours truly. I’m blushing here :o)

Branding yourself with happiness

Dan SchawbelWhile I’m traveling the world making people happy at work, here is a guest post by Dan Schawbel. Dan is the lead personal branding expert for generation-y. He blogs at The Personal Branding Blog, publishes Personal Branding Magazine, directs Personal Branding TV, and is the head judge for the 2008 Personal Brand Awards.

A happy brand is a successful brand

Ever wake up, dreading your typical routine 9-5 workday? I can picture you waking up, rolling out of bed, getting dressed, running to Dunkin Donuts, dreaming about being successful on the way to work and then finally sitting down at your cube watching the clock until you leave. Now who in their right mind would want to go through such an outrageous process? Today, I write before you, to tell you that you too can be happy at work. You may not be a Chief Happiness Officer or a Chief Technology Officer, but the same concept applies.

Introducing personal branding, the happiness-initiator and guess what, itís free. Personal branding is the process by which we differentiate ourselves by identifying and articulating our unique value proposition to achieve a specific goal. Wouldnít you want to be branded as a happy person? People donít want to be associated with a miserable Grinch-like individual that hates their job and the people around them. Why not start the day with a smile on your face, greet people who walk past you and be perceived as a team player.

Of course, if your job doesnít fit your brand, then this isnít possible. Personal branding allows you to use social media vehicles, such as blogs in order to convey your passions, goals and expertise. Now, for free, anyone can have their own website and build a reputable brand name. I used to be in product marketing, but my real interest was in personal branding and social media, so through all of my personal branding efforts, I was able to sculpt a position at my company that I would be content with. You can do the same.

Anyone can achieve happiness, but in order to get to that point, you need to gain confidence in yourself, be optimistic and pursue your passion. Starting a blog is a great way to let others know what makes you happy, and building a community through your blog can link you up with those that share interests, thus you both can be happy. In the workplace, whether you are a consultant or working for a fortune 500 company, your attitude is a reflection of your standing, in terms of customer acquisition and retention. In a web 2.0 world, people deal directly with people, so you need to be a ďpeople person.Ē

Take Guy Kawasaki for instance. When do you ever see him angry? Never, and thatís because his brand is built on giving back to others, being a good father and sharing business practices.

Being happy at your job is success. If youíre not happy with your job, then build a brand that reflects who you are and be recruited or start a company based on that.