Category Archives: Happy Hour is 9 to 5

Some ridiculous quotes from some stupid book about (get this) happiness at work

Happy Hour is 9 to 5Jørgen Larsen just finished reading my book and has blogged some of his favorite quotes from it. Thanks Jørgen!

Also, Billy Waters just updated his fantastic mind map of Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick. Mind mapping an entire book is an excellent way to preserve the salient points for yourself and Billy gets all the important stuff in there.

Semler’s two books Maverick and The Seven-Day Weekend are some of the best and most important books I’ve ever read about happiness at work and they’ve been a huge inspiration to my work.

Billy has also promised to do a mind map of my book and I can’t wait to see it.

And there’s more great news on my book:

More praise for Happy Hour is 9 to 5

Happy Hour is 9 to 5Michael Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners, read my book about happiness at work and liked it:

Alex’s writing has a fun, conversational style, just like you would expect from the Chief Happiness Officer. Don’t mistake this for fluff, however. He covers a lot interesting material in a thoughtful, smart way.

You can read Michael’s entire review here.

But someone has Michael beat… Zeke Chan has read my book three times! Here’s what he thinks:

I have read it 3 times and have been constantly referring to it every now and then for inspiration and ideas. A whole lot of things have happened since then which has just been unbelievable. I started by making myself happy. In your book, you champion the concept of doing something to make you happy. So I did just that… I did things that made me happy, tried to be positive, helped my colleagues and made an effort to learn something new about someone each day. I always start my day by doing something that I love and enjoy. Only then do I start my day… which has been a habit of mine the past 2 months.

When I successfully made myself happy on a daily basis, I realized there was something else that needed to change to be truly happy… my attitude. That has really taken some time to do and I’m still learning to master my attitude and thinking. Here’s how things have changed since I’ve started. I really love my work and enjoy the company of my colleagues. I have tonnes of ideas that have great potential and could be worth something. I have started a freelance business that I’m positive will be successful. My relationship with my wife has gotten even better… so much that I’m encouraging her to discover what makes her happy and to find that happiness in the work she would love to do. She is struggling somewhat with this new concept of happiness at work, but I have no doubt that things will turn out great.

I want to thank you for your book. It is simple to understand and your suggestions are highly practical and easy to do. I’m trying to spread some happiness at my workplace but it has not been easy due to the culture… but one thing I’m certain of is that I’m at YAY! happiness level.

God, I’m good :o)

Click here to read the book free online or buy it on paper or as a pdf e-book.

Feliz en tu trabajo – my book is out in Spanish

Happy Hour is 9 to 5Yaaaaaay: My first book is now out in Spanish!!!! You can read it free online, or buy it on paper for 27 euros or as a pdf ebook for 17 euros.

You can read all about it at

The title in Spanish is “La hora feliz es de 9 a 5 – Cómo adorar tu trabajo y tu vida y arrasar en tu empresa” and it was translated by María Rodríguez de Vera of Contentspanish.

But wait – there’s more: My book is also coming out in Danish in March which is really exciting and I’ve been talking to a Chinese publisher about a version in simplified Chinese AND to an Iranian about translating it to Farsi!

Please help – I need a Danish title for my book

Happy Hour is 9 to 5I’m busy reviewing the Danish translation of my book. It’s a bit of a chore but the nice thing about it is that I get to read my own book in my native language for the first time – a nice if somewhat surreal experience.

I wrote the book in English in 2006 and it’s now been translated into Danish and will be published here in Denmark in April.

So now I need a Danish title for the book because the “Happy Hour” metaphor does not really fly in Danish.

Apparently, my brain lacks the particular area responsible for coming up with names for stuff, and you guys came through beautifully for me when I needed a title for my book in English, so please, let me hear any idea you may have!

I need a title and a subtitle for the book, and I’d like a title that grabs people’s attention and creates an immediate mental image or connection. Bob Sutton has a post on Sticky Book titles, including The 4-hour Workweek, Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Guns, Germs and Steel and of course his own excellent, excellent book The No Asshole Rule.

Those titles all do just that. So… any ideas for me?

Still more book reviews. My book is STILL good :o)

Happy Hour is 9 to 5Reviews of my book keep coming in, and people have been saying amazingly nice things about it.

Eric Deniau writes:

I discovered your website several months ago while searching the web when I finished reading another excellent book, “Peopleware” by Tom De Marco & Tim Lister. I loved it right away. I first read the online version of the book (very good idea indeed – I then purchased several paper versions) and found everything in it so true and well written, full of funny pictures and convincing contemporary examples !

One of the brilliant things in the book is that it gives very practical and workable advice on what we can do to improve. Up to the point that I recently explained in a board meeting (I am engineering head in a high-tech company) what is a happy plan. I just started to implement one in my team, and believe me, the first feedback is extremely positive. I’ll provide updates about my experience on this site.

Thanks Eric! I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you – keep me posted!

Barry Egan wrote:

I find your book very helpful in maintaining employee satisfaction. I think it’s great that you offer a free online version of your book. I’ve referred to it many times, when dealing with employee rewards and motivation. It truly is a great read. I’m constantly keeping up with new ways to make my workplace inspiring and just an overall great environment to work. I believe employee satisfaction is the key to happy customers.

Thanks! And I could not agree more – happy employees = happy customers.

More great reviews of my book here:

Interested? You can read the whole book free online or you can buy it on paper or pdf.

The most thorough review of my book. Ever!

Happy Hour is 9 to 5A while back, I invited Kevin Carson of The Mutualist Blog to review my book (Happy Hour is 9 to 5) for the simple reason that he and I have wildly differently views on work. It’s not that we disagree (though we do on many issues) it’s just that we’re coming to the topic from some very different backgrounds.

His review is now up and it blows me away! It’s thorough, it’s critical – and above all it’s constructive. I learned a lot from reading it and from taking in Kevin’s views on this. As I knew I would.

Here’s how Kevin starts it:

I must confess I approached this book with a considerable amount of skepticism.

And at first glance, the rhetoric in Kjerulf’s book bears at least a strong superficial resemblance to such manipulative HR gimmicks as Fish! Philosophy, aimed at jollying the sped-up and underpaid workforces of downsized firms into loving Big Brother without any of the inconvenience of, you know, raising pay or decreasing workloads.

But on closer inspection, I believe this book is the real thing. Despite certain reservations, which I discuss at length below, I believe Kjerulf gets it. His book isn’t just another attempt to get workers’ minds right, a shortcut for inculating lobotomized happiness into people who are treated like shit. He spends a major part of the book, in fact, pointing out that shortcuts don’t work, and that there’s no way to simulate treating people like human beings.

Kevin’s main reservations about my book are:
1: The book goes too far in stressing subjective attitude at the expense of objective conditions.

For example, the employee newsletter at a particular hospital I’m thinking of–let’s call it the Official Happy Newsletter–once ran a fluff article titled “Choose Your Attitude,” which gushed (among other things) that if we “choose to provide extraordinary patient care,” we could do so, “regardless of your abundance or lack of resources.” In other words, the people who cut us off at the knees are assuring us that if we can’t run a marathon, it’s our own fault. The laws of time, space, and matter don’t apply–it’s all in your head, man! The amount of work that can be extracted from a single man-hour is infinite, like the number of people who can be fed with five loaves and two fishes.

I agree with Kevin on this. What I really advocate is not “changing your attitude to cope with a bad work situation” but as Kevin puts it:

Happiness and “choosing your attitude” are not things done instead of addressing working conditions, or even after addressing working conditions; they’re achieved, in large part, by means of addressing working conditions.

Yes. Kevin gets this better than I did! I’ll update my writing on this to express this more clearly.

2: There is not enough focus on the structural forces at the level of the political and economic system as a whole.

Thirty years ago the neoliberal Pharaohs decreed, “let them gather their own straw, but let not the tale of bricks be minished aught.” And in the years since that decree, an entire industry of labor consultants has come up with gimmicks like Fish! (enthusiatically embraced by Pharaoh’s overseers in Human Resources) aimed at convincing workers that “we [sic] can choose to do an extraordinary job making bricks, regardless of our abundance or lack of straw.”

In minimizing the importance of objective conditions, Kjerulf considers mainly the intrinsic character of the work itself. That is, he focuses mainly on the character of work as it varies from one job to another, as workers sort themselves into types of work that they consider more intrinsically enjoyable and avoid those that they consider unpleasant.

True – my focus is very much on making yourself happy at work within the system we already have. And it’s also true as Kevin notes, that the current system is fertile ground for some VERY unhappy workplaces. However, the current system has proven, mostly inadvertently, to also contain everything you need to create great, democratic, happy workplaces.

I absolutely agree that the system itself should be changed – and I believe that one of the best ways to change it is to create many happy workplaces. They will out compete the unhappy ones and happiness at work will then become the norm.

That being said, I WILL be reading some Ehrenreich :o)

3: A historical vacuum

One of the most exasperating things about Kjerulf’s book is the historical vacuum within which he views such issues.

It boggles my mind that Kjerulf simply accepts this enormous and radical change over the past fifty years as just another matter of fact, without stopping to ask why? Why has the workplace hollowed out the rest of life in recent decades? Why has an increasing portion of time been taken up by work, at the expense of the rest of our lives? Why is work (on the job, that is) “the basis for our standard of living,” as opposed to the household and informal economies? Why has the home been transformed into an adjunct of the imperial workplace, and the whole of life contaminated by the ideology of professionalism? Maybe it’s time to take our lives back from work–or rather, from our jobs.

The main reason I ignore the history of the workplaces is probably that I don’t know much about it. I’ll be fixing that :o)

Fortunately, there’s an equally long list of where Kevin thinks the book gets it right. Phew :o) Go read Kevin’s entire review – it’s great, great reading.

I cannot thank Kevin enough for reading my book with such an open mind and for contributing his thoughts and ideas in such a clear, constructive, interesting, funny and well-written way. It’s a huge inspiration for me and has shown me some ways to deepen and sharpen my message.

Is your workplace unhappy? Get my book for free!

Happy Hour is 9 to 5It’s time to give away 50 100 more copies of my book about happiness at work. Last time it was a simple Christmas blogger give-away, this time I’m giving it to the people who need it the most: Those stuck in unhappy workplaces.

Here are the rules:

  1. If you work in an unhappy workplace, you’re eligible. It doesn’t need to be hell on earth, but it has to be fairly unpleasant :o)
  2. You must write a comment on this post and tell me what you think makes your workplace unhappy. You don’t have to name the company if you don’t want to, but remember to leave a real email-address or I won’t be able to send you a book.
  3. The first 50 100 commenters get a free pdf-copy of my book Happy Hour is 9 to 5 – AND MAY GIVE IT TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS THEY WANT TO, INSIDE THEIR COMPANY. Who knows, it might even help :o)

Just this once, it pays to work in a place that sucks :o)

UPDATE: Whoa, that was fast – in less than a day, 50 people from unhappy workplaces signed up for a book. You leave me no choice but to up the ante and give away 100 books. I won’t be extending it beyond that, so hurry up and sign up!!

UPDATE 2: That’s it folks. 100 people signed up for the book and I’ve closed comments on the post. I’ll mail out the books this weekend.

UPDATE 3: The books have now been emailed. If you signed up and didn’t get your copy send me an email and we’ll fix it. Happy reading – I hope this will help some unhappy workplaces :o)