Friday, April 5, 2013

Bert Jacobs brings his optimism to Dean

"Optimism Can Take You Anywhere" was the title of the presentation and talk that Bert Jacobs gave at Dean College on Thursday evening. This was the 8th in the series by the Dean Leadership Institute. Dr. Paula Rooney thanked the Robert Kraft and the Kraft Group, last year's speaker for helping to make the connection with the Life is Good founder.

Dean Leadership Institute
Dr Paula Rooney introduction

Bert wasn't going to talk about t-shirts. He was going to talk about how to approach life as an optimist and how that makes a difference. He touted one of the key factors in his own development as having a family dinner. "Half the world's problems would be solved if people sat down regularly to a family dinner." He father had told him he could be part of the problem or part of the solution.

He downplayed the "6:00 news" as really the "6:00 violence report." When you look around there is a whole lot of good in the world. Longevity is up. Wealth is better distributed. There is no active war at this time. Is life perfect, no. But it is not as bad as it is reported to be.

Dean Leadership Institute
Bert Jacobs at Dean College

He touted persistence. he and his brother had five and a half years of bad ideas before they hit upon a good one. The good one being the first smiling face t-shirt who image eventually got the name "Jake." What told him that had hit on a good idea. That they had sold 48 t-shirts in an hour in Cambridge to 48 different people. They recognized they had found their market with "life is good."

They focused on finding an element of life and celebrating it. He told of his first t-shirt shop on Cape Cod. They were next to an ice cream parlor. The owner called him to order more shirts and asked if "Jake" could be eating ice cream? Sure, why not. Another idea came from a store owner in Vermont who wanted Jake riding a mountain bike. Sure, why not.

Some ideas didn't work as well as others. Oddly, they had trouble with Jake in a wheel chair. Folks were not getting the real 'life is good' message. "Takers may eat well, but givers sleep well." "Life can hurt, but play can heal."

life is good
Bert Jacobs at Dean

He told the story of how they developed their Halloween pumpkin celebrations, how they eveloved to focus on sharing their wealth and doing fund raising for kids. Life is Good Playmakers is part of the overall company. He told of their plans to expand their product lines beyond t-shirts. Hallmark is selling life is good cards. Life is good will have coffee come July. He wouldn't reveal their partner in the coffee business.  They are in talks with an auto manufacturer for a Life is good vehicle.

Bert said "authenticity builds business." "The only ones who can build a brand are your customers." Life is good does not do advertising, everything they do is by word of mouth. Satisfied customers telling their friends and spreading the word.

He closed asking the students to find their positive purpose. He said 'life is good' is spreading the power of optimism. He said, "We can't stop the waves, we need to learn to surf."

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