Paul Feldman, President of Zenais Marketing, explains how one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our era, Ted Leonsis -- owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards-- finds happiness and success cleaning bathroom floors at the Verizon Center.
Online PR News – 28-October-2010 – – 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 at The Tower Club on October 25th, is by nature a serial entrepreneur. His portfolio of creations and investments in 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.
Being a born negotiator, Leonsis stuck 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 social and highly curious person. He more than wondered if they 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 share certain qualities 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 and 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 he if 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 lead him to make certain positive changes, that resulted in a measurably higher level of morale across the entire enterprise.
Now, that’s doing well by doing good. Well done, Ted.
About the Author:
The author, Paul D. Feldman, brings more than 20 years of top domestic and global media expertise to each engagement at his firm. His background includes senior management posts on Wall Street, top ad and PR agency slots in New York as well as real estate finance and marketing positions involving transactions in the U.S. and Far East. Paul is also the creator of an online news distribution service and has a particular expertise in corporate branding, business-to-business marketing, financial services, IT and government services. He is a frequent columnist and speaker whose work has earned a number of major awards, including the Gold Quill from the International Association of Business Communicators and a special commendation from the United States Secretary of Defense.
Paul received an MBA from The Harvard Business School and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Zenais Marketing Inc. is a leading marketing, PR and graphic design firm that uniquely incorporates research, branding, creative and social networking to build value. The company has a legacy of serving clients on a global basis for more than 20 years and is regularly featured in broad range of domestic and international media. Zenais Marketing has offices in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, Cincinnati, London and Johannesburg.