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Being happy as a business model

May 6, 2019

What really struck me when I started working at weXelerate a few months ago was the job title of one of my colleagues: Chief Happiness Officer, short CHO. What does it mean for a company and its workforce to have a CHO in the team? Can one person make a whole workplace happy? I have met with our CHO Thomas Friedschröder, the mastermind of weXelerate’s happiness.

weX: Hi Thomas, thanks for meeting with me. How does one become a Chief Happiness Officer?

Thomas: Well, that is pretty easy. You just write it on your business card. (laughs) Seriously, that is the very first step. When I joined weXelerate in 2017 I was among other things in charge of the Christmas party. When I looked around at all the happy faces I thought that I really love making people happy, so I decided to put this quite innovative job-title on my business card when I was asked what my role here could be.

weX: That sounds quite simple. What are the tasks of a chief happiness officer?

Thomas: It is and having such a job title on your business card makes all people look at it twice. It’s a door-opener and it makes it easier to get into conversation with people.

Making people happy. My task is as simple as that. But it depends on the people you want to make happy. Shareholders are happy when their business prospers and they make money, whereas managing directors are happy when the team works. A diverse community like we have in the hub might even need some other factors for being happy. I see myself as the facilitator. I offer ideas, opinions and feedback, but the people responsible for a certain business area have to make it real in the end.

weX: Are you disappointed when people do not use your advice.

Thomas: I used to be. But one of my main learnings is not to take everything personally or seriously. I try to be pretty relaxed about things nowadays and it works. I look at it this way: I give feedback and ideas. If people like it, they will use it, if not, they won’t. I try to learn from my mistakes or failures.

weX: You are always in a good mood. What makes you happy?

Thomas: Making other people happy. There is a phenomenon called sympathetic happiness that simply describes that making other people can make you happy. I also love cooking for other people. For me, it is a creative as well as a social process. And it is really exciting to try out new recipes. I furthermore recharge my batteries in nature when skiing or hiking.

weX: Should every company have a Chief Happiness Officer?

Thomas: Let me put it like this: it would be a great idea if companies thought about the concept of happiness and a person focussing on that topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an extra person. In some companies it might make sense that the Chief Happiness Officer is the managing director or the head of HR. I think it is a really individual decision.

weX: Thanks for the insights Thomas and thanks for making us happy.