Pete Sena: I want to talk about what you feel is your competitive advantage, which is happiness. You feel that happiness is both your competitive advantage and others. How is happiness a competitive advantage?
Cate Johnson: So I think happiness is a competitive advantage, period. It doesn’t just belong to me.
Pete: So what is a competitive advantage? For some of the folks watching that might not be as into this “business model” lingo.
Cate: It’s like, how very MBA of me. You know, “value proposition.” [Laughs] To me, competitive advantage is what makes you uniquely able to be successful. And look around like, not everyone’s happy, right? So that is unique. It’s not that I’m happy 24/7 but that I’ve realized that there are advantages to happiness.
I came upon this whole idea of the “happiness advantage” from an incredible TED talk and a researcher named Shawn Achor. He’s done so much to study happiness and positive psychology and the whole idea behind it is that in our culture, in American culture, we think, “okay, I would be happy if I get this job, if my body looks like this, if I have this relationship, and then I will be happy.
But what all of his research uncovered is that actually, having a (and again, going back to science) if your brain is at a positive state vs. a neutral or negative state, you are more creative, more resilient, more successful. Like doctors were better at diagnoses. People were 30 percent better at sales. Like, all the indicators went up. So it’s not that you should wait to be happy to get all these things, being happy will help you get all of those things or do all of those things. To me, that’s what I think of as my competitive advantage. I take time out to do things and be things that bring me joy and bring me happiness.
Pete: I love that. The phrase I’ve been using a lot because I do a lot of mentoring as you know, but it is this idea that “You can’t pour from your cup until it’s full.”