Suggested Song: New Year’s Day, U2
Suggested Drink: Veuve Clicquot champagne (to ring out the old, in the new!)

At the Interprize® Group we are thrilled with big changes for 2015, including the launch of a new website (click here to see) and set of accelerator workshops (dates to be announced soon). Come see what the buzz is all about!

I am finishing 2014 on an emotional high after leading another Interprize Workshop here in Aix, my third at the local IAE Graduate School of Management. The scope of interprize projects that students brought for development was inspiring, as I’ve come to expect from this school, and participation in the program continues to grow. We had wine bars and cafes and even a food-truck plan, nonprofits focused on baseball and football (soccer) sports camps for kids, schools for the underserved in Africa and Asia, career ambitions in acting, fashion and graphic design, various mobile apps, a variety of clean energy solutions, and too many other fascinating ideas to list.

The Interprize Workshop, IAE 2014


Over the 3-day workshop each of the aspiring interpreneurs considered their interlectual property and natural strengths, styles and passions, framed their interprize ambitions in terms of value and offering and market and customer, defined their personal stage of launch, worked through an execution plan of key milestones until their interprize was fully implemented, and announced steps they could take in the following day, month and year to move forward.

workshop2No entrepreneurial activity remains viable long-term without respect for balance and interpreneurial pursuits are no exception. Interspersed with our sessions on project planning were happy hours, with a focus on the power of positive emotions and practices to stimulate them. I think the chocolates test for vision expansion was a favorite (who knew those cherry-filled candies were spiked with liqueur!). We also built a paper chain of our change bracelets and burned them in the campus courtyard at noon, picture at right. On Friday afternoon my Interprize Group partner Jaki Weller led the class through 2 hours of yoga, meditation, and an insightful nutrition primer. All very unconventional for an IAE business seminar and thought provoking for the participants.

2015 will bring a few changes for my faithful readers to note. As mentioned above we’re launching an Interprize Group website (click here to view) full of resources on interpreneurship, life balance, and the pursuit of one’s grand ambitions, and I encourage you all to join … and please bring friends! With today’s internet inundation of spammers and bots I have to ask you to register, … my apologies. The Group is being launched with my partners Jaki Weller and Mary Carey and we’ll be listing workshop events for 2015 soon plus AMAZING daily references to the latest thinking on all things interpreneurial.

This Postcards blog will remain live and my outlet for monthly essays and new music releases. New music releases you ask? Yes, a collection of tunes is in development for the new year. She’s My Babe was the first of what I plan to be a dozen new recordings. It’s been an interesting 2014 full of rich and deliciously provocative inspiration and that would be a shame to waste!

I wish you all the very best with your year-end plans and a 2015 full of good health, grand ambitions, and deep reward.

Bill Magill

Suggested song: Happy Talk (from South Pacific), Rogers & Hammerstein
Suggested drink: Holiday eggnog (milk, cream, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, sugar, eggs, rum)

I finished directing another Intérprize® Workshop last weekend at the IAE Graduate School of Management near Aix-en-Provence. Three days were spent with 20 aspiring intérpreneurs outlining grand life ambitions, developing executions plans, and committing to next steps (talk is cheap!). I also offered my students daily happy hours to highlight the role played by happiness in the pursuit of our dreams; these grand ambitions – some practical, some mad, all thrilling – that define us as individuals.

I’ve been reading the research of Seligman, Frederickson and Csíkszentmihályi on the potency of optimism for years. Their findings are highlighted in various previous postcards and publications listed under my Interesting Books panel. More recently I’ve come across Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, whose output in this domain is astounding. Her recent work focuses on 3 fundamental questions:

  1. What makes people happy?
  2. Is happiness a good thing?
  3. How and why can people learn to lead happier and more flourishing lives?

Sonja LyubomirskyIndeed happiness is a good thing if work, friends, family, and health are life priorities (surprised?). Lyubomirsky’s detailed research – and she offers plenty of heavy reading for review should you be so inclined – shows that optimism leads to higher income, greater productivity and higher quality of work. It also reinforces more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support and richer social interactions, more activity, energy, and flow.  Regarding our health, she finds that happiness correlates positively to a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, less pain, and even longer life. Lyubomirsky’s work also reveals that we are more creative, helpful, charitable, and self-confident, have better self-control, and show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities when we are happy. (Quoting liberally from her website, which is available by clicking here.)

Of particular interest to me is Lyubomirsky’s research into the connection between the scale of our aspirations and permanence of our sense of wellbeing. The higher we reach the longer lasting is our charge of positive feedback, which stirs us to reach even higher. Equally fascinating is her study of the cause and effect between materialism and sustainable happiness (limited it seems), and steps for getting off what she calls the “hedonistic treadmill.” A girl after my own heart.

During last weekend’s Intérprize Workshop we talked about role optimism plays in keeping us inspired and positive through the many challenges encountered when taking on a truly grand ambition. Leveraging our core strengths effectively can generate a virtuous upward cycle: achievement makes us happy, which leads to optimism about our goals, which leads to greater effort that results in more accomplishment and happiness. Each happy hour was committed to practices known to engender positive emotions, many of which Ms. Lyubomirsky confirms with her studies: expressing gratitude, practicing kindness, adopting healthy rituals, and savoring simple, rich experiences. As evening assignments my students wrote letters of appreciation to loved ones and sought out opportunities for flow and savoring. And we made paper ring bracelets in class (think preschool art projects) that documented our bad tendencies and then were burned triumphantly outside the school reception area. Yes, the IAE is starting to seriously query the content of my courses.

burning ringsThe core of my workshop, as always, was committed to finding our compass headings and charting a course. Which are our native strengths and styles and how do they support the pursuit of our ambitions, what additional intérlectual property (IP) have we acquired or do we need to acquire, where do we find this IP, what will our intérprize look like when launched, and will it make us happy? And there’s that word again.

Finally, the workshop participants were introduced to yoga and meditation as activities for enhancing sustainability through the mental and physical demands of their ambitious pursuits. Gaëlle Devic of the Layama Association in Aix (click here for more on this centre) had us chanting and stretching and learning how to bring more zen into our harried lives. It is easy to dismiss the need to wind down, but the higher we reach the more energy we expend, and without a balanced regime we quickly exhaust and lose our bearings.

IAE 2013bStudents from China, Taiwan, Korea, Finland, the Ukraine, Brazil, and the U.S. joined locals from France for this class and it was clear that creative ambition has no geographic boundary. I was thrilled with the breadth and vision of their Intérprize plans, which included the launch of international boulangerie and “slow coffee” café chains, a French restaurant in Los Angeles, 2 crowdsourcing platforms for Asia of differing structures, a nonprofit wellness retreat, movie and radio production projects, a microcredit service, clothing design from recyclable materials, and other visions of immense ambition. As the Intérprize community expands with each new workshop the network for sharing ideas and collaborating on our personal missions will grow and become more powerful.

In 2014 we’ll be taking the Intérprize Workshop on the road, with various sessions around the U.S. and Europe. Stay tuned for locations and timing.

For more on Intérprize Workshops click here.

For a video recording of Sonja Lyubomirsky participating in the Stanford 2013 Roundtable: Are You Happy Now? hosted by Katie Kurick click here.

All the best in 2014. Stay happy!

Bill Magill