Today is the day!
Today’s post is all about the new book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy. It’s available for purchase in both paperback and on Kindle or other e-readers today! Let’s get to know Doug and the reasons why he wrote this book a little better today:
Why did you write Rethink Happy?
I have been a small business owner for many years. Through my membership in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and my consulting practice, I have met countless entrepreneurs. Virtually all of them are well off financially. But few of them are truly happy. And, candidly, I felt the same. So I went in search of books that could help me experience more joy in my life.
I found some good business books. And some excellent books on happiness that were very spiritual. But there weren’t any decent books that were sort of in-between. I have since found a few but at the time, I thought I was entering into unchartered territory. Plus, I have always loved the fable format. So I essentially wrote a fictional story about a guy who seemingly has everything he could want and yet isn’t truly happy. An apparent chance encounter with a guy who then becomes his mentor begins a journey toward what I refer to as authentic joy.
Your bio claims you’re a “serial entrepreneur.” For those not familiar with the term, what does it mean, and what qualifies you as one?
Honestly, I think it’s probably overused. The gist of a serial entrepreneur is someone who has built more than one successful business. I have been fortunate enough to form four corporations in my life and they have all been successful in their own way. Mostly, it’s a result of my insatiable desire to start things that make a difference.
Your bio also says you are a personality expert. How so, and how did your experience in this area help you write this book? What type of personality does Cleve have?
I have been a Culture Index licensee for over five years. I believe it’s the best program available for businesses to assess their talent. I’ve cut my teeth working with businesses from many different industries in 15 states and my mentor is one of the longest living practitioners in this space. Because of my background in applied behavioral psychology, I definitely applied certain personality traits to all the characters in the book.
This helped quite a bit. Cleve is certainly a tenacious guy. He’s naturally selfish, with some social ability, cleverness and solid follow through when it’s something he wants to do. But these traits have the potential to produce a guy who is egocentric or, with the addition of a strong moral compass, a guy who can make a huge positive impact on all those around him. This is the transformation I attempted to show the beginnings of in the book.
I feel like I’m pretty happy, yet your book emphasizes finding authentic joy, stressing joy over happiness. As long as I feel happy, what’s the difference?
I am not here to question your happiness. Or judge that mine is greater than yours. My purpose for writing this book was to make people rethink what happiness is. In a sense, happiness is a feeling, but joy is more of a mindset. Or a more authentic recognition of who we are as persons.
The interesting truth is that we are rational beings made up of body and soul created for happiness. This is my favorite definition of a person. So we need to take care of both our bodies and our souls. To neglect either is to tread down a path that leads to a lack of peace and joy in our lives.
The main character in this story is Cleveland, or “Cleve.” Is that a code name for Doug Kisgen? Is this really just your story, and if not, how much of your own story did you use to develop this character?
Ha. Not at all, or not much anyway. One definition of Camino means “the way” in Spanish. He’s essentially showing Cleveland the way toward authentic joy. It’s not only about having a purpose or a why, it’s also about striving toward virtue, understanding what sacrifice really means and then nourishing our souls and not just our bodies.
Of course, there is a little bit of me in Cleveland. But I would like to think there’s a little bit of Camino in me, too. And Cindy is not a code name for my wife either. It’s a purely fictional account of combining the stories of many of the entrepreneurs I have met and worked with over the years.
In Chapter 23 of your book, Rethink Happy, your character Camino suggests Cleve “make it uneven” when it comes to showing his wife love. Do you practice what you preach in your relationship with your wife? If so, how–give us some real life examples.
Whoa. I guess you should ask her. Ha. Everything I mention in Rethink Happy doesn’t translate to principles I have perfected, but more concepts I know to be true in order to be happier.
As far as real life examples, I typically try to do at least one small thing every day for my wife without her realizing I did anything special. So it may be getting her a glass of ice water without being asked, or changing the laundry or making the bed before she does or helping get the kids’ lunches together, which is something she usually does. The biggest key I have found to this is that it doesn’t have to be a big thing.
What are your relationships with your kids like, and what advice would you give to the character Cleve in your book? How have you applied some of your own books’ principles to your relationship with your kids?
I would say candidly that I have ebbed and flowed in my parenting skill. I haven’t always paid as much appropriate attention to my kids as I should have. So I am a little like Cleve in this regard. But fortunately, I never went through a phase quite as bad as he did. But if there was one simple principle I need to constantly work on that is so important it’s this: quality attention. Really listening. It’s probably the biggest gripe from my entire family. My mind wanders. And I know it’s annoying. It communicates that I don’t care. When I actually do. Very much.
I make it a point to engage in one-on-one conversations with all my kids. When I’m not on the road, I take my kids to school every day. I don’t allow headphones or music to be played so we can have a good conversation on the way, where we can talk about deeper issues.
Your book talks a lot about willpower. How does willpower come into play in our daily lives?
It’s interesting. There are two main aspects of our being that are on a completely different plane from all other animals. Our intellect, and our will. I have read extensively on the will and how it’s like a muscle. It needs to be exercised and over time, it can grow stronger or weaker depending on many variables.
Another interesting story that has been circulated is how Steve Jobs (and many other successful entrepreneurs) chose to wear the same or similar outfits every day to cut down on decision fatigue. There have been several studies that show our will is susceptible to getting run down the more decisions we have to make.
Your character Camino makes this statement in Chapter 34: “It’s hard to learn what really matters until you give up a few things you think do matter, but really don’t.” What does he mean by this, and what do you hope the reader learns from this statement?
Charitable giving is a good thing. We should share the blessings we’ve been given. But charitable giving by itself rarely changes someone. We are typically too removed from what the money is being used for. And for many of the people I hang around it’s easy to cut a check or two, but it’s typically far more difficult to make a sacrifice that affects me personally. Again, it doesn’t have to be big. And in some ways, it’s better if it’s not. The bigger the sacrifice the more noticeable it is. And in this regard, we ideally want our sacrificing to be personal.
So, have people been taking action after reading your book?
Yes, they have. And this is the most gratifying part of the whole process. I shared the book with some of my clients. I was talking to one of them over the phone and he said his wife had gone to bed early and there were dishes in the sink. He paused for a minute. And I just waited, kind of wondering what was going on. And then he said, “Yeah, I went ahead and washed them. I would never have done this if I hadn’t just read your book.”
I have another entrepreneur peer who has added a few more rituals into his family’s routines as a result of reading the book. So it’s been humbling and exciting for me to hear these stories.
Challenge #16: Buy the book! Ha! This is my shameless plug. If you do read it, I hope you enjoy it and be sure to let me know!
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas. For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available as an e-book or paperback!