Be Happy and Lead On :)

Mary Prefontaine

By, Mary Prefontaine
ICAN President & CEO

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Steve Jobs

At ICAN we believe what you do in life and leadership is key to your happiness. And since what we do every day is steeped in working with leaders, we decided to explore Happiness for our 2014 Women’s Leadership Conference.

You may have noticed the pursuit of happiness seems to be a national pastime, so much so that according to a recent article in TIME magazine, it has become a super-sized multi-billion dollar industry. Without a doubt it is within the very roots of American society, given that “pursuit of happiness” is written into the Declaration of Independence.

In the work we do at ICAN we have the privilege of helping people explore their leadership and their life. Many appear to have it “all” – a great job, a loving family, a home to live in, good health – yet they are not “happy.” Studies show that only one third of Americans describe themselves as very happy. Yet, here we are with so much more than nearly everyone else on the planet.

We are so curious about how happiness affects our well being, our relationships, our earning potential, our career prospects, our longevity, and well, the bottom line of business that this is the theme we have chosen for our 2014 Women’s Leadership Conference.

What defines your happiness? Is it money and status that makes you happy? Is your happiness related to your well-being?

Over the past couple of decades scientists have determined human beings may come equipped with something like a “pursuit of happiness” impulse – the urge to get to where the grass is greener, the job is better, the house is nicer, the car newer…you get the picture. So, our level of satisfaction is, well, never satisfied.

My observation of people who are generally happy is they have determined the link between feeling well and their happiness. They are energetic. Resilient. Light in heart and in spirit. And they get things done!

The work place performance connection to happiness is worth investigating. In a meta-analysis done of a significant body of work, it was reported that employees have on average 31% higher productivity; their sales are 37% higher and their creativity is three times higher. We love this idea so much that we are bringing to the conference on April 9, 2014, Shawn Achor from Good Think, Inc. to share with you how as leaders we can turn the dial up on happiness and the bottom line of your business. (Learn more on this topic today at

In my exploration of my personal happiness, I have found that unless I am truly well – emotionally, physically and spiritually – I would not be able to know happiness if it came knocking on my door. Also, I have never met an inspiring unhappy person…have you?

Did you know 20% of us will suffer a mood disorder at some point in our life time and more than 40% of us will have an anxiety disorder? By the time we are 18 years old, 11% of us will have been diagnosed with depression. Staggering, right?

As I reflect back on my youth and think of my mother, I recognize now what I didn’t know then. I realize she suffered greatly from anxiety and depression. I remember growing up feeling my mother’s melancholy – her unhappiness palpable, and painful for all around her – but I didn’t understand it. As a result, not only was she unhappy, she was also unable to live her full potential.

I don’t know about each of you, but my greatest fear is to die a life unlived. A life that missed its full potential. A life small and uninspiring. No doubt this view I hold – and my quest for happiness – is a gift from my mother.

In the work of ICAN, we are “getting our happy on” to create a conference that will educate you and inspire you to be happy and lead on! We hope you will join us!

Happiness: Bending the Bottom Line