Why do lawyers need a happiness formula? How do we create more happiness in our jobs, relationships, businesses, with our coworkers and within our firms?
Joining me for a conversation about creating more happiness is Mike Duffy.
Mike is a philanthropist and an author of five books on happiness including: The Happiness Book: A Positive Guide To Happiness!, The Happiness Book For Men and The Happiness Book For Kids Volumes I & II.
He has interviewed the top thought leaders, athletes, rock stars, CEO’s and celebrities in the world on happiness, work/life balance, resilience and success for his books. He was an MC at Woodstock ’94. He gave a TEDx talk at TEDx Berkeley. He loves to speak about how you can gain greater happiness and joy in your precious life.
Mike Duffy is the CEO of Happiness Wealth Management in San Carlos, CA. He has over 27 years experience in finance. Mike started The Happiness Hall Of Fame to recognize, encourage and celebrate people and organizations that make other people happy. Mike also founded the Happiness Hall of Fame Homeless Outreach which provides money, food, counseling and hope to the hopeless.
Mike Duffy gives listeners actionable tips on:
- [2:05] What is a happiness formula
- [9:40] Why it’s important to have ‘progress evaluation’ as part of your goals
- [14:15] How the happiness formula relates to lawyers
- [22:05] Mike’s book recommendation
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Mike Duffy here:
Connect with me
[00:00:27] Mike: Hi, my name is Mike Duffy. I am the author of five books on happiness, resilience and success. I am the founder of the happiness hall of fame, which includes Muhammad Ali, the golden state warriors, the San Francisco giants. Our, we just inducted the Calgary flames two days ago, John C. Maxwell, the Make-A-Wish foundation, and many other people and organizations who make other people happy.
[00:00:53] Karin: So glad to have you here. Thank you so much for being here and talking about this. I think this may seem, um, I’m not sure what lawyers are gonna think of this topic. Normally we’re talking about kind of marketing and how to build their firm, but this is gonna be important. And here’s why we already know that there is, uh, epidemic of all kinds of mental health issues in the legal community.
[00:01:18] all kinds of addiction problems. We know that this is a problem, um, at a greater rate than the general population. And so the legal industry, uh, needs to take a look at that and figure out what is going on and how it can do a better job of supporting, uh, the lawyers and the law firms, uh, from this, this angle.
[00:01:40] That is not necessarily part of business building that, you know, they’re talking about, that sounds kind of, you know, good and revenue focused, but, um, I think it’s important to keep this human, uh, component in mind that, you know, we’re all made out of humans and we all have, you know, these things that we need to focus on.
[00:02:01] So. With all of that in mind. The big question we’re gonna talk about and answer and address, uh, today is why do lawyers need a happiness formula? So, first of all, first of all, thank you for being here. And, uh, I, I’m looking forward to this conversation, but let’s start with, what is that? What is what’s a happiness formula.
[00:02:24] Mike: Sure Karin, thank you for having me on your show. I can guarantee you if you listen to the end, you are going to pick up some great tips and strategies on how to live a more happier and successful life in your legal career. That’s a great promise. So I. It’s true. It’s true. I’ve spent my life researching happiness since I was 17 years old.
[00:02:45] And you know, I’m six years into it and I’m just having the greatest time. that’s so funny. Uh, yeah. So look, I, I literally have been studying happiness since I was 17 years old. I’ve degree in psychology. Um, I am friends with some of the top thought leaders on happiness, success and resilience in the world.
[00:03:06] Yeah. Uh, they’re in my hall. Um, and here’s my happiness formula P plus P equals H purpose plus progress equals happiness. And you must have a noble purpose. Not a purpose to make the most money or the purpose to have the most in your bank account, but to be the greatest servant, to make the most people happy that you possibly can.
[00:03:34] So let me tell you about how I came up with this about a dozen years ago. I said, you know what? I need to get happier. Uh, so let me take an inventory of the purposes of my. So on a yellow pad. Yeah. Which you all have on the top left. I want you to write purpose and then on the top, right. I want you to write progress because you must take massive action in order to attain your goals.
[00:04:05] So I wrote down the purposes of my life. The first one was be a great husband to my wife, Shannon. Yeah. So the action step that I wrote down was every Saturday night will be day. because I know your listeners know that it’s much cheaper to hire a babysitter than it is a divorce attorney.
[00:04:24] Karin: Exactly. Right.
[00:04:27] Mike: And it’s a lot more fun. Yeah. So at five 30, every Saturday night, like magic, my wife didn’t have to schedule it. I was in charge of this. A babysitter would magically appear. There’s a great website called sitter city and you always have availability to a babysitter. They’ve all been checked. and I would say to my wife, where do you want to go tonight?
[00:04:52] Yeah. Where do you want to eat? What is it that you want to do you see on the morning of my wedding, Karen, my father who had a sixth grade education in immigrant from Dublin Ireland, he sat me down and he said, Mike, in all love relationships at the beginning, you butt heads. Why. Because you both want your own way.
[00:05:16] Yeah. But if it’s a real love relationship over time, you become as one. Now, what does that mean? That means that you won’t be mean to the other person because actually in a selfish way you’re being mean to yourself. And why would you want to be mean to yourself? Yeah, yeah. Right. So that’s, that’s a very important principle in.
[00:05:39] And then the second thing that I wrote down was be a great father to my two kids. Yeah. So under the action step under progress, I wrote coach every sport that they play. Oh, wow. Now that takes a lot of commitment.
[00:05:54] Karin: and a lot of patience.
[00:05:55] Mike: It takes a lot of patience. Right, right. We’re
[00:05:58] Karin: on the same page here.
[00:06:01] Mike: Not only so much working with the kids, but also the parents who show up who want their kids to go to the NFL. Yeah. , but I knew I knew what I was getting into now. I would coach things that I loved, like football and volleyball and baseball and all the fun stuff. But I also, my first coaching gig, I had a coach soccer, which I have honestly, no interest in and didn’t know the rules to.
[00:06:26] Right. So there I am in the parking lot before the game on my phone, like, well, what’s this offense defense where they stay .
[00:06:36] Karin: Yeah,
[00:06:37] Mike: because it’s not about me. Yeah. When you understand that your life at the highest level, I’m talking about people who really wanna learn, stretch and grow. I wanna talk about becoming your best self at the highest level of existence.
[00:06:50] It’s not about you anymore. It’s about reigning love on the people that you care about. so there I am. And you know, I, I’m trying to teach some of the we’re talking five year olds. Okay. You stand here. You’re on defense. I’m on what fence? What fence? No, no, no, no. And then you are on offense. Oh, okay. When can I get orange slices?
[00:07:13] That’s after the game, right. And then, you know, your goalie walks off to pick a Daisy. It’s just absolute chaos. Right. But taking the kids. Out to ice cream or pizza and seeing their beautiful faces light up as they’re with their friends and they’re eating bad food. There’s nothing better than
[00:07:35] Karin: that, right?
[00:07:35] Oh yeah. Right. Well, and, and that there’s, you don’t get to that point without going through the practice. I mean, just going out for the pizza or whatever, and the. The reward part without having gone through, you know, the, that team building, all of the, the stuff that, you know, they are really kind of Grum grumpy about and grumbling and getting there.
[00:07:55] And, um, that’s a significant part of getting to that reward point with those kids, um, and showing them your commitment and all of those good things that are part of.
[00:08:09] Mike: Yeah. And it also shows your children that you really care about them. Yeah.
[00:08:13] Karin: Yeah,
[00:08:13] Mike: absolutely. You know, they see that, you know, the game’s on Saturday and there’s practice twice a week. Yeah. Right. And I’ll never have my daughter 16. I just bought her a new Mustang. She’s driving around like a crazy person.
[00:08:25] Right. Uh, as time goes on, our connection will start. Sure. Toray. That’s just how life is. So while you have those beautiful children in your life yeah. Make them the highest priority.
[00:08:40] Karin: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So then what else was on your list of the, uh,
[00:08:49] Mike: of your, yeah, sure. My happines formula list be a great financial advisor to my clients.
[00:08:56] Okay. So I’m 30 years now celebrating, helping people make the most of their money. Yeah. To guide them to financial freedom in a prudent manner so that they can have the dreams that they’ve always had come true. Because, you know, while I, I, I guess lectured at Stanford university, I’m a public speaker. I go around the world and I talk about happiness.
[00:09:21] There is a reality to life that you need to have finance. And they have to be in order. Right? So for the, for the progress step, I wrote learn everything you can about the market every day and only give the highest quality products to your clients. Treat them like family. . And so I am the trusted financial advisor to many high net worth families in the bay area.
[00:09:50] And I love that. I plan on doing this till I’m 75, because it’s, I just love these people. I’m a part of their life and I help them. Yeah. They have, they have a blind spot when it comes to finances and they need professional help. Sure, sure. But what I’d also like to say is when you’re making this list, Write down purposes that you don’t even have yet.
[00:10:15] This is where the dreams come in. This is where the goals come. And then write down the progress steps in order to get there.
[00:10:25] Karin: So, all right. So we put together these, this list of goals, uh, you know, the purpose, uh, kind of purpose of your life, the purpose part of your list, but then, um, why is it important to have the, the progress part of, of that that aligns with each of those.
[00:10:44] Mike: Because that’s when happiness shows up when you are reaching your goals. Yeah. When you are making a difference in other people’s lives, that’s when self-esteem. Everything that you want out of life shows up. You know, one time I was speaking and my insurance guy was there and I was going through my happiness formula.
[00:11:04] And at the end, he comes up to me. He’s a great guy. He said, Mike, he goes, I loved what you said. And I have my purpose retirement. I have my purpose, retirement plan all mapped out. I said, that’s fantastic. What are you gonna. he says, I’m going to, when I retire, find a hammock by the beach, I said, okay. And I’m gonna drink rum from sun up to sun down.
[00:11:24] I’m gonna be retired. yeah. And I said, that’s a recipe for. That is exactly the opposite of what I’m teaching.
[00:11:33] Karin: Exactly. I don’t know if your liver’s on board for that, for that ride and that, you know, not necessarily, you’re not gonna wake up feeling very happy if you’ve just spent the previous day drinking rum all day long, like there’s nothing wrong, you know, for, for most people, for, with, you know, a cocktail here and there, but all day long seems a little extreme
[00:11:57] Mike: yeah.
[00:11:58] Look, happiness comes. When you give out, when you give in to drugs and alcohol, that’s not what happen, shows up. Yeah. That’s when disaster shows up. Yeah. Self destruction, alienation, loneliness. So forget about that. Always look at. Yeah. Well that
[00:12:19] Karin: makes sense. And then you look out and you look at your list of the things that are in your purpose column, and those are not necessarily gonna be things.
[00:12:29] Uh, things they’re not gonna be well, they may be for some people. And what, what would, why would you advise against, um, a list that, you know, maybe it’s not a list of things like drinking rum all day, but, um, I’m sure you’ve come across people who their, their purposes or their. What they were probably calling goals are like, I wanna drive this car.
[00:12:50] I wanna have these things. I wanna be able to buy X, Y, Z. Um, it sounds like those are not the kinds of things you’re talking about in that purpose column. Is that right?
[00:13:03] Mike: Those are those. That’s not the purpose of your life is to drive a Ford F150. Right? Right now it’s okay to have tools. It’s okay. To have a second home.
[00:13:13] It’s okay. To, to live in the neighborhood of your dreams. This is, but you know what I would recommend since you brought that up is, is get a notes app on your phone, cuz it never goes away. Yeah. And you can use it on your phone. You can use it on your laptop and you wanna write down your goals. What I would recommend is, you know, we’re in 2022, write down 2022 goals.
[00:13:38] I will accomplish this by the end list out everything you want in life from relationships, maybe you’re single say this is the year I find the love of my life. And I’m gonna find the love of my life by X date, because a goal without a date is just a wish. Right? Yep. And then write down the action step.
[00:13:59] And I, you know, I remember doing this exercise because I had heard that Benjamin Franklin said hundreds of years ago, that 1% of people are successful because only 1% of people write down their goals. Yeah. Now, why is that? What is the mechanics that actually happen to make that statement? True? Let me explain how it works, what you do when you write down your goals, you are using your conscious mind.
[00:14:30] To say, I want this, I’m gonna get it by that. And I’m gonna do it this way. What happens when you do that? You are programming your subconscious mind that all of a sudden starts to go to work behind the scenes. Have you ever driven a car somewhere when you got, there you go. How did I get here? Right. If your subconscious mind that’s driving that car, that’s keeping you out of accidents.
[00:14:52] Same thing with goal achieve.
[00:14:55] Karin: so let’s bring this back to lawyers and how this kind of aligns with kind of addressing, I, I could see this relating to firm culture, their overall team building, how they are going to even initially set up their own goals. And, but then also have that bigger. Idea in mind in terms of, we don’t wanna just have our goals, revenue related, we wanna have our goals.
[00:15:27] Uh, maybe it is revenue related, but there’s a reason behind that. Um, we wanna make this kind of revenue for the following reason and then fill in that blank. So H how, how do you see this formula relating more specifically to lawyers and law firms?
[00:15:45] Mike: Sure. So there must be a why. In your daily purpose. So what I like to talk about, I’m often brought into corporations big and small to talk about just what you, what you’re bringing up here.
[00:16:01] The first thing I say is you have to have a vision. Yeah. Come up with a vision. Everybody has to buy into the vision and the vision at some part has to be nimble. Yeah. We’re all human creatures. We all have the ability to love. We wanna love, we wanna share what we create. so have some of that, you know, a lot of the big corporations have 1% of, of, you know, net profits go to charity, then ask your, your firm.
[00:16:29] Well, where do you want these? 1% to go? and hit everybody, put it in, write it on the board vote and then consensus has some of that. Right. Okay. We’re gonna do that. Maybe that’s what you do. Or maybe you say, okay, here’s our 1% pile of money. And then, you know, we have 10 people here you want, and only one person voted, let’s say.
[00:16:52] A local children’s charity. Okay. Well, 1% of that pot of money, Martha is gonna go to that charity that you want. Now everybody’s a stakeholder in the dream. Right with smaller firms, you can do that. Sure. Um, and then everybody’s working together for, towards that noble
[00:17:08] Karin: vision. Yeah. Yeah. I, it reminds me of, um, the book drive where we talk about, um, where it talks about the there’s like a three legged stool for what drives people and, and the, one of the most important things that I think people lose, uh, focus on.
[00:17:25] Is the, to find some meaning and to kind of have that, um, you know, we all of course want to feel like we’re a success. We all of course wanna feel like we have people around us, all of that, but that, that feeling of meaning and knowing that our work is tied to something that. Um, is important and other people wanna be at attracted to that too.
[00:17:48] So, you know, when, when you think of like the Tom’s shoes example where, um, he gives away a pair of shoes for every shoe that’s that’s purchased. And he was one of the first companies that, that did had that really public charitable aspect to his, his company, or, um, there’s an eyewear called Warby Parker that does that as well.
[00:18:11] But that makes me wanna purchase from a brand like that, that has this great story behind it. You know, that your money is doing more than just buying this one thing. There’s, you know, more things happening behind. But if you, as a law firm are putting that out there as well, we take 1% of our revenue and we are associated and, and we are involved in the following charities or whatever.
[00:18:36] Not only does it give you meaning, but it, it is something that your clients wanna see. You know, it’s a point of differentiation. Uh, it makes a lot of sense all the way around.
[00:18:49] Mike: Yes. You know, mother Theresa had a profound effect on my life when I started the hall. Unfortunately she had already passed away. Now every year at Stanford university faculty club, we have the happiness hall of. Induction ceremony and people and organizations come and they talk about what good they do, uh, in the world.
[00:19:12] So I looked up mother Teresa’s missionaries of charity, uh, which is her legacy and still functions today. Um, and they had a convent in San Francisco. Oh, cool. Yeah. So I called them up and I said, , we would love you to come down to our big event at Stanford. And you can talk about all the great that you do in the community.
[00:19:34] Yeah. And maybe even raise some funds. Sure. And they said, well, everything we do has to be approved by India. Yeah. Our home office, I said, okay, three weeks later, I get a. and the mother superior says, you know, we will accept the award, but we can’t come to the event. Uh, you had said that you’re making a movie and you’re filming and we’re not allowed to be photographed.
[00:20:00] You see, our motto is all for the poor and we can have an individual above the group. We don’t get to see our family, but once a decade. Oh my gosh. All for the poor, we take a vow of poverty all for the poor. but you can come up here and I would love to accept the award. I said, great. I said to my nine year old daughter, Kendall, we gotta go up there.
[00:20:25] You’ve gotta meet these amazing women that dedicate their lives to other people. You know, when you are around good people, you become better. Yes. So we go up there and I wanted the nuns to have a great dessert that night. So I got two dozen Karas cupcakes, you know, the very expensive designer cupcakes.
[00:20:44] as you can see from my face on the sweet tooth. So I wanna share the love. And so we go up there and I present, uh, the mother superior with the two dozen cupcakes and she opens them up and she says, oh, these are so beautiful. They look so delicious. Our friends on the street. Oh my gosh. Now Karen, there are times in your life.
[00:21:11] when a word or a phrase changes the trajectory of your soul. Yeah. And at that moment, the scales fell from my eyes and I stopped seeing people as down on their luck when they’re homeless on the street. And I started seeing them as friends. And that was the day that the happiness hall of fame homeless outreach was started.
[00:21:33] Oh, cool. and, you know, great things have come about as a result of that, you know, I had been visiting with my friend Zach on the street and he was born without the ability to stand. So in order for him to move, he has to drag himself around by the knuckles. And after six months of visiting with Zach, I said, Zach, what are your dreams?
[00:21:59] And he said, my, my dream is to meet the players of the San Francisco giants. And I said, well, let me make a phone call. You see, I had inducted the giants into the hall. They brought out their three world series trophies to out to our big event. And they talked about how they make people happy off the field.
[00:22:19] And so I called them up and I said, and they they’re in my movie. They opened up the stadium to let me film there. And I said, will you make this young man’s dream come true? and they said, Mike, not only will we make his dream come true, but we will let you come to batting practice. Oh my gosh. During our premier game against our hated rivals the LA Dodgers.
[00:22:43] I know you’re in airplane. okay. But, and they greeted us, you know, so I go back to the street. I pick him up, I put him in my car, I take his wheelchair, put him back in my car. We drive up, they greet us with bags of swag hats. Oh my gosh. And gloves and scar. And as I’m wheeling him onto that beautiful field, he turns to me and he says, my, this is the greatest day of my life.
[00:23:12] Oh. And I said, Zach, this is one of the greatest days of my life. Yeah. You see Karen a thousand years ago. St. Augustine said that it is in giving that we receive. So I encourage all of the law firms big and small to have a noble purpose. With some of their proceeds and you’ll be blessed. Greatly as a result.
[00:23:35] Oh, that
[00:23:36] Karin: is such a great story. Uh, I can’t imagine anyone not being, uh, impacted by that. I just, I love the, the feeling of that. And, um, just, it’s such, such a cool idea to imagine you at the, a. At the door of the convent with these cupcakes and, you know, and how that kind of played out in your thought process, but then also in the, in the story with Zach and how those ripple effects have, you know, really impacted just in your experience and your life alone.
[00:24:10] That is, that is such a great story. So. So Mike, we will obviously link to your, the movie that you mentioned, your books, all of the good things that, that you have been involved in, the, the happiness, um, the happiness hall of fame. But I know that you have a great book to recommend to our audience also that you’ve, uh, you know, that, that you wanna recommend to the audience.
[00:24:33] What’s the book that you have for us today.
[00:24:36] Mike: I think one of the greatest books that you could read is, think, and grow rich. Not that I’m saying that rich is the end point. Yeah. But you see when you are successful, like a lot of the people listening to this podcast right now, you now have the ability to make a change for the better.
[00:24:53] so that’s why it’s great to have a successful law practice because then you can change other people’s
[00:24:59] Karin: lives. Yeah. I, I find that so powerful because I think, um, when you’re, when you’re in those moments of your life, where you’re not as successful, and you’re just doing your daily grind and you’re just hustling, you don’t have as.
[00:25:15] Energy or time or thought to put into the world in general, because you are just trying to get your bills paid. And, but once you reach a point where you’ve got that space and you’ve got the luxury of, uh, bigger budgets and success, then it’s time to pull people up from behind you and have the time and space to think those bigger thoughts and do bigger things in the world.
[00:25:39] So, um, I think this process and the formula. Is a great way to start thinking about that in terms of how you prioritize that, how you think about the purpose and, and where you wanna have that impact and then how it’s gonna happen and how you’re gonna make that, uh, happen. So that it’s not necessarily the, the end, um, equation is not necessarily just your happiness.
[00:26:02] It’s also how you’re going to put that happiness out there. Um, for other people as.
[00:26:08] Mike: You couldn’t have stated
[00:26:11] Karin: it well, good. I was working on that. Thank you. Your,
[00:26:14] Mike: your podcast is helping people. It’s
[00:26:17] Karin: absolutely good on your, so Mike, what’s the big takeaway that you want people to get from this episode?
[00:26:23] Mike: The big takeaway to all the lawyers listing and all the folks that are working in a law firm is to have a happy workplace.
[00:26:31] Yes. To be a happy leader. Now you can say, well, I’m just the paralegal. No, no, no. You’re an important, very important part of that team, you know, forget about titles. The most successfully run organizations use all of their stakeholders, all of their team members to move the team forward. So, you know, forget about title titles, look to your left, look to your right.
[00:26:57] Those are the people you need to lead. Those are the people you need to be kind to. The other thing I want to talk about. is no backhanded compliments. Okay. So in the office, that’s what produces toxic culture. What do you mean by that? Now? What is a backhanded compliment? A backhanded compliment is a compliment with a pause and an insult
[00:27:18] Karin: and tell you a butt in there.
[00:27:22] Mike: you don’t even need a bunch here. I’ll give you some examples of horrible backhanded compliments. Look, I worked in finance for 30 years. I was a top producer at Merrill Lynch corner office. I’m seen it. All right. And so here’s, here’s a few of my favorites or UN favorites. So I love your. Pause. It makes your nose look smaller.
[00:27:48] okay. Horrible things. I’ve heard. This is such a great picture of you. Oh, thank you. You look like a different person, right. You know, you know? Oh, you smell so good pause today, right? What? So when you are in the office, no snake and starking remark. treat everybody like family and love each other.
[00:28:13] Karin: Yeah.
[00:28:13] That’s my takeaway. That’s such a good one. We’re gonna leave it there. Cause that’s perfect. That’s a perfect ending right there. We will link to, uh, so Mike Duffy is the, the founder of the happiness hall of fame. We will link to your books, your movie, all of this great stuff, but thank you so much for this inspiring conversation that there’s such good heartfelt stories.
[00:28:31] Uh, I think there’s gonna be so much value that our listeners are gonna get out of this. So thank you.
[00:28:37] Mike: Karin. Thank you very much for having me. And if you’d like to look me up on the internet, it’s Mike Duffy speaks.com and happiness hall of fame.com.