How to Make Me (or Anyone Else) Happy

by Frank Roche on July 12, 2011

in Creativity

I’m gonna tell you a secret. A secret from the ages. It’s the Unifying Theory of Human Behavior.

Come here. Listen. I’m going to say it very quietly.

Pay attention to people.

Yep, that’s it. Pay attention to what they like. What excites them. What they think about. And then do that for them.

Here’s how my birthday went yesterday:

I got out of the shower and Sheryl was gone. She took Snickers the Wonder Dog for a walk. (Knew I’d like that on a hot and muggy morning.)

Sheryl then cooked me my favorite breakfast sandwich of all time. Just did it. (She knows I love bagel sandwiches.)

When I arrived at work, it was spotless. A bunch of Fractals had come in on Sunday and scrubbed the place from stem to stern. (I’m a bit of a clean freak, and I was dazzled.)

At around 11, I looked up and saw my favorite chef, David Katz of Meme, walking into The Fractory. He was there to cook me a four-course birthday meal. (I’ve said aloud a few times that Meme is my favorite restaurant all time. But it’s not something I would think people would notice. They did. Anydots and Sarah conspired to get Chef Katz to come over and work some magic in our kitchen. Amazing.)

The poet Howard Hall stopped by after lunch. He brought me an original framed haiku along with a notecard and letter in his inimitable handwriting. (I’m a fan of Howard’s work…he paid attention to a specific piece that means a lot to me.)

Jessica bought me a Decemberists t-shirt. (I mentioned in passing a couple of weeks ago that I love their music….this song particularly.)

Pat got me dried apricots and a box of premium chocolate. (Again, my favorites…and she knew because I yummed in the past about those things.)

The gang got me a rubber stamp with IFRACTAL and another with my name on it. (I love rubber stamps, and they paid attention to that little detail. I stamped a bunch of things in the office. And squealed.)

Max sent me a large format photograph of the Ben Franklin Bridge, taken from the site of the Race Street Pier before the pier was there. (It’s my favorite view of my favorite bridge in the whole world. Max even sent it without a note. Just paid attention…and sent it.)

When I got home, Sheryl had a couple more presents. I’m wearing the National League “Roy Halladay” all-star shirt this morning. And I used the new Blu-Ray DVD player she got me last night. (I was ranting about our old DVD player the night before, so she changed present buying tactics and got that for me. Sometimes paying attention doesn’t require subtlety.)

And on top of all that, I got scores of emails and happy birthday wishes on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. (Sure, my birthday is posted out there, but still…people had to pay attention…and they did.)

I’m a lucky boy. I live a very good life filled with good friends. People who pay attention.

And that’s the HR secret for you folks…everything about human nature comes down to paying attention to people. All the rest is hustle.

Chef David Katz and Frank Roche on July 11, 2011

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