The Key to Happiness
My 96-year-old grandfather graduated from Princeton, served in the Navy during WWII, and, as a chemist, wrote the formula for Stroh’s Signature Beer. He also surrounded himself with other interesting people. During one particular conversation with my grandfather, a man I didn’t recognize joined us. I asked the men what they thought the key to a happy life was.
“You’ve already said the word, young man, key,” he said as he pulled out a single house key, “I’ve worked very hard during my life to get to this one key. You see, the more keys you have the more things that can weigh you down, that can own you. You might think that success looks like a lot of keys to houses, boats, cars, art studios…Well, I’m here to tell you it’s the exact opposite. It’s one of the hardest things in the world, but if you can get to one key, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be happy.”
Why One Key Matters
This type of simplicity is also powerful in business. When I was the Head of Marketing for a very successful Internet company, Travelzoo, we had a new employee come in to give us ideas around our email newsletter—an email that had amassed over 30 million subscribers. In a meeting, this new employee brashly piped that we should make the newsletter more robust and snazzy by adding more images and video to it.
The room went silent as we all pondered the suggestion when our founder and CEO replied,
“Why, might I ask, would we want to throw away the many years of hard work and sweat that went into creating the newsletter in the simple state we have today? I would never want to burden our readers with the complexity you suggest.”
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