5 Lessons learned since this picture was taken

4 min read

We show this picture a lot in talks because it helps illustrate how much the world of work has changed since we took it. It also highlights how every company’s purpose can be linked back to its founders’ narrative.

HappyHQ co-founders Louisa and Janine, Summer 2019

Taken during the summer of 2019, both of us embarked on a shared mission to change the world of work (as we know it). Believing people deserved much more from their place of work. Little did we know then that we were on the brink of witnessing the most profound work revolution of our era, with culture and workplace happiness becoming such a hot topic of discussion.

Nearly five years have passed since the photo was taken, and while there are numerous insights to be gained, we’ve distilled five lessons to impart to any new or developing business.

1. Be prepared to adapt

The strategy displayed on that wall is only a small part of our current business model. We’ve continuously adjusted and refined our services. Initially, we didn’t even envision launching Culture Cohorts, but we’ve recognised that leaders seek education, accountability, and collaborative learning communities.

2. Mastering the nuanced co-founder dynamic

People say not to do business with friends, but we completely disagree. The co-founder dynamic is such a unique and intense bond. We’re fortunate to share a very friendly relationship built on mutual respect, but it takes bucketloads of effort and ongoing communication.

We believe the key to this successful partnership lies in being purpose, but also values -aligned, and ensuring these live constantly through the way we work, every day, for example:

  • Health before Wealth – going for that run because you need it
  • Radically Transparent – advocating for complete honesty, even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Strictly no Jargon – communicating clearly without unnecessary complexity
  • Stay Curious – listening and being open to new ideas and perspectives
  • Trusted to Achieve – we’re doers, not just dreamers

3. Target the 1%

Ok maybe 1% sounds low, but when you’re trying to radically change the world of work – there will be resistance from people who are resistant to change. We’ve come to realise we only want to work with clients who don’t need to be convinced to put their people first. This shift saves time and effort, as there will always be individuals who value and champion the right culture initiatives.

Here’s some examples of those companies:

  • Celebrating a decade of design with KOTA
  • A post-merger culture reset for SuckUK
  • Putting people at the heart of culture goals for The Halo Group

More case studies and more can be found here.

4. Progress takes time

We can only confidently say this now because, for the first time since launching HappyHQ, we’ve achieved significant growth, doubling our revenue and full bookings until May. This has mostly come through existing clients continuing to work with us or word-of-mouth. However, this progress did not happen overnight; it came from relentless dedication and hard work. While we massively celebrate this milestone and feel very proud of what we’ve achieved, we do acknowledge it nearly broke us several times, and there’s still a long road ahead.

5. Celebrate as much as you can

In the relentless pursuit of progress and excellence, it’s all too easy for companies to overlook the power and importance of celebration. Taking a moment to come together and acknowledge the milestones, no matter how small, is something we’re great at. After all, we’re called HappyHQ.

Finally, to our brilliant clients, partners, and allies who share our vision, thank you for being a part of this extraordinary journey.

Janine and Louisa

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