The Story of The Happiness Institute!
History of HI!
The Happiness Institute! started as a gift of space to the Bay Area community from Leah Pearlman and Jordan Grader. It was intended by the founders to be a community art project inspired by the 10 principles of the Burning Man culture. Educators and event leaders thrived in the space for over a year, offering everything from Eric’s Emotional Freedom Tapping sessions to Joergen’s Guitar classes to Augusta’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, and so much more.
Staying true to the mission to explore the question: “What makes you come alive?,” enabled an immense amount of growth and learning to occur in a safe space. Many people benefitted in deep, life-altering ways because of the gift of HI!. A perfect example would be Eric Neilson, who was given the opportunity to explore a practice teaching Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) at HI!. He learned that the work really did bring him alive. He had successes and found traction in the community. He was then able to leave his full time job as a web designer and build his own EFT practice, aligning his economic interests with his passion.
For those who have not connected with HI! since before September, it has been a wild ride! Once it was acknowledged that sustaining the gift of HI! would require the creation of viable revenue streams, a lot changed. Avary Kent shifted from the role of CFO to the role of CEO. The Happiness Institute! then became a paid co-working facility focused on empowering the feminine, as well as a media production studio!
Significant team turnover occurred when the new revenue streams were pursued. As CEO, Avary Kent made it her mission to explore paradigm-breaking ways of leading a team. Radical transparency, the lack of a hierarchy, integration of critical thinking processes, and approaching competitors like partners were some of the effective leadership methods practiced. Modeling these new paradigms was a great learning experience for the core team and healing as well. For example, Devon Shane Baker, who came to the team after September and became the VP of Marketing and Communications, came from a previous toxic experience in corporate enterprise tech. She found the experience of working in a team so focused on practicing healthy communication, transparency, and egalitarian leadership to be healing and enlightening.
The new iteration of HI! was an immediate success in many ways. In October, we held two fruitful events, engaging the co-working and media production communities in the Bay Area. The excitement and interest was palpable. There was a need for what we were providing and people wanted to be helpful and get involved. We then started accepting co-workers and started booking the space for events and media production!
Many successful projects shot video in our space. A great example is a Kickstarter video for Puzzlebox Orbit, a mind-controlled helicopter (that’s right!). They intended to raise $10,000 and ended up raising $74,799! We held many successful events as well, a highlight is the screening of the movie Wham! Bam! Islam! a documentary about a Kuwaiti man’s struggle to bring a religiously charged Islamic comic book series to the world. We had the honor of hosting the star of the film and creator the comic himself, who led a discussion after the movie. It was an inspiring night for all who attended.
In just three short months we were able to build significant goodwill with various individuals and other co-working and media production facilities. We approached all competitors as potential partners, which resulted in wonderful relationships being built. The leadership team has made it our mission to pass this goodwill we have built on to the community, facilitating new relationships and referring clients as much as possible in our last month of operating.
The Happiness Institute! was an incredible gift and we are grateful to the founders and to all who were involved – you made HI! come alive. We hope you will stay in community with us by subscribing to our blog, attending our events, contributing to the website, and following us on Facebook.