Following on from my interview last month, What makes first direct so successful: Interview with their new CEO Mark Mullen, today I am excited to introduce you to Henry Stewart, the CEO of Happy Ltd, the umbrella training organisation that delivers IT, Management, and Personal Development Training. They’ve won lots of awards, which you can check out here. Their biggest award was when The Financial Times rated Happy as one of the top 2 places to work in the entire UK economy. This was the result of their annual Best Workplaces award, organised with the Great Place to Work Institute.
This interview makes up number sixteen in the series of interviews with business leaders in the ‘customer’ space, leading authors, thought leaders and general all round good guys and gals, that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.
The rationale for the interview is that Henry has just published a new book: The Happy Manifesto that you can get on Amazon here.
Below are some highlights from our interview:
Here’s a brief summary of the 10 points of The Happy Manifesto
We talked about a lot more in the interview so do take the time to listen to it and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
In early 1987, Henry Stewart was finance officer for The News on Sunday, a left-wing tabloid newspaper that successfully raised £6.5m from trade unions and Labour local authority pension funds. Six weeks after launch, the publication was bankrupt.
“The problem was not the talent or dedication of the people,” Henry says. “It was the working environment. We weren’t trusted, there was a strong ‘blame’ culture and we weren’t given the freedom to do our jobs. As a result, is was nearly impossible to get anything done”.
Determined to learn from this, he set up Happy Computers in his back room a year later. From a combination of experience, revaluation counselling and a few helpful tips from Richard Semler’s ‘Maverick’ book, he drew together the key principles of training and work that continue to form the backbone of Happy today.
As Happy Computers continued to grow it gained respect and recognition by the industry. Henry realised that in creating a great place to work, there was a new opportunity to tell other organisations how they also could create a similar working environment. Happy became a brand, to encompass not just IT training, but management, customer service and personal development.
In 2009, Henry was listed as one of the top 50 most influential business thinkers in the world by the Guru Radar of thinkers.
Outside of Happy, he lives in Stoke Newington, is Chair of Governors of his local comprehensive school and enjoys Saturday mornings sipping hot chocolate in Clissold Park cafe.
A keen cyclist, in July 2008 and 2010 he cycled the Etape, the public stage of the Tour de France – consisting of 105 miles through the highest mountains of the Pyrenees. Read the full story
Henry has just launched a new venture called Learnfizz, that all about helping find, share and organise the best free learning on the web.