Pursuit of Happiness

by Fred Abramson on November 5, 2014 · 0 comments

I’m happy to report that last week I raised in conjunction with my friends Tommy Tam andRebecca Pfaffenbach over $3000 for our networking/benefit for the Crime Victim Treatment Center. The event was held at the Heartland Brewery located at the Empire State Building.

Beyond raising money for a worthy cause, which is crucially important, I created the event because I believe that there is a genuine human need that we are all looking for which is the desire to have better relationships. Sharing a drink and discussing ways that we can try to help each other out is an inherently worthy endeavor. I believe that expanding the strengths of our relationships is vital for not only the goal of accumulation of more capital, by helping each other build our businesses, but more importantly to our own pursuit of happiness.

There is much debate as to what pursuit of happiness actually means. I remember my constitutional law professor Marty Margulies pontificating about the topic for hours due to its importance as a constitutional right.  The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, saying his recipe for human happiness amounted to an individual being able to gain three core things: community/friendship, the chance to be independent, and the chance to think continuously about an inner life in order to reduce personal anxiety.

Why, on a philosophical level, has Facebook been so staggeringly successful? A startup that swelled into a multi billion dollar revenue generating business in a relatively short span of years, one which continues to attract billions of users every month?


According to writer and philosopher Alain de Botton the company’s success can be explained by the fact it tapped into a genuine human need that was being overlooked and underserved by the rest of the business community: the desire to have better relationships.
Alain de Botton states that “Until Facebook came along we didn’t know how much we wanted to connect with other people. We didn’t even know it was a need, we didn’t know it was a business. That need to send people messages all the time about more or less nothing – we didn’t know that was a need. That’s what businesses do, they latch on to our needs and there is an enormous area of opportunity waiting to be discovered.”

Talking generally about opportunities that entrepreneurs can capitalize on within a more virtuous model of capitalism, de Botton suggested even something as basic as making a list of things that make you unhappy could offer the germ of a business idea.

“There are so many needs which we haven’t yet learned to satisfy and a full economy will be one which properly delivers happiness across so many areas. At the moment we are just scratching the surface. We have managed to satisfy people’s basic material needs… but we’re unhappy, we’re squabbling, we’re looking for meaning. These are all businesses waiting to be born. Waiting for the ingenuity of entrepreneurs to harness human unhappiness and connect it up to profit.

Any when it comes time for you to hatch that business, you know which law firm to call.

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