Optimism Can Take You Anywhere

SHRM 2013 Talent Management Conference
Optimism Can Take You Anywhere


Chief Creative Optimist John Jacobs created Jake, the company’s optimistic icon, and the three simple words beneath that became the company’s name – Life is good – in 1994. Since then he and his brother Bert have been spreading the power of optimism, growing their brand into one of the hottest and best recognized in the apparel industry. Innovative initiatives, like the company’s Genuine Neighborhood Shoppes program, keep the Life is good brand fresh and growing. The company also demonstrates a unique and unwavering commitment to its core social mission that goes well beyond cause marketing. Jacobs’ lessons on branding, leadership and corporate social responsibility are applicable to organizations of all sizes.


“Happiness is a choice. Some people face difficult adversity, but Jake reminds us to take control of that choice and appreciate what we have instead of thinking of what we could have.”

Date(s) & Time(s): 
Monday, April 15, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:15pm

John Jacobs


John Jacobs is the Chief Creative Optimist of The Life is good Company. A $100 million privately held business based in Boston, MA, Life is good® spreads positive vibes with its colorful collection of apparel and accessories. Jake, Life is good’s iconic hero with the contagious smile, teaches men, women and children that optimism is fun, healthy, and empowering.

John created his first poorly spelled and crudely drawn book at the age of five. He’s been writing and drawing ever since, graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1990 with dual degrees in English and Art. He immediately began designing and selling tee shirts after college and worked as a substitute teacher to supplement his income during Life is good’s infancy.

In 1994, with a combined sum of just $78 in the bank, John and his brother Bert officially launched Life is good. Today, Life is good products are sold by over 5,000 retailers nationwide, and in 32 countries worldwide. John, Bert, and The Life is good Company are living proof that “Optimism can take you anywhere.”

Believing that consumers are already overwhelmed by too much “noise” in the marketplace, Life is good has never spent a penny to advertise its products. 100% of the company’s growth is attributable to consumer word-of-mouth.

In 2006, at the Life is good Pumpkin Festival on Boston Common, Life is good broke the Guinness World Record for the most carved, lit pumpkins in one place at one time. Because Life is good considers children its ultimate source for inspiration, the company is totally committed to helping kids who face unfair challenges. 100% of all funds raised from Life is good Festivals as well as 100% of profits from a growing number of Life is good products benefit the Life is good Kids Foundation.

Bert and John are the youngest of six siblings from Needham, MA. They credit their mother with teaching them to face the bumps in the road with a smile. The Jacobs brothers see simplicity, humility and a sense of humor as the three keys to Life is good’s continued success. When John is not evolving the brand for future seasons, he enjoys any game under the sun, film, music, and diving into the water to catch things. He lives in his favorite sports town, Boston, with his wife Jessica and their recently christened King of the Castle, Oskar.

Islander Ballroom D-G
Amount of Credit: 
Credit Type: 
HR Credit
Session Type: 
General Session
Hide from On Demand: