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When Life is Good founders and brothers Bert and John Jacobs launched the now global lifestyle company out of the back of their van in 1989, their main goal wasn’t to sell T-shirts. It was to spread optimism.
Fast forward roughly 25 years, and factor in the launch of their new book, and that mission remains the same. “Life is Good: How to Live with Purpose & Enjoy the Ride” wasn’t written just to tell the story of two brothers, 78 bucks, a van and a dream. It wasn’t written to teach people how to sell T-shirts or start a business. And it certainly wasn’t written to add another revenue stream before the end of the fiscal year.
After years of considering offers, the book was finally written to spread the Jacobs’ brothers message of the power of optimism, and to show people that life is not perfect, and life is not easy, but life is good.
“We immediately got fired up about that pretty quickly,” said John Jacobs of mulling over the idea of writing a book for years before the idea of making it about the company’s message and the Life is Good community came about. “That’s our biggest point: Optimism is not just a soft strategy; it’s actually a pragmatic strategy for living life. We believe that optimism is a choice. We want to encourage as many people as possible to chose optimism — that’s what the book’s about.”
To show the functionality of their theory on optimism, the book devotes a chapter to all 10 of the Life is Good “Superpowers,” which include practices like gratitude, creativity, simplicity, love and openness and how to apply them to every day life. Not only that, but it also includes inspirational stories from letters that they’ve received over the years.
“We’ve had a fun, exciting ride and we wanted to share stories, not only our own but of the Life is Good community,” John Jacobs explained. “We learned early on to listen to people, and that has carried us. The letters are woven in the book. We found that optimism is at its most powerful in the darkest of times.”
But the book isn’t just about inspiring journeys out of darkness and into the light, and not all of its content is quite as heavy. In fact, most of it is intended to be light, with various top 10 lists like “Top Ten Comedy Movies,” funny stories, and life tips and wisdoms intertwined from cover to cover.
“We feel like it’s a fun mix,” John Jacobs said. “We hope it will encourage a lot of people to make that daily choice to help [the movement] grow.”
Though they haven’t strayed far from their roots, when the nationwide book tour kicks off on Sept. 1, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the brothers, as they’ll hit the road to travel cross country in a van similar to the one they lived in for five years while starting their company. Because they would be stopping in cities from New York to Los Angeles and 17 others along the way, much like all of their ventures, they knew that there was more opportunity than a simple book tour. There was an opportunity to continue spreading the positivity.
Already donating 10 percent of the company’s profits to kids in need through the Life is Good Kids foundation, as well as providing resources for childcare professionals by way of the Life is Good Playmakers — an organization that partners with teachers, social workers and child specialists to help children overcome poverty, violence and illness — Bert and John decided to encompass the company’s charitable efforts into the tour as well by visiting and donating to local nonprofits that share their values.
“Kids are the ultimate optimists,” John Jacobs said. “Our nonprofit helps kids overcome poverty and illness. We’re visiting a lot of nonprofits that our nonprofits have trained as Life is Good Playmakers and donating to other nonprofits that do similar work with kids.”
That’s what the brothers most look forward to as they gear up for their latest journey: coming face to face with the Life is Good community and those who do good, and getting to thank them personally.
“They’re the heroes that are on the front lines everyday,” said John Jacobs. “We get to thank them in person and encourage them to keep doing the heroic work that they’re doing. That’s extremely fulfilling. It’s one of the ultimate rewards, seeing the fruition of the nonprofit work and the fruition of the message we’re trying to send.
“We feel extremely lucky that the things we loved to do early on are still the things we get to do. We feel like we’re just getting started still.”
The tour will stop in Frederick on Thursday, Sept. 3, with an author talk and book signing stop at 7 p.m. at the Community Room at C. Burr Artz Public Library, 110 E. Patrick St., Frederick. For more information on the company or the book, check out the company’s website www.lifeisgood.com and follow Bert and John’s adventures on the road and help spread the movement by using the hashtag #growthegood. For details on the event, call 301-695-2500.