Small Business: Spotlight on The Happiness Handbook

It's that time again!  I'm really excited to put another small business owner in the Spotlight here on my blog!  I'd like to introduce Jenn Flaa, a smart and savvy business owner who is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship.  In addition to running her own company as well as singing in a band, Jenn has recently published her first book.  Let's jump right in and hear all about The Happiness Handbook!

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Congratulations on publishing your first book!  Tell us about The Happiness Handbook. 

Hi Lori, thanks for inviting me to share with you and your peeps.

The Happiness Handbook is designed to help the reader figure out what makes them happy, communicate that clearly to their loved ones and then do a “happy dance” when a happy making event does occur!  The book puts the reader in the driver’s seat of their own happiness.  If you’re starting from being really unhappy, there are tips and tools for helping you first get to neutral and then move onto happy.


I love this line in the book: “Happiness is a choice – your choice.”  So powerful, and yet many of us (myself included) rely on others – or even other things - to make us happy at times.  How can the exercises and writing activities in The Happiness Handbook help to break that cycle?

I think happiness is like a 3 tiered cake.  The bottom tier (the foundation and largest part) is the things we can do to make ourselves happy. The middle tier is the characteristics in other people that make us happy. Finally, the top tier (the smallest) is what other people can provide that make us happy.

Happiness comes from inside us, not from outside ourselves.  So happiness starts with first doing the things that make us happy, including providing for our basic needs.

But many of us think that other people (ie: our husbands and boyfriends) can and should read our minds.  How many of us have ever thought or said: “If you really loved me, you’d just know.”  Let’s break that down.  We write to Santa and tell him exactly what we want…but we make our sweeties guess!?  There are definitely things that our loved ones can provide that do make us happy but we all work better from a playbook/recipe/job description than from no information at all.

Back now to your question about breaking the cycle. The Happiness Handbook is full of exercises designed to stimulate you to think about what makes you happy and then discuss them with your loved one(s).  You can do the exercises whether you are alone or you are in a relationship.

How often do you find yourself revisiting and making adjustments to your own Happiness Handbook?

It was interesting to me to find that when I went back and did the book again with my new boyfriend that the majority of my happy making things were the same as they had been when I first wrote the book.

The section of The Happiness Handbook that I refer back to the most (when I’m feeling off, wonky or low), is the “What I Need” section to make sure that I’m taking care of my basic needs. Usually I find I need more sleep or exercise!

In the “What I Need” section, you point out some of the most basic needs that many of us dismiss or don’t make the time for, such as getting enough sleep or drinking enough water.  What kinds of things do you do to ensure you are meeting those needs consistently?

I usually start my day with exercise before I check email!  If I check email first, odds are that I’ll look up at 2pm and still be in my jammies!  Sleep is the hardest one for me to make sure I get enough of.  I’m a night owl…but apparently everyone else isn’t!


What was the most challenging element of writing this book?  Were there specific questions that you found more difficult to answer about yourself?

The most challenging part was taking the courageous leap of publishing The Happiness Handbook and revealing myself, my stories and my foibles to strangers.  It’s an odd loss of privacy when I meet someone for the first time but they already know a lot about me.

lori fuller photography

You are no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship, and your story and experiences are so fascinating!  Tell us about your journey that brought you to where you are today. 

My whole life has all been a series of happy accidents – setting out in one direction that lead to something unexpected.  I originally wanted to be in fashion but became an engineer. My first internship was at NASA which lead to a job there that eventually sent me to California. I moved here and worked with Silicon Valley companies and then started my own company in 1996, Vettanna.

If you’ve read The Happiness Handbook, you know the journey wasn’t always a happy one and that my unhappiness and failed marriage were the impetus for my journey into slaying my own dragons and rediscovering my happiness.  One happy-making thing I left behind while I was making a career was singing.  After my divorce, I started singing again with the band Urban Fiction and that led to the happy accident of writing the book.  I literally sat down one day to write a song, and all the things I had been thinking about getting happy and sustaining it started to tumble out.

Thanks for your time, Jenn!

Anytime! :)

More about Jenn Flaa.

Originally from the corn fields of Minnesota, this mild mannered high tech CEO and sci fi geek by day dons her leathers and morphs into a classic rock singer by night with raspy tones reminiscent of Janis Joplin.  The author thing...well, that was an accident.

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

lori fuller photography

When Jenn isn’t writing books, singing songs, or doing her happy dance, you can find her in these fabulous places on the web:

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