Capitalizing Happiness

Capitalizing Happiness

2016, Economics  -   18 Comments
Ratings: 8.07/10 from 90 users.

Ricardo Semler is a wealthy and successful man. He's one of the world's most influential entrepreneurs. He's the majority owner of Semco Partners, one of the most profitable companies in Brazil. He's the author of the global bestseller Maverick, an informative business memoir that offers advice on how to craft a fulfilled life of financial reward much like his own. He is celebrated all around the globe, and his expertise is sought by the likes of the TED Talks conference and Harvard Business School. By all accounts, Semler is a happy man. Ironically, as detailed in the revealing new documentary Capitalizing Happiness, he earned his fortune by making others happy as well.

When he inherited his father's company at the age of 20, Semler witnessed a work force that was fearful of termination, under tremendous pressures from their job demands, and generally unhappy in their working life. Understanding the power of collaboration through his previous experience playing in musical bands, Semler decided to reinvent his company's work culture. His employees would no longer be made to feel that they were slaves of industry. They would be treated like free and valued individuals, and allowed to work at their own pace.

When we first see this workforce in action, several employees are resting in hammocks. This is a period of their work day that they reserve for peace and relaxation. As long as their work gets done on time, they're free to spend their days in the office however they see fit.

Semco Partners employees love their jobs, and their satisfaction makes them more productive and engaged. Under Semler's groundbreaking workplace model, the company has increased its annual revenue by well over 200 million US dollars.

His employees and the worldwide business community alike regard Semler as somewhat of a mythic figure. Capitalizing Happiness gives us unprecedented access behind the gates of his Brazilian estate, and captures valuable insights into his life and his business philosophy, which are both infused with the values of love, transparency and trust. The film provides a thoughtful and inspiring portrait of a true modern-day pioneer.

Want to know the secret to finding success in business? All you need is love.

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18 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Urban dweller

    Capitalism and happiness are oxymorons and "works" for only 10% of the world population. How is a 90% failure rate considered happiness?

  2. DustUp

    Regarding Semler's talk. It makes you think twice and again about how you would run a company. You have to be careful who you have working there, some people definitely need structure and others try to get everyone or anyone else to do their work. The guy at 20 was wise enough to fire relatives. Impressive. Truly like his approach at setting up a framework to where things run themselves. He must have been good at finding the right people ...or as it mentioned, the right Human Resources manager, to find the right people.

    If all you need is love... then it seems you need to find those people with the capacity for love and appreciation rather than those who resent everything and appreciate nor respect anything.

    It is also a bit of a neat psychological trick? "You can come and go as you like as long as the work gets done on time." However, in manufacturing one part depends on another getting done on time, so you really have to be there, unless there is a lull between orders or waiting for something that won't arrive for some amount of time.

    It seems they may have less little bosses and have teams to figure out for themselves what needs done and how, rather than little floor generals dictating who does what, when, and how. That team would make a person feel more valued, responsible, and interested, rather than a humanoid version of a robot, or dog to beat regularly by the little bosses who love their little power too much.

  3. basit

    Excellent man! a genius. Very impressive!

  4. DustUp

    A prior comment: "Is it possible to bring happiness to the downtrodden without making a profit??" Shows what the socialist schools have done for the world. Doing their best to enslave everyone.

    A profit is necessary in order to not be a burden upon someone else, like a taxpayer. Making something sustainable. Even if the owner didn't take a dime and lived off some trust fund, a profit would still be necessary for the workers to be able to be paid so they could buy some food and such. If just used a persons trust fund then it would run out and voila, downtrodden again. Then of course the evil rich should just shoot themselves and give it all to the downtrodden with no work required, who would then blow it all in short order and be right back at downtrodden, even sadder knowing they blew it. Always exceptions such as a govt which limits opportunity, but usually its the mental framework, not just a lack of money, which causes the downtrodden. That and voting for socialists.

    There seems to be a great misconception of socialism and capitalism and what they are really about, perpetrated by the promoters of socialism. They do so by emotionalizing of students to react instead of think and investigate for themselves rather than rely on fake news and fake teaching and propaganda.

    Is it socialism for the workers to own the company they work for? Many if not most companies have more than one owner. Expanding the number to the entire workforce is nothing new. There are several companies in the usa where the workers own the company. And many more small companies where the owners are the workers.

    Capitalism is the ability to trade freely without interference from govt. Socialism is getting rid of the competition and why it is desired by those who stand to gain from no competition. Then there are all the clueless who don't realize that prices will rise while they are told lies to get them to vote for it: obamacare is a recent example. Suppose there was only one oil company owned by the marxist(socialist-communist) govt? Every time the leaders wanted to build a nice bldg and play area for themselves, oil prices would go up.

    If a corporation buys politicians to get laws passed to benefit themselves and to screw those who work there, is that capitalism? Not at all. It is simply the greedy weasel corporatists who have no soul.

    Does a company owner need to "give back" as we hear them say from time to time? It is good public relations (sounds good) but they have already done a great service just by making opportunity for others to earn a living.

    It is the age old trick of blaming the other thing for what you are doing. Socialism is unsustainable since the money ALWAYS runs out. If you manage to make a capitalist system function with some socialism thrown in via higher taxes. Is that socialism?

    Are socialists the good guys for limiting your opportunity, getting you used to not working, and then handing you a few dimes so you vote for them? Is that sustainable?

    1. Urban dweller

      You've got a lot of conflicting issues battling in your mind all at once. Capitalism as "defined" by you is all well-and-good BUT capitalism lived-out is more like the corporate-greedy you defined as well. No government is ever what it is on paper because the definition never includes the monkey wrench called people that are inevitably involved.
      Socialism is a response to the greedy, thieving capitalist where people's time, labor and thought are literally stolen away - hence...The people will cry out for socialism as a way to balance (perhaps not great but best at was is humanly possible).
      Just like we hear women demanding an equal seat at the table because for way too long they've ridiculously relegated as second-class citizens.
      Think socialism is dysfunctional? So too is the rampant lying, theft, greed and murder of capitalism in real life - not book definition.
      If most people are likely to return to their small lives of given wealth - that only demonstrates that most people want enough to get by, enjoy a few vacations, a safe home/neighborhood, good health care, their children being offered a chance at higher learning - but the greedy capitalist (you may say most capitalists aren't greedy. And that may be true BUT the fall in-line right behind those who are - so yes all greedy capitalists) wants it all. They are 1 million they want 10 mil. They are 10 mil. Now they want 100mil...on and on it goes...THEN they pay government officials to pass laws that say you MUST make more EVERY year. Let's take Starbucks...first they sell quality products, quality service and quality environment (this only continues in wealthy areas). Soon, the goods they serve become smaller in size, and the cost goes up, less care is given to the local community so community art is eliminated and replaced with cheap reproductions. Well, management can't take time to manage community art because they're required to do more and more because tips have become less and less - self-imposed tax by the people. The furniture, which was soft and cushy leather and/or upholstered is being replaced with wooden chairs, etc., etc., etc. Quality down, service down, work hours long and repetitive but prices get higher and cup sizes smaller and the pastry display looks like cheap store bought gooh! All so the stock-owners can receive a profit for doing nothing. And please don't say they invest money. Fiat money! Worth nothing! Backed by nothing! That's capitalism. Instead of coffee - oil. Instead of oil - real estate - instead of real estate - food/water/air - instead of food/water/clean air, etc., etc., etc. Now you've got people crying out for socialism. Because no good lying, thieving rd are running the show. And people like you fall-in right behind. Complaining on the internet doing nothing in actuality!
      Cry your alligator years some where else. You're doing nothing about the evils of capitalism instead of making it better - so you and the rest of the country deserves socialism - Democratic socialism - Progressives - etc.! Bernie Sanders all the way!

  5. Gordon Bothe

    The bitter jealousy of these comments are...sad. We live in a society where memory and obedience is rewarded. This guy is trying to have critical, self thinking, happy people working for him. It is of benefit to ALL. What is there to dislike about this?

    And about him sharing the profits, of course it isn't communism. They get a percentage. It may be small but a lot more than other companies offer. Plus the freedom to work when you want and as you heard the employers don't come late, they are happy to go to work at 7am.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

    1. UrbanDweller

      Hey! I got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale!

  6. martin

    Just like every spoiled rich inheritee that ever existed. A little dash of behaving as we should (why i deserve your money) mixed with a whole lot of narcissism, self righteousness, self deceit, manipulation, arrogance, ignorance and above all, greed (how I achieve your money). Why change the recipe its been working for long enough. that employees kitchen looked like he was paid peanuts. And his big grand idea is to buy a valley and employ the villagers to build a hotel for the mega rich. Where is the grand part to that idea exactly? wtf was that about frogs and zeppelin? If I were rich, people would buy my book on how I became rich too:, regardless of the books content. His work philosophy isn't bad though i concede that, but starting them in primary school? that is the ideology of dictatorship, he is going to turn his children into evil little shits, mark my words.

    1. UrbanDweller


  7. S.Stern

    So... basically socialism without the employees actually owning the company? If you're expected to act like the business is yours you better have a stake in it, otherwise you're just doing more work for free.

    1. UrbanDweller

      So very true!

  8. Socolocco

    It sounds to good to be true. there are many parts of the video i can't understand if it's real. okey, this brilliant mind accepted to do a documentary about his success, thats great but how can you trust showing on camera some stuff of your personal life to the viewers, in a country that is known how dangerous is to be kidnapped, you let the video show that your guards are armed?? insane

    as another commentator said, how is your workers live in deep shit holes when you divide the earnings equally from top to bottom?

    1. UrbanDweller

      Makes you wonder.

  9. PieMan

    Oh, sharing profits equally from top to bottom... yes.. yess I see .. brilliant !!! How then are not all his employees living in a kingdom like he is ?

    1. UrbanDweller

      Good question!

  10. Silas Charleaux

    The name for this is cooperative, originated from economic democracy. In Brazil this is as rare as finding diamonds in the beach.

    Managers who trust their workers instead of controlling them. Workers who trust their managers are delivering meaningful tasks. Profit isn't done by corruption of stakeholders contracts and limited to corporate heads, it is equally shared between workers.

    Well you don't need to be a genious to think about it, almost every worker under wage knows how to do his own work better than his boss would, that is why he is doing, not his boss. The boss is just there to make sure the wage worker stays doing his work and do not breed any ideas about kicking the boss out of the way and get the profits to be shared equally.

    Although I completely agree that we are but a few, iconoclasts is the word he used. We tend to get obliterated anywhere we set our feet, just because that is the way it is, it doesn't mean it has to be.

    He got his way over it because he already had the structure and people trusted him. He is very charismatic btw.

    Well I'm Brazillian and impressed that he did all this and no one tried to destroy or kill him here.

  11. Gertrude

    Not available in my country? you are using a VPRO backlight docu, which originated in my country. Pretty stupid.

  12. martin

    a cool guy - a cool conception - a cool billion(s)
    Just another mastermind way to manipulate the ignorant masses
    Wall street et al love him- he brings profits
    Is it possible to bring happiness to the downtrodden without making a profit??