The Happiness Business

The Happiness Business

The subtle art of leading beyond the bottom line.

When TCB’s staff sat down to compare notes on the year’s big business events and think about leaders who really made a difference—in the community as well as in their own company—Hubert Joly was the first name to surface.

It’s not only that, as Best Buy chairman and CEO, he basically saved the Titanic in his turnaround of the company. It’s not just the unexpected moves, like partnering with enemy No. 1: Amazon. It’s his ability to look beyond the bottom line. To lead from the heart.

“We’re not in the retail business,” Joly told the crowd at Great River Greening’s annual business forum in October, where he spoke about the evolution of retail. “We’re in the happiness business.”

Joly’s knack for spotting the broader opportunity in every situation has proved a huge advantage for Best Buy, as quickly becomes clear in our profile by TCB senior writer Burl Gilyard.

Reducing his company’s carbon footprint by 60 percent? Good for the environment and for Best Buy’s bottom line.

Acquiring GreatCall, which provides health care services and devices for older people? A move to make Best Buy more relevant and useful to an aging population.

Improved store experience and delivery services? Joly explained this one to the Great River Greening crowd with his impression of all of us—himself included—at home with our fancy technology: “Honey, the Wi-Fi is down.” “Honey, the printer is jammed.”

“We’re your honey,” Joly says of Best Buy.

How sweet it is to see a Minnesota company that employs approximately 125,000 across North America find its footing again and become a shining example of purposeful leadership, from diversifying its board of directors to providing access and education to teens through Best Buy’s Teen Tech Centers, like the one in South Minneapolis where we photographed Joly for our cover. We’re looking forward to hearing Joly talk about Best Buy’s turnaround and his leadership philosophy at TCB’s Person of the Year celebration on Dec. 4 (visit for more info and tickets).

That’s where you can also meet many of the emerging leaders, pioneers, and titans you’re going to want to keep an eye on in 2019. To learn why.

Our goal with the annual 100 People to Know list, which executive editor Adam Platt shepherds so meticulously, is not to create a directory of company presidents; rather, it’s to recognize some of the decision-makers you might not yet know and give you a taste of the stories we’ll be following next year.

One more person to meet: new columnist Alex West Steinman. (And if you’re wondering where Rajiv Tandon is, he’ll be back in the mix next month.) I met Alex earlier this year on a tour of new North Loop co-working community The Coven, which she co-founded with three other mission-driven entrepreneurs. I was so impressed by her moxie, her clarity, and her focus; she left a comfortable advertising career at Fallon to follow her calling to support women in business, widen inclusion efforts, and create opportunity for people and communities that are often marginalized.

How very “millennial,” right? Well, she is a millennial, and she’s proud of it. Her voice offers a valuable perspective for those of us further along in our careers. Take it from Joly, who talks about the business insights he’s gained through reverse mentoring.

If there’s a New Year’s resolution to cull from this jam-packed issue, it’s to be open to new perspectives. You may just find opportunity where no one else thought it possible.