Increasingly companies are taking more notice of employee contentment. Dana is someone who is passionate about feeling good, so passionate that she created and trademarked a role that allows her to center her life around this. Her career is as modern as it gets. When not working as Chief Joy Officer® at Makers Academy, amongst other things she can be found DJing, teaching Yoga and providing clients with private coaching. Her message is simple: ‘Feel Joy’ - ‘Play’ - ‘Do What Makes You Feel Good’.
What do you do for a living?
I am a professional enjoyer. My work encompasses everything I like - yoga, mediation, partying.
I DJ, I produce music, I sing.
I love to dance. I love to socialise. Really, I’m paid to be myself!
Tell me about the role you play at Makers Academy
My role as Chief Joy Officer® is to facilitate the well-being of the students and staff. This includes physical, mental and also spiritual health. I don’t actually make anybody happy but I can show people tools to bring about their own inner joy. It’s a nice cycle because when people feel the benefit I find it incredibly gratifying - seeing you guys happy makes me feel so damn good!
Why is it important to have a Chief Joy Officer at Makers?
I think it’s important to have a Chief Joy Officer at every company (although technically there will only ever be one - Chief Joy Officer® is now a registered TM ).
The idea of attention being paid to feeling good really resonates with the people who ask what I do.
We are meant to feel joy everyday, at home and at work. People who feel good become more productive, inspired and energised. They are dynamite at work.
I’m really lucky with Makers Academy. They see the value of maintaining a certain level of wellness within the team and amongst the students. Because it’s a high stress environment they have come to see that a focus on well-being and happiness can lead to greater success at a faster rate. But they are not alone. More and more companies are starting to understand that we are human beings and so everything has emotion tied to it. It’s never just “business is business”.
What ingredients do you need to ensure happiness in the workplace?
If there is anything I would recommend to any human being it’s 10 minutes of meditation a day. I wouldn’t even recommend a lot more because life is for the living, but there is an extreme benefit that comes from mastering those ten minutes. From a physical point of view I really like yoga. It heightens awareness and gets you into your body. Most of us nowadays only live in our brains. We are not very present. Paying attention to your physical body cultivates a certain stability and yoga really helps to achieve that. Spiritually speaking I meet people where they are; agnostic, christian or whatever else. I work with them from a spiritual and emotional standpoint according to their asking. People who feel drawn to have a chat with me usually have their own understanding of how things should proceed. I don’t assert knowledge on anybody. I give people tools to connect with themselves. When you see that light go on inside someone, it’s amazing. That’s joy for me.
What happens at Makers Academy?
People experience a full spectrum of emotions. Its intense. For many people, there is a lot riding on the course. Everyone who comes here is the star of their own movie. They are brave. Many of them have come in order to completely change their lives.
Often they have been in a place where their energy and focus has been dispersed by work and family obligations and suddenly there’s 12 weeks that’s all about them.
It’s a chance for them to focus on themselves and work towards becoming who they want to be.
In the beginning not getting it, that can be very jarring.
The course is tough and moves fast. All of the students go through a period of doubting themselves. They feel stupid - “Why am i not getting this!?”. A lot of raw emotion comes out around identity, about what thought they were but aren’t. People arrive excited and eager and comfortable in the knowledge that they are smart. Then from day one they start hitting brick walls. They are not used to failing so consistently. They know that usually, if they apply themselves, they get what they want. Makers Academy sort of beats that out of you, at least for the beginning. It’s wonderful to watch how the students improve with time. You just have to learn trust the process and eventually things will start to come together, just not according to your time frame.
How do you help the students when they struggle?
I meet them where they are and I listen. We speak about the course and whether there are any changes that we could make to external circumstances that would make things easier for them. Makers is always evolving so if it’s a feasible suggestion then we make the change. A lot of the time the conversations start with things related to coding but then very quickly other things come up like “I’m really really hard on myself” or “I’ve always felt insecure because I have dyslexia”. We start working on what ever they are struggling with together.
It seems that a lot of what you do is about encouraging kindness?
We don’t check our internal dialogues enough. Sometimes we speak to ourselves worse than we would to our worst enemies. Everything that you experience, that you go through is about you and the connection that you have to yourself. We don’t get taught this stuff at school but the relationship that you have with yourself is the most important relationship that you will ever have. You are living with you all day long so be nice to that person! You can’t condemn yourself to success. You have to love yourself there.
How have you ended up doing this?
This role is like a calling for me. I’m truly passionate about feeling good! I read books about well-being and I make it my number one priority. Those who ask , I can answer. I suppose it’s my talent. I’m really good at enjoying myself and on top of that I’m really good at sharing that with people. So good that I wanted to be paid for it. Coming to Makers has been an incredible co-creation. I feel good. I make other people feel good. What more would you want in life. I’m so glad I followed my heart. It has landed me in the most beautiful places.
Why do you think people can connect with you?
I believe it’s because I live what I do. I don’t pretend to be happy when I’m sad. I love my sadness as well as my joy and I learn from it. But when I’m happy, it’s go time! I feel like I’m experiencing little to large miracles every single day and when you feel like this how can you not feel happy and joyful and appreciative! And gratitude perpetuates more good things. You get into this high flying cycle where you are just cloud-9-ing it all the time. I see this in many people who prioritise their joy. And this is how it should be. Life is meant to be really really fun. Life is meant to feel really really good.
Tell me more about your personal philosophy? you explain the philosophy you’ve developed a bit more?
You create your own reality by virtue of what you think and feel. A key belief for me is - do what makes you feel good!
The more you tune in to yourself the more you start to trust yourself.
You begin to see that your gut, your instinct, your intuition is always right.
One of the things I like to say is ‘Relax - it’s just life on planet earth’. We take ourselves so seriously and really there is nothing serious going on. In fact the most profound things happen to us in a state of play. When we are born the most natural thing is to start playing. It’s how we learn, how we absorb the world and gain knowledge. It’s fun and it’s beautiful but along the line it’s somehow trained out of us. It’s so important to continue to take time to play.