My Introduction to “Happy School”

by Tony Yost

Several years ago, I went to work for a man by the name of Tom Christopher. He had taken his hobby of being a private pilot and turned it into a very profitable air charter company. It eventually became the largest on-demand air transportation company in North America. So, the man knew what he was doing.

At the time I joined him, Tom had won one of the largest air charter contracts ever offered. He was hiring new managers to take his company to the next level. I was hired as the head of the Computer and Telephone systems. About the same time, he hired an Air Charter Manager, a Ground Services Manager, and an Out-Station Manager.

Very soon after being hired, we began hearing about “Happy School”. The managers who had been hired before us knew that we would be going. When questioned about what it was, though, they would only smile knowingly.

Then one day Tom brought it up. It turned out that “Happy School” was The Successful Life Course presented by Executive Development Systems. Being the hotshot computer guy, I thought I was already pretty successful, and I told Tom “No Thank You”.

Being the CEO of the company, and an SLC graduate himself, Tom brought it up again. He didn’t say so, but I perceived it to be a career decision…if you know what I mean. So I very reluctantly agreed.

The course was to be held in the beautiful hill country of Kerrville, Texas, about an hour from San Antonio.

The original plan was to fly commercial into San Antonio and then be taken by van to Kerrville. I was still very resentful about having to go. I would tell people that if they would just leave me in San Antonio, I would go down to the Riverwalk, drink margaritas, eat Mexican food, and I would get happy.

I thought we were way too busy getting ready for the new contract to take time off for a “touchy-feely” type of course, and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why Tom would be so insistent. But anyway, a deal is a deal, so I went.

We flew in a company plane into the Kerrville airport. As a passenger, it looked like we were being dropped in the middle of nowhere. A very nice man, with a funny little “Life Is Terrific” button, drove us to the hotel where the class would be held.

The next day, as class began, I sat in the back of the room, still very resentful.

As Ed Foreman started talking, I had to admit that he was interesting to listen to. And he made some very good points. As he and Earlene Vining continued with each session, I began to feel less resentful and more interested.

Finally, in one of the sessions after lunch, I got a “blinding flash of the obvious”! What I was being taught would not only help Tom and his company, but it would help ME personally! I was learning how to relax (previously, I would get so stressed that I would get severe pains in my back). I was learning how to deal with frustrating people (which, up to then, was anybody who didn’t see things my way). In short, I was learning how to be really successful from people who had actually achieved the success they talked about!

From that point on, I really paid attention and tried to get everything I could from them. My favorite part was “Leadership Techniques”, which they humorously refer to as “Monkey Management” (grin). I won’t spoil it for you, but if you hear it, you’ll see the connection.

They also taught the three prescriptions for happiness, which if you continue to follow them, really help keep the “good things” going.

Ed and Earlene spent three days and nights teaching me how to have one good Terrific day! The idea is that if you repeat that over and over, you will have a successful life.

At the end of the course, I got their tapes. After I got back home, I listened to their tapes in my car so often that I can repeat most of them from memory.

I thanked Tom for allowing me to go. It was the best investment of time that I’ve ever made.

I immediately scheduled my wife and my father to go the next month. (It was the only time I had ever done something like that without asking her first!)

One of the first things I would do for everyone I’ve hired since then, is schedule them for “Happy School” or get them the tapes or CDs.

Oh yeah, I got one of those funny little buttons the van driver was wearing, too (grin). I got it for climbing the mountain (I darn near spilled my coffee!).

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