[View Point] The Importance of Positivity

So why is the familiar smiley face icon, popularized in the 1970s by Hallmark card shop owners and brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, on the cover of this month’s PCT, and why did we devote this month’s cover story, “C’mon Get Happy!” (page 24), to the importance of positive leadership?

Throughout the years, PCT has interviewed hundreds of successful pest control operators and we’ve met many of them at various industry events. What we’ve observed is that many of these PCOs exude an infectious, uplifting spirit that resonates throughout their organizations. After meeting them you say to yourself, “That’s the kind of company I’d like to work for.”

So, we assigned PCT contributing writer Kristen Hampshire the task of interviewing positive PCOs, and while there were many great PCOs from which to choose, five stood out to us: Bobby Jenkins, ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin, Texas; Phillip Cooper, Cooper Pest Solutions, Lawrenceville, N.J.; Eric Eicher, Versacor Managed Pest Solutions, Dallas, Texas; Mike Masterson, Isotech, Covina, Calif; and Stuart Aust, Bug Doctor, Paramus, N.J. From these interviews Kristen wrote an article that provides “seven habits of highly positive leaders” and also details how the positive cultures these PCOs have cultivated drive their companies forward.

One of the take-home messages from this article is that positive cultures keep employees engaged. How so? Consider a recent Dale Carnegie Training study* that examined and identified three factors that drive employee engagement:

Relationship with immediate supervisors. If an employee is dissatisfied with his immediate supervisor, there is an 80 percent chance they are disengaged. This statistic reinforces the significance of building positive relationships in the workplace. Similarly, having a “caring” manager is one of the key elements to a positive and successful employee engagement strategy. Employees want to feel valued and have their manager take an interest in their personal lives, health and well-being.

Belief in senior leadership. Employees are inspired by having role models who encourage goal achievement, contributing to positive engagement and a better overall workplace environment.

Company pride. Employee engagement is highest among those who take pride in working for their company. The study identified the following four characteristics needed for engagement: enthusiasm, empowerment, inspiration and confidence.

The benefits of an engaged workforce are many-fold. Research has repeatedly shown that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. As the Carnegie report noted, “In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.”


The smiley face’s origin. As previously mentioned, the smiley face was popularized in the 1970s by the Spain brothers. The duo saw it as an opportunity to lift America’s spirits; the country was in a post-Vietnam War funk. It’s largely accepted that the original version of the familiar smiley face was first created 50 years ago in Worcester, Mass., by Harvey Ross Ball, an American graphic artist and ad man. Ball came up with the image in 1963 when he was commissioned to create a graphic to raise morale among the employees of an insurance company. However, according to an article on Smithsonian.com1 , in Europe, there is another claimant to the smiley. In 1972 French journalist Franklin Loufrani became the first person to register the mark for commercial use when he started using it to highlight the rare instances of good news in the newspaper France Soir. Subsequently, he trademarked the smile, dubbed simply “Smiley,” in over 100 countries and launched the Smiley Company by selling smiley T-shirt transfers.


The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT magazine.


*Source: “What Drives Employee Engagement and Why it Matters,” Dale Carnegie White Paper, 2012.

1Source: “Who Really Invented the Smiley Face?” Smithsonian.com, March 13, 2013

June 2014
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