Bert Jacobs’ Advice: Never Say The Words “Have To” Again

Never Say You Have To

In a recent television interview, Bert Jacobs, co-Founder of Life Is Good, told Colin Pope, editor of the Austin Business Journal, what he thought of about work and being passionate about what you’re doing. I’m really grateful that I had the foresight to record the interview so that I could transcribe what he said and share it with you.

In case you don’t know about Bert Jacobs, he’s a highly successful, but laid-back optimist who started a t-shirt business with his brother in the early 90’s, a company that is now worth millions.

During the interview, he wore a t-shirt (of course!) with a surfer graphic, holey jeans and a baseball-style cap turned backwards. When Pope brought up this particular topic, Jacobs shifted gear. Beforehand, he was super relaxed as he related the facts of his brother’s and his journey and the lessons they learned along the way, but now he became intense as he answered Pope’s question about what he would say to those who are thinking of starting a business.

Here’s his excellent advice, which is apropos even if you’re not an aspiring entrepreneur:

I think the most important thing is that business is a subcategory of your life, and you need to pull back and make sure that the things that are most important to you in your life are blended into your work. Because if they’re not, you’re never going to pull yourself into your work the way you should.

Work doesn’t have to be work. Okay, so, at Life Is Good we constantly blur the line between work and play. And I think the most successful people do.

We had a customer write us one of these letters, and he said I’ll never say the words “have to” again. I only say the words “get to.” He went through hell. I don’t have to tell you what this guy went through, he and his wife, right? He had more medical problems than you can imagine. But he’ll never say, “I have to go grocery shopping again.” He says, “I get to go grocery shopping.” He never says, “I have to do the laundry. I get to do the laundry.” This kid with one leg might struggle to do the laundry. We get to do the laundry. We get to go to work. You get to go to work and work on something that you really care about – something that you’ll be proud of, you know, when you’re done working. I think that’s the most important thing for any manager at any level. If you don’t love what you’re doing then find a way to infuse your love into it or go do something else.


Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they bring who they are to what they do in life. __________________________________________________________

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