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How Do You Answer the Question: Success or Happiness?

It’s one of the oldest, much-discussed, and oft heard ideological and political questions, asked by philosophers, economists, religious leaders, etc.: Should capitalism have a soul? Or should it only be interested in profit?

The answer seems easy – of course it should have a soul. But does it?

This question came back to my mind because it was raised in a story published in the New York Times regarding the co-founder of the colossal company Salesforce (which makes software programs that help companies increase their sales).

A famous Buddhist monk asked the following question to its founder, Marc Benioff: “What’s more important, being successful or being happy?”
“Both,” he replied.

And the monk replied, “If everything is important – then nothing is…”

For several years everything went wonderfully well for Benioff. He had everything. But in 2022, his company lost money. Its stock sank. Eventually he was forced to lay off 10% of his employees.

This despite his repeated proclamations that he would never do so – claiming that the employees of the company were a family.

And yet.

As I said above, these are not easy matters.

Both for those who make the decisions and those who pay the consequences.

The dilemma is: Take no action and let the company sink like the Titanic? Or to take action in the hope of salvaging it, with all the consequences that this will have for themselves and the employees?

I imagine that this very difficult question has at some point been on the minds of many of our readers, both businessmen and workers who fear being laid off. And I’m not talking about individual cases of an employee being fired for not meeting their obligations.

I’m talking about cases of mass layoffs a company is forced to make to reduce its costs.

I am glad that I have not been forced to choose between ‘success and happiness’. Even in the new era the newspaper has entered with the reduction of our print publications – not one of our colleagues, in America, Greece, or Cyprus, has been laid off.

I don’t know if things in life are as absolute as the Buddhist monk put it: “If everything is important – then nothing is…”

If high walls separate one from the other. If it’s all or nothing.

The golden rule for me is the one from the Gospel: Treat others as you want others to treat you.

It is indeed the golden rule that comes as close to helping us to be both “successful and happy”.


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