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Jeff Harry, Rediscover Your Play

What if your biggest setback can unlock a magical journey?

Jeff Harry uses a combination of positive psychology and play to unlock possibilities.

I asked Jeff to tell me about a time when he was resilient. His answer is epic.

“My best friend Dana and I are locking up the café,” Jeff Harry tells me. “We had put our heart and soul into it for the past year and a half. All my savings, and even money I didn’t have – six figures to be exact – was invested in that cafe. Everyone tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. This is the last time we would be standing here, as we were closing the cafe down. We walked away with such shame.

“I felt like such a failure, a loser, naive, and stupid. I believed I would be in debt for the rest of my life, paying for this bad decision. What was I even thinking? Would I ever be able to bounce back? My inner critic beat up every day for the next year as I paid off debts and tried to scrounge up whatever money I could to free myself of this poor choice.

“A funny thing happened though. I was astonished that I was still alive. That even with this big failure, I hadn’t had a nervous breakdown. I hadn’t lost my job that actually paid me and for some reason because I hadn’t died.

“I felt bold enough to fail again. Even if I fell flat on my face once again, it couldn’t be as bad as this last failure. So, I decided to create a separate Corporate Special Events Wing for the LEGO-Inspired STEM Organization that I helped build.

“I started reaching out to the top Silicon Valley companies and pitching them to do special events that I didn’t even know if I could pull off. I started doing crazy things because I was compelled to do it. For example, once I was watching a Marvel Movie, saw the VP of Creative Services, and went home and reached out to her on LinkedIn to see if we could collaborate on an event and she actually got back to me. Why not just ask every organization I ever dreamed of working with and just see who would say yes?

“That bold attitude and willingness to take risks culminated in us doing massive events and conferences for Amazon, LEGO, Google, Salesforce, and countless other Fortune 500 companies. We even broke a few World Records.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn’t care. Because I felt I could do anything after failing so miserably and surviving that failure. It really is true that you learn the most from failure and the more you are willing to fail, the more likely you will succeed. For example, James Dyson created 5126 failed prototypes before inventing the first bagless vacuum cleaner.”

Jeff’s persistence in the face of adversity paid off. Today, Jeff shows individuals and companies how to tap into their true selves and to feel their happiest and most fulfilled. He does that by playing. Jeff has worked with Google, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Adobe, the NFL, Amazon, and Facebook, helping their staff to infuse more play into the day-to-day.

Jeff is an international speaker who has presented at conferences such as INBOUND, SXSW, and Australia’s Pausefest, showing audiences how major issues in the workplace can be solved using play.

Jeff was selected by BambooHR & Engagedly as one of the Top 100 HR Influencers of 2020 for his organizational development work around dealing with toxic people in the workplace. His play work has most recently been featured in a NY Times article. He has also been featured on AJ+, SoulPancake, the SF Chronicle, and CNN.

“While we spend most of our time pretending to be important, serious grownups,” Jeff says, “it’s when we let go of that facade and just play, that the real magic happens. Fully embracing your own nerdy genius — whatever that is — gives you the power to make a difference and change lives. Jeff believes that we already have many of the answers we seek, and by simply unleashing our inner child, we can find our purpose and, in turn, help to create a better world.”