In 1987, at the age of 26 and seeking a little "joy of life," Chip Conley founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality by transforming a small motel in San Francisco’s seedy Tenderloin district into the now-legendary Phoenix. Today, Joie de Vivre operates nearly 40 unique hotels across California, each built on an innovative design formula that inspires guests to experience an "identity refreshment" during their visits.
During the dotcom bust in 2001, Conley found himself in the self-help section of the bookstore, where he became reacquainted with one of the most famous theories of human behavior -- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which separates human desires into five ascending levels, from base needs such as eating to the highest goal of self-actualization, characterized by the full realization and achievement of one’s potential. Influenced by Maslow's pyramid, Conley revamped his business model to focus on the intangible, higher needs of his company's three main constituencies -- employees, customers and investors. He credits this shift for helping Joie de Vivre triple its annual revenues between 2001 and 2008.
Conley has written three books, including his most recent, PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, and is at work on two new ones, Emotional Equations and PEAK Leadership. He consults widely on transformative enterprises, corporate social responsibility and creative business development. He traveled to Bhutan last year to study its Gross National Happiness index, the country's unique method of measuring success and its citizens' quality of life.