Our Important Decision to Hire the Girl Upstairs

By: Life is Good

Kerrie sitting with tees

The butterfly effect goes something like this. A small action or event may have large effects on what happens next. In that same vein, we believe that every person you meet has the chance to become part of our future and profoundly change it. You never know how some connections in your life, no matter how small or ordinary, will alter your direction and possibly change things for the better.

It is widely known that Life is Good was started by two gangly, fun loving brothers, but as their business began to grow from the van, to their living room and into the kitchen, they made the important decision to hire the girl upstairs. As described by Bert and John Jacobs in Life is Good: The Book, “As the spring of 1995 rolled around, we had no sales force and no marketing campaign. But demand was growing just the same, and a steady stream of small orders were building. It became clear that we needed more hands on deck to manage the business, so we recruited Kerrie Sherman, the adorable 23-year-old who had recently moved into the apartment upstairs from us.”

Agreeing to be paid what the two brothers could (barely) afford, as the new “Business Manager” she jumped right in making changes faster than the two brothers could keep up with. “On her first day, Kerrie made the outlandish suggestion that we invest in a computer, a fax machine, and a business telephone system that would connect our apartments. ‘Whoa! Whoa, young lady! Where do you think you are, IBM?!’ We reluctantly agreed to the first two items, but we put our foot down on the third. The next day we drilled a hole in Kerrie’s floor and dropped some wires through. ‘Now we are connected!’ And the hole came in handy to yell up or down when it was time for lunch.”

“The year we hired her, 1995, we did $262,000 in top line sales.”

Adding Kerrie to the team ended up being the missing piece to the puzzle for the budding business. Going from a part-time helping friend, to full-time business partner added an amazing resource that helped Bert and John move the company from a passion project, to a company on a mission.“We got lucky with our brilliant recruitment of the girl upstairs. Kerrie turned out to be smart, resourceful, and fiercely loyal. And she rarely finished all the food on her plate, which also came in handy for us. The year we hired her, 1995, we did $262,000 in top line sales. And we celebrated like we just won the World Series, because we had managed to pay our first employee, and stay in business. It was a big step.

Kerrie Bert and John

Kerrie was not only the first ever Life is Good employee, but she also never left. Today, she is the Chief Unifying Optimist and a Partner at Life is Good. Talking to Kerrie these days is almost like turning the pages of a well-loved scrapbook. She knows everyone and everybody. She knows every story and how we got to where we are today.

What is your favorite thing about working with Bert and John for over 20 years?

I met Bert and John in 1993 and I would have initially described Bert and John as truly embodying things like funny, creative, open, authentic, compassionate, courageous, loving and grateful before we ever put together a list of those Super Powers for LIG.  Those qualities are what initially drew me to them – and they continue to be all that and more. They are the real deal.

What were you doing when you met Bert and John?

I was 22 and I was a Paralegal and still attending college.  I moved into the apartment upstairs from them, and I was super intrigued by what Bert and John had going on … it seemed like the beginning of something extremely special.  I started helping them at night and on weekends and soon thereafter they convinced me to quit my job and start working with them full-time (it didn’t take a lot of convincing actually).  I was soooo in.

How did your parents take the news that you were quitting school to work for the two guys that lived downstairs?

I think that they initially thought I was crazy to quit a well-paying secure job and work for 2 scraggly looking guys making peanuts.  But then they met Bert and John and saw how special and unique they are.  It was a love-fest.  They were soooo in also.

What is one of your favorite memories of starting out with Life is Good?

There was a very beautiful tree next to our apartment.  We had so many amazing conversations on a bench under that tree … talking about what the future of Life is good could be.  I have such great memories of that time.  We laughed so much.  

How about these days?

That bench and tree may be a thing of the past, but we are having lots of fun.  There are obviously a lot more people around, and we hire great people here.  I still love coming to the office every day.  Our mission is ‘to spread the power of optimism’.  That is a pretty cool thing to “get to” do every day.  

Kerrie Bert and John riding in car

Tell Us Something Good

Your stories of optimism have shaped and steered Life is Good from day one. THANK YOU and write on!

Share a Story