Underdog Story of the Day - Life is Good

Underdog Story of the Day - Life is Good

Life is Good

Growing up in the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, brothers Bert and John described their childhood as "perfectly imperfect." They were the youngest of six and in their $15,000, 720 square-foot house, they had no heating because according to their father, a WW2 and Korean War veteran, "heat rises, and you kids hang out mostly downstairs in the winter."

In 1989, the Jacobs' brothers, Bert and John, with $200 in seed money, began selling t-shirts door to door around college campuses and up and down the east coast in their mini-van. At the time, you could consider the apparel company to be just like any ordinary t-shirt company, selling just any ordinary t-shirt. But, they were selling a movement. 

At first, they were not prosperous by any stretch of the means. Road trip after road trip, they reached and scratched to make a buck, living off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On the way back from one of their road trips, they realized the thing that was needed to keep their dream alive was hanging up in their apartment in Boston. It was Jake. Little did the brothers know, the optimistic, friendly, and simplistic grin that Jake offered was going to be their big-ticket to success.

They printed 48 Jake shirts for a fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts and hoped for the best. By the middle of the day, they sold all of the tees. And so it began. They made their way into local retailers and before you knew it, the brand took off, slowly making its way across America while maintaining it's roots in New England.

They might be just any ordinary t-shirt, but Bert and John sell optimism. Their main focus is on children, donating 10% of their profits to different children's causes. Their whole company revolves around children because children are the optimists in the frantic world that we live in. It isn't until experience and maturity come along that the optimism begins to fade. Bert and John's goal is to bring that optimism into everyone's daily lives.

Today, Life is Good is worth more than $100 million. 


A career in selling t-shirts? In the 1980s? It seems crazy, but the Jacobs' brothers didn't care. What we can learn from Bert and John is that no matter what people expect of you, follow your heart. When they had $78 in their bank account while selling shirts out of their mini-van, the only people who believed were themselves and that's the only thing that matters on the journey to your goal, self-belief. 


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