What Is The Value Of Happiness?

For newly minted ice cream company founder Elena Pallotta, it’s priceless. Here’s why she replaced concerns about money with freedom and independence–and found her entrepreneurial passion along the way.

What Is The Value Of Happiness?

I recently attended the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network annual, global meeting, held this year in Istanbul. I went in search of inspiring stories about female entrepreneurship. And I found it.


Richard Luck, in a blog post titled Here Are Three Magic Steps To Re-Light Your Inner Fire, offers the following:

Sometimes life can lose its luster without you even noticing–but one day you just wake up to the fact that you no longer have any passion for life. You realize you’re drifting–and suddenly that’s uncomfortable. It seems your zest for living has flat-lined.

This is where Elena Pallotta found herself after successful stints as a consultant with Arthur Anderson and Boston Consulting Group, and, finally, as a director of a luxury real estate development company in her beloved Florence, Italy. She had found the perfect job in her home town, but discovered it wasn’t creating happiness for her. She felt that not being happy and doing nothing about it was unacceptable.

She hired a coach and asked the following questions:

  • I’m exactly where I wanted to be my whole life–why am I not happy?
  • If I’m not where I should be; find out where I should be and help me to get there.

In her own words, here’s Elena’s 10-minute video, where she shares her compelling story:

Elena got to a place of unhappiness because she was living her life against someone else’s expectations. She learned she didn’t want to be a manager. She learned, much to her chagrin and surprise, that she really wanted to be an entrepreneur. It took her a while to figure out what her entrepreneurial path would look like.


She determined she wanted to offer homemade Italian ice cream. However, with so many well-established ice cream companies in Italy, there was not much growth potential for a newcomer in the Italian market. She didn’t want to merely open an ice cream store–she wanted to build an ice cream business with growth potential.

Because the Italian market was so saturated, she had to find a new country to pursue her dream with the following attributes: growing economy, disposable income, middle-class growth, no significant competition. After doing her homework, she settled on Turkey as the place to start her business, a place with the all the attributes she was looking for. Soon, she founded and became the CEO of MUA’ Gelatieri d’Italia.

She reports what all entrepreneurs know: entrepreneurship doesn’t move in a straight line. She experienced a number of trials and tribulations. She had to build a new network of support in a country that was foreign to her and, much to her credit, she’s not been bashful asking for help. Her business has great growth potential, potential that is more likely due to the research she did prior to moving to Turkey and as a consequence of great execution of her business strategy. And, let’s not forget, she has aligned her business life with her passion. As a result, she has:

  • replaced money with freedom and independence
  • replaced worried colleagues with a happy child about to get an ice cream
  • replaced a life of objects with the joyful life of a poor shopkeeper

What is the value of happiness? Priceless. Just ask Elena.

— Dave Gardner can be reached on Twitter and via his website at Gardner & Associates Consulting. Check out his video describing why he’s in business. Dell paid his travel and accommodation for the trip to Istanbul.

[Image: Flickr user Daniel Parks]

About the author

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world