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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Demand Happiness From Employees

Ken and Judy love coming to work and they expect everyone around them to want to be there, too.  Ken is great at initiating his encounters with a smile and that sets the tone.

Key Question:


Yes, when you read it in black and white, it may sound a little harsh. But when it is delivered with a smile and lived out in your corporate culture, it is freeing to employees. When you boldly say to people, "I would rather you be someplace you want to be than be here and be unhappy." The real reason this works is Ken and Judy Done would rather be at Done than in Brazil. Ken quit his good job to paint full time because that is what he thought would make him the happiest. You can't, as a leader, push a philosophy on others that you do not adhere to yourself.

Mr. Done told us that he is delighted to have his children work in the business. However, he has made it clear to them that they must want to be at Done. We learned that all employees at Done are paid above industry standard and they are expected to work 9-5, not longer. Ken and Judy do not believe that people on their payroll need to work more than 40 hours a week. They want the employees to have time with their familes and time to pursue their hobbies. Thus, the comment Mr. Done made, "If you want to go to Brazil rather than come to work, go to Brazil."

When you become involved in a complex agreement. The only reason to put what you said and what they other party said in writing is to force everyone to be clear. Of course we all have to do this so what Ken Done is saying is, don't expect a scoundrel to keep promises just because the promises are put in writing. And, if you have signed an agreement and find the working relationship untenable, you should be able to say to the other party you want to quit the agreement without penalty.

This attitude lines up with Ken Done's, "go to Brazil" philosophy. He obviously doesn't want others to control him and he doesn't want to control others. He has created a company that disseminates beauty and offers opportunity. He will not allow anyone in the supply chain to negatively affect his vision.

Think about it

Do you think every employee in your organization is happy at work? If not, what can you do to help the unhappy ones either get happy or find something to do with their lives that would be more fulfilling?

Clip from: Ken Done Gallery, Sydney - Leverage Art

   "I see business... as the most creative act of all." - Ken Done

Sydney: Meet Ken Done.  He has become one of Australia's most  beloved and respected artists with his own world-class following. We all struggle to master our talents and apply these talents in a meaningful way. That's life. And, that is how the best among us also define our work.

Meet a man who spent eighteen years mastering his craft and learning business skills. Then, he broke away to go down his own path.  Almost unwittingly he started a business through which he learned how to leverage his art in creative ways.

This business is a family businesses.

You meet Ken Done, his wife, Judy, and their daughter and son. Ken was never a starving artist yet he certainly paid his dues. With over 150 others working within this family enterprise, they make art affordable, often wearable and  even whimsical.

Today you meet an artist who like so many others follows his own heart. Often there is a price to pay  among the art community's elite.  In the earlier days they were not gentle on this man and his work. But Ken Done stood firm within his vision, he persevered, and today even his critics are giving him his due.

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The Ken Done Galleries

Ken Done, CEO, Artist-in-Residence

1 Hickson Road
The Rocks

02 9274 2740

Visit our web site:

Office: 02 9274 2740

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Demand Happiness From Employees

KEN: Yeah, that's beautiful. Hello, darling.


KEN: What are you doing?

HATTIE: (Voiceover) And now their children, Camilla and Oscar, are bringing fresh ideas to the business.

KEN: (Voiceover) We have a thing--or I have a thing--with Oscar and Camilla; it's called a Brazil option. And I said to them when they first came into this, `If you wake up one morning and you think to yourself, "I really don't want to go in there today. I'd really like to go to Brazil," well, then you have to go to Brazil. You have to go. Don't even come in. Go to Brazil.' You have to want to do it.

Now fortunately, they've been--they travel a lot, but their passion--you know, it's the business is supplying enough creative excitement for them, and also they understand how stupid I am.

I mean, they understand that there are lots of things that I'm really, really bad at. And I'm a fantastic delegator, which if you have very narrow ability, which as I have, it's very easy to delegate because it's an absolute necessity.

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