A blue kayak points toward the Loxahatchee River outside a set of double French doors. A stately model sailboat, a brass ship’s bell and an assortment of seashells decorate the walls. Behind a desk in the waterfront, nautical-motif Jupiter office sits the captain of Contagious Optimism: Uplifting Stories and Motivational Advice for Positive Forward Thinking.
The best-selling book that chronicles 110 life lessons by 75 everyday people has author David Mezzapelle cruising full steam ahead with Contagious Optimism Live!, a TEDx-style conference that will bring 405 pages of nonfiction to life.
“If we’re going to create a movement, you can only do it through awareness,” Mezzappelle says. “I think the world’s craving optimism, and optimism, the way we deliver it, I believe will lift the malaise.”
The 46-year-old entrepreneur founded the Contagious Optimism craze in 2010, nearly 20 years after successfully establishing, marketing and growing a global company around the power of positive thinking.
“I just realized so many businesses, large and small, were running on negative platforms,” Mezzapelle says.
The company, Goliath Technology, employed young students from as far away as Europe to drum up sales from businesses around their schools.
“I hired interns to sell our IT equipment,” he says. “Whenever anyone screwed up, I would have them write their mistakes in a wisdom book.”
The so-called wisdom book became a powerful corporate tool to promote positive reinforcement, and when the staff of his alma mater, Fairfield University in Connecticut, learned of it, they begged him to write a biography.
The biography morphed from one about optimism in business to one about optimism in life, and instead of it focusing solely on the marketing graduate, it captured the tales of a man who shed envy from his psyche, a woman who rediscovered herself after a divorce, and a breast-cancer patient who beat the odds. It came out last summer.
“A book about me that’s 400 pages long would be boring,” Mezzapelle says. “There’s nothing that much different about me, except that I’m happy all the time.”
The Connecticut native grew up the youngest of three and realized early on he had a gift for graciousness.
“I just always thought my mistakes, failures, quandaries were good because I was like, ‘Look what I learned,’” Mezzapelle says. “Whenever I fell off my bike, I was psyched about it – I mean psyched.”
He also had a precocious appreciation for the enlightenment of his elders and gravitated more toward the Greatest Generation than Generation X.
“I was always amazed by the stories of older relatives and family friends,” Mezzapelle says. “I love, love, love speaking at senior living communities. I always take something away when I do.”
On April 4, Contagious Optimism Live! will descend on Florida Atlantic University’s John D. MacArthur campus at the Lifelong Learning Society complex. “No matter what type of person you are, everybody has the capacity to make optimism contagious,” Mezzapelle says. He has enlisted New York Yankees 1978 World Series MVP Bucky Dent, a Boynton Beach resident, to take the stage. “He said he was using positive thinking when he hit the famous home run to beat the Red Sox.”