The Happiest Man In The World

By: Heidi Rickels Issue: Big Ideas, Smart People Section: Collaboration Close Up Big Ideas

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned "cultural economist," and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principles to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E. and chairman emeritus of its board, Dr. Jackson traveled to more than 150 countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders, and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world’s most needy people.

Now, he has written a book about his life experiences and adventures, providing an honest, personal assessment of the challenges and professional obstacles that confronted him, as well as best practices for building a "Business of Goodness."

As a boy, Dr. Jackson sat fascinated as his mother read stories about America’s golden boys of business who did well so that they could do good. At a young age, Jackson determined that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 25. By the time he was 30, he had exceeded that goal several times over, but he realized that he was not happy. So, together, James and his wife, Anna Marie, decided to give away their wealth and start over.

After writing a book on economics titled, What’cha Gonna Do with What’cha Got, Dr. Jackson landed consultation and speaking engagements with government leaders around the world. When he encountered the poverty and desperation of healthcare in developing countries, his heart was moved, and it ultimately changed the course of his entire life.

In his new book, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist, Dr. Jackson describes the dark side of making money and self-centered accumulation, as well as his struggles with institutionalized religion and the disappointments of man.

From his personal experiences visiting some of the world’s poorest and most dangerous places, Dr. Jackson explains the heartbreak of seeing children die of treatable illnesses simply because the doctors and nurses lacked proper medical equipment and supplies. He also shares the joy expressed by doctors and nurses who saw containers full of donated medical supplies arrive just in time to save a life.

Along with 600 of his friends and international humanitarian partners, Dr. Jackson launched his new book at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver on January 20, 2011. During this inspirational evening, the author shared stories and images of a life refocused from one of "getting" to one of "giving." Dr. Jackson was emphatic that the cultural economic principles shared in his book are transferable and can be applied to individuals, organizations and governments for the transformation of culture.

Bertha Lynn, anchor for KWGN-Channel 7 News in Denver, emceed the event. After welcoming the audience, she shared how the evening would provide a "glimpse into the life and legacy of a man whose work has touched thousands of lives around the world."

The presenting sponsor was Winston-Crown Publishing House, whose mission is to share stories of modern "humanitarian heroes," and to encourage readers to their own call to compassion and service to those who are suffering most in this world: the poor, the forgotten, the lonely and the sick.

After introducing his wife, Dr. Anna Marie Jackson, to whom his book is dedicated, Dr. Jackson also brought on stage his two sons, Jay Jackson, who was the first vice president of Project C.U.R.E., and Dr. Douglas Jackson, who is the president and CEO of the international humanitarian organization.

In his humble and engaging manner, Dr. Jackson sat on a stool and read excerpts from the book using the "power of story" to share the principles he learned from over 25 years of observing cultures from an economist’s perspective. Through his inspiring life story, he shared the despair of selfish accumulation and the joyful adventure of relinquishment, the development of Project C.U.R.E. as a model for cultural transformation, and how to live the best of your life for the rest of your life—helping others.

"What Project C.U.R.E has done for our hospitals in Brazil, and for the people who received medical supplies and equipment all around the world, is a true miracle," said Dra. Lorena Velho. "We will always be very grateful to Jim, who was sensitive to the needs of the world, and because of the love that lives in him, decided to change a successful life into a significant life."

Dr. Jackson ended the evening by challenging the audience and people everywhere to learn from his life experiences and join him in becoming the happiest people in the world!

The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist is now available for purchase online at