"I know exactly what you mean," said Claude Sidi, stabbing his foie gras and chasing it down with a gulp of wine. We were enjoying lunch at a restaurant belonging to a friend of his. "Environment's everything."

His dad had worked for the World Bank's food and agriculture division in Africa and Asia, and Claude had always admired his dad's zeal for his work. Claude wanted to be a marine biologist, and maybe an aquaculture specialist, so he could travel to developing nations and help them grow fish. He advanced to the PhD stage, and was finally a marine biologist with his own well-funded research project at a remote lab on the craggy Oregon coast. He woke to the smell of the ocean. Talked back to the fog and the elephant seals. Hiked through the rain forest.

"It was such a romantic place. Classically romantic. Absolutely stunning. But I got really depressed, right away."


He threw his arms out wide. "Not enough people! I was lonely! I realized, Forget biology, I like people. I'd never been without people around. It was terrible."

So he quit and became a dentist in a big city full of interesting people. He loves it. Every day he sees his patients; they come in, chat, laugh, share stories, and Claude helps them in his own small way. He snaps pictures of his patients and can tell you the names of their dogs.

"So you're totally happy?"

"Yeah. I love it. Been happy ever since." He seemed it. "Let's have some dessert, huh?"

Mike Jenzeh was an unlicensed commercial real-estate broker in Silicon Valley in the early '90s when the economy hiccupped and the market paused. He'd been hustling for five years. He was the stereotype of a pushy salesman. All his deals - 30 a year - came from cold calls. When the market tanked, he couldn't close a deal to save his life. Frustrated, he simply stopped. He stayed in bed all day reading books.

Mike read a lot of poetry and religion. "I realized that the only way out of this rut was to give myself up, to make it not about me. To give what I could in my own way."

He was particularly struck by a passage in Isaiah 58. It was written to the religious who were pointing fingers at others. He rewrote it in his own words and called it his Success Formula: