Author finds parable for life in ‘Groundhog Day’


While many people consider the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” to be little more than another sample of Bill Murray’s comedic talent, Paul Hannam is among those who looked past the film’s humor to find deeper meaning.

“‘Groundhog Day’ is a very powerful parable abut how we’re stuck in loops,” Hannam said. “What really struck me about this movie is it’s about stripping away everything in this man’s life ‘til you get to the essence. When it’s all stripped away, all that’s left is the beauty of being a human person.”

The movie’s unlikely hero, weatherman Phil Connors, finds himself waking up to the same day over and over. As everything of import in his life is stripped away and each day repeats itself, Connors realizes the only thing he can change is his own thinking and actions. That change results in him finding happiness.

“The question for me,” Hannam said, “is how can somebody change the worst day of their life to the best day in their life without changing anything but their way of thinking.”

Using the movie as a framework, Hannam has written a book called “The Magic of Groundhog Day,” (Waterside Press, $21.95) which demonstrates how people have the power to change their thoughts, emotions and attitudes to break out of self-defeating behaviors and transform their lives.

“It’s about waking up,” he said. “It’s about building a life not on what money can buy but what it can’t buy.

Hannam’s book explores the themes of acceptance, love, creativity, awareness and understanding what holds people back. He encourages people to ask the question, “What one action am I going to do today to move me to a better life?”

There are many trends nowadays, said Hannam, that illustrate a desire to find meaning in life, to slow down and simplify, and to change how people are living and the way it impacts Mother Earth.

“I think there’s a deep yearning for change,” he said.

Hannam immigrated to Rancho Santa Fe with his wife Sue and their son and daughter in March 2007.

“I’ve been coming here for nearly 30 years,” said the British native. “Another big factor for me is the career opportunity.”

Having built a successful career in environmentalism in Europe, Hannam felt it was the perfect time for him to bring that experience to the U.S. He has worked in both the business arena and academia, a unique combination which gives him insight into industry and science.

“The fact is, we all have to work together,” he said.

At 28, Hannam started his first company. Since then he has been involved in several start-ups, including his most recent undertakings: Bright Green Talent, Greenest Host and Enso Ventures.

Bright Green Talent is an executive search firm with offices in London, San Francisco and, soon, Brussels. The company recruits the best and the brightest to work for organizations committed to sustainability and corporate/social responsibility.

In 2007, Hannam became chairman and co-owner of Greenest Host, which provides eco-friendly web hosting service and consultations.

In January, Hannam and Charlie O’Malley started Enso Ventures, an “incubator” for green businesses.

One recent study indicated that one in four new jobs in the next 20 years will be in the environmental sector. A part of the global awareness trend in Europe, Hannam said he sees enormous potential in the U.S.

“We have to be thinking very carefully about the environment to protect our quality of life,” he said, adding that every aspect of life – home, family, work, travel – is going to dramatically change in the next 50 years because of environmental factors. “For me, my main mission is to create a new generation of leaders through my teaching and writing. You can become interested in ‘green’ for may reasons. A lot of people are becoming interested now because they’re just fed up. This is not what living should be about.”