Last week to cap off Young Professionals Week in Milwaukee, I went to brunch to hear Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, speak. Since that Sunday brunch, I’ve been returning to a lot of things Hsieh mentioned.
The first being that his first company was sold not because it was profitable and lucrative (it was), but because he and his coworkers found themselves dreading going to work. They didn’t like being there! So, instead of toughing it out, they sold the company and moved on!
The second being that Zappos is totally focused on the company culture; if you’re not a good fit for the company culture, you won’t be hired. While on the outside this comes off as borderline elitist, the underpinnings indicate a tremendous dedication to the quality of life of their employees. Without this strict enforcement of a cohesive and strong company culture, there’s no way to ensure that employees will remain happy, healthy and motivated in the workspace.
This concept is also something Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagoina) wrote in his book, Let My People Go Surfing, as Chouinard maintained that all employees should be out in nature surfing, climbing and exploring as a way to make the best outdoor gear.
By allowing employees to be passionate and feel cared for, employers create a strong sense of allegiance in their companies in the sense of “I am cared for here, why would I want to go anywhere else?”
Finally, Hsieh’s most poignant point was the concept of coworking. Not in the sense of “I work with Sharon,” but in the sense of camaraderie. Cultivating a sense of true teamwork and collaboration at the workplace as a way to fuel forward movement. Conflict is accepted, welcomed and anticipated as part of the creative process, but the concept of competition is completely done away with.
I also revisited my bucket list last week which includes surfing, working toward promoting educational equality and raising a child. All of these themes go hand-in-hand with the memorable tipping points described by Hseih during his brunch. But more importantly it reminded me that I have just as many hours in the day as every other person and how I spend them is a choice. There are more opportunities to improve my workplace as well as work toward the goals I’ve set for myself. At this point, it comes down to strategy.