Last week my husband Kevin and I spent a magical week on gorgeous Tokoriki Island, Fiji. Our week was full of amazing moments including our encounter with a shark and giant turtle while snorkeling. While we expected the ocean, marine life, beach and resort facilities to be spectacular, we didn’t expect how much we would enjoy the company of the resort staff and our fellow guests.
While I’d planned to be off duty I couldn’t help but observe the team culture and impact their warmth and enthusiasm had on the quality of our experience. Not only did they make us feel at home, they also played a big part in connecting us with other people enjoying the island with us. For anyone looking for the perfect way to escape the realities and demands of a busy life, I can’t recommend Tokoriki Island Resort more highly.
Pondering the extent to which the staff’s happiness was influencing our own, I was taken back to a Business Chicks event I attended on the morning of the day we left for the island. Our guest speaker was Tony Hsieh the CEO of online shoe and clothing shop Zappos.com. Prior to joining Zappos, Tony had already achieved great success in his career having established and ultimately sold internet advertising network LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million by the time he was 24.
Initially joining Zappos.com as an advisor and investor, Tony eventually became CEO and has led the growth of that business from a low base to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. Zappos being recognized during that time through their inclusion in Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list provides some insight into what drove that growth. In November 2009, Zappos.com was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing.
During his presentation Tony shared with us his latest venture, Delivering Happiness. In 2010 Tony wrote a book of the same title that made #1 on The New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for 27 consecutive weeks. In the book Tony shares the key lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business; through LinkExchange and Zappos. Tony shows how corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success — and how concentrating on the happiness of those around you can dramatically increase your own.
Inspired to do more Tony now describes delivering happiness as a company with a cause – to grow a movement that spreads and inspires more happiness in the world! As Tony put it, “we’re nudging the world towards passion, purpose and a happier place”.
Tony shared with us that at Zappos they have learned from experience that happy people = more happy people. Tony and his team believe the quality of each experience a customer has with their organization is a direct reflection of the happiness of their staff. So in other words happy staff typically leads to happy customers; therefore they aim to maximize the experience not the dollars of each transaction.
Some of the core Zappos beliefs and philosophies Tony shared with us include:
- Company brand and culture are two sides of the same coin
- Vision and culture inspire passion and purpose
- Inspiration leads to motivation
- Companies with great cultures outperform in the long term – long term investment takes courage and commitment
Some of the important strategies Zappos uses to influence the success of their team include:
- Pay new employees $2000 to quit – if they don’t want to be there, then Zappos don’t want them there either, no matter how smart or skilled they are
- Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company, not just a department
- Focus on company culture as the #1 priority
- Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business
- Help employees grow both personally and professionally
- Seek to change the world – help people to feel a part of something bigger than themselves; purpose and meaning matter
- Commit to transparency – as Tony said “be real and you have nothing to fear”
- Help people to build personal emotional connections with your business
Tony also shared with us the core values established by their team. In doing so he urged the audience not to try and be something you are not; “it doesn’t matter what values you choose, so long as you commit to them”:
- Deliver WOW through service
- Embrace and drive change
- Create fun and weirdness
- Be adventurous, creative and open minded
- Pursue growth and learning
- Build open and hones relationships with communication
- Build a positive team and family spirit
- Do more with less
- Be passionate and determined
- Be humble
It truly was a pleasure to listen to Tony speak; thanks to Business Chicks for another great event. If you are interested in finding out more – here is a link to one video of Tony sharing his views that I hope you will enjoy.