Having the opportunity to visit the Zappos office in Las Vegas was incredible! Like many of you reading this blog, my memory of Corporate America culture was rigid, autocratic and conventional. Zappos culture on the other hand embodies a new work trend that makes employees want to participate and stay engaged.
As soon as you enter the building, you are overtaken in a positive way by the environment. It displays a fun, entertaining and exciting atmosphere. When you enter, it does not feel like you are going to work. The mood represents a place to have fun, while helping others with benefits.
Working Life Integration
In Tony's book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, he comments on the constant journey for life and work separation (or having a work-life balance). "It’s just life. And so, the idea would be if you can be the same person at home as you are in the office, and vice versa. And when people actually feel comfortable being themselves, so much creativity comes out of that.”
Zappos’ hiring and training process definitely represents Zappos’ Core Values:
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit (Core Value 7)
Be Humble (Core Value 10)
It typically takes Zappos 4 months before they hire a new team member. I learned during my tour they do two sets of interviews. The first interview is done by the hiring manager and his or her team will interview to see if the candidate is a good fit for the team (i.e., experience, technical ability and other areas). A second interview is done by the HR department purely to make sure the candidate fits into the company culture.
As we all know, sometimes the wrong person may become a part of the team or the employee’s mission and goals have changed. Zappos pays for an employee that no longer fits within the culture to leave the company.
Be Humble (Core Value 10)
Being humble is sometimes difficult since we all have different experiences. They come from different backgrounds and have different beliefs. Unless they have made a conscious decision to try and understand different perspectives, they relate to things from their perspective. Zappos’ creativity policy states that every new hire, no matter the position, including C-level executives have to attend the same four-week training, which consummates their core value of being humble.
Zappos definitely has a competitive advantage with their culture that has a created a top-rate team who is committed to the happiness of their customer, coworkers and the success of Zappos. However, Zappos is very generous in sharing information about how other companies can also achieve success. They truly have an abundant mindset, which is also representative of the benefit package for their employees.
Zappos Core Family Value:
Deliver WOW Through Services
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Leaning
Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communications
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
When you begin the search for a new job, you’ll typically look for certain qualities: salary, benefits, location, and so forth. Salary is perhaps the most dominant of these, as many people will commonly pass over or apply for a job simply based on what that number is. Others may not care as much about salary, but they are very insistent that it be close to home. After these metrics, the job itself is considered next.
All of the above metrics can be quantified and measured. If you look up the median pay for a certain job, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a whole number of metrics pertaining to nearly every kind of employment in the country. Amidst these numbers and figures, what often gets lost are the intangibles: overall job satisfaction, perception of the job’s value, and the culture surrounding these jobs. Company culture in particular is often overlooked when people are doing a job search, since many individuals see it as secondary to their pay, benefits, and so forth. I am of the persuasion that this is at least as important as what you make.
Your personality type does not determine where you can and can’t work. However, it does play a big role in determining the level of satisfaction you will feel at the job. For example, a withdrawn introvert is unlikely to be happy at a high-pressure sales firm. The same can likely be said for a gregarious, outgoing social butterfly working the graveyard shift as a custodian. The culture in the company that you work affects how well you are able to fit in and identify with your peers and superiors, which in turn will have an effect on how you are perceived and treated; this is especially important when you’re looking to get a promotion.
Consider the culture of Starbucks. Like all customer service jobs, maintaining a clean, professional appearance is expected along with a willingness and desire to engage with, and take care of customers. In addition to that expectation, Starbucks also places a high value on volunteerism and community work. While it’s not required to do so, employees (partners) are highly encouraged to put in at least a few hours a year. As you might expect, Starbucks attracts a disproportionate number of extroverted and outgoing people. Not all customer service jobs require face-to-face interaction with people: think call centers. But if you find it draining to be around people all day, you may want to consider working for a different company.
Another good example is that of startups. Unlike the slow-moving inertia-ridden behemoths that are giant corporations, startups change and evolve at a furious pace. Some people are attracted to this kind of excitement and risk – the pay is sometimes lower, but the prospect of being a part of a fast-growing company in its incipient phases can be incredibly exciting for some people. For those who desire stability and predictability in their lives, this kind of job can be incredibly stressful, regardless of how much you’re being compensated to do it. Desk jobs aren’t glamorous, nor are they particularly high paying. However, what they lack in glamour they make up in safety and stability. People with families will also look for jobs like these, even if they don’t pay as much.
Ultimately, finding the job and company that fits you best will require a fair amount of research and legwork. The great news is, the Internet makes it easier to do that than ever before! Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are filled with reviews from current and former employees who can give you a wealth of valuable insight as to how the company functions and what you can expect going in. Don’t just look at numbers – a big salary is nice, but if you’re miserable at your job, why make yourself suffer? You don’t always have to choose between making money and fitting in. If you manage to find a company that offers the best of both worlds, you’ll find yourself so much happier in the long run.
If you type in “qualities of a strong/good/effective leader” in a search bar, you’ll get a thousand different results by all sorts of people. Countless numbers of books have been written about leadership, and the kinds of advice you’ll receive may or may not pertain to your field. The idea of what people consider to a “good” leader will vary quite significantly; a particularly notable split is between people with egalitarian versus authoritative leadership styles. This can make it quite difficult to distinguish between good and bad advice.
As is true with a lot of things, the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Acting like a bully (authoritative) doesn’t gain you respect, but neither does an inability to show decisiveness. Good leaders are able to adapt their approach to a number of different situations and personality types. Not every person reacts the same way to a particular style, and not every kind of situation demands the same kind of leadership. With all of this said, there are a few traits that stand out. Good leaders can vary their approaches as needed, but good leaders also display a few core character traits that remain constant throughout all of their dealings with people.
The following qualities are the kinds of traits and qualities that consistently excellent leaders use to inspire and motivate their teams.
1) They are pragmatic
Nobody respects people who are wishy-washy. Neither do they respect people who single-mindedly pursue one goal without any consideration for facts or opposing viewpoints. A leader knows when to take action and when to wait. Being able to consider the facts before deciding how to go about tacking an issue is something that a lot of self-described leaders have not fully mastered. Even worse are the ones who made rash, poorly-informed decisions, but by a stroke of luck came out unscathed. Your employees will look to you for guidance, and showing them that you can make solid, well-informed decisions will greatly increase their confidence in you as a leader.
2) They show compassion and empathy
Don’t mistake this for weakness. Letting your employees walk all over you is not the same as showing that you care about them. Being able to separate yourself from your workers on a professional level is a necessary thing to do – you are not their friend, you are their boss. With that said, your employees are not robots. They are human beings with the same kinds of fears, insecurities, and flaws that you have. Showing your employees that you see them as people and not numbers on a spread sheet will go a long way towards making them see you as a relatable person who takes an interest in them as an individual.
People want to be recognized and understood, and showing them that you are able to relate to them on a personal level without taking any sides will go a long way towards motivating them to work harder for you. If you see that they are not working as hard as they normally do, ask them what’s wrong instead of yelling at them. If they are in a particularly bad mood, don’t threaten them with punishment if they don’t change their demeanor in an instant. Make some effort to find out why they are feeling the way that they are. You may still need to take action if their temperament is affecting the business, but making the effort to try and empathize with them first makes a huge difference in how your team perceives you.
3) They take ownership of successes and failures
There is an African proverb that accurately describes what a lot of bosses in the workplace are like: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan”. As unfortunate as this state of affairs is, many “leaders” happily take credit for other people’s hard work, but blame other people when things go wrong. If you want to lose the respect of your team, try blaming them when your ideas go wrong. You will quickly find your employees quitting, transferring, or working less hard at their jobs. Celebrate your successes, but own up to your failures as well. You are not infallible; no matter how experienced you are, mistakes eventually happen. As the boss, you are ultimately responsible for what happens on your floor. Don’t blame other people when things don’t go as planned.
Managing a business successfully requires that you possess the complete package, so to speak. You need to have strong interpersonal skills as well as strong technical skills, which is a combination of traits that few people possess. This is why business owners hire people to do the bulk of the work, since hiring the right people brings skills and strengths to the business that will allow it to grow and expand. The customer and sales side of things are looked at very closely, but some managers and business owners forget the third facet: worker satisfaction.
While it doesn’t immediately show up in customer reviews and overall sales, a dissatisfied workforce drags everything down. Workers are more likely to quit, they won’t put as much effort into their jobs, and they won’t go above and beyond in what they do. If your workers aren’t happy and engaged with their jobs, it will show up in the loss of productivity, dissatisfied customers and high labor costs associated with above-average turnover. Keeping your employees happy and satisfied at work will pay dividends that will ultimately lift the business over its competitors in the long run.
Some of the following strategies are proven methods of keeping your workers happy and productive.
1) Give them clear and defined objectives
Nobody likes feeling like they are just wandering around aimlessly. If your employees don’t know what is expected of them, then they will not know how to perform in a manner that boosts your bottom line. It can be very frustrating to work for a boss that doesn’t know what they want from you, yet still holds you accountable to some kind of a target. If you have ever had a boss yell at you for failing to meet a sales target yet offers no way to improve current figures, you know what I mean. If you come in with clear goals and expectations, your workers will work harder to achieve them.
2) Support them in the workplace
This manifests itself in a few different ways. One problem that some workers have is that they feel as though their workplace does not offer a safe and comfortable working environment. Whether they are being harassed, put on the receiving end of office politics, or punished for having personal issues in their lives, these work environments are not healthy and conducive to a happy workforce. For example, if a worker recently lost a loved one and their productivity suffers as a result, how you respond to that will go a very long way towards their overall level of happiness. Being callous or indifferent to their struggles only serves to make them feel unappreciated and unvalued.
With that said, supporting your workers doesn’t just mean making their work environment accepting. Your employees have lives outside of work, and when they feel as though work is intruding into their lives they are not going to feel engaged and ready to give their all. If you respect their personal life and accommodate them when things go awry, they will feel more appreciated. In turn, they will return the favor when you need to ask more of them.
3) Give them a stake in the business
If your employees see their job as nothing more than a paycheck, then they will never be motivated to do more than the bare minimum. Companies that give their workers some sense of ownership over their business’ performance report much higher level of job satisfaction and engagement. Starbucks has done this to great effect; all of its employees are referred to as “partners”, and all of their partners are given stock in the company for each year they are employed with them. As a result, the turnover rate at the company (at about 100%/year) is considerably below the industry norm for customer service jobs (about 300%/year).
If your business is small and doesn’t operate like that, you can also give them a clear goal with an incentive added to reach it. Some businesses give bonuses to workers for meeting certain sales targets. Others promise raises. If you give your workers something to fight for, they will work that much harder to achieve that goal.
Why do some people seem to get what they want out of life while others do not? There are several common actions you can take to get what you want out of life. If you understand these actions, you can increase the likelihood of getting what you want.
Start getting what you want by taking the following actions:
Identify what your want. Just because you’re unhappy with your current situation doesn’t mean that you know what you want. It only means that you may want something different that what you have. In the book “Put Your Dream To The Test” by John Maxwell, he discusses ownership of your dream, is your dream truly your dream? Make sure what you want belongs to you and not passed down by your parents, spouse or significant others.
Make what you want to achieve a priority. Do you really want a million dollars, healthy lifestyle or to be an entrepreneur? Or would you rather watch Friends reruns and eat Doritos at night?
Focus. It’s never been easier to get distracted or forgetful than it is right now. Modern life is full of digital distractions. Our ability to focus has never been lower.
Prepare for the grind. Even the most prestigious accomplishments are a grind 99% of the time. Consider a professional basketball player like Kobe Bryant. There are plenty of stories of Kobe staying after a Friday night game and working with a coach all night long until practice time on Saturday morning.
Focus on the process, not just the results. Obsessing over your weight isn’t the key to getting slimmer. As a matter of fact, it has the opposite effect without a process. The key is the adoption of systems and habits that will help carry you to your goal.
Plan for your success. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
It’s imperative that you know were you’re going and have a clear concise plan to get there. Creating a plan brings clarity. Clarity creates focus.
Life is frustrating and challenging. It can be especially frustrating when nothing seems to go your way. Know what you want and have a logical plan to achieve it. Have the patience to wait for the results to arrive. Prioritize and expect that the path will be monotonous most of the time. You can do it.
Learn about Growth Club, a 90-day plan to help you set your goals, focus, prioritize and stay on track.
I just finished reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande which is an intriguing book that makes the case that any discipline can be improved with the use of checklists. Gawande is a surgeon, so most of his examples are in the medical field and he has the statistical research to back up his claim that a simple checklist can save lives. (This book will make you think about some things before going into a hospital!) But he also draws from the fields of finance, construction and aviation to make his point that complex changing disciplines can benefit from checklists. It certainly made me think about how the businesses I know could benefit from checklists - including my own!
Now what he calls checklists, I would call systems. They are a written series of steps taken to complete part of a job. And the point is to follow these steps every time you do that job. Examples in small business could be a sales process, sales script, marketing campaign, the process in which orders are taken, phones are answered, employees are hired and trained, etc. We know that systematizing things will lead to greater efficiency, happiness and profit. Yet there is always resistance to doing this.
Gawande explores this human resistance to checklists. He points out that we just don't like them. They are not fun; they're painstaking. And they are embarrassing. It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist and it runs counter to our deeply held beliefs about how truly great people work on their own. People fear rigidity and working as mindless automatons. But it is actually the opposite! Systematizing certain processes frees up your brain to think about other things, allowing more creative problem solving to occur.
Every business I know can benefit from systematizing certain procedures, but it is not a smooth process to change over to. It means embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline. And discipline is hard! Having a system in place can help make priorities clearer and can prompt people to function better as a team. But people must be trained in how to use them.
Here are some points from the book about writing a checklist. Use simple, exact working and keep the list short by focusing on the most overlooked and most detrimental steps to skip. The list must be precise, efficient, to the point and easy to use. And it must be practical! Keep it free of clutter and unnecessary colors. And make sure there are communication check points on the list so teams talk to each other. First drafts will almost always need to be revised and rewritten. Test it, change it, and test it again.
Creating good systems takes time up front, but will lead to increased efficiency with fewer mistakes and this will lead to increased profitability in the long run. If you need more convincing about the impact a system can have, I strongly recommend reading this book, The Checklist Manifesto!
President, Chairman and Founder of ActionCOACH, the world's world number one business coaching firm
I have attended hundreds of networking events over the years. These events consist of breakfast meetings, luncheons and happy hours. The main purpose is to meet new people and get to know them better. Many people consistently attend these events and still have no idea how to properly network and connect with others. They tend to think they are building their business and being productive because they spent two hours at an event. Why would you take time away from your already busy day or your family to spend two hours at a networking event and leave with no progress?
Practice these 5 activities to improve your networking efforts.
Networking is about connecting with others
A sure way to sabotage your networking efforts is to try to make a sale the first time you meet someone at a networking event. The networking event gives you the opportunity to meet people, build rapport, learn more about others and ways you can help them. People are sizing you up from the beginning. In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few People Connect, he discusses 3 connecting questions that people ask themselves about each of us.
Have a clear game plan
The majority of individuals who network don’t have a networking goal. Most people network as a reaction to slow or no business. Become more proactive about your networking efforts. What are you trying to accomplish from your networking efforts? Have you clearly defined your networking goal and created a plan around that goal? Your goals should be SMART goals
Hang out in the same places as your target market
Network in groups that include individuals in your target market or have influence with your target market. If your goal is to connect with other business owners, you should network in groups where you can find business owners. For example,
So many people miss the boat in this area. Do you have a stack of cards from people that you can’t remember when and where you met them? Create a systematic plan to follow up with your people. When you receive a card from someone that you want to follow up with to build a business relationship, notate that on the card so you don’t forget. Follow up with them immediately to schedule a time to meet.
Measure your networking efforts
Just like any other marketing plan you have in place, you need to track and measure the results. Track the number of events you attend weekly, how many people you connected with and how many eventually converted to customers.
How do you maximize your networking efforts. Please comment with Tips that can be helpful to others.
Business Coach &
Certified John C. Maxwell Coach,Keynote Speaker and Trainer
Today I figuratively sat at the feet of Zig Ziglar to learn from
one of the greatest speakers of our times. His wisdom,
a well-earned result of reading 3 hours every morning.
He studied the pillars that make up the knowledge
of self. Those pillars are theology, physiology, and
He spoke of the virtues that are
necessary to have a more productive, moral, and
emotionally healthy society. Some of those virtues
were integrity, compassion, honesty, hard work, and
many more. The seeds of these qualities are in each
of us. The challenge comes with growing and nurturing
It is up to us all to stand up and be
heard in the face of injustice and inequality.
I also know that people can be blessed and overcome
by living a virtue filled life. Be the person that you want
those around you to be and you will attract those people to you.
I challenge you to be a leader. Listen to personal development, read
daily, carry yourself with honesty and integrity, and
give back to others. If you better yourself then you
have automatically made your community better.
VP of Business Development
One thing that is guaranteed in life is, change will happen with our approval or without. Change can consist of you receiving a new job offer or losing an existing job, expecting a new baby, adjusting to a financial marketing crash, or having a heart attack. At the onset of change, stress levels can be intense. However, change can actually help you get over some hurdles and move ahead with your life. Feeling confident in those changes seems impossible at that moment. Mastering adapting to change can bring a formidable change into your life. Consider these strategies to release stress and feel confident in changes in your life:
Change is under my control:
I believe most changes, self-induced or by someone or something else, can have a positive effect on your life. Have confidence when embracing change and watch your life explode with joy and satisfaction.
I'm by no means a child psychiatrist, but I am a mother who, like most mothers, loves her daughter and wants to ensure I help build her self-confidence. As an adult, I look back at my teenage years and realize how hard my mom worked to build my confidence. I remember the days I came home crying because I thought the girls in my class were prettier, smarter, and more athletic than I was. I remember having a crush on this handsome boy in my class. He had perfect skin and was just a tad bit taller than I was at that time. However, he decided to date a different girl. I was in tears, not because he didn’t choose me, but because I didn't think I would find another guy at the school that was the same height as me. As a child, I was concerned about my height. It’s quite amusing when I reminisce. Oh my, how sensitive our confidence can be at such an early age. Most of all, I remember dealing with confidence challenges with my daughter and felt really sorry for putting my parents through all my drama. Here are a few tips to help you build your child's confidence.
Show your children that you love them 100% of the time. Let your child know they’re perfect as they are. Withholding love because of a poor performance is among the worst options a parent can choose. Make it a practice to never go to bed angry. It’s important for a child to know they’re fully supported at all times.
Give your child attention. When you ignore your child, you send the message that they don’t matter. I was speaking with a friend, and he shared with me that whenever his children walk in the room, he stops, stands up, and greets them as if nothing else is important. Turn off the TV or put down the magazine while your child is trying to speak to you.
Pray with your children. God provides us a great deal of strength through prayer. As much as we would like to always be there for our children, we know that they will be required to make decisions independent of us. They need to know that God is there for them at all times. God gives us direction that offers strength and increases confidence. Knowing God is there will give your child the strength and ability to stand up to anything that comes against them. I know it's because of God that I'm still here.
Compliment and praise your child frequently. We all stand a little taller when we hear something positive about ourselves. Address the things your child does well. Give praise freely. I overheard my daughter tell her cousin, "My mom won't let me have low self-esteem." Her cousin asked, "What do you mean?" My daughter said, "She compliments me all the time." Of course, I was a proud mom at that moment.
Stay tuned for the next section... In the meantime, share your stories and tips on how to build your child’s confidence.
By Sheles Wallace
Certified John C. Maxwell Coach, Keynote Speaker and Trainer