A few days ago, my wife and I took a tour of the Zappos corporate office and call center in Las Vegas. You see, next week I will be taking a group from Hope Baptist Church of Las Vegas (a client of mine) on the same tour and the advance visit was part of my homework. I wanted to prepare some questions and thoughts for Hope before we take the tour.
Wow! I was blown away with the excitement and energy from the people at Zappos. At every work station, down each hallway, and around every corner the workers created an environment that was simply refreshing. These people had a level of passion that I have rarely seen in all my years as a business performance coach. Everywhere we turned, we were met with energy. Sometimes it was delivered personally by Zappos personnel and sometimes with words and pictures. I saw words of encouragement as big as a banner and some as simple as a hand-written note in the stairwell.
Zappos is real clear as to what their brand is and how each person plays a significant role in making (and keeping) the Zappos vision alive. Each employee owns the Zappos Ten Core Values. It all starts in the first interview: they hire for the values first before they hire for any skill set. Zappos management is up front with their mission. Their belief is if you don’t have the Ten Core Values as your own set of values (that’s before you walk into their plant), then it really doesn’t make any difference how strong your skill set is, Zappos is not going to hire you. It’s that important.
In fact, they are so committed to the Ten Core Values that at the end of the four-week training, should you be lucky enough to make it that far, they will give you $3,000 to leave the company. Zappos figures it is cheaper to pay $3,000 now than to go through months with an employee who does not have passion for the values. WOW!
Throughout the tour, every single Zappos person greeted us as if we were family. They were proud to showcase their work area to us, they genuinely were glad we had stopped by. By the way, these tours go on all day, every day and there is usually a waiting line for the tours. How many of you have people lined up to take a tour of your operation because they want to learn why you’re so successful? None? Are people lining up to learn why your people are so happy and just feel wonderful? Probably not. Unfortunately, most businesses that have attained a level of success work just as hard to hide that success as though someone could steal it from them. Not Zappos; they open their doors, invite you in, and give it away.
The marketing department was amazing. Up on the wall were the personal and professional goals of each individual for the world to see. Think about that for a minute – it’s one thing to tell yourself your dreams and aspirations, it’s quite another to share that with everyone. (Ever told someone you were going to quit smoking or go on a diet?) They had each person’s personal and professional goals for the year painted on the wall as this picture shows. I asked them why? One word: accountability. First to hold that person accountable for their goals and second to hold the company accountable in helping the workers achieve their goals. When the workers achieve their goals, the company achieves its goals. WOW!
But wait, there’s more. At the end of the tour, they gave each of us two books. The first book, 2010 Culture Book of Zappos, was created by all the employees about why they love working at Zappos and how the values are lived each day. It is about an inch and a half. WOW!
The second book is Delivering Happiness; A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by their CEO, Tony Hsieh. Tony gives you the steps to create the culture you desire for your own business. WOW!
The next morning in my email I received a thank you note for taking the Zappos tour with a 20% discount coupon. They even took our picture sitting on a King’s throne that boldly announced the person in the chair as Zappos royalty. They celebrate us by posting the photo on their Web site. WOW!
I used to think I knew what WOW meant; but I just experienced WOW like nothing I have ever experience before. I get it now.
Zappos Ten Core Values
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble