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Core Values in Candidate Selection – Zappos “Are You Lucky?”

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

I’m on vacation this week and decided to repost two blogs that I feel have a message that needs to be repeated.  The following blog is from February 6th, 2014. People as noted in Jim Collins Good to Great are the #1 factor in business success.  Making sure you are hiring the right people is critical to ensuring your business success.  Rockefeller Habits best practices demand creating Core Values.  How do you use those Core Values?  If you’re not using them to develop questions to determine if you have the right candidates to fit your culture, you should consider developing them.  Here’s an example from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on how to use Core Values as they do to discover whether potential employees are a good fit in their culture.

What I’ve written about Zappos Core Values before bears repeating.  describe the imageWe’ll examine using Core Values in your hiring and selection process focusing on a specific value that Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos is particularly fond of. 

At the 2010 Las Vegas Growth Tony shared several of Zappos interview questions directed at discovering whethear candidates presently share Zappos Core Values.
One of the questions Tony came up with “Do you consider yourself lucky?”  Tony described an experiment he’d read about people who self-described themselves as "lucky." These “lucky” people picked up more hidden clues in a quiz. In the test, two groups of people are given newspapers with hidden messages. They are told to count certain images. The headlines and text on the pages have hidden messages telling them when they’ve completed the assignment if they mention a particular message in the newspaper, they’ll collect an extra $100.  The group who answered that they were "lucky" when asked before the assignment, were much more likely to find the clue. Most revealing, people who answered they were not lucky failed to find the message at all. 

Tony wants “lucky” people to work for Zappos.  Which of Zappos Core Values does being lucky pertain to?  It could be several.  My best guess is number 9 - Be Passionate and Determined.  In the description (something we recommend you provide when you create your Core Values) zappos family logo resized 600it states, “We don’t take “that’ll never work” for an answer. A lot of people told us that selling shoes online would never work; imagine if we had listened to them! Core Values Frog (Zappos name for their Core Values) has a positive and optimistic attitude because this inspires everyone around him.”

A Harvard Business Review article on luck (Make Luck Work in Your Favor) refers to Tony and a lot of good principles about luck.  The article on why lucky people found the clues in the article offers this insight; Why? We think it is because they approach the world with an open and optimistic mind that enables them to see unexpected opportunity more readily.

Does your business have Core Values?  If so how alive are they in your organization?  Do you use them to select new employees?  Are they part of your interview process to determine whether or not candidates have these same values? 

If not we suggest this be an immediate change to your Hiring and Recruiting process.  Many companies use their Core Values in their Help Wanted ads to help qualify those who would apply in the first place.  Discovering whether candidates have your Core Values should be one of the first steps to determine whether or not they are a potential good fit for the business.

Do you think you’re lucky?  If you’re an entrepreneur most likely you do.  From the HBR article; Entrepreneurially lucky people are driven by a deep intellectual curiosity. Constant focus on self-improvement affords more opportunities for luck to occur. Business leaders who regularly question the norm and who seek both continuous improvements in their business, and in themselves, end up being luckier because they want to learn. They read new things, try new experiences and are open-minded to a variety of relationships because they are curious. All of these things increase the probability for circumstantial luck. The need to push against complacency, reframe ideas, and seek external inputs may sound like “hard work,” discipline,” or even maniacal “competitiveness,” but at it’s much more than that. It’s an inner resolve to learn and always believe in the ability to do better. You will simply see more — and therefore increase your chances of finding luck — if you adopt the open mindset that “there is always more to see and more to learn.”

After reading this doesn’t it makes sense to hire “lucky” people.  Doesn’t it make even more sense to find out from potential candidates whether or not they fit your Core Values to ensure a proper fit in your organization right from the start?

Certainly I feel lucky.  Let me share a little reason why.  Last Wednesday, during my regular clinic visit, I probed Dr. Silverman on what my survival rate had been when I arrived on February 25th, 2012.  I’m working on writing a book and as I related in First Monday of New Year – Business Growth: Survive & Thrive in 2014 her answer to my survival rate being only 25% surprised me. 

When I asked Dr. Silverman what my chances were when I arrived she indicated less than 5%.  Then they discovered I had Mono Somy 7 which decreased it even more!  Finally after failing to get results through five chemotherapy treatments, my chances for getting ALM in remission were extremely thin.  Michelle told me she had Google searched Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Mono Somy 7.  She couldn’t remember the numbers of cases it showed, 1000, 10,000 or 100,000.  She just remembered the survival rate.  “Zero.”  Steve Swed my friend from last blog indicated his Google search showed survival time as six months. Steve was one of the first people to generously give a financial donation which lifted my spirits and gave me hope. 

Michelle never shared the results of her search with me.  She didn’t share Dr. Silverman’s confidential discussion on my chances of survival when we started the clinical trial either.  That conversation was depressing despite Dr. Silverman being a very optimistic Doctor.  No one expected me to live much longer, let alone imagine I’d get my cancer in remission.  As Dr. Silverman pointed out no one expected me to ever get to transplant stage.  She called me an outlier. 

I can’t imagine how difficult this was for Michelle.  How she could hold it in, not tell me to dampen my spirits and hope. How could she live with it, feeling her husband was going to die?

Quite honestly I never heard much of what the doctors offered the first week when they gathered in my room to let me know I was in the least likely group to survive ALM.  I’d already made the decision and planned the course to beat it through meditation, prayer and to follow the principles of Strategic Discipline in my life.

It’s now almost 2 years from my discovery of cancer, still alive, much to the amazement of the medical profession.  Do I feel lucky?  You bet! Do I have faith and confidence in the principles of Strategic Discipline?  Absolutely!  Let me know if you and your business would like that kind of confidence in coaching you. 

Topics: Strategic Discipline, Core Values, People, Bone Marrow Transplant, hiring decisions, Mono Somy 7, Best Business Practices, Michelle Wick

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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