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Zappos Employees Live the Brand – Core Values – LV Growth Summit

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Fri, Apr 23, 2010

Travel and a Two Day Private Rockefeller Habits workshop prevented me from blogging earlier.  Today's 1st day of the workshop with my client reinforced the message from Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO.  If you don't know the story of Zappos check them out.   Tony started the business in 1999 and completed stock sale to Amazon in November 2009 for $1.2 Billion.  He knows a little bit about success.

With my client today we worked on Core Values and it was perfect timing to bring up some of the comments that Tony made about the importance for Zappos in developing their culture.  Zappos isn't very high on policies, and the trust level they provide their employees would scare most CEO's especially when you consider that they start their people at $11/hour.  [Of course the perks are good.  Company pays full insurance benefits including a card to even take care of co-pay.  Employees have concierge services in the building, helping to get laundry and dry cleaning down during the day. Check it out at  Click on the picture on the right [you may have to scroll to this] where the employees are standing in line at the vending machine.]

As Gazelles coaches we ask our clients to determine your One Thing, the highest priority that can have the most impact on your business.  For Tony his number one priority is to get the culture right.  Part of that number one priority include these five important elements:

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1.    Hiring for Culture. More on that and how they include their Zappos Core Values in the interview in a minute.

2.    Five weeks of Training including 2 weeks on the phone for every new employee.

3.    $2000 to quit bonus offered to each new employee.  Read more at Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit--And You Should Too

4.    Create a Culture Book.

5.    Allow employees to Twitter to help build the culture.

Zappos has an interview question for each of their ten Core Values.  For example, Zappos Core Value #3: Create Fun And A Little Weirdness generates another question that most CEO's and companies would probably never ask, "on a scale of 1-10 how weird are you?"   The object is to find out who this person is.  Zappos encourages authenticity, they want their employees to show their personality and be themselves, that's why they have virtually no scripts in a call center environment where most other company's demand tight scripting and control.  Zappos trust their people because they choose the right people to start with.  They encourage their staff to be comfortable.  After all if you offered one of your employees $2K to quit and they stayed would you be willing to trust them with handling your customers?

Here's another interview question example.  Zappos Core Value #4: Be Adventurous, Creative, And Open-Minded asks a question that might not seem to connect, "On a scale of 1-10 how lucky are you?"  Tony explained that this was his own creation based on a study he'd read about.  The same question was asked to a group of people, and the after they'd received the answer surveyed participants were given a newspaper to read.  They weren't aware that the newspaper was fictitious and that within the paper were several headlines that offered the reader $100 if they mentioned the offer to the survey person.  Of the participants who indicated they were not very lucky in the survey, not one noticed the headlines.  Tony believes that luck is being open to opportunity.  If a candidate doesn't feel they are lucky there not a good fit for Zappos culture.

Does your company have a set of Core Values?  Are they locked into the DNA of your company like Zappos are?  Let us know if as Gazelles coaches we can help you to achieve this type of employee engagement. 

I have lots more to offer from the Las Vegas Growth Summit next week after I return from my client's 2 day workshop in California.


Topics: One Thing, Core Values, Growth Summit, Two Day Rockefeller Habits Workshop, Zappos

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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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