My interest in making a personal visit to Zappos grew from a suggestion in Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose a book I thoroughly enjoyed.
I wanted to see for myself how the Zappos culture makes typical business objectives such as profitability a by-product of a workplace where everyone enjoys spending their time.
On a recent post just prior to my speaking event in Vegas I promised to share what I learned from my visit to Zappos headquarters in nearby Henderson. Here it is.
A Brief History of Zappos
Before I get to the tour, let me share a brief history of Zappos.
They are an online shoe and merchandise retailer that grew from a start-up in a San Francisco apartment to become a billion dollar company within a decade, while also being consistently ranked as one of the top companies to work for.
This was accomplished by making good business decisions, and adhering to a set of core values that everyone is expected to commit to. Incidentally, Zappos was sold to Amazon about two years ago, yet, continues to operate independently to maintain their unique culture.
Zappos Core Values
- Deliver WOW Though Customer 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
In Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says, "Many companies have core values, but they really don't commit to them. We believe it's important to come up with core values you can commit to – meaning you're willing to hire and fire based upon them."
He goes on to say, "If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will fall into place on its own."
The Zappos Tour in Pictures
Just a reminder that you can enlarge any of these images by clicking on them.
The free tour is easily arranged online, where you can also arrange for a ride from your hotel or the airport – and back. This is also free, just as expedited shipped is when ordering from Zappos. Hmm .. sounds to me like a consistent focus on Delivering WOW Through Service – Core Value No. 1.
Immediately upon arrival at Zappos headquarters, you feel the energy – there's a buzz, from staff and visitors alike. It's not a fancy entryway, which is precisely what makes it so very much Zappos. The idea is that everyone walks through the same door – an effort to Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit – Core Value No. 6.
Spend just a few minutes with any Zappos employee and you immediately notice they value the freedom to be themselves – Creating Fun and a Little Weirdness – Core Value No. 3.
Walking down virtually every corridor you notice the rows of cubicles have a street name that mirrors the actual street names in the Las Vegas area.
Streamers are big at Zappos.
There are also plenty of reminders that encourage awareness for Being Passionate and Determined – Core Value No. 9 – when it comes to serving the customer better than the day before, such as this chart that tracks call response times.
about QR and 2d codes, I was pleased to learn that Zappos is planning to make this technology a vital part of the tour. For the time being, the HR department is using a code to extend a suggestion for joining the Zappos team.
You never know where you will find that ideal new team member, so it pays to be Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded – Core Value No. 4
The Zappos tours are the domain of the Zappos Insights team. In addition to the basic tour which is free, you can also pay a little extra for some one-on-one time with a member of the Insights team to get answers to specific questions.
Jonathan Wolkse was our expert that helped me to clarify once and for all that there are absolutely no rules with regards to Zappos employees using Twitter - or any of the other social networks. I find that to be an amazing validation of the power of core values.
Social media has been a powerful tool in the growth of Zappos, and their culture is what ensures that what is shared supports the well-being of the company. No attorneys are needed to craft complex privacy policies. As Jonathan put it, everyone is simply advised to - be present and be yourself.
That advice sure seems to echo Core Value No 10 – Be Humble – my personal favorite.
I'll tell you one thing, if you take this tour it will change you. The culture is that powerful.
How about you? Is culture king at your organization? Could you accomplish your business objectives more readily by focusing less on rules and more on culture?
Leave a comment below.
And free to share this with your friends by clicking on the Facebook Like button, or considering subscribing to this blog – just go to the subscribe tab.
Until tomorrow, Jeff