Recently I took to trip to Las Vegas and went on the Zappos Culture Tour.  Its free and definitely worth the 2 hours (they will even provide a
shuttle to and from the strip).

It was pretty interesting and definitely gave you a good look at their company culture and some of the “different” things they did.  They only show
you the marketing, buyers, call center, hr, recruiting sections in the tour – those teams sure made it look like a lot of fun to be at work – and
everyone said they *loved* their jobs.  Of course, we didn’t get to see the engineering and product teams (which I would love to see, as I always seem to learn bits and pieces from observing other teams’ way of operation) but I am inclined to believe that they too may do things a little bit differently.

A couple of things from the tour that I liked were:

  • Set core values for your company – even if it is a small company.  It is never to early to define what you want your culture to be.
  • Create a regular “say anything” newsletter where people can ask whatever they want and get answers to their questions
  • Have a book shelf filled with books that are free to employees – they had lots of great titles including many of the better business books and personal improvement books I have read.
  • Promote from within – they talked a lot about how call center reps had moved up into various roles, and how they have staff focused on creating courses and classes on ways to improve.  Things like public speaking, management, leadership, etc.
  • Development plans for all employees that focused on both personal and professional goals. (One guy told us about his personal goal to write a song for a band – and how he had a coach that periodically checked on his progress).

If you work for a large company where cross group communication and collaboration is more a challenge they had some great ideas to help with
that:

  • This “Zap” thing where one group could zap another, which was done by bringing in special treats like donuts, etc
  • How when you login to you are shown a picture of an employee and expected to guess their name from a multiple choice list, then after answering get to see a brief bio of the person, etc.  They also keep score of how many each person gets correctly.

While we were visiting they also gave us a copy of Tony Hsieh’s new book, Delivering Happiness. I must say that after reading the book (it was my return flight entertainment) I have a little crush on Tony.  The book is written from his perspective, and he is so real, and it is so easy to admire his perseverance, accomplishments and vision.  I really enjoyed the story of his adolescence, his early success from selling his first start-up, the his passion for bringing happiness to those around him.  You can just tell that he is committed to personal growth – both his own and those around him (being a learner and wanting to better oneself is something I consider to be important and look for in all people I hire).  When I finished the book I must say I had a little bit of a professional crush on Mr. Tony Hsieh.

I would definitely recommend the tour and Tony’s book – both were worth the time.

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