I start the stinkin’ blog and I can’t even motivate myself to post more than once. Typical!
Anyway, I saw a post today on Seth Godin’s blog that made me start to think (God, I feel like Carrie Bradshaw) about corporate culture. Here’s the link. He talks about being careful who you work for and how no one teaches you how to choose a job, but they teach you how to get a job. Getting a job’s the (relatively) easy part. Knowing it’s the right one doesn’t really come until you start and settle in a little bit. Godin says that if you work for a bully, be prepared to be bullied; if you work for a narcissist, be prepared to brownnose and not learn how to lead for yourself. Interesting? Yes. True? Yes. Possible to know before you start your job? Difficult to say.
In the management classes I took in college, I found myself becoming fascinated less with process excellence (snore) and more with cultivating a positive corporate culture. One that nurtures its employees and sees them as assets, not numbers. Part of me wants to get into HR so that I can start working with companies to do these things. The other part of me has no desire to deal with sexual harassment claims, being in the middle of office politics, and having to fire people. I do like paperwork, though, so that might be a good point. Don’t ask me why… I can’t really tell you.
I do a lot of thinking on this point, and I really enjoy learning about companies with great cultures. One that comes to mind is Zappos.com. CEO Tony Hsieh (I think that’s the right spelling) was on Oprah yesterday talking about how they’re a service company that happens to sell things, shoes being their main item for now. I can tell you from personal experience and tons of orders that they really do deliver exceptional service. Their prices might be slightly higher than you might find in a brick-and-mortar store or another site, but they have free shipping, free returns, and only have up for sale on the website what they have in stock. I caved and finally bought my first pair of Uggs (if you know me, you’ll know I quite enjoyed my “Fuggs” that I had) yesterday at 6 p.m. EST and put in for standard shipping (free). I went about my evening computer-free and expected to see my new boots in a few days.* I get into work this morning, check my e-mail, and much to my pleasant surprise,* my boots were already in East Boston and on my way to my house! Another e-mail told me that I’d randomly been upgraded to overnight shipping. I can’t wait to get home to my new boots! I really need them, too, since it’s starting to get pretty chilly up here.
*I should probably mention that I can’t remember an order where I wasn’t upgraded to free overnight shipping. Still, I don’t like to jinx it, in the event that I actually had to wait.
So instead of talking about Zappos, I talked about how much I love their service. Oops. It goes hand-in-hand, though. Tony sold his first web-based startup after 2 years for $265 million, so he didn’t necessarily need to work anymore (he was 23 or 24, if I’m not mistaken). Instead, he signed on to Zappos as an investor and eventually became CEO. He sits in his cubicle with the rest of the staff– no corner office, here– and pulls a $36,000 annual salary. He’s passionate about his work, and it shows. He’s passionate about giving great customer service, too, and that shows in the time he dedicates to his employees. They’re encouraged to decorate their cubes with wild themes, they hold parades for random holidays, and he said that after work, many employees hang out together. They just enjoy spending time one another and fostering a family atmosphere.
I’m jealous of Zappos. If Tony ever wants to open a Boston office (right now, they’re in Nevada and Kentucky), I’m in.
In short (not like this post), I love just about everything about Zappos.