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What Does Your Business Culture Say About You?

Last week, some members of our Human Performance Association’s Team had a fantastic opportunity to participate in PPI Certification Course in Las Vegas, Nevada. Practicing Perfection Institute is an HPA approved organization. Many congratulations to the PPI Team for putting together such a great amalgamation of Next-Level Human Performance Theory and Practice in action.

Certification week was filled with great content and experiential learning opportunities for Human Performance Professionals working in different industries. As a part of the course, we were also given an opportunity to witness positive company culture in action by taking the Zappos Culture Tour led by our tour guide FNG (aka “Fun New Girl”).

Zappos Family Culture is built upon 10 Core Values: #1 Deliver WOW Through Service #2 Embrace and Drive Change #3 Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

#4 Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

#5 Pursue Growth and Learning

#6 Build Open and Honest Relationship

#7 Build a Positive Team and Family

#8 Do More With Less

#9 Be Passionate and Determined

#10 Be Humble

It was evident from the tour that Zapponians (the term that Zappos employees prefer to be called) live these core values day in and day out. The passion, excitement and joy at work was evident throughout. At first, the Zappos open-concept (with no cubicle isolation) appeared and felt a bit chaotic and intrusive because of the limited personal space, however after observing for a few minutes, I found that the open spaces were more inviting, making it easier for team members to collaborate.

I loved seeing one of their open-space brainstorming sessions. This is like any other meeting but far more powerful, as everyone was clearly engaged with the project discussion and idea sharing.

I have to admit that their energy was very contagious, and everyone in our tour group was very impressed with the family culture atmosphere that Zapponians have established. FNG mentioned a lot of great things that their company is known for. A few that stand out in my memory are: Stronger community connections and interactions, healthy food and fitness options for employees at a reduced price, positive work culture, and commitment to provide greater service.

I have two lasting impressions from the tour that will forever inspire me: One time a customer called during the holiday season and Tony Shieh (Zappos founder and CEO) picked up the phone to answer the call. It was from a customer who hadn’t received their package on time.

Tony could have easily passed on the task to someone else, but instead he took the time to handle the problem within a few minutes. Even more impressive is that he later made sure (using his personal cell phone) to follow-up with the customer. By the way, here is a picture of Tony’s office where he works with his peers.

The second thing that impressed me was to see their core value # 8 in action: Do more with Less. I used to think of that statement as ambiguous because many companies only seem to understand the literary meaning of it, rather than looking at the inferential meaning. However, I loved what the Zapponians had to say about that- Their philosophy is simple, they want to make the shopping more comfortable and convenient for their customers; so any Zapponian in the Customer Loyalty Office who receives a customer call can help that customer without having to transfer to another representative or department. Isn’t that refreshing to hear? I wish more companies would use “Do More with Less” in this actual sense. Zapponians feel empowered to make customer feel more cared for. WOW!

​As a parting gift, all visitors were given a coupon and Zappos Culture Book, which I really loved reading. The book asks, what does the Zappos Culture means to you? Some of the responses that touched me were: “Culture is a smiling face when you pass by. Culture is someone opening the door when your hands are full. Culture is jumping out of bed because you are excited to get to work. Culture is laughing so hard at work that you almost pee in your pants. Culture is going above and beyond to make a coworkers day. Culture is working extra hard because you want to do a good job for your team. Culture is becoming a better person because the people around you are amazing!”–Kiersten S.

“It’s hard to put into words what I think about the Zappos Culture, because it’s really a way of life now, more than anything else. It’s doing the right thing. It’s believing in people. It’s helping each other out. Its ideas … so many ideas! It’s inspiration. It’s follow-through. It’s family. It’s really the basis of making anywhere feel like home.”– Justin H.

“The Zappos Culture is more than what goes on in the office. It is the relationships we form and the friendships we make. You can’t find that anywhere else. I never have.”– Liz G.

I strongly believe that even though the Zappos office environment is not for everybody, they do have a great recipe that’s working for them in creating a positive culture- where people love to work and thrive in the crazy environment that they have created.

Now we all know that one size does not fit all, so what one can do is to gather valuable information by such examples and then choose the principles and behaviors that will work best for their business.

What is your Company Culture like? Remember, the Culture in which you liveinfluences the way you think and the culture in which you work also influences the way you think! With these words, I would like to “THANK YOU” for joining us in, Changing the Global Conversation on Human Performance!

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