Can work make you happy, and—more than that—can work be driven by a higher purpose? While a professional calling or high-profile occupation has long been seen to bring purpose and fulfillment, can a job in retail or in a call center, be driven by more than paycheck motivation. Yes, says Tony Hsieh, CEO of the successful online shoe retailer Zappos, and happiness is not only essential in customers and employees, it's essential to profits as well.
“We decided to focus on customer service,” Hsieh says of Zappos, “which is all about making customers happy and then over time we put more and more emphasis on company culture, which is all about making employees happy.”
Working for a paycheck, or even for a fortune, is misguided, says Hsieh. “The default assumption that I had and that our society in general has is more money equals more happiness and all the research has shown that that’s true up to a point, up until you can get your basic needs met, but then really there is other stuff that has a much bigger impact on your happiness besides just money.”
On the genesis of his “delivering happiness” business philosophy, Hsieh says: “A funny thing happened when we actually communicated this to our employees. We found that suddenly employees were a lot more passionate about the company, a lot more engaged and when customers called they could sense the personality at the other end of the phone wasn’t there just for a paycheck, but really wanted to provide great service and when vendors came into our offices of visited us they wanted to stay longer and visit more frequently.”
Zappos takes some counter-intuitive approaches to customer service, but they pay off over the long term, Hsieh says. “If you call us and you’re looking for a pair of shoes and we’re out of stock for your size, everyone is trained to look on three competitor Web sites to see if they can find it there and if they do direct you to that competitor. Obviously in the short term we’re going to lose that transaction, that sell, but we’re not trying to maximize for every transaction. We’re trying to maximize the customer experience and build that lifelong relationship with customers,” he says.
On the importance of adapting to the new economic reality, Hsieh says, “There is a quote from Darwin that it’s something like it’s not the fastest or most intelligent of the species that survives. It’s the one that is most adaptable to change. And I think the same is true for businesses as well.”
“If you look back on the history of giant businesses, corporations that have kind of lost their way or gone bankrupt or whatever it’s because they were stuck in their old ways,” he says.
On the difference between Zappos and Amazon, which recently purchased the former in stock, Hsieh says, “Amazon, I think, really takes more of a high-tech approach. We take more of a high-touch human approach, and we’re not, I guess, trying to necessarily change each other, but we recognize that there is also a lot we can learn from each other.”
“We don’t want people at Zappos that are there just for a paycheck,” says Hsieh, about why his company offers new employees thousands of dollars to quit if they think the fit isn't right. “We want people that really believe in the company and really want to be with the company for the long term.” The results of what has become know as "the offer" is,“when they decide to turn down the easy money, when they come back to the office on Monday they’re that much more passionate and engaged and committed and that has been by far, the biggest benefit.”
On building a brand and attracting customers, Hsieh says he believes new customers are really existing customers: “Really focus on your existing users or customers and figure out what changes can you make in the website, the service, the product, whatever to get them to come back more often to generate that repeat business and once you kind of figure out that formula then when you get new customers the whole thing just kind of grows exponentially.”
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
BASE particle physicists have discovered a very precise way to examine antimatter.
Thank your lucky stars you’re alive. It’s truly a miracle of nature. This has nothing to do with spirituality or religion and everything to do with science. Life itself may not be the miracle. Although we haven’t found it elsewhere yet, our galaxy alone is so replete with Earth-like planets that, mathematically speaking, one of them must hold life, even if it’s just the microbial variety. Intelligent life may be another matter.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.