Tony Hsieh

How long should you work on culture?

culture pictureYou’re always working on culture, but you have choices to make if you want to ensure your work leads to the right culture for your company.

Culture is what you stand for. Culture is what you want to accomplish. Culture is also how you want to get there. Culture starts at the top but is only successful when it is lived throughout the organization

“If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.

How to start your culture – Define it clearly.

Start with the mission – why are you doing what you do, what does your company or team look like with it is working at full success. Use action words in the present tense as if you are doing them already. Southwest Airline’s mission is to, “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.”

Next comes the outcome of the mission – the vision. For Southwest that is, “To become the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline.”

Then is the small number of steps you will consistently execute that will bring the mission and vision – the values. Here are some of Southwest’s values, Work Hard, Follow The Golden Rule, Have FUN, Safety and Reliability.”

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch

How to spread it through the organization – Measure it consistently.

Achieving a successful culture is like any other endeavor. What gets measured gets done. Only through regular reminders and follow up will your culture become something that is spread throughout your organization.

“Culture lives on when it’s taught and practiced. Teach your employees your culture and let them share what they’ve learned.” –

How to keep it alive – Reward it frequently.

If you want your team to know that the culture is important, you have to celebrate it when you see it. Be specific in your praise. Not just thank you, but thank you for living our culture by doing a certain act in a certain way.

“When you lavish praise on people, they flourish.” – Richard Branson

Stop chasing what doesn’t bring success

chasing successWhat you do should align with your goals for success or you shouldn’t be doing it.

Eddie Rickenbacker had an interesting career. Throughout his life he was a World War I flying ace, a comic strip and book writer, the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the President of Eastern Airlines. When asked about the secret for his success he said, “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.”

Rickenbacker had hit upon the simple truth of success that many have found, “Decide what you want to accomplish, then go do it.”

If you know what you want, but don’t do anything to get it, there can be no success. If you don’t know what you want, and do anything without regards to where it will lead, there can be no success.

Here is how you stop chasing what doesn’t bring success:

First define success (what do you want to accomplish).

Earl Nightingale was one of fifteen marines who survived the 1942 attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Arizona. In 1949 he was inspired when he read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and decided that the six words, “We become what we think about,” were the answer to his questions. Nightingale became a motivational speaker and produced The Strangest Secret, the first spoken-word recording to achieve Gold Record status and went on to write and record over 7,000 radio programs.

When you define success by establishing goals, you will focus on those goals and become what you think about. Nightingale was so sure of this that he said, “To achieve happiness, we should make sure that we are never without an important goal.”

Second design success (a plan to reach your goals).

Tony Hsieh started an online advertising network called LinkExchange which he later sold to Microsoft for $250 million. He joined Zappos as the CEO and later sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion and remains as CEO. Even though Hsieh has achieved professional and financial success, he has said the secret is to, “Chase the vision, not the money.” Hsieh had a vision, and demonstrated as CEO of Zappos, that happiness can drive success, “Whether it’s the happiness our customers receive when they get a new pair of shoes…or the happiness our employees feel being part of a culture that celebrates their individuality.”

When you have a clear vision for success you need an equally clear plan to achieve it.   Here are the core values of Zappos, the plan, they use to achieve success through happiness:

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 Relationships with Communication 7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit 8) Do More with Less 9) Be Passionate and Determined 10) Be Humble

Third align with success (adjust your plan and keep it focused on your goals).

Zig Ziglar was one of twelve children raised by a single mother, who he said thrived on adversity, after his father died when Ziglar was five years old. At the age of twenty-one he became a cookware salesman and manager where he learned and practiced techniques for success over the next twenty years. He published his first book, See You at the Top, when he was Forty-Nine, after it was rejected by thirty publishers. Ziglar went on to publish over twenty books with millions in print, as he traveled the world speaking and motivating audiences for nearly forty years.

If you want long term success you have to be able to adjust your plan without ever adjusting your goal. Zig Ziglar stayed focused on his goal of spreading the importance of a positive self-image even though his plan may have changed. He is quoted as saying, “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there.”

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