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As some of you know, I have this little game I play where I like to track all of the things that I do for the first time in my life. This week, that list grew like a weed. A couple of notable entries include having my picture shot on the Strip with Elvis, I ate King Crab legs at the Bellagio and I finally got to go to Augusta.
Ever since I was probably 10 or 11 years old I have wanted to go to Augusta the 2nd week of April. I am very proud to say that I finally achieved this goal; kind of. On Tuesday of this week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Augusta Scott. Augusta is the Life Coach for Zappos. Before I tell you about Augusta, let me tell you about Zappos.
Zappos is a dot com company that sells shoes and started in 1999. Although the company was founded by Nick Swimmurn, the guy who really took the organization to where it is today is a Harvard Graduate named Tony Hsieh. He is 39-years old. In 2008, Zappos did over a BILLION dollars in sales. In 2009, Tony sold the company to Amazon for $1.2-billion. Part of the agreement included the stipulation that Tony and the rest of his team would continue to run the company, and he also made sure the deal was structured in a way that would insure that the culture that Tony worked so hard to create at Zappos would never change.
Now back to Augusta. Augusta is small-framed African American woman in her early-60’s (although she has the energy of an 18 year old). You can tell by talking to her that she has seen her share of both good times and bad times. Augusta was very humble when we first sat down to talk saying, “I really have no idea why anyone would be interested in listening to what I had to say. After all, I had never even attended college.” Considering her position in the company and the fact that it cost $1,500 to spend half an hour with her, I was not buying this line for one minute. I knew that I had a treasure of information sitting right in front of me and the clock was ticking. I immediately started peppering her with questions. Just as quick, she fired back simple Occam’s-Razor-like answers. Although most of her answers were simple, I knew that there was deeper meaning to most everything she said. I say this because in order to understand the answer, you had to understand where it was she was coming from.
At Zappos everything revolves around the company’s core values. These core values are what forms the Zappos culture. Learning how to define and create positive culture is the reason I went to Zappos and Augusta is one of the main drivers behind the culture that is Zappos.
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
How important are these core values? Instead of an annual evaluation, they do a Culture Assessment. Because everything that happens inside of Zappos is driven by the 10 core values, your ability to align yourself with the core values is the basis by which you are measured. All decisions and actions at Zappos must be aligned with the core values. Perhaps this is why they go to such exhaustive lengths to communicate and remind everyone of their core values. Take for instance their first core value - Deliver WOW through service. Initially I assumed they were talking about customer service. I was surprised to find out that although customer service is a priority, it is equally important to deliver WOW to your co-workers, vendors and community.
In closing, I will never forget the time that I spent with Augusta. She was one in a million and is truly a “coach” in every sense of the word. I feel quite certain that if I had a nickel for every positive event that Augusta has helped create over the years, you would not be reading this blog because I would be retired. Augusta, thank you.
Next week my blog is going to be about the wastewater bonds in our area. To steal a line from Sweet’s Sewer and Drain; It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. Get the tar and feathers ready! This one might get me ran out of town.