“The art of being wise is the art of kn

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”
~William James

“An idea can turn to dust or magic, dep

“An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”
– Bill Bernbach

“Work” and “Fun” In the Same Sentence?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Osten Ryker.

As I type this I’m looking over to a shelf with a book entitled, Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition, a classic bestseller with a premise much like all the other popular strategies of the ’80’s. It’s theme is how to beat the other market players in the battlefield game, the standard militaristic stance of that era. What I found striking about Delivering Happiness is that, in glaring contrast to all the stale, old-school formulas, Tony Hsieh never seems to concentrate too heavily on the “competition” but rather focuses all his attention on his customers and colleagues instead. Although he alludes to the competition occasionally, he does so only to express his desire to create the best possible experiences for the people who subscribe to and provide the Zappos service. In this sense, he seeks to create a c0ndition, since neither his associates nor his customers could find a better experience anywhere else.

Another thing about the Zappos culture that stands out starkly is that the company has clearly been crafted as more of a service provider than a mere product supplier. Zappos manufactures pleasant interactions while locating and delivering products its customers want in a way that is both convenient and satisfying. The company culture therefore falls more under the category of a service provider since they are more attuned to creating a pleasing experience than in merely distributing products. It’s promising to see companies like Zappos experimenting with a new style of business practice, where the words work” and “fun” can be spoken in the same sentence. It took me a while to realize that they aren’t just building a unique delivery platform that could work for any product or service, but they’re simultaneously fueling a revolution in the methodology of business practices for the future.

Tony Hsieh represents a unique cultural mindset that was born with Generation X.  He is the product of an advanced technological civilization that is birthing a new breed of human being. The children born in the 60’s and beyond have embraced an entirely new mode of thinking, a new approach toward viewing the world that has dramatically altered the way we interact with each other as a community. We have bombarded by mass media overload that exposes us to multicultural influences and alternate lifestyles.  Our hyper-stimulated, highly active minds continually search for new operational paradigms. Tony is clearly a child of this digital meta-generation. This new incarnation is the result of an expansive information society that has engendered people who see the world in a qualitatively different way from their ancestors.

Delivering Happiness conveys the potential for true excellence.  Tony’s ability to imagine alternatives to the status quo and then strive to implement his ideas regardless of opposition is a trait we will hopefully see more often as the 21st century unfolds. The traditional methods threaten to lead to moral and financial bankruptcy. We cannot continue onward down the same destructive path. Our lifestyles and economic practices must perpetually undergo a process of constantly changing forms. Only those like Tony who can navigate this accelerated transformation with original thinking and novel application will be able to forge the complex formulas required to insure our continued progress. Our very survival depends upon it.

BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW BUSINESS MODEL

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Osten Ryker.

I received an advance copy of the book by Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. In the book, Mr. Hsieh relates the story of his journey from a precocious childhood through a series of formidable challenges to the foundation of the Zappos phenomenon: an online footwear, apparel, and accessories provider that is breaking all the rules of business as usual.  Last fall, Zappos was acquired by Amazon behemoth, forming a strategic alliance that is bound to alter the very face of retail distribution. Apparently, I’ve been the recipient of a “random act of WOWness” as they say in the Zappos vocabulary, because the book was one of the most inspiring and insightful I have read for quite some time.  Mr. Hsieh displays a penetrating acumen for discerning the direction of cultural and corporate evolution. The model he and his associates have build demonstrates a much needed transformation in the “standard operation procedures” of traditional methods.

This book is so profound and utterly enlightening, I felt compelled to compose this testimonial of my impressions and touch on several topics his story brings to mind. For purposes of placing my reflections in context, I should say I am currently an inmate at a federal correctional institution serving a 20 year sentence for “Conspiracy to Interfere with Interstate Commerce”.  I have been incarcerated for almost 12 years now. My “crimes” were committed with only the best of intentions. I resorted to unconventional financing tactics to attempt to save my struggling business.  I engaged in multiple expropriations or unauthorized withdrawals (the called them “robberies”)  from what I considered a corrupt banking system. I’ve had plenty of time to think about my actions and to devote my energy to discovering more acceptable alternatives for attaining financial security.

I have always been an avid student of social issues. During my time in prison, I have continued my studies of politics, economics, and the American culture as these topics affect the distribution of prosperity and the eradication of poverty. I have researched countless volumes on economic theory, including numerous tomes on suggested business strategies from the past to the present day. I’ve found most of them too aggressive, mechanical and sterile for my predilections. I prefer a more organic humanistic approach as do most of the younger generations. Not until I read Mr. Hsieh’s book have I found a more succinct and poignant description of the evolving cultural mindset that is changing the way companies should be run.  The Zappos model lays out the direction corporations must take if they are to remain dynamic and flexible enough to weather the increasingly volatile economic storms of the coming century.

I was very impressed by Tony’s approach to business, both novel and refreshing when compared to the thinking of the past few decades. Somehow he has been able to retain his personal values, refusing to compromise his principles in the face of extraordinary pressures to conform to conventional techniques. He has even been able to radiate those values outwardly to the people with whom he built the Zappos success. Repeatedly, he emphasizes that his passion is not simply about earning money or beating the competition, but about building fluid organizations and architecting(sic) memorable experiences ( to use his words).  I commend him on his ability to remain true to his ideals while negotiating the typically vicious arena of the marketplace. On many occasions, he refused to bite the lure of immediate gain, walking away from the big money to devote himself to the long term goal. He is obviously inspired more by the prospect of creating something new and exciting than chasing after the emptiness of the mere bottom line or simple social status.

Over the coming days and weeks, I’d will continue to expound on the impact of Delivering Happiness. Stay tuned!!!

~ submitted by Osten Ryker

"Happyness" : Happiness with a ‘Why’

I have a habit a collecting lots of business cards from people I have met over the years. After all, “your network determines your net worth”, right? But recently while cleaning up my office, I noted that only a small percentage of these “contacts” ever become “connections”.
As a result, I am creating a Rolodex of all the people with whom I share core values, those I enjoy being around – the people that being around makes me Happy.

This idea that having fundamental principles and core values upon which to build relationships, businesses, and even one’s life is not so novel, in and of itself, but to witness this idea driving a company from nothing to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in less than ten years is quite remarkable.

It’s been nearly 6 wks since I received two advance copies of the new book by Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. I was honored to have the opportunity to share with each of my readers my honest review of the book. If you have never heard of Tony Hsieh, read on.

In 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an advisor and investor, and eventually became CEO, where he helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune magazines annual Best Companies to Work For list. In November 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing. His first book, Delivering Happiness will be released on June 7.

Here’s an excerpt:

When I ask people [What is your goal in life?], I get a lot of different answers. Some people say they want to start a company. Others people say they want to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. Others say they want to get healthy.
Whatever your response is, I’d like you to think about your answer to the follow-up question:
“Why?”
Depending on what they said before, people might say they want to retire early, or find a soul mate, or run faster.
Again, whatever your response to the previous question was, I’d like you to ask yourself:
“Why?”
The next set of answers people give might be so they can spend more time with their family, or get married, or run a marathon.
What’s interesting is that if you keep asking yourself “Why” enough times, you’ll find yourself arriving at the same answer that most people do when they repeatedly ask themselves why they are doing what the are doing: They believe that whatever they are pursuing in life will ultimately make them happier.

Sharing this excerpt, I was reminded of the opening scene in one of my favorite movies, The Pursuit of Happiness, Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) told the daycare owner that “happyness” was misspelled saying there was no “Y” in ‘happiness’. Well, we came to learn the “why” driving Chris’ pursuit of happiness – his son. And as Tony writes in what is now one of my favorite books, “In the end, it turns out that we’re all taking different paths in pursuit of the same goal: happiness.”

Delivering Happiness may not make you prompt you to create your own “Happy Rolodex”, but for anyone who still dreams dreams, this book is for you. The personal stories and insights into Tony’s paths and lessons connect with readers from all walks and experiences. Delivering Happiness
demystifies the tenets of success and delivers in tangible terms.

If this is your first visit to ChoiceJourneys101, stay tuned. Over the coming days and weeks, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, education, and inspiration ChoiceJourneys101 will feature topics, excerpts and links surrounding the Delivering Happiness movement. Your are invited to provide comments and hook up with us on Twitter @choicejourneys.

To order your copy of the book, visit:
http://www.amazon.com/deliveringhappiness

To follow the Delivering Happiness Movement visit:
http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com/

Resist the Urge to Criticize

When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.

If you attend a gathering and listen to all the criticism that is typically levied against others, and then go home and consider how much good all that criticism actually does to make our world a better place, you’ll probably come up with the same answer that I do: Zero! It does no good. But that’s not all. Being critical not only solves nothing; it contributes to the anger and distrust in our world. After all, none of us likes to be criticized. Our reaction to criticism is usually to become defensive and/or withdrawn. A person who feels attached is likely to do one of two things: he will either retreat in fear or shame, or he will attack or lash out in anger. How many times have you criticized someone and had them respond by saying, “Thank you so much for pointing out my flaws. I really appreciate it?”

Criticism, like swearing, is actually nothing more than a bad habit. It’s something we get used to doing; we’re familiar with how it feels. It keeps us busy and gives us something to talk about.

If, however, you take a moment to observe how you actually feel immediately after you criticize someone, you’ll notice that you will feel a little deflated and ashamed, almost like you’re the one who has been attacked. The reason this is true is that when we criticize, it’s a statement to the world and to ourselves, “I have a need to be critical.” This isn’t something we are usually proud to admit.

The solution is to catch yourself in the act of being critical. Notice how often you do it and how bad it makes you feel. What I like to do is turn it into a game. I still catch myself being critical, but as my need to criticize arises, I try to remember to say to myself, “There I go again.” Hopefully, more often than not, I can turn my criticism into tolerance and respect.

By Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

Antonio Stradivari was a seventeenth-century violin maker whose name in its Latin form, Stradivarius, has become synonymous with excellence. He once said that to make a violin less than his best would be to rob God, who could not make Antonio Stradivari’s violins without Antonio. He was right. Stradivarius violins could not be made without him.

Certain gifts were given to that craftsman that no other violin maker possessed. In the same vein, there are certain things you can do that no one else can. Perhaps it is parenting, or constructing houses, or encouraging the discouraged.

There are things that only you can do and you are alive to do them. In the great orchestra we call life, you have an instrument and a song, and you owe it to those around you to play them both sublimely.

Max Lucado, best-selling author.