“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.

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Think About This

We are in a SIX-DAY Series on “Principle-Centered Planning” by Dr. John C. Maxwell

Today: Part FIVE of SIX

Principle-Centered Planning

“Seven Principles to Guide Your Planning Process
and Help you Achieve Your Dreams”
2) The Principle of Creativity
Of the seven planning principles, we violate the principle of creativity the most. By gravitating to concreteness, we sacrifice creativity. We settle for what’s easy to wrap our minds around, and we neglect to wrestle with harder, more difficult dilemmas.

I’m convinced that leaders are too busy doing to think and provide ideas. Even the rare leaders who think creatively often neglect to encourage the people around them to do the same. Consequently, a majority of teams rely on one person for creative thought and end up starved for good ideas.

3) The Principle of Influence
When you prepare your plans, ask yourself the question, “Am I able to influence the resources needed to fulfill my planning and mission?” To accomplish your plan, you’ll need influence over people, finances, and your schedule.

The support of people, especially other influencers, can make or break your plan. Make a priority to build relationships with them. In particular, find the key to their lives by learning what matters most to them. If you continually add value to the influencers around you in meaningful ways, then you’ll be more likely to receive their assistance when you need it.

4) The Principle of Priorities
I’m amazed by the number of people who begin to plan their careers before taking the time to prioritize their lives. You have no right, nor any reason, to start planning your life until you know what you’re living for and what you’re willing to die for. It’s important to find your purpose so that you run, not on the fast track, but on your track.

The key to a prioritized life is concentration followed by elimination. As Peter Drucker observed,”Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principle of effectiveness is violated as constantly today as the basic principal of concentration. Our motto seems to be, let’s do a little bit of everything.” We must cease to dabble in everything before we can become excellent at anything.

Tomorrow: Part SIX of SIX: More of the “Seven Principles.”