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

The $25,000 Idea

Think About This: In 1912 efficiency expert Ivy Lee met with his prospective client, Charles Schwab who was President of Bethlehem Steel, and outlined how his organization could benefit the company. Lee ended his presentation by saying: “With our service, you’ll know how to manage better.” Schwab then stated: “We don’t need more ‘knowing’ but need more ‘doing.’ If you can give us something to help us do the things we already know we ought to do, I’ll gladly pay you anything within reason you ask.” “I can give you something in twenty minutes that will step up your doing at least fifty percent,” Lee answered. “Okay”, Schwab said, “show me.” Lee then handed Schwab a blank sheet of paper and said: “Write down the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow in order of their importance. The first thing tomorrow morning look as item one and start working on it until it is finished.” “Then tackle item two in the same way; and so on. Do this until quitting time. Don’t be concerned if you have only finished one or two. Take care of emergencies, but then get back to working on the most important items. The others can wait.” “Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your check for what you think it’s worth.” In a few weeks, Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 (over $500,000 in today’s dollars) with a letter stating that he learned a profitable lesson. After five years this plan was largely responsible for turning the unknown Bethlehem Steel Company into the nation’s largest independent steel producer. Schwab purportedly made a hundred million dollars and became the best known steel man in the world. ~ Author Unknown ~