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Next article July 30, 2009

How to fail

Fail Road

I came across Taylor Davidson’s How to Fail post through John Wilken’s READ MORE

The Zappos shipping and receiving department

Image copyright: ericajoy via Flickr

Everything I’ve ever heard about Zappos has reinforced my belief that skippiness is good for business. Following this week’s news that has agreed to buy Zappos in a deal that tops $900 million, I’m surer than ever.

Feel-good employment

Under the heading of Success Stories, Inc magazine says,

Zappos, the online shoe retailer that has won renown for its stellar customer service and feel-good employment practices, announced that it was selling itself to

The article goes on to reference a letter sent to employees by CEO Tony Hsieh, saying,

that although Zappos would be a part of a larger company, it would preserve its quirky culture that focuses on keeping workers happy.

Reading that, and being a little biased about this kind of thing, I see a simple skippiness formula:

(products people want)+(“stellar customer service”)+(“feel-good
employment practices” that “focuses on keeping workers happy”)
=very happy owners.

I don’t mistake a simple formula for an easy formula. Each part is hard work in itself and pulling the whole thing together, consistently, over enough time to build a significant business takes more focus, clarity, commitment and discipline than most leaders can muster. But when it does come together, the editors of Inc pay compliments and investors pay far more than just their attention.

The thing that bothers me is, why don’t more businesses try?

Glad to be involved

Is it because it’s not easy? Maybe, but it has to be worth the effort.

Owning/running/working in a place like Zappos must be better than the opposite – a business that offers products people don’t want, with grudging service and feel-bad employment practices that make workers unhappy. I don’t believe anyone goes in to business or takes a job intending to make it like that. It just kinda happens, especially when leaders are concerned with the pursuit of money as an end in itself.

Running a business in the pursuit of skippiness takes an alternative perspective. It’s the idea that businesses should be started and run with the explicit objective of making customers, staff and owners all glad of their involvement.

This week Zappos “powered by service” proved beyond doubt that if you do a good job, all kinds of money will flow.

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