To be zany is to be ludicrous and foolish. To become successful in today’s business climate you must embrace your zany. Stop doing business as usual. To be zany is my challenge to you. Summer is finally here, let’s play a bit. Bring back the childlike wonder and happiness to our associations and chambers. It seems clear that being happy at work, or in our volunteer work, is a lost art. Let’s see how Zappos does it and makes zillions of fans and dollars worldwide.
- BE Zany: Embrace and Drive Change. You know how most companies are about trying to build rules, regulations and people who keep things status quo. Then we complain they do not work. You will not see that at Zappos. From the moment you walk on campus you can feel the energy and fun at work. That fun translates to every interaction from the on-site tour to calling for shoe advice. You will always feel the difference at Zappos. What if you dropped all the rules? Would things really fall apart? Zappos says no and they are one of the largest distributors of shoes worldwide.
- BE Zany: Build a positive team spirit. TEAM spirit, yes that means everyone. In January 2014 Tony Hseih did away with all titles at Zappos, thus making everyone responsible for the overall vision, mission, and financial goals of the company. In fact, he has the same size cubicle as every other employee and they affectionately call the row he sits on “monkey” row. Do away with titles in your organization and build a culture where everyone helps everyone. Our organizations can only move as fast as our slowest link. Is your team wearing 6 inch stilettos or New Balance running shoes? How fast do you want your team to drive change and success?
- Be Zany: Forgiveness NOT Permission. At Zappos they honor the unique and different. They know that innovation comes from the willingness to do things differently. So every employee learns early on they should ask forgiveness not permission. You won’t find huge rulebooks to memorize at Zappos – there are no call times or call scripts. What you will find is dedication at every level to create happiness. Give your staff permission to try something new; give your volunteers a little leeway to try something different. Heck maybe you will have the next million-dollar idea waiting in the shoebox.
- Be Zany: Open and Honest Communication. One of my favorite parts of the tour was the t-shirt wall. Every time that Zappos hits a financial milestone from their first $1 million dollar day to the first $100 million the entire company gets a shirt to celebrate. Each shirt is displayed here. It is clear that it’s not about the shirt. It’s about clearly communicating both financial goals and the ability to attain them as a company.
Why did I step into Zany? To teach you to run your association or chamber of commerce differently. You must become Zany to create a new culture, new members, and new revenues internally and externally. So often as associations we say: “we can’t do that, we are not that big.” Each one of these things you can implement with a little time and a lot of fun.
Zappos is Zany. Why? Because they are personal and authentic. From the moment – months before – I set my tour through my walking out the door, the culture guides and employees were happy to see me and to create an experience for me. Remember your high school yearbooks. Every tour participant gets a copy of the Zappos yearbook and their photo in the Zappos VIP Throne. Do you treat everyone in your association or chamber with the fun and joy of a VIP?
This summer go Zany. Embrace change, celebrate your team, create weirdness and be open and honest about where you are as an organization and were you are going. Want help to shift your organization? Call us for a “reboot.”