Corporate culture is one of those phenomenon which is misunderstood, discounted and often relegated to HR. It’s a mistake that companies like Zappos, Whole Foods, SouthWest Airlines and Starbucks not only aren’t making, but are doing quite the opposite.

Culture is a mish mosh of psychology, beliefs, actions and attitudes that when sync and jive can help drive gross merchandise sales to $1 billion a year (like Zappos). But when it stagnates, can lead to miserable failure.

Creating a corporate culture can’t be faked. It has be authentic and nurtured from the CEO on down. In fact, the CEO is the most important player because he or she sets the stage and is the role model for everyone else to follow.

Take a look at the slideshare below to see how Zappos’ CEO Tony Hseih created a culture that is really quite astonishing. It’s weird and wacky, but you can tell that everyone who works at Zappos loves it!

Here are take-aways from the slideshare:

  • Every year, Zappos has a family tradition called “Bald and Blue” where many employees shave their heads, put on tattoos and spray paint themselves blue (to have fun), but to also raise money for charity.
  • 75% of Zappos customers are repeat customers.
  • Zappos has ten defined committable core values upon which the company is based.
  • Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were the original innovators of recognizing culture as a critical piece of profits.
  • HP established “The Way” which recognized employees’ brainpower as the company’s most important resource.
  • “The Way” offered one of the first all company profit sharing plans, gave shares to all employees, offered tuition assistance, flextime, job sharing and more (this was 1960).
  • The “HP Way” was once Silicon Valley’s innovation model, creating the foundation for the likes of Zappos and others.
 If you walk away with one message, let it be this: If you create a great culture, you will have happy employees. If you have happy employees, then generally speaking, you will provide great customer service, which leads to happy customers. All of this should lead (with a bunch of other important variables included  – like good product, execution etc.), to a great long term brand. One thing is sure, you will definitely be on the right track.
 
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