The big picture – Inspire us!

The big picture – Inspire us!

I spent July-4th long weekend at Tony Hsieh’s place and that reminded me that I wanted to elaborate on my earlier post on “engagement vs. relevancy”. The discussion on that post was about if a company should focus more on relevancy marketing or engagement. My position is that it should be a lot more about having that bigger vision to bring in engagement. And Zappos is the perfect case in point.

So there I was, at one of those Zappos’ parties that we all read about in “Delivering Happiness”. Great party. It took about a few min after I arrived before Tony threw me into his swimming pool. Hat, sun glasses and all. OK, there was an elaborated and hilarious plan that Tony executed to trick me to get near the pool, but I won’t go into that here. I was in bikini, so it was sort of OK to be wet. Anyway, I got out, dried myself. Wary of the pool, I walked away and wandered into the theatre room. There was a group of people there, hanging out on massive comfy cushion platforms and lounges, listening to music. They look like what should be a scene a “Friends” episode. I didn’t know anyone but found a spot to lay down and joined the group.

-Do you work at Zappos? – I asked.

– Yes, we all work for Zappos. – Everyone smiled at me.

– Do you like working there? – I was curious.

– Yes, love it – the group responded enthusiastically, although not quite in unison

Each of them then shared stories of how they got into the company and how and why the believe in the company. They talked about how Tony take people seriously, often remind everyone to focus on having fun. How he allows everyone to do what they want to do so they can be their best. They talked about how proud and excited they are when people (strangers) turn up unannounced at Zappos headquarter and ask for a facility tour. They talked so excitedly about how more than half of the company is working in the Customer Loyalty Team (CLT). They talk about how Zappos is their life time opportunity, a workplace like no other before…

I got up to get a drink and ran into another group near the drink table. Everyone was so happy and friendly, obviously. There, I got similar stories. Wandered into the kitchen for some food. Same stories. Went out the court yard where people were playing ping pong and other games. Same stories. Went to the backyard to rest on a poolside cabana. Same stories.

I remember in particular a lady by the nick name “Blue hair Jen” who was walking around giving everyone bubble blowers and how passionately she talked to me about non-stained color bubbles and how she convinced Tony how important it is to get color bubbles. Really? Party bubbles?

The amazing party went into the night. I remember still images of a big crowd dancing and singing to the music, Tony running around handing everyone sparklies, my friend Shane Mac standing playing guitar and singing, fireworks, laughters with my friends Espree Devora and Holly Mac, a lot more of firework, a lot of hugs…  (Below is a photo of the next day/evening after we got a chance to recover.)

Wow. It was an amazing time. I have to say I was totally taken back by the energy of the group. What amazing was these people – co-workers – actually are having fun together like a big family and close friends.

People write books all the time. Usually they write what the world want to hear. You know: culture is important, people are our number 1 priority, customers are kings, blah… Books are written to sell. I honestly didn’t realize that Tony’s book was real. No wonder they earn that reputation for their culture.

Now back to our earlier discussion about engagement vs. relevancy. Imagine if Tony and Zappos were focusing on relevancy. How boring would their story be? We sell shoes. Online. Cheaper? Faster? Return policy? Duh? There is only so much you can say about shoes and e-commerce. It is only because they focus on that much bigger picture – company culture, customer happiness – that their employees are inspired and their customer engaged.

While I am at it, I want to throw in another example. Think of Gary Vaynerchuk. Imagine him focusing only on relevancy. All he would ever say would be about wine. Dry? Well aged? So what? It is only when Gary shares his vision and his journey as an entrepreneurs and his compassion and care for people that he engages the larger audience.

I have not bought wine from Gary nor have I bought shoes from Zappos. But I take Zappos and Gary’s brands personally and I bought into their bigger visions. I can’t stop talking about them and I want everyone to know about these brands. I will for sure buy from these brands, but more than that, I will now do anything I can within my capacity to help these brands thrive.

You be the judge. What works better?

So while you’re struggling to figure out how to market your product, take a step back and think of that bigger picture. Don’t sell us your feature list. Inspire.

Stay wonderful!

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