Late in the day on New Year’s Eve, Tony Hsieh filled up his car so that he could start the New Year on a full tank. Earlier in December, he refrained from complimenting co-workers on their sweaters just in case someone forgot it was Ugly Sweater Day. These are the revelations that appear on the Twitter page belonging to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, an online store that offers free shipping – both ways. It isn’t clear how such Tweeting fits into Zappos business plan, but Hsieh insists that the most important thing about Zappos is the corporate culture where, he said, one of the core values is to “create fun and a little weirdness.”
Back in the day, the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle launched a whole new corporate way of thinking around “having fun,” like the guys who are notable for throwing fish around. It isn’t known if they throw shoe boxes around the Zappos offices but their conference rooms are decorated in various themes – such as log cabin with a fake fire. Employees get a free lunch. All the better for getting acquainted. All employees are required to come and go through the front doors, a practice that is thought to build community. However, obviously not good for those who like to sneak out, unnoticed. But if Zappos is such a fun place maybe Jack doesn’t want to slip out the back.
At Zappos, they have a culture book, assembled each year with the unedited comments of employees discussing the corporate culture. When hiring a higher level executive, Hsieh says that once the basic qualifications are established the person is invited with family in tow, to hang out at weekend barbecues to get a sense of who they are beyond the walls of the corner office. The standoffish types probably don’t get invited back. During the interview process, prospective employees are asked to rate themselves on a weirdness scale. Just like Goldilocks, the extremes are bad and possibly the middle is good.
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