Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Zappos Moment

I was fortunate not to many weeks ago to attend a tour and subsequent Q & A session at the Zappos world-wide headquarters facility.  Zappos huh?  Maybe you are wondering why anyone would go to a shoe distribution place for a tour, well, if you have ever dealt with Zappos and things didn't go perfectly, then you would know.
Many people do not know what a huge commitment Zappos has towards serving you, the customer.  The machine they have built is pretty well-oiled, so problems do not arise often, therefore, you may have never seen them leap into action.  Leaping and action are very appropriate words to use at this juncture.
I really do not remember how I first got exposed to Zappos ... I would wager a bet though that it was through the buying habits of my Imelda Marcos ( impersonating wife. Imelda is noted well for her love of nice shoes, Connie, that initially exposed me to the company.
Following pop-culture to a degree through Twitter, I became keenly aware of Tony Hsieh (, pronounced Shay, the founder and CEO of Zappos.  While digging around on the Zappos website, I found a section that offered a free book on their culture, the 2009 version.  Upon more snooping I found that Tony had just recently released a book he wrote called Delivering Happiness, obviously then I was on the search to get it bought and read as well.
The book was a great read, it really exposed how Tony, Fred and the team started, the concepts, their beliefs, etc...
So fast forward a few years to December 2012, I was reading an article on Zappos and how they were helping to redevelop North Las Vegas.  This area was old school Vegas, crime riddled and full of hookers and other types that the city really didn't want or need hanging around.  Zappos, as you may read in the Hsieh book, moved to the Vegas area years ago so as to have access to a city that pretty much was 24x7, as a call center has to have folks working when most folks are at home ordering shoes from the Internet.  Zappos bought the old City Hall from the City as I as write this, are in the process of moving 2,000 or so people from the campus in Henderson, NV, just 15 miles from Vegas, into this really cool, huge and refurbished facility.  ( The goal being ... getting all of the smart folks of Zappos under one roof, the Henderson-sized buildings have not allowed them to do so as they have grown.
Before a blink of an eye, I was back on their website & saw they had a "training with us" type tab.  Upon clicking on it, I saw several options.  You could register for a tour of the facility or tour and then capped off with a 30 minute one on one session with a team leader or do a full 3 day immersion session.  I opted for the tour plus one on one. 
April 17th, 2013 was a beautifully, all though cool day in Las Vegas.  I arrived a few minutes early, shocker for those who know me, not, Anyway, signed in and sat and watched.  The first thing that got me was the "Mayor", he was the greeter and having the time of his life in doing so.  Warm welcome to all would be an understatement, this gent made you feel like you were the only soul in the lobby, although there would be a total of about 30 of us in general for the tour.
We did the tour ... Complete with a parade that we got to watch, no one really knew what the group was celebrating, but they did it very well ... We saw the entire facility, including Monkey Row, that would be where Tony & all the exec's sit, as well as a well appointed (see image of wall art) bathroom. 
The experience was really great, I wasn't surprised, as having read about the culture, I kind of got it.  However, the group of 13 Red Hat Ladies that were in the group, well, they were not accustomed to young ladies with full sleeves and blue hair, I had as much fun watching that crew as I did on the tour.  I sat with Jim G & Tom, both Team Leaders in the Customer Service Group.  Great guys, really get it and represented Zappos so well, what a privilege it was to talk to people who embody the company spirit.
The bottom line is this ... from my reading and visitation ... Hire smart people, keep your core values up front and practiced consistently, then get out of the way and let good stuff happen! 
Happiness Delivered!

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