Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Do You Show Up?

In recent appearances at business conferences, a mild-mannered entrepreneur has captivated audiences with his powerful message. And, with his proven results, he's brought respect, excitement, and innovation to an industry that has traditionally lacked these significant qualities.

The person who has captured media attention and the hearts of his worldwide fans is Tony Hseih ("Shay"), the CEO of Tony has grown his online shoe company from sales of $1.6 million in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008, and attributes this success to a corporate culture with an "unwavering focus on customer service."

In Tony's view, the culture of Zappos is formally defined by their ten core values, which were collectively developed by all employees:
  1. Deliver WOW through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
    At Zappos, implementation of these values begins with the hiring process, and continues into their four-week training program. Every employee participates in this program, learns about the company history, vision, and philosophy, and then spends two weeks on the phone with customers.

    In this way, the Zappos culture clearly demonstrates a dedicated, real-world commitment to their core values.

    From my perspective, their commitment reflects an essential realization about values. That is, values create an internal guidance system or "ways of being" for individuals and organizations. Furthermore, this system operates within and outside of the corporate structure. As Tony states, he engages these values in his own personal life, as well as at Zappos.

    When you exercise your ways of being, you begin to establish a predictable alignment between your own core values and your deliberate choices in words and actions. As with Zappos, your self-expression--how you show up--reveals your "personal culture."

    To explore the values base of your self-expression and personal culture, consider this activity:
    1. Review the Zappos values for some ideas.
    2. Reflect on the areas of your life with your varied roles and responsibilities. These contexts include work, relationships, parenting, health, spirituality, family, friends, recreation, education, and others.
    3. Now, respond to the following questions:
    • What do you value--what is important to you--as you express yourself in these contexts?
    • What are some core current and desired aspects of your personal culture? How do you show up now and want to in the future?
    • What is your purpose (e.g., aim, intention) in your life?
    Remember, the idea is to deliberately identify your core values. If you find repetition in your responses, you can simplify these similarities into themes. When you're finished, use your responses to make a list with 5-10 values that can be translated into actions, as you see in the Zappos list.

    Of course, you can also complete this exploration in your organizational setting, and use the process as part of the foundation for building your corporate culture.

    In any case, congratulations! With this exploration, you have initiated the conscious engagement of your internal guidance system.

    Whenever you wish, you can review your core values in terms of how you show up. You just consider the extent to which you promote these "ways of being" in yourself. Then, as needed, make any changes in your words and actions that more consistently embody these values.

    With loving practice, the alignment between your values and actions will deepen, you will cultivate the qualities of self-expression that you desire, and you will establish a culture (personal or organizational) that empowers you and the people in your life.

    Enjoy your expressions!

    Love and Peace,

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