I am a fan of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. The company I started buying my shoes from because I did not have to pay to have them shipped to me AND it was free to ship them back!  This changed my expectations of what I expect from an online retailer.

Beside helping to pioneering the free shipping concept Tony Hsieh also believes some pretty cool things like:

  • Company Culture comes first. “Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”
  • Customer Service and great customer experience are where it is at. In fact, Zappos has a very limited marketing budget. You would never see them pay for a Super Bowl commercial. Instead they put the money back into improving the customer experience and believe the customers will be their marketing and sales team.
  • Tony believes in work-life integration vs. work-life balance. How you are at home and how you are at work should feel equally as comfortable to you. He hires people he would hang out with outside the office. This also feeds his culture-building priority.
  • Zappos has core values that are built around Tony’s personal values and aligned with everything the company is and does.  Total authenticity.

Do you want to go to work for Zappos like I do?

Being Resourceful is a Key Leadership Trait

This is all great stuff but this is not the story that I tell about Tony and Zappos to anyone who will listen. There is another story that I believe is a game-changer when it comes to being a better leader and creating a career you love.

The story I am referring to is from an interview Tony had with in Success magazine years ago. In this interview he made mention of how he does not solve problems that he is having with shipping, for example, by just looking at what Zappos competitors were doing well but he also looks OUTSIDE his industry to see what other companies with similar problems are doing that is innovative and effective.

This reflects one of his favorite ideas that It is not necessarily a lack of resources that makes you unsuccessful as a leader but a lack of resourcefulness.

Become a Resourceful Leader

Let’s connect this to your career and get past your resources and on to you being resourceful when it comes to solving your most pressing problems.  Check out these examples:

Problem: You have open positions on your team but you can’t seem to fill them. You are having trouble attracting the right people.

Question: Who does a great job when it comes to attracting people?

Answer: Let’s look to the Chicago Cubs.

I have been a Cubs fan since I went to my first game in 3rd grade. It was a classroom trip and the whole day was magical. After that, I would attend games on and off over the years and then I met my husband, a sports writer for a local paper, and he and all his friends were Cubs fans. We would drive into Chicago frequently to see games and, eventually, my husband and I moved within two blocks of Wrigley Field, shared season tickets and rarely missed a home game.

We love the Cubs.

But the Cubs were not the easiest team to love. Horrible seasons. Crazy happenings that would keep them from advancing in the playoffs-from easy plays turning into errors to fan interference.

“There is always next year” was the battle cry.

Yet, did we consider not going to the games?  NEVER!

And we were among another 30,000+ fans (in a park that held just under 40,000 this is a significant number) who continued to spend money on tickets and $8 beers and suffer more losses than wins on the regular.

So how did the Cubs keep attracting fans when other teams in the league were not able to come close and how can you use their success to create success for yourself in building a team?

Solution: You could look to many things that have made the Cubs a longtime successful franchise that may not be relevant to you. Having access to WGN to build a nation of fans, for example. Or your company has not been around over 100 years so does not have the legacy, tradition and cache that goes with that. Yet, there are things you can do like the Cubs franchise and incorporate into your leadership and recruitment tool kit.

  1. Fun. Going to the ballpark is just plain fun. How can you make your office more fun? Is there friendly competition you can have to keep the team engaged? What about your attitude as the leader? Always choose positivity even in tough circumstances. It’s just more fun.
  2. Comradery. Going to the ballpark and hanging with friends builds connection and comradery between people. This means people are more loyal, more likely to help another person out and are more invested in each other’s success.  For you this means lower turnover! How do you build comradery and connection on your teams? Are you saying thank you? Do you know what is going on in their lives and what matters to them?  Do you have team days? Lunches? Coffee breaks? Being part of something bigger than ourselves is like food for the soul. Comradery is nourishment.
  3. Ambassadors. The Cubs have great ambassadors from Harry Caray to Ron Santo to Ernie Banks. Who can be your ambassadors and help get the word out about your hiring needs? Is there someone who has retired from your company or a star player on your team? Is it time to engage marketing and use social media?  People like to work for places the can brag about to their friends. Give them ways to do that through others.

Problem: Your career has reached a plateau.

Question: Who else has to deal with plateaus?

Answer: High Performing athletes

Solution: There will always come a time in your career when you raise your head and realize that you have not made much progress-either by choice or circumstance. Like high performance athletes make strong progress in their chosen sport… until they don’t. How do they solve this problem and how might their solutions apply to you and your career?

  1. Stop the insanity. The famous definition of insanity is that you keep doing what you have been doing expecting different results. Enough of this. Take an inventory of how you are spending your day. What can you do differently? Have fun with this. Be creative. Do lunch with someone different once a week. Say yes to a project that you normally would avoid. Volunteer for something at work. Take a class.   Like an athlete wanting different results, change your routine.
  2. Hire a coach. Hire preforming athletes will look outside of themselves and their current circle and engage a new coach or training program to challenge the status quo. Is it time for a career coach or a new certification?
  3. Renew your commitment. Taking inventory of where you are at and why can help to renew your commitment and reinvigorate your growth trajectory at work. If you find that you just can’t reinvigorate then you know it is time to move on.
  4. Enjoy the plateau. Sometimes a plateau should be relished. If you have been kicking butt for a long time when a space opens up do not rush to fill it with more doing or more achieving or more forward movement. Take a breath and enjoy the view. Acknowledge how far you have come. This pause may also allow you the time to consider what path you might want to go down next. In fact, you may surprise yourself and go down the path less traveled.

Try This

Ask yourself what problem seems to be unsolvable.  Then, take a look outside your current industry or circle of influence and see what others are doing to remove a similar roadblock with success.

Let us know what you came up with on our Facebook Page!