Archive for June, 2011

Having a Greater Purpose

One core value of Zappos’ culture is having a greater purpose than just selling shoes: delivering happiness.

Zappos strives to deliver happiness not just to the clients who buy their products but to everyone. Today executives from all over the world come to Zappos headquarters to learn the company’s methods for delivering happiness to their employees. Workers spend most of their waking hours on the job, so there is no question that Zappos is fulfilling its purpose.

One of the reasons Zappos has been so successful is that people feel a need to belong to a group or to be part of a cause that is larger than them. I think it’s even ingrained in our DNA as humans to seek a higher purpose in life.

An example of that is a Zappos employee I met called Bonnie who told me that she is so committed to her employer that if all they had for her to do was to take a job as a janitor she would happily do it. I challenged her if she would still accept a less paying job in the event that she could take employment elsewhere and she insisted that she could not see how she would “abandon [her] family.” (These were literally her words).

Note that this heightened sense of purpose and belonging is not unique to Zappos. Southwest is celebrating their 40-year anniversary this year. In reading their magazine, they see their purpose as making domestic air travel affordable for as many people as possible.

This proves that in both business and personal life, wanting to make money is not a strategy.  It probably never is. Companies succeed by offering a service desired by the marketplace. What Zappos has shown us is that a company can have a purpose and an impact beyond the products it sells or services it provides.

Why am I so fascinated by companies like Zappos that see themselves as having a greater purpose in life? It’s because this goes well with my personal belief that our purpose in life is to serve and by serving, we receive no less than those we serve.

June 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

Having the eye of faith

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1

[One of the most important qualities of a leader is being able to visualize the future. In Christian terminology, I call it the eye of faith. In secular or religiously-neutral language, I call it “visualization power,” the ability to see what can be as opposed to what is. If you can see barely in front of you, how can you lead others to the promise land? Below is an excerpt from a sermon I preached during the occasion of a youth day. I hope the language is accessible to everyone whether you go to church regularly or you’ve never set foot in one. Be blessed!]

Visualization starts with dreaming. But many people don’t know how to dream. For some it is because others have told them that they are good for nothing, that they will never get a good job or they will never find a good person to marry. When you have God, though, you have to learn to shake negative things off. When I was young, kids said very mean things to me. Fortunately, I learned to shake it off. They could only see my present whereas I could see my future. Don’t let other people stop you from dreaming.

One of the main qualities of a leader or a high achiever is that he or she has a good ability to see beyond what things are now to what they could be in the future. In business schools, they might call this quality “having vision” or “being a visionary.” In fact, I believe that what distinguishes many successful people from others is that they have dared to have bigger dreams! Joshua was a visionary. When he went to Canaan as a spy, 10 of the other spies saw the giant soldiers who they thought could not be defeated, Joshua on the other hand saw the beautiful land that God was going to give them as a country. David did not focus on Goliath, instead he saw the easy victory that God was about to give through Him. While his servant was focused on the army around them, Elijah instead could see thousands of angels protecting them. When you have vision, you’re not limited by your present conditions because you know with God, things can become better.

What I call vision for the Christian is simply the eye of faith. Hebrews 11:1 says that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV)

The Bible tells us that God says that he will be with us with whatever we undertake, whatever we initiate, whatever enterprise we embark on, wherever we go. That is a license to dream. Because of God’s promise, if I want something and I have asked Him for, I can already see myself having it. Someone said that if you’re going to dream, dream big. I encourage you today to dream big.

June 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

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June 2011