Archive for June 11, 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


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