Working with Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh and his valued advisor and Delivering Happiness co-founder Jenn Lim on radical mentoring sessions has been a wild ride, and I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible. One thing that Tony and Jenn shared with me is their list of 10 Lessons Learned that they wish they had figured out earlier on. I’d like to share three of those lessons with you now:
- Happiness is good for business. The line between work and play shouldn’t be as rigid as you may have been led to believe. Baking happiness into your business model is actually extremely savvy business sense. Why? There are big gains for businesses that deliver a positive company culture. But it’s about more than just a snazzy mission statement, free soda and the occasional sales incentive. One of the key sources of real happiness is purpose – understanding your business in the context of a higher purpose and delivering a company culture that focuses on that purpose gets your employees engaged. Happy, engaged employees become your company’s best cheerleaders and engines. Look at the Stengel Top 50, which lists the 50 fastest growing brands that built the deepest relationship with customers. These brands returned 4 times as much to shareholders than companies on the S&P 500! Look at your company’s daily culture, and figure out what you’re doing to provide yourself and your employees with a sense of purpose and a positive work environment.
- Stay on top of your inbox. How much time every day do you spend trying to get through all of your email, only to face another onslaught the next time you open your inbox? Tony and Jenn use a technique called Yesterbox to make their messaging more manageable. You can learn the full technique here, but the gist of the method is that you set aside a scheduled amount of time to go through your inbox each morning, and you consider yesterday’s emails to be your To-Do list for the day. If a new email can wait 48 hours without causing harm, you don’t respond until the next morning. If an email needs more than ten minutes to come up with a response, you schedule a “meeting” with it in your calendar, and then move it to another folder. I highly recommend checking out the whole technique and giving it a shot!
- Write it down. Don’t let a great idea fall out of your mind, never to be heard from again! Whether it comes to you during a shower or while you’re having a coffee with another entrepreneur, make sure you that jot it down – don’t count on your ability to recall it later. During a business meeting, take notes yourself. If you rely on an assistant to take notes, then you’re missing out on a great chance to internalize the knowledge you’re gaining. The very act of writing things down can help to cement them in your brain. So pick yourself up a well-bound notebook and a nice pen, and try to get into the habit of writing down insights, whenever and wherever they come to you.
If you try out any or all of these tricks, drop a line in the comments and let me know what you thought of them! I’ll be revealing a few more of Tony and Jenn’s lessons in the future, so stay tuned!