The Culture of Happiness

Sorry for the hiatus but I started a new class (Marketing Management) and due to a computer glitch, was kicked out of the class exactly 4 minutes after I was enrolled. It was resolved but the delay made me behind in my work right from the get-go. I absolutely hate starting something already feeling behind. In the meantime, I have been feverishly trying to catch up on research and reading.

One of the companies I’ve been researching is Zappos.com, well, Zappos Insights to be precise. It seems that the founders of Zappos.com had more zeal than cash for marketing at the beginning so they focused on customer service. As I understand it, this focus on making customers happy morphed into making Zappos employees happy also.

In fact, they became so good at it, that they started Zappos Insights as a way to share their success and experience with other companies. They offer free info on their website and tours of their facility. Then, they offer some paid services, including 3-Day Culture Camp, online training, speakers and a whole lot more. (Personally, I can think of quite a few big box stores’ employees who would benefit greatly from Culture Camp. Maybe I’ll send them a memo.) According to Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh, “If you get the culture right, everything else will follow naturally.” They’ve obviously gotten the culture right because industry giants such as Google, Eli Lily, Intuit are seeking them out to get on the culture of happiness bandwagon. It started me thinking that the Zappos Insights model has practical applications in my own life.

Have you ever heard someone say, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” Twenty-five years as a mom and six kids later, I can say I am a walking testament to that very statement. When I’m feeling down or stressed or happy or cranky, the entire atmosphere in the house changes.

Actually, this statement could be applied to my job as a nurse also. It’s the reason that, no matter what was going on outside of the job, I tried to put on a smile and bring laughter to my coworkers and patients. While I didn’t always succeed, I went every day fortified with coffee and with a smile on my face. After all, who needs a nice little dose of happiness more than a critically-ill patient and their family?

Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to put on your game face once you head home. You’re trying not to burn dinner, trudging through long division with one child and quizzing another on spelling words when you trip over the dog and step on a Lego. You’re tired, stressed out, pressed for time, and spread too thin and so you crack. For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with this vein-bulging, stroke-inducing feeling, might I recommend a full moon evening meal with a hormonally-challenged preteen-teenage brood. Throw autism or other issues into the mix and you’re sunk. Times like those, survival trumps everything. But, I’ve noticed that the more I stress out, the more they freak out and the vicious cycle perpetuates.

That’s why I was thinking about Tony Hsieh and his culture of happiness. Could his magic formula profit my family? I mean, the success of my family is every bit as important as that of Zappos or Google. In truth, my life and the lives of those I love depend on it. So, what would happen if I aimed for exceptional “customer service” in my own home? I could apply the Zappos core values:

  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 relationship with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble

Each and every one is as pertinent, if not more so, to family life as it is to the workplace. So, why not translate their success into my own? Armed with these novel yet sensible concepts, I’m heading into a new week. (Why do I feel like I’m girding myself for battle?) Pray for me but especially pray for my kids! They probably won’t recognize me without the nervous tic or steam coming out of my ears. I’ll keep you posted!

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