Friday, September 24, 2010

Tony Hsieh: The Asian-American CEO of the Year

Tony Hsieh may not be the Asian-American man of the year but he is definitely a legitimate candidate. Yahoo! published a story on their website not too long ago which really sparked my interest, because yes he is Asian-American, a male at that and in a high profile position that most Asian-Americans aren't exposed to in their careers. Whenever I read up on financial news or stories on successful business leaders, rarely do I see an AA male in the limelight. So to see Tony sitting in the drivers seat and consistently winning the online shoe business race for a renown company like Zappos, man that shit is inspiring!

Amazon purchased his billion dollar company last year and left him as CEO. He is getting paid a measly $36,000 annually to run the business which he made even prior to the acquisition. His only requirement, that he would get to run the company as a separate organization from Amazon maintaining the corporate culture he and his team nurtured. That culture is based on Happiness. He applies it across the organization, top-down to bottom-up.

If you haven't noticed already Tony has a different philosophy as a business leader than many other corporate executives that I've read or heard about. Most of the them numbers driven. How can we lower operating expenses? How can we drive revenue and increase that top line growth? How can we reduce labor costs?

The fact that he cares about his employees' well-being is a powerful statement in today's world of business. I've noticed more and more these days that the happier employees are at their company, the more likely it is to flourish and succeed regardless of the economic times. Zappos is a prime example of employing this ideology. How many times have you been disenfranchised or detracted from working at your current gig simply because you weren't happy with the way they were treating you? I bet everyone who reads this knows what I'm talking about. Even within the first year of employment, the value of a high salary may diminish very rapidly if you don't like being where you're at. 

For instance, your boss is a slave driver. He is always overworking you and demanding more without commensurate reward or recognition. Any suggestion you or your team provides goes in one ear and out the other. He just focuses on the day-to-day and never looks at the whole picture. Strategy is just a word he utters as opposed to an actionable item. Career development? Ha! Forget it. No time for that in this corporate setting we have work to do!

Then there's communication. It is lacking so much that you don't know when you're getting product and service updates until you're sitting down in front of the customer asking yourself, "When the fuck did they change this?" One of my favorites though would have to be when management establishes some sort of business objective for the year and the boss doesn't translate what it actually means to the team on a working level. How does it affect the working modus operandi? Best of all, there's the annual "Ra-Ra" cheerleading speech and presentation the executives give once a year where instead of talking about how they're going to grow the business, they yap about how they need people within the organization to "step it up". Newsflash guys, but you can't pull out the "step it up" card at every all-hands meeting and expect it to be effective. After a hearing it for the fifth time, it just becomes noise and we know the imaginary bonuses you speak of are nothing but lip service. 

This really makes me think about my current gig. My company could learn a lot from Tony...

1 comment:

Free your mind. The rest will your fingers.