Why Share Your Vision?

Why Share Your Vision? 150 150 Frumi Rachel Barr

Those with a tightly focused cause and Purpose for Existence (PFE) have a vision.  They don’t seek to cram it down anyone’s throat.  Instead, their passion and enthusiasm attracts others.  It soon becomes a common vision shared among many.

A good example is Tony Hsieh (pronounced, Shay).  Hsieh was already a wealthy man (having sold his startup, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million).  Nick Swinmurn asked him to invest in his online shoe store, ShoeSite.com.  Hsieh and his Venture Frogs partner, Alfred Lin, put up $500,000.  They changed the company’s name to a snappier, Zappos.com (a variation on zapatos in Spanish, meaning shoes).  They had just three very simple goals.  One was to bring great customer service—they just happened to sell shoes at an affordable price.  Another was to hit $1 billion in sales by 2010.  The third was to become one of the best places to work in the country.

Hsieh built Zappos completely around customer service, which started with happy, committed employees—that was his purpose.  This purpose required complete control over the customer experience.  They made the stomach-churning decision to stop drop-shipping product, costing them 25 percent of their 2003 sales.  They did it because drop shipments removed their control of the customer experience.  Since their purpose was to provide a great customer experience, this decision was one that they felt compelled to make.

By 2008 Zappos hit Hsieh’s second goal, $1 billion in sales.  The next year, Hsieh hit his third goal, entering Fortune’s list of “Top 100 Companies to Work For”, by debuting all the way up at number 23.  Amazon purchased Zappos in 2009 for $1.2 billion.

The story of Tony Hsieh is rare, but not necessarily unique among ultra-successful, employee/customer-oriented companies.  Facebook is reputed to have such a corporate culture.  The reason these enterprises treat their people and customers so well is because it is a key part of their purpose. How are you communicating your vision and PFE as a leader?

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