The Dead Place

Fort Lauderdale Cemetery

POMPANO BEACH, FLORIDA

I seem to have lost my bearings, both as to space and time.  Funny how traveling can do that.  Once you’re out of your regular routine, it can be hard to remember what day it is or where you are.  For me, this effect has been compounded by the fact that I developed flulike symptoms somewhere around the Carolinas.  Upon our arrival in Florida, I more or less collapsed in our hotel room bed, sending my wife off to visit the friend she came to see.  I slept most of the day while they took a day trip down to Key West.  Only in the cool breeze of the evening did I venture outside to sit on one of the deck chairs overlooking the hotel pool.

Everything is so white here:  The furniture, the cars, the blinding midday sun.  It’s a Florida thing, I’m told, everything is white to reflect the intense sunlight.

For years, Florida’s Gold Coast has struck me as “the dead place.”  If you believe in hell, the climate here will give you a preview of coming attractions.  Not long ago, my father reminded me of a book he read years ago, Dying in the Sun, about retirees who leave the Northeast and Midwest to live their golden years in South Florida, endure illnesses, and be buried there.

Dad loves gallows humor.  He tells me that the only topics of conversation when you run into a fellow geezer in South Florida are:

  • Where you went to eat and did you go “early bird”
  • What the doctor said
  • “You hear who died?”

After an absence of a quarter of a century, I again find myself in the land of the dead.

South Florida. U.S. 1, known locally as Federal Highway. Late night Denny’s run.

“Got any fresh decaf?” I ask the server before I even sit down.

“I can make you a fresh pot, honey,” she replies before waddling off to the kitchen.

My wife and I peruse the menu and I spy our server sitting side saddle at a booth a few feet across the room. “You ready yet?” she calls out to us, not making a move in our direction. The poor woman weighs about as much as I do. The place is nearly empty, so she must be taking an opportunity for a moment’s rest. I can see how it would be tough for her to stand on her feet for an entire shift. Still, my wife is appalled at what passes for customer service in this place.

We attempt to put together our orders.

“Got any soup?”

“Nope, we throw it out at 10:00.”

“I’ll have oatmeal…”

“Nope, we only have it until 2:00.”

“Grits?”

“Nope.”

“Well then I’ll have a toasted bagel.”

“Nope. Only in the mornings. You can have an English muffin.”

It seems that the Grand Slam has become the Grand Strike Out.

We are used to good service at Denny’s all over the country, so we are unpleasantly surprised. We soon learn that this is not an anomaly. A few nights later, in Grants, New Mexico, I order potatoes and get rice. I order broccoli that arrives so cold, it is obvious that it is just out of the freezer, having seen insufficient time in the microwave. Getting a refill on my coffee is next to impossible. It is clear that customer service is not a priority. Disgusted, we give the remainder of our gift card to an elderly couple on our way out.  Denny’s had been crossed off our list.

But tonight, something else is on my mind.  It could be the combination of being sick and the weird feeling of being in a strange environment that was once familiar, decades ago.  After visiting the graves of one set of grandparents in New York City earlier during this trip, we have now stopped at the graves of my other set of grandparents, my Dad’s folks, near Fort Lauderdale. I had been to the cemetery in Queens many times as a kid with my parents, had a horribly emotional experience at my grandfather’s funeral when I was 21, and last set foot in the place at his unveiling, some 35 years ago. Aside from the stone bench being moved, a curb being installed and the cemetery having become even more crowded than it used to be, I found that not much had changed in the intervening decades. Back in the sixties and seventies, my parents would drag us out there a couple of times each year. I’d bring a siddur (prayer book) and read the Kaddish in the original Aramaic while my mother cleared the graves of loose greenery and then just sat there while my sisters, my father and myself grew increasingly restless and impatient. I was too young to appreciate Mom’s grief over her mother’s loss.

But here in Florida, this was different. For one thing, I did not attend either funeral and had never been to the graves before. For another, this was a mausoleum rather than a traditional six-feet-under burial site (although there were plenty of those on the grounds, too). I expected the graves to be indoors, in a building, but they were not. I knew the bodies had been cemented into a wall, but I did not expect the wall to be outdoors!

The elderly, chatty clerk at the desk in the tiny super air conditioned office of our hotel in Deerfield Beach insisted on drawing me a map of how to get to the cemetery.  It was not as if he was intimately familiar with the place; it’s just that he tried to map it on Google and couldn’t get his printer to cooperate when I informed him that I had to go because my wife was impatiently waiting for me in the car.  Not wanting to let me escape without assistance (a reflection of his kindness, as I could have mapped the route on my phone in a fraction of the time), he settled for a low-tech solution by consulting the map on his computer screen and hand drawing a facsimile therefrom.  His directions turned out to be perfect.

When my wife pulled up to the curb near an open door to the cemetery office, I stepped inside only to find that this was the location of a funeral.  I was sent around to the other side of the building.  There, we were told to pull into the rabbi’s space to wait for an employee who could assist us.  A woman emerged a few minutes later, spoke with us through the car window and then went back inside to retrieve a form.  I was to write down the names of the deceased.  The employee left and returned a few minutes later, stating that there were multiple people buried there with the same names.  She asked me for my grandparents’ dates of birth or death.  I wasn’t sure about my grandparents’ DOB, but I knew my grandfather had died in 1996.  When she next returned with a map of the property, the employee informed me that I had erred, that Grandpa had actually died in 1992.  This came as a surprise to me, as he and I had one of our best conversations in 1993, when my grandparents traveled to New York to be with my father during his surgery.  The depth of incompetence possible in customer service never ceases to amaze me.

Following the map, we drove as close as we could get to the block section where my grandparents’ remains are entombed.  I still had a little way to go on foot, negotiating the block numbers in the blazing South Florida midday heat, remaining in the shade as much as possible.  My grandparents’ marker was located on the top row of a mausoleum block stacked six high.  I found a nearby bench from which I could crane my head to read the writing high above me.  The marker (matzevah, as we call it in Hebrew) was unremarkable.  It contained my grandparents’ years of birth and death, not even full dates.  Not a word of Hebrew was in evidence, not even their Jewish names.  As disappointing as I found this, I suppose it reflects the reality of the situation:  Neither one had a religious bone in their bodies.  (And Grandpa, in fact, openly disdained and ridiculed religion of any type.)  There were two standard icons in the corners, a Star of David and a menorah, just like on hundreds of other nearby stones.  A cookie cutter memorial.  Except, I noted, for some brief descriptive information.  Grandpa was etched in stone as “a loyal friend” (Note to self:  Ask Dad about this.  This is a side of Grandpa with which I am totally unfamiliar.) and Grandma was “a beautiful, gracious lady.”  Gag.  As if this weren’t bad enough, the lower edge of the stone read “in love forever.”  While I initially found the sappiness intolerably saccharine, thinking about this for a few days left me with a sense of veritas.  My grandparents remained quite solicitous of each other into their elder years and, I had to admit, did indeed remain in love with each other all their lives.

And I am pleased to report that, cemetery office weirdos notwithstanding, the stone did indeed list the correct year of my grandfather’s death, 1996.  It’s hard to believe that twenty years have already elapsed since then.

Summer, 1996.  I am out of work (again) and living with my sister’s family in Boston.  I have developed a serious internet addiction that involves volunteering for AOL, staying online all night and sleeping during the day.  I am on a 14.4K dialup connection, due to which my family can’t get through to us late at night with the news of my grandfather’s death.  My brother-in-law in California IMs me to have my sister call our parents at once.  Mom and Dad offer to pay for a plane ticket for me to fly to Florida for the funeral, but I decline.  The thought of flying makes me incredibly anxious, exacerbating my panic disorder.  If I just stay here in Boston and don’t think about it, I’ll be alright, I tell myself.  I don’t feel emotionally stable enough to travel to a funeral 1,500 miles away.  I will crumple, I know, perhaps have one of my hyperventilation episodes like I did at my other grandfather’s funeral in 1980, and just make it worse for everyone.  I don’t think about how I might feel 20 years later.

I bid adieu to my grandparents’ graves, pick myself up off the bench and walk back to the air conditioned shelter of our car as quickly as I can.  I do not know how people manage to live in such a hellacious climate.  The sweat pours off my face and neck and I know I need a drink of cold water immediately.  As I open the car door, the blast of refrigerated air is as welcome relief as a man could ask for.

We’re done here.  Let’s go home to California.

 

 

Haircut in My Language

Someone, please tell me:  Why is it so difficult to find a place for a man to get a decent haircut?

It’s not like I need a haircut all the time.  I show up for this quarterly, like a corporate financial report.  My father tells me that he is old enough to remember a time when men sat in the barber’s chair on the corner for a touch-up every week.  I have a feeling that the experience was intended to be more social than depilatory.

I’ve read about remnants of the haircut as social experience lingering on in barber shops frequented by African-Americans in urban communities.  And while I support public opportunities for socialization, perhaps it is my suburban sensibilities that cause me to prefer an arm’s length business transaction.

Notice to hair cutters:  I’m not here to make a new friend; I don’t expect you to be my bartender.  I don’t want to swap life stories, nor do I wish to discuss the presidential election, my marriage or even the weather.  If you do ask me a question, I will endeavor to respond politely and I expect the same courtesy in return.  Please can the rudeness and do not inquire about my weekend plans or what I’m having for dinner.  In return, it will be my pleasure to include a generous tip to express appreciation for your time and expertise.

Some would claim that my attitude paints me as inhuman.  At some level, I would have to agree.  I’m still hoping that modern technology comes up with a reliable robo-barber.  Tim Cook and Satya Nadella, are you listening?

These days, it seems that my alternatives are the national unisex haircutting chains or the local three-chair shop that we pass regularly along the highway.  Yesterday, I tried the latter and was quite disappointed.  I suppose that, from an “it’s all relative” viewpoint, I have no cause to complain.  At least I didn’t emerge looking like a Marine on Parris Island, as I did after my previous haircut in Fresno.  My chief complaint is that the hair cutter, who was not at all gentle, nicked me twice.  I attempted to point this out by yelling “Ow!” but I don’t think she got the message.

I suppose I should be grateful that this hair cutter did not attempt to engage me in conversation.  Perhaps this was due to the language barrier.  As she seemed to understand the general type of hair cut I was requesting, I was not aware of this issue until she was done and I asked how much I owed.  Although she repeated herself twice, I could not understand what she was saying.  She finally resorted to the international language of money by holding up the corresponding number of fingers.  Now, I am all in favor of multiculturalism, but I do believe that we require a common language in which we can all communicate.  Perhaps this is easy for me to say, because English has become something of an international language and happens to be the language which I speak.  Perhaps I need to “check my privilege.”  Should the common language we choose turn out to be Spanish, Mandarin or something else, I will begin studying.  In the meantime, however, I expect those with whom I am spending my money to speak enough English so that we can conduct business without resorting to sign language.

Until then, does anyone know a decent place for a guy to get a haircut?

 

Be Humble

My parents tried to teach me to be humble through a variety of pithy phrases, among them “don’t get too big for your britches” and “don’t be a sassy pants.”  I’m still not too sure what either of these means, but I think it has something to do with not bragging about your clothes.

Zappos Core Value #10:  Be Humble

For years, I thought that being humble wasn’t a very good thing at all.  If a person is in humble circumstances, that means that he’s poor.  And if you are well and truly humiliated, it is said that you “eat humble pie.”

As if that weren’t enough, I associated being humble with minimizing one’s own finest attributes.  Whatever happened to tooting your own horn?  You can’t expect anyone else to do that for you.  As they say, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

It took a few decades of experience and a bit of maturity to come to the understanding that I had it all wrong.  Gradually, I came to several conclusions:

  • No matter how good you are at something, someone else (usually someone younger) is better. (This is a good thing.  It gives you something to strive for.)
  • When you finally think you have all the answers, they change the questions on you.
  • “After the fire, a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12
  • “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang, but a whimper.” S. Eliot

Ultimately, I believe that being humble is a close partner of being grateful.  If I am able to make just one person’s life better in some small way, I am grateful for that.

The world is a big place, and most of what we do in life is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  No one is going to write a book about what I did at work today, nor will what I had for lunch make the local newspaper.  However, if I’m very lucky, perhaps one of my coworkers will go home and tell his wife that a manager gave him a nice compliment today.  Perhaps that will put a smile on her face and she’ll return the favor to someone else who needs it, who will do the same for more people.  As you can see, I am a big fan of “paying it forward.”  If someone is kind to me, it makes me want to do the same for others.

That’s why it is so important for managers to lead by example.  Whatever behaviors we model are likely to be copied, consciously or not, by employees.  Send the right message, do the right thing, wow a customer, spread the love and you may just have done something good for thousands of people.

To me, humility is about being satisfied with the small things, knowing that the small things are really all that matter.

Most important of all, believe.  Believe in yourself, believe in your customers, believe in what you do.

Believe that you can.

Thank you for staying with me for the past ten days as I made my way through Zappos Core Values.  It’s wonderful to find a business I can truly admire.  Could I be a future Zapponian?  One can dream!

Tomorrow on A Map of California:  14th century Japanese warlords have taken over my life!

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Be Passionate and Determined

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  Doesn’t that sound ideal?  But for most of us, it’s only a dream.  We grab at anything that pays the bills, keeps our kids fed and keeps a roof over our heads.  Instead of making the most of what we are doing while we work toward doing what we really want to do, we treat employment with all the enthusiasm of zombies.  I believe that Zappos has helped to show us that there is another way.

Ninth in a series.

Zappos Core Value #9:  Be Passionate and Determined

In my experience, “passion” is about the last word that many would associate with their jobs.  Too many of my coworkers and subordinates have treated their employment with an attitude of bare tolerance.  “This is just what I do to earn a paycheck,” is their sad refrain.

I shake my head and say “Life’s too short, dude!  Go do something else.”

I have come to the conclusion that this unfortunate situation is often the product of “job mismatch.”  As much as management seeks to avoid this, it can be tough.  There are lots of people who can “fake it” for a 45-minute interview, then show their true colors once hired.  Applicants know we want to see indications of interest in the company, investment in their career, cheerfulness and, yes, passion.  I once played a part in hiring an applicant who seemed to embody all of these qualities.  She told me this was her “dream job” and that she had to pinch herself to believe that she wasn’t really dreaming.  A month later, she left to go work elsewhere.  Perhaps it was us disappointing her as much as the other way around.

Once you’re on the job, passion and determination can’t be faked.  You might get away with it at the interview, but when you have a customer screaming at you for the third time in the same day, you either have what it takes or you don’t.

I like to think of employment as something like a marriage:  You’re supposed to take it for better or worse.  You don’t run away or give up on days that fall into the “worse” category.

In an industry in which success is measured by the happiness of the customer, employees must be committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that happiness.  It’s always nice when you get a customer who is already happy with the company, but most of the time, you have to create that happiness.  Fortunately, happiness is contagious.  However, this means that employees must have the right attitude in order to transmit that happiness to the customer.  This is what I mean by “passion.”  It’s that determination that “I am going to satisfy you if it’s the last damned thing I do.”

I will grant you that turning around an unhappy customer is often not an easy thing to accomplish.  Pulling off this feat requires having a lot of arrows in your quiver.  Apologizing as if you just broke your best friend’s heart.  Knowledge of products, availability and payment and delivery options.  Offering to refund money and resend the item as well.  Offering free next day shipment.  Coming through on all those promises.

As a customer service rep¸ I would know that I’d succeeded when my customer was rendered speechless.  Or when she would ask me why I was trying so hard.  Or when he would say it’s hard to stay mad when I’m so, well, nice.

Working in customer service can be an emotional roller coaster.  However, it doesn’t matter how good an actor/actress you are.  If you’re not a true believer, the customer will see right through you, at which point you are toast.

But if you’re truly aghast that something happened to prevent the customer from being delighted the first time around, and if you are determined to move heaven and earth to make it right, you might have the passion required to work in a place like Zappos.

I hope I get to find out personally one of these days.

Tomorrow:  We finish up Zappos Week with Core Value #10 – Be Humble.

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Do More With Less

In Hamlet, Shakespeare opined that brevity is the soul of wit.  Perhaps this makes the bard among the first to express the idea that less is more.  While I’ve always believed that only more is more (something to which anyone unfortunate enough to have been subject to my writing can attest), I am fully on board with the business practice of maximizing profits by squeezing every drop out of existing resources.  As my parents used to tell me: “You’d better make it last.  That’s all there is.”

Eighth in a series.

Zappos Core Value #8:  Do More with Less

When we were kids, we used to tell a riddle that went something like this:

Q: Which room is always growing?

A: Mush-room!

The real answer, of course, is “room for improvement.”  No matter how well something is going, it can always be done better. And as the world revolves and technology evolves, room for improvement keeps growing.

These days, the improvement that businesses feel most compelled to make involves efficiency.  In good times, doing the job with fewer resources increases profits; in not-so-good times, it can be the difference between survival and insolvency.

One of the worst experiences I’ve ever had as a manager was the time that half my staff was laid off due to financial difficulties.  After the shock wore off came sadness, then guilt by the remaining staff that they got to stay while their coworkers were out of a job, followed by anger that we had to continue to do the same amount of work with half the people to do it.  As hard as this was, it caused us to dig deep down into our reserves of resourcefulness, to find short cuts that did not compromise customer service and to do more work than we thought we were capable of doing.  We had to work harder and work smarter.

There are a number of different popular sayings that seem apt.  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  However you say it, you may be surprised what you’re capable of doing when you have to.

The most successful businesses learn to do more with less before they’re placed in a position in which they have no choice.  In fact, efforts to find ways of doing things better, faster and more economically have become almost routine, integrated into the corporate culture.  And why not?  Employees who are treated right tend to be committed to the success of their employers and make it their business to find ways to save time and money.

It’s always nice when we hit that “eureka” moment when a light bulb turns on and a whole new way of looking at things suddenly becomes obvious.  More often, however, it is the little things that make the big differences.  Shaving off a minute or a dollar here and there adds up quickly.

Learning to do more with less starts with making the most of current resources rather than always trying to obtain more.  This is especially true of human resources.  Why utilize an employee to perform just one narrow job when he or she has many talents that can be harnessed toward the company’s success?  Maybe you’re a customer service representative, but you might have a degree in accounting and artistic talent.  Why should I have you sit on the phones when what I really need right now is to have a new logo designed or to figure out a way to reduce our tax liabilities?  To be really crude for a minute, I’m going to squeeze you like a lemon. This is perfectly in keeping with the Golden Rule, as it is exactly how I would like to be treated!  As they say in the Army, I want to be all that I can be, and I hope you do, too.

So, hey there, Lemon.  I don’t want you to sit on the counter and look pretty until you rot.  On the contrary, I want to get every drop of juice out of you.  You have so much to offer and I plan to take full advantage of that!

There is nothing wrong with wanting more and pursuing it.  However, I also count my blessings and appreciate a company that does the same, that makes the most of what it already has before it goes looking for more.

You and me, Zappos, we’re on the same page.

Tomorrow:  Core Value #9 – Be Passionate and Determined

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Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, I find myself thinking about family a lot.  Admittedly, this involves worrying about such things as how we can help my two nephews who are out of work and what we will do about my octogenarian parents when they are unable to live alone any longer.  Even so, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling as I look forward to sharing Thanksgiving dinner with family and then celebrating Dad’s birthday a few days later.  We’ve started buying Christmas presents and imagining the looks on the faces of our grandnephews and grandnieces on Christmas morning.  I keep catching myself singing Christmas songs in the shower.  But then I go to work.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could carry that family feeling with me?

Seventh in a series.

Zappos Core Value #7:  Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

One of my favorite memories from the early 1980s is Sisters Sledge singing “We Are Family.”  It’s just such a goofy, upbeat song that I can’t help bobbing my head and singing along.

It’s interesting that we tend to think of work and family as diametrically opposed concepts.  After all, work is what takes us away from our families, right?  And yet, most of us who have worked in a particular location for any period of time seem to develop “work friendships” that may or may not spill over into our personal lives outside of the office.  More romances than anyone can count have blossomed among coworkers.  (My wife and I, now married for nearly 17 years, serve as a prime example.)  And I keep hearing about close platonic relationships at work among “work husbands” and “work wives.”  Whether it’s a girls’ night out or just a chat over the cubicle divider, we try to bring “that family feeling” into the workplace.

And why shouldn’t we?  Developing positive relationships makes our days at work a lot more pleasant than they would be if we had to toil in solitary silence.  Plus, it’s nice to have people with whom we can “talk shop” and who understand exactly what’s going on without having to explain everything from scratch.  They know how it is and they can commiserate with us.

When I don’t understand something at work, it’s nice not to have to run to the boss when I can go to a friendly coworker for help and know he won’t roll his eyes.  There are coworkers who allow me to brainstorm with them and who will warn me if my bright idea is really rather lame.  And, of course, it’s a mighty good feeling to celebrate successes as a team.

I like the phrase “family spirit” that Zappos uses.  Family implies pooling resources for mutual benefit.  It also implies mutual regard and teamwork.  These are “feel good” attributes that don’t have to be limited to our home lives.  It’s a shame that too many, both employers and employees, seem to prefer to make work a misery for everyone involved, including the customers.

When employees share responsibilities and share details of their personal lives, we can avoid that unnatural line of demarcation between home life and work life that some believe is inevitable.  Ultimately, it’s our own decision whether we are going to make the most of our time at work or just dread every minute that we have to be there.

It is encouraging that some companies value their employees enough to be cheerleaders, fully invested in their success.  Often, this starts with injecting fun into the work environment, allowing employees to be themselves.  I value the feeling of togetherness among coworkers.  This is where I start singing the Sisters Sledge song.

Some will tell you that this is artificial and forced, that we are just at work to do a job, get paid and go home.  I, for one, refuse to live my life that way.  Life is way too short for such foolishness.  And it is well known that happy employees lead to happy customers and a successful business.  “Teamwork makes the dream work” is not a meaningless phrase.

Unless, of course, we want it to be.

Tomorrow:  Core Value # 8 – Do More with Less

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Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

This is the week that I sing a love song to Zappos!  Join me in my journey through the ten core values.

Zappos Core Value #6:  Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

Sixth in a series.

Here’s an oldie but goodie:  You start working at a new company and your manager tells you that she has an “open door policy.”  You have to be there a little while before you can determine whether your manager’s door is open just a crack or all the way (and whether that crack is wide enough for you to jam your foot in).

Unfortunately, this reminds me of a particular parenting style I’ve witnessed in which a mother or father tells the kid “you can always talk to me about anything.”  Then, when the time comes, it turns out that this is code for “don’t bother me, kid.”

I find it difficult to understand why a manager wouldn’t want to maintain good communication with her team and why company higher-ups wouldn’t want to keep the lines of communication open with the rank and file.  Sadly, some managers prefer to live in a world of their own making.  “Don’t confuse me with the facts” seems to be the predominant philosophy of these ostriches.  I enjoy playing “let’s pretend” with my three year old grandniece, but this tactic doesn’t work so well in the business world.

It’s no joke that the truth can hurt.  Nevertheless, brutal honesty is just as much the key to a successful relationship between managers and employees as it is between businesses and their customers.  Sometimes I need to be hit right between the eyes by having an employee or customer tell me that I’m being an ass.  I may be stunned at first, but I always end up thanking them for giving me an attitude adjustment upside the head.  If no one tells you, how are you going to know?

I’ll never forget the time when, as a supervisor, one of my team members took offense that I called her out for being a chatterbox.  He was insulted that I would dare make such an accusation.  However, the guy was a gossip, plain and simple.  Being friendly and talkative is surely an asset, but not at the expense of serving our customers.  And not when telling tales about your coworkers seems to be your raison d’être.  I was amazed when, about a year later, he sheepishly admitted to me that I had been right.  He had been so upset by my comments that he thought about them for a good long time and eventually made the necessary changes.

Granted, such a positive outcome doesn’t always occur.  I have a bit of a reputation as a meanie because I like to tell it like it is.  This is not a one-way thing, however.  If I dish it out, I expect to take it, too.  My staff seems to enjoy taking advantage of this opportunity on a regular basis.  Although it’s not always pleasant at the time, I appreciate when my employees “keep it real.”  If I’m starting to micromanage a bit, by all means, tell me to back off.  I have to learn by making mistakes and making corrections, because there is no other way to learn.

One of my pet peeves is upper management that treats employees like mushrooms — keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.  How can you feel a part of things, know where you fit into the big picture, if information is treated as a closely guarded secret?

Arriving at a company that practices open and honest communication can be a little like stepping out of a stifling hot room into the cool, fresh night air.  You just breathe deeply and soak it in.  My staff has the right to expect me to lead them, but it is difficult to do so effectively when I find myself flopping about like a fish.  I enjoy being a leader, but it’s a tough road when you’re heading into the fog.

At companies like Zappos, the open exchange of information makes it possible to lead and actually know where you’re going rather than just guessing.  The holacratic model minimizes the importance of job titles, is committed to the free flow of information throughout the organization and disdains rigid roles in favor of establishing relationships that flex and grow over time.  Sounds like my kind of place!

Can you blame me for wishing I were a Zapponian?

Tomorrow:  Core Value #7 – Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

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