(Precis of Abraham J Twerski)
Rebuilding your self, when you’ve lost your job, home or life savings
Pete Laburn – June 2013
Getting your identity from your job
When we meet a new person, we are most likely to introduce ourselves in terms of what we do for a living. Usually, we assign a certain level of status and comfort to various occupations. This means we see ourselves, and other people, as having worth primarily in terms of the career they have. Unfortunately, this identification with one’s job, and it becoming our entire identify, prevails in our culture. People introduce themselves by what they do, rather than who they are. We may refer to ourselves as human beings, but many of us function as human doings, and if the doing is lost, one feels they have lost everything.
This has happened because our culture has brainwashed us. While money and material things are important, they have taken on disproportionate significance in our culture. Because we invest so much of our ego in what we do and what we earn and what we own, we may feel that we have lost the respect of others when we are unable to earn and spend money.
Many people have their identity in being the successful sales manager, the busy entrepreneur, the super-accomplished career woman and homemaker or in the luxury car in the driveway or the impressive mansion. But this is hardly a lasting identity that comes from within. What happens if one sells the car or if it is repossessed? Does ones identity go along with it?Read More
‘Why I left Goldman Sachs’
by Greg Smith
Précis by Pete Laburn
Landing a job at Goldman Sachs
Greg Smith is a pharmacist’s son from Johannesburg, South Africa, who won a scholarship to Stanford University in America. He grew up in Edenvale, as the eldest of three siblings in a Jewish middle class family, and earned a place among the 32 people, out of the 3000 international students, who applied for a full scholarship to Stanford. Three years later, in 2000, Greg was awarded a summer internship at Goldman Sachs.
Of the intern class in any year, only 40% of students would be offered a full time job at Goldman Sachs after the summer. The internship programme was very strenuous and difficult, but showed that the firm took its culture seriously and taught all potential employees about giving clients good service. The internship programme gave students an opportunity to show their merit over a 10 week period as opposed to relying on a 30 minute interview. The firm stressed the importance of giving clients the correct information, not making things up or exaggerating, but being upfront and honest, even when you make a mistake. Teamwork was also highly valued at Goldman Sachs.Read More
A new book by Chris Zook and James Allen – entitled “Repeatability” suggests 3 key factors for companies seeking to be successful in a world of increasing complexity.
- They have a highly distinctive core business
- They make great efforts to keep their business model as simple as possible
- They apply it relentlessly to new opportunities
ð hence simplify and repeat…?Read More
I picked up on this article from my colleague Dean at TomorrowToday. In it he talks about the Zappos corporation, a company which has built a unique company culture around delivering happiness to its customers by offering them the best possible customer service. In light of my previous post pointing out that it is what companies choose to measure that actually get done, here is an organization placing an emphasis on measuring their customers happiness rather than just the bottom line as do most banks…
Delivering Profits by Delivering Happiness
A few months ago I read the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos an online shoe and clothing retailer in the United States. It’s a great read and was number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Tony together with his team at Zappos has built a unique company culture around delivering happiness to its customers by offering the best possible customer service. Importantly no lip service is paid to this quest and employees who don’t deliver are bribed with hard cash to leave! New employees at Zappos undertake a rigorous induction course. At the end of it they are offered their full salary plus $2000 as a bribe to walk away if they don’t believe they can deliver the level of customer service expected.
Last year I had the privilege of interviewing the COO of Zappos Alfred Lin. He said something simple and yet profound at the same time. With all the hype around social media, Alfred believes that the phone is still the best device for building a relationship with a customer.
Call centre operators at Zappos are not measured by the number of customers they serve, or the duration of a call, but rather by how happy the customer is with the customer experience. Most call centre operators are measured by the speed with which they move onto the next call – not a Zappos, where this industry benchmark is not even measured. Customers who have heard about the level of service commitment have even tried to test Zappos by phoning them and ordering a pizza (not shoes or clothes which Zappos sells). Not surprisingly the Zappos call agent made a plan and had a pizza delivered to the customer.
This attention and commitment to the customer experience may not always result in an immediate sale, but word gets around. Where so many internet startup fail, Zappos has grown to over a billion dollars annual sales revenue in under ten years, seventy-five percent of its customers are repeat purchasers and last year was sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion. Whoever says customer service doesn’t pay should take a look at what the clever folk at Zappos are doing.
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“Onward” – by Howard Shultz
Review by Pete Laburn
Note from reviewer:
Those of you who know me will attest to the emphasis I place on organisations having and living by core values. Onward is an amazing story of a modern day company, operating in the fiercely competitive retail industry, with responsibilities to shareholders, which stuck to its core values through a very challenging time. I hope the story will inspire you, as well as encourage you, to conduct your business ventures according to your core values – no matter the cost. I have chosen not to try to precis the book as much as to take selected elements from the book that I think have real value for modern organizations. As such please view this as a review rather than a precis. I do however strongly recommend that the book be read in full to appreciate the full sense of the Starbucks story.Read More
‘Great By Choice’
Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
Precis by Pete Laburn
None of us can predict with certainty the twists and turns our lives will take. Life is uncertain, the future unknown. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. Yet the task remains: how to master our own fate in an uncertain world.
In the book ‘Great By Choice’, Collins and Hansen asked the simple question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty and chaos, while others do not. In a world of tumultuous events and fast‐moving forces that we cannot control, what distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well, from those who underperform or worse?
Some companies and their leaders navigate uncertainty exceptionally well. They don’t merely react to situations and events, they create their own future. They don’t merely survive, they prevail. They don’t merely succeed, they thrive. They build great companies that can endure and while no company thrives on chaos, some can thrive in chaos.
‘Great By Choice’ is based on case studies conducted by Collins and Hansen and their team on a set of high‐performing companies that thrived during times of great uncertainty in their respective industries. Each case study company started from a position of vulnerability, rose to become a great company, and did so in unstable environments characterised by big forces out of their control. These high‐performing cases were called 10X companies. These cases were then compared to a control
group of companies that failed to become great, whilst operating in the same industries during the same extreme environments over the same period of time.
Why the West Rules for Now
Précis of Ian Morris’s book
Archaeologist Ian Morris’s book ‘Why the West Rules for Now’ takes a look at over 15 000 years of history to offer fresh insights into why development differed in the East and West and what the future will bring. It looks at the patterns of history to see what they reveal about the future. All his findings are based totally on archaeological digs that have been discovered and dated back to different time periods in history.Read More
In the spring of 2005, after being at the head of HCL Technologies (HCLT) for just a short time, Vineet Nayar realised that the company was in trouble. It was one of the five major IT services companies in India with thirty thousand employees, operations in 18 countries, revenue of about $700‐million and a healthy annual growth rate of about 30% over the previous 5 years. However, it was growing more slowly than the market leaders in its industry and slower than its immediate rivals, losing market share and falling behind in mindshare too.
The book ‘Employees First, Customers Second’ tells the story of how HCLT – now a company of 55 000 people and around $2,5‐billion in revenues – made the decision to change and how its transformation was accomplished through the unique approach of Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS).Read More
After living for seven years as a Jesuit seminarian, practicing vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Jesuit general in Rome, Chris Lowney was transformed into a corporate man as an investment banker at JP Morgan. Lowney’s years in business revealed that leadership challenges, especially how to recruit and mould leadership in your company’s teams, is a universal corporate challenge faced by all companies around the world and throughout time. He realised that the super smart, ambitious and strong willed recruits at JP Morgan didn’t always translate into long-term successes at the firm. Lowney noticed that many up-and-comers with raw talent and sheer ambition, either were terrified of making major decisions, or terrorised anyone who dared make a decision without them. Some were good at managing only numbers and not human beings and most were uncomfortable with change and taking personal risks.Read More
In his book, ‘5 Minds for the Future’ Howard Gardner concerns himself with the kinds of minds that people will need if we are to thrive in the world during the eras to come. Also, in the inter-connected world in which the majority of human beings now live we need to identify the kinds of minds that should be developed in the future for the greater good of our society as a whole.
The 5 Minds for the Future identified by Gardner refer to 5 characteristics of the mind that Gardner suggests each person should aim to develop. While each person will not be able to develop them all in equal measure, we should aim to develop aspects of them all for the balance of mind needed for the future…Read More
Have you ever wondered how some people come up with their great ideas, and wished you knew how to do the same? William Duggan’s book, ‘Strategic Intuition’ is about the discipline of great idea formulation and how creativity and rational thinking combine in the mind to achieve this. The aim of his work is to help understand how great ideas are formed, so that we can learn how to practice these techniques and come up with great ideas ourselves. As Duggan points out “Strategic intuition puts leaps of human achievement within the grasp of all human beings “Read More