Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Positive Reinforcement in Delivering Happiness

I have two chapters of the book left and I'm trying to stretch out my time virginal time with it. Just can't believe I'm flying thru the pages of this book! And somehow able to retain moving tidbits as I read along.

One thing struck me today and it's all integrated with Zappos' company culture and 10 core values: Deliver the WOW. Although it's just one of the 10 core values of a company I knew nothing about before I picked up the book by their CEO, I feel that in these three simple words, you can build up a principle you can live by for life.

It also got me thinking about positive reinforcement. Years ago, when I was a newbie employee, a former superior cornered me and told me flat out, "If you're not going to do your best, best you don't do anything at all." Okay, so it means the same as Do everything you do with the power of WOW, except for the delivery of it. Zappos' sentence structure gives the receiver of the message a positive outlook. It encourages you to do everything at the very highest of your efforts. The way my former superior put her words out was full of negative contempt.

Granted it was said after a Christmas performance (I was forced to sing in front of my colleagues) and granted that there was prize money in the end (a thousand bucks I think, but due to my "unbest" performance, I didn't even get to place), but I kind of took the way she told me off against her. I think that's the problem with many slightly older, overwhelming, I-do-my-work-by-the-book upper management. They don't know how to WOW their rank and file. They even think it's our job to suck up and WOW them. Much like parents are to their kids: "You better have good grades.", "You better learn this piano piece by tomorrow.", "You better get in the Math team." Too much pressure, too many demands, too much of a power trip.

I think the success of Zappos also comes from the merging of like-minds. And that's not just of the people uptop. The way their HR Recruitment makes sure that each new hire is a culture fit in the company ensures that everyone is on the same page in terms of direction, positivity and WOW-ness. The presence of an ever-changing culture book shows the dynamism accepted by the entire team, that nothing is ever set in stone and that it's okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them. The company's 10 core values apply not just in work of the employees, but also in their daily beyond-work lives. It's how they're a family unit, not just a company.

Very few communities get to establish this kind of familial love for non-blood-related individuals. And even fewer act as a giant tribal leader that strives to inspire the other communities to do the same. And I think this all started with the positive reinforcement the community leaders instilled into everyone else. Kudos to Tony Hsieh and his gang of geniuses.

Classic. :(

Change must happen from the bottom up. You can't expect a country to radically reform just because it's new president is the son of two icons of democracy and peace. Change and reform must come from within, from each and every single one of us.

The image above illustrates the very thing that needs to change. We've got rules people! Rules that are followed not just here but frikkin' worldwide. See that yellow box painted on the intersection, it means keep it OPEN! So what the heck are you doing there?

People, let's not put too much pressure on the newly elected. Hoping too much on his promise-filled inaugural speech only takes off the responsibility on ourselves. Make your change happen. Work hard. Know and follow the most basic rules of all. Recycle. Don't cheat! Don't steal! Know when to shut up and listen. Then maybe we can hope for a better country, for that "bagong Pilipinas."

It's time, kids. Let's bring about our own change.

I *heart* Munoz: Marketing Excellence in the Simplest Form

Papa and I just came from Munoz this morning. I had to buy dog food for the three queens of our household and my dad decided to drop by the supermarket in Waltermart also.

After going thru the check out counter of the senior citizen lane, (Papa's 63. We had every right to be there) the cashier handed us this:
Because we were in Waltermart, and we shopped in the Waltermart Supermarket, Waltermart decided to reward us with this coupon! It's customer service at its finest: Reward purchase with the simplest form and gain loyalty in the process. Free parking comes very few and far between in our fair city and likely all over the world, and this tiny coupon with that simply plastered all over its face a refreshing and welcome sight to behold.

But wait, there's more! Munoz is also site to one of the bigger public markets of the Metro. And this gem of a "stall" was just beyond it's precipice. Papa spotted this Pineapple vendor while we were still on our way to Waltermart, and we decided to check it out on our way home due to it's extremely large and scrumptious looking fruits displayed.
This pineapple vendor's spot was along the main road, just outside the fringes of the public market. It was far away enough to separate itself from the smell of the wet market, but near enough to still capture a niche of market goers... particularly the ones with cars!

Cars=slightly richer people who likely have more cash on hand to spend for impulse buys like delicious looking pineapples. We bought 3... As we drove away, another car took our place in front of the stall. And if all goes well for today, that particular vendor will enjoy a landslide effect not just from buyers in vehicles but also from passersby.

These two instances remind me of two very basic marketing principles: Positioning and Loyalty. Position yourself not particularly in the midst of the blood and guts, but find a blue ocean that can be your niche. Then when you've captured your niche, keep reeling them in by baiting them with Loyalty.

Nail these two things down and you've got yourself repeat sales and greater profit margins, ergo better business. It's the simple things like these that make my day happier. I *heart* Munoz. Now it's time I enjoyed my pineapple. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Entry #1

(Entry #1 is entitled as such as this is in anticipation of a series of thought processes that churn out as I read the book "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh. Halfway thru and loving every word of it.)

Tony Hsieh and his backup brain, Jenn Lim climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro back in 2002. They conquered Africa's tallest peak during a tumultuous time in Zappos history and his description of the entire experience is both horrifying (for a city-dweller like me) and inspirational at the same time.

A particular section struck me: "It was pitch black, and our headlamps were only bright enough for us to see five feet ahead of us. There was no way to look ahead to see how much farther we had to go, or to look behind to see how far we had gone." (p.112, Ch. 4: Concentrate Your Position, "Delivering Happiness")

It seemed to me he was describing not just the Mt. Kilimanjaro experience, but life as a budding entrepreneur in general. Sometimes, even with all the goal setting and planning ahead of time and targetting a market, running your very own business can be like walking around in the pitch black darkness of Mt. Kilimanjaro. You can't always see what's ahead of you, though you hope for a sunrise at the summit, and you can't sometimes look back because of the too many things that have muddled the past.

The length of his hike also seemed like an analogy to managing a business, a business you truly believe in and refuse to see close down. In his head, it seemed like a never ending task to put one foot in front of the other, to see this whole "getting to the top" thru, but he didn't let his impatience, or tiredness, deter him from his end goal. And along the way, he learned a few things about himself, such as how he hasn't had a decent meal, a warm shower and a good night's sleep in the past five days, and how this realization made him appreciate the small things we take for granted in life. The same goes when focused on a business with your own money, own house, own car or own life is at stake. You have the end goal of a sunrise at the summit in mind, but don't forget about the little things you learn along the way of the journey.

What I love, thus far, about this book is the learnings I'm picking up along the way as I read word-by-word the wisdom and wealth of knowledge Tony Hsieh is trying to impart. Granted that his multi-million dollar Zappos went thru hell and high water with a lot (and I do mean, A LOT) of money down the drain but it wasn't just the money that kept them going as an entity.

It was the belief of the people behind Zappos in the business they were trying to establish and conquer. It was the sweat, tears and long nights of work, work, work from the core people behind the company. It was in the willingness of their friends and family to be with them all the way, the true believers of the cause.

This is what I need to find, my one true belief, and build on it. I think that's when I'll find my happiness and be able to start delivering it, too. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mr. Miyagi vs Mr. Han

Saw the remake of Karate Kid last week with a friend, and my main takeaway from it is... it's too dang long!

It was nice enough, don't get me wrong. I guess I just had an awful day at work then and what was supposed to be a no-brainer evening turned into something semi-dramatic. But let's not wander too far off from the movie now.

So, if you pitted Miyagi-san with Laosher Han, Han would put up a good fight but I'm betting my money on Miyagi. (Read this as: I liked the classic better.) Cinematography-wise, this remake was bigger, more scenic, more dramatic. But then again, that's because it probably has more budget than the original. Since the setting has been change from middle America to CHINA!, there was a lot of Chinglish talk that my too-tired brain couldn't decipher. Oh, and when the subtitles were brought out, the dialogues were near copies of the original script. There was a point in the final "battle" scene that was verbatim to the original, except executed in Mandarin! Haha! (I'm such a geek, I have quotable quotes from every movie!)

It's all well and good that you a coming-of-age classic such as The Karate Kid is remade for the new generation, but I was hoping they'd throw in a couple of new twists into the movie! Not practically copy the original's storyline. Hay. Where's the creativity in that? In the throwing in of China bit?

Don't get me wrong, it was good. My friend and I had our laughs during the movie, but there was no discussion on it after. For me, that's my determinant factor if a movie was great or not, if the people leaving the cinema can't stop talking about it. That's was Iron Man 2 did for me, mainly because of Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, but still! This one though, absolutely no talk points at the end! Sadness.

I guess this is what the older generation felt like when Shutter Island's remake came out with Leo. Good modernization, good scenic cinematography... but storywise it's all the same. Remakes really are not for the generation of the original. It's for the appreciation of the new kids in the world, those seeing the material for the first time ever.

So, for this critic, Miyagi wins it, still. But ask a newbie, too. S/he'll most likely ask, "Miyagi who?"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Of men and guns...

Violence is real. It's traumatic and reasonless. It causes a deep, irrational fear and people should never, ever joke about it.

I saw a man lying facedown on the sidewalk today. He was shot, according to the news, by an unknown suspect in broad daylight and left there for all of Makati CBD to see. The police had cordoned off the crime scene but people were still loitering about, trying to get a glimpse of him and to catch any sort of information about the incident.

This man probably has a family; parents who love him dearly, wife and kids, relatives, friends... and here we are gawking and oggling at him like he's just another piece of news. HE'S NOT NEWS! He's a victim of a henious crime and he should be respected. This isn't a movie. This isn't a prank. This is murder, and it's out there for the world to see?!?

The person responsible for this is heartless. He's not only caused pain and suffering for this man's family, but unwanted trauma to regular folk like me. It's no joke to see a scene like that first thing in the morning. He's still lying there in my head, and I'm so broken about it.

All these movies and TV shows and music videos that feature guns and violence and killing... why do we feed our brains with those junk? Why do we hype up the crime that's so real and damaging? I'll never understand the need for violence. It's useless, wrong and it hurts, not just the people or person its directed upon.

I'm praying fervently for the soul of the fallen man. May he find his justice, and may his family be at peace with it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I love the beach

I mean, how on earth could you not love THAT! Perfectly blue water. Eternally bright sunshine. Comfortably warm sand. Rhymic sound of the waves. Locals who treat you like family, even though you just met two seconds ago.

I just came from a quick trip to what I consider to be my 2nd home, Lola Nanny's Surf Retreat in (Urbiztondo) San Juan, La Union. And it was exactly the kind of trip needed to re-energize, revitalize and rejuvenate myself. I've been feeling down and out lately at work, and being away from the hassles of city life cleared my mind like that (snap here!).

The beach is my home. I belong near the water, with people who love the water as much as I do, with friends and family who don't think roasting under the sun is a total waste of time. So here are my two options: 1) GO GO GO pursue my dream of studying in Goldcoast, Australia and after getting my MBA, be hired as Island Caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef (ergo work for Aussie Tourism) or 2) FIND WORK IN L.U. Seriously, I could do the voice over jobs there! I'll host! I'll hard sell anything!

I hate it that I have to keep coming back to the city to earn a living. There HAS to be a way to make this work and I be eternally happy beside salt water. What if I simply got lost?!? People get lost all the time! I could be just another casualty! EGADS, LOOK AT THAT PICTURE! Dagat, I love you. You will always be in my heart.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

watching too much media makes you schemy and paranoid all at the same time

I love my friends. They're the best group of girlfriends, mixed in with a few oddball boys, a girl could EVER have.

And to show our appreciation for each other, we're on a "SURPRISE" rampage. It all started when two of our group decided to become marathoners. One marathoner was planning to finally ask our friend to be his girlfriend at the end of the race and we all helped make his "proposal" perfect. And this was in tandem with our surprise for our other marathoner friend, one of the few women who decided that was the day she became part of the elite group.

We had to smuggle in 2 bouquets to the race proper, one for the "proposal" and another for our female marathoner. The proposal bouquet was artfully hidden in the trunk of the proposee's car, ready for our boy to pop the question. And the marathoner bouquet was dutifully held by us, faithful friends and cheerers, at the finish line ready to be handed over to her the moment she crosses.

Both surprises went off without a hitch! Tears and major laughter ensued, it was such a happy day.

Now, I think we're getting addicted to surprises. Another femme of our group is having a recital courtesy of her dance class on Saturday, and we're cooking up a flower-finish for her at the end of her dance as well. We haven't ironed out the details yet, but definitely flowers will be involved.

Another friend is leaving us for work abroad in two weeks time, and for her, we're making a video collage/montage, with greetings and well wishes from friends living overseas already.

I have this strange feeling that this wellspring of surprises comes from an overexposure to media. We all love it when the ultra happy surprise being cooked up by one lead character to another happens without a hitch. It's all such a giddy smiley feeling that you just can't help but wonder if you could do the same to the people you love.

Well, I speak from experience. It can happen people. And the planning, scheming, paranoia is all worth it in the end. :)