Topic: Human Resources


Warning: Illegal string offset 'categories' in /nfs/c10/h08/mnt/150419/domains/mccallbaldwin.com/html/wp-content/themes/mccall/functions.php on line 284

How to Build Relationships and Deliver Happiness: The Story of Zappos

Zappos

Photo by bunnicula

In 1999, Tony Hsieh made an investment in a online shoe shop that was then called shoesite.com.  It was renamed shortly thereafter, and today we know it as zappos.com.  The first year wasn’t very pretty, but in year two Zappos started to show some traction.  It ended the year 2000 with $1.6 million in gross sales.  Gross sales continued to climb, and by 2008, they had exceeded $1 billion.  This is an absurd level of sales growth, yet the fuel for this growth was amazingly straightforward.  Read More »

The Story of Les Schwab and His Pride in Performance

Schwab Close

Photo by ocad123

Business often comes down to a core set of principles.  And the story of Les Schwab is no exception.  Keeping things in their simplest form (Reductionism) is what allows us to arrive at a core set of principles, but this is often difficult to do. Reductionism is a key aspect of understanding anything.  If we apply this concept to business, it always comes down to people.  It really comes down to decisions, but decisions are made by people.  And what I love about the Les Schwab story is that he so clearly understood the importance of this.  He loved people.  And if you’re in business, it really helps to love people – no matter how weird, how exotic, how aloof, or how awkward.  Read More »

There’s No Best Age to Start a Business: The Story of Sam Walton and Wal-Mart

Walton

Photo by tsweden

After graduating from the University of Missouri in 1940, Sam Walton took a job with J.C. Penney.  He was 22 years old.  He spent five years with J.C. Penney learning the retail industry.  In 1945, Walton became an entrepreneur and bought a Ben Franklin variety store in Arkansas for $25,000.  He was 27 years old.  Walton spent five years growing his Ben Franklin store.  But in 1950, after Walton’s landlord refused to renew the five year lease he had on the Ben Franklin store location, Walton had no choice but to sell the franchise.  He sold it for a fair price, and then had to start all over again.  Walton was now 32, and it was at this age when he opened his first Walton’s Five and Dime (again in Arkansas).  But it wasn’t until he was 44 years old that he opened the first Wal-Mart.  It was a very gradual progression.  So, does age really matter when starting a business?  I doubt it.  There is no best age to start a business, no perfect time – none of that.  And Sam Walton is the perfect example of this.  Read More »

How to Build an Empire: The Story of Harvey Firestone and His Tires

Firestone Tire

Photo by Desert Bug

In 1926, Harvey Firestone sat down to write Men and Rubber: The Story of Business.  It outlines his philosophy on how to succeed in business, and to this day it’s still the best and most comprehensive story on how to build a business from nothing.

Firestone’s philosophy is quite simple.  It says that honesty is the fundamental principle of any business.  It says that a business must exist for a reason, and the single reason for the existence of any business must be that it supplies a human need or want.  “To make money” is not a good enough reason to be in business.  If fact, if all you want is money, Firestone advises you to get out of business as quickly as you can, and go work for someone else.  You are destined to fail otherwise.

Firestone was clear that a business must exist to supply a human need or want, and this philosophy can be further explained through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The primary need for all humans is physiological, followed by safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  Humans seek to satisfy needs in this order.  Firestone was supplying tires, or facilitating transportation.  Transportation, depending on its intended use, could fall under physiological needs (driving to the grocery store for food), safety needs (driving to the office for work), or love/belonging needs (driving to family).  Either way, Firestone was clearly satisfying human needs with his tires.

This logic applies today as well.  For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s reason for starting Facebook (“to meet girls”), while it hurts my heart, does provide for the love/belonging needs that all humans naturally have.

That’s the end of my Zuckerberg digression – now back to Firestone…   Read More »

How to Increase Employee Productivity: The Science of Making Work Happen

BoredEmployee Pic

Photo by 9likenave.com

Most businesses I talk to would like to figure out healthy ways to grow.  And in almost all of those businesses, that requires people (or employees).  It may simply require greater capabilities amongst current employees, or it may require adding more employees.  In either situation, it makes sense to design the organization so that each person within it can reach peak performance.  And eliciting peak performance from employees is the result of two things: training and motivation.  As Andy Grove says, “A manager generally has two ways to raise the level of individual performance of his subordinates: by increasing motivation, the desire of each person to do his job well, and by increasing individual capability, which is where training comes in.”  Read More »

What People Want: Introducing the Hierarchy of Human Emotions

BP5_Door

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Back in 1943, a guy named Abraham Maslow proposed an idea: there was a hierarchy of human needs, and he had a pretty good idea of what it was.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was designed to explain motivation and behavior, and numerous people have since claimed this hierarchy is very accurate.  Andy Grove, former head of Intel, says exactly that in his book High Output Management.   Grove experienced this hierarchy first hand at Intel, and as a result it shaped many of the Human Resources decisions that were made.

Maslow ranked human needs as follows:

  1. Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
  2. Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property
  3. Love/Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  4. Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  5. Self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

It’s very likely that human needs (per Maslow) are heavily involved in the decisions we all make. In a logical world, decisions would be made purely according to needs.  But we don’t live in a logical world, and wants often take precedence over needs.  And since wants reflect emotions, there must be some hierarchy of emotions that can better explain how emotions affect human behavior.

So just as Abraham Maslow created a Hierarchy of Needs, there is also a Hierarchy of Human Emotions.  Certain emotions drive our behaviors, decisions, and actions more than others.  Understanding the hierarchy of these emotions, and how people express them, has an interesting side effect: it often explains how to figure out what people want.  Read More »