Zappos online delivers more than its numerous varieties of shoes. On Thursday, Zappos Insights division product manager Robert Richman delivered the company's secret weapon for success at the Big Business and Technology Expo at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University. It is simply one word -- happiness.
"I get what a challenge it is to run a business," Richman said. "But I want to teach you something that will be obvious in a few years but isn't now."
Richman then spent nearly an hour and a half sharing Zappos's culture for success with more that 100 people ranging from business owners to college students. The whole story is in Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's book, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose."
While others may believe Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, Richman begged to differ. "Zappos is truly the happiest place on Earth. We create the best work environment so the best come to us."
The company is based in Henderson, Nev., and currently has 1,600 employees and a warehouse the size of 17 football fields loaded with shoes, clothes, accessories, household items and more to be sold online.
Richman said they accept less than 1 percent of all applicants, and they don't have to be highly trained or skilled. "We get people with the right attitude, and we train them to have the skills," he said.
If a new hire is unhappy and doesn't want to be associated with the company, Richman says the company takes great strides to make them happy in their termination.
"This may surprise you, but we pay them $4,000 to quit," he said. He added that way they will hopefully use that money to find the job they really want that will make them happy.
For Richman and Zappos it's all about the culture of the business.
"The evidence of culture is in your stories, language, traditions or rituals, back chatter, the building you're in, and your rewards," he said. "Culture is the way of being, how we do things."
Richman said so many times new employees will be introduced to a company's values that are listed on some wall or poster and may include such words as integrity, honesty and responsibility.
"We believe that if you don't have integrity, you don't have values," Richman said. "With a list of words like this there is an assumption we have to manage our people."
He explained that if you have to have honesty on the list, you believe your employees are not honest.
He offered Zappos's core values as a tried, successful office culture paradigm. Some of those include:
• Deliver wow through service
• Embrace and drive change
• Create fun and a little weirdness
• Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
• Pursue growth and learning
• Build open, honest relationships;
• Build positive teams.
"These values create the experiences we want," Richman said.
While Zappos has $1.5 billion in revenue, Richman said that money is just a symbol of value. "If you're focused on money, you're focused on a symbol. If you want to create the symbol [money], then take your eye off the symbol."
In the end he offered Zappos's "big secret," which is to be good to your employees and remember you're one of them.
"Employees are good customers; customers take care of the business," he said.
"Look at your life goals and always ask why, go deeper, ask why again. It all comes down to happiness," Richman said.
For more information about Zappos Insights, visit Zapposinsights.com.