Work for Something More Than Money

The other day, right after passing through the cashier of a supermarket, a pack of eggs slipped from my shopping basket and fell to the floor, which appeared in slow motion to me. As I snapped back and fearfully saw my wife still standing at the cashier, she furiously glared at me. I very well knew what she was going to say. “What have you done?” Literally in Japanese, that is “Why did you do that?” If I was a Congressman, I would like to prohibit this kind of meaningless questions not expecting any answers. Anyway, I was in despair waiting for the time, but surprisingly enough, an angel came down instead. Accurately, it was a clerk running up to me and saying with a smile “No worries. I’ll get you another one.” At that moment, I became a big fan of the supermarket, and was convinced that what the myths concerning Zappos indicate is true.

As many of you may have already known that, let me introduce Zappos. It’s a company for online sales of shoes, headquartered in Las Vegas, often ranked in “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for,” of which customer-obsession policy made Jeff Bezos say “I get all weak-kneed when I see a customer-obsessed company, and Zappos is certainly is that.” I’m not going to share their legendary stories here, but I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the company once you know even one of the stories.

There’s one more important lesson we have to learn from them. Zappos had been sometimes ranked as one of 100 best companies “to work for,” which means the employees actively execute their missions and are proud of the customer-obsession policy. As it may sound too naïve, I feel like people fundamentally want to do something to make others happy, which is a fundamental driver for us to work.

There’s a Japanese proverb similar to Zappos’s policy: Being good for sellers, buyers, and society is a must for long business. We may not yet be close to their level, but keep making an effort. I know the proverb may sound too naïve to survive, but don’t you feel good to think that we work for something more than money?

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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