Blog #239 I talked about the Zappos marathon a new puppy and a 60th birthday party. In this blog I want to talk about When Steve gets promoted to VP of Merchandising
So we were planning an offsite At the Mount Charleston Resort. It was a Leadership workshop our “Zookeeper” Mark put together for us. Mark was heading up “Zappos University” and was well versed in these types of workshops. We had activities planned as a group and of course the happy hour and dinner to end each day with.
The first day we had a bunch of teambuilding type exercises to do in our groups we were assigned to. They tried to spread everyone out into groups that were different from the everyday work interactions we would have with each other.
The first exercise was to have two people face opposite directions, each sitting in a chair. One person was the artist and would draw what the other person was trying to describe to them. The team could not tell the artist what the item was and could only give instructions. The artist could only draw based on the instructions. The exercise was to show how important proper communication and creative thinking is. The results were sometimes comical and was a great learning experience.
At this time in Zappos history, we were big on skits. It started as a joke when we would ask people randomly that were new, to do a “Skit”. Chris who was a new buyer “nailed” a Jim Carrey impersonation, so the Zappos skits became a thing. At first, they were “live” then evolved into A 3-minute video. We did these skits for the next ten years and would play them at our recognition meetings. We would generally have a theme, then it was up to the creators from there. The point of mentioning this was we had to do a skit as a team, as part of the team building.
The skits were really funny and afterwards we went to dinner. At the dinner Fred stands up and announces Steve getting promoted to VP of Merchandising. To celebrate, Fred “Encouraged” everyone to buy him a shot. Well, there were quite a few of us there, so I could tell this was going to be a rough night for Steve. To be nice I got him a water shot and I took the vodka shot. After he took it, he mouthed a quiet “thank you”.
During dinner everyone was pretty toasty, and someone ended up throwing a dinner roll, hitting Steve square in the face. It left a red mark, so it must have been thrown with some force. Lucky for him, after 20+ shots, he wasn’t feeling much pain at that point. After dinner we ended up in the bar. There was a girl who wasn’t part of our group and was very friendly. She kept being very friendly to Jeanne, so Jeanne came over to me and said I was going to be her “pretend husband”.
The girl comes over and asks Jeanne to dance and Jeanne says, “I’m sorry I’m with my husband”. I look at the girl and then at Jeanne and say, “go ahead honey, have a great time”. If looks could kill, I’d be dead lol. We all had a good laugh on that one. The night ended and everyone went back to their rooms.
The second funny story was Fred and Scott were rooming together and Fred had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He mistook the front door for the bathroom door and found himself in his underwear locked out of his room. Scott was dead to the world and didn’t hear him pounding on the door. The person next door to him did though and it was the girl who was hitting on Jeanne, she was leaving in the middle of the night. Fred decided to go to the front desk to get another key in his underwear. He had to go downstairs to the front desk and ask for a duplicate room key. The clerk was reading a newspaper, didn’t look at him and handed him a key not noticing Fred’s predicament. These stories have circulated the Zappos circles for quite some time now and are considered “Classics”.
Every year we have published a “Culture book” where employees speak to what the culture means to them. Everyone is always excited to get their copy to see what their fellow Zapponians have written. Here is my excerpt:
“I started in 2003 and each year it gets more exciting. I attribute this excitement to our Core Values we have established. It’s great to work in a company that really believes that you should treat people well. I have always believed that if you treat people the way you want to be treated the sky is the limit. When I first started, it seemed insurmountable that an online shoe company could do 70 million in one year. Now we are beating that monthly. It is good to see all the hard work paid off. We have established great relationships with our partners, developed some really talented people and I’m so excited to go to work every day knowing that something new is going to pop up. I’m so happy to be here and know this will be my last job. I LOVE ZAPPOS!!!”
The planning of the Holiday party is a big deal. Every year Tony wanted it to be better than the previous year. This year we were having it at the Stratosphere. We had to go up elevators to get to the top. Once there you could partake in the cocktail party or do some bungee jumping off the side of the building. If you know me and my fear of heights, you knew I would be at the bar lol. They had a nice spread of appetizers and a chocolate fountain. Chris decided to dunk his head in the fountain, at least I think that’s what he did. I only saw the after effects in the men’s restroom lol. It was a good time once again.
Aaron leaves the company in February which was a tough time for Eileen and I. We were all like the three musketeers in this Zappos adventure. Aaron is such a smart guy though, I knew he would be successful in his next venture. We stay in contact even to this day in 2021. We have a lot of history together and have shared some great moments in our careers. So many funny moments and great accomplishments together. I was going to miss him…
February also brought on a new push by Fred to have us participate in the Corporate Challenge event. This was a competition for employees to test themselves in a sporting type competition. I had planned to play tennis for the company as I was still pretty good at that. We had planned a long trip to China and Vietnam about the same time that the tennis event took place, so I didn’t participate this year.
The following years though I made a point of doing as many events as possible. I did pretty good too since I was still athletic enough for my age group to win the company some points and enjoy some medals. Stay tuned for future blogs for 2009 when I start my 10 year run of Corporate Challenge events
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…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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