Do you really want to hurt me?

I’m exhausted. So many teal thoughts, so little time. I give to you, dear readers, The Culture Club’s Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. This classic song gets to the heart of everything for me the past few weeks. I dedicate this one to the media (old and new), the anti-tealites still lingering within the Zappos family, and Jeffrey.

Give me time
To realize my crime
Let me love and steal
I have danced inside your eyes
How can I be real

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Precious kisses, words that burn me
Lovers never ask you why
In my heart the fire’s burnin’
Choose my color find a star
Precious people always tell me
That’s a step, a step too far

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Words are few I have spoken
I could waste a thousand years
Wrapped in sorrow words are token
Come inside and catch my tears

You’ve been talkin’ but believe me
If its true you do not know
This boy loves without a reason
I’m prepared to let you go

If it’s love you want from me
Then take it away
Everything is not what you see
It’s over again

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry



Holacracy explained in 5 easy parts, part 1

Pope Brian RobertsonI’ve heard some complaints inside and outside the Zappos family that Holacracy is a wee bit complex. Sure, the Constitution of the United States of America is 4,543 words long, while the Holacracy Constitution (v.4.0) is over 15,000 words long. That simply means that running a company is a lot more complex than running a country. Sure, President Obama has to decide how to handle tricky situations with Russia and the global implications of any action or non-action, but I have to decide whether we remove the “.com” from our logo and deal with the implications of removing it or not. I just broke out in a cold sweat typing that last sentence.

With that said, I’m starting a five part series that will simplify Holacracy for Zapponians and the rest of the world. My expectation is that once I’m done with this series, the world will become Holacracized and we’ll all be processing tensions in order to achieve our higher purpose. Nothing more, nothing less.

Special thanks to Brian Robertson, the high priest creator of Holacracy, for inspiring me to put this series of posts together.

Holacracy Roles

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10000000 10011001 01110011 00100000 11100010 10000000 10011100 01010000 01110101 01110010 01110000 01101111 01110011 01100101 11100010 10000000 10011101 00101001 00111011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 00101000 01100010 00101001 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110100 01110010 01101111 01101100 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100111 01110101 01101100 01100001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01100101 01110010 01110100 01100001 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01110000 01100101 01110010 01110100 01111001 00101100 00100000 01100110 01110101 01101110 01100011 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 01110011 00101100 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100101 01110011 00101100 00100000 01100100 01101111 01101101 01100001 01101001 01101110 01110011 00101100 00100000 01101111 01110010 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100010 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Emails from Zapponians, #6

The next time you invite me to speak at All Hands, can we make sure it’s not:
A) Last minute with my talk causing people to want to slit their wrists or…
B) A time when a good number of the people in my circle want me fired?
I’m not complaining. It’s just a hard time right now. The inmates are definitely running the asylum at this point. As a “thinking of you” gift, a friend sent me a can of mace. Another friend gave me a switchblade. A switchblade! I’m not sure what is going on here but it’s not good.
I hope things are going better for you. I thought you were going to cry up on that stage. The last time I remember anything like that happening is when I was up there giving that last minute pep talk about how difficult things can get here at the Zappos family.
Trying my best to keep it teal,
Rob S.

Hang in there Rob. Don’t leap off that ledge. It’s going to be alright. Trust me. We’ll keep bringing you up on the stage as long as the cowardly lion insists on being a last resort, a hail Mary of All Hands talks. You’re doing great. Look, people said they wanted me to take the offer. Did I listen? No way. I got out there, stuck my pen in my heart, and spilled it all over the stage. I let it bleed, as did you. We’re blood brothers now. We bleed teal. Don’t think I don’t notice that. You’re stronger than the rest. Keep smiling. Keep keeping it teal. And, maybe learn to use that mace and switchblade. We do work in downtown Las Vegas, you know?

When worlds collide: Shingy and Jeffrey

Shingy, digital prophetWhen I get to heaven, I hope I get extra credit for my latest attempt to deliver happiness, because I’m pretty sure I just experienced hell on earth. Earlier today I got a call from David Shing, aka Shingy, aka AOL’s Digital Prophet, aka hair, aka insipid jargon on steroids. I made the mistake of inviting Shingy to Zappos HQ a while back. He took that as me saying, “We’re best friends forever.” I only have one regret in life. I’ll let you, dear reader, guess what that might be.

Shingy is more nervous energy than usual. AOL is being purchased by Verizon. Why? I have no idea. Misery loves company, I suppose. Shingy has done his best to put a positive spin on this in the media. A site I will no longer identified by name captured a short interview with the digital prophet.

I am really happy, and I am trying not to smirk so much. And why I am happy is that this will be a game changer on the context of how we can get brands to people and people to brands. It changes the landscape for us and that is very refreshing.

Meanwhile, on the phone, Shingy is freaking out. He’s telling me how Verizon has no room for those who make up titles like “Digital Prophet” and spend 98.9% of their time on the conference circuit. He starts poking around for opportunities at the happiest company on the planet. I try to convince him that his talents would be wasted here but he’s having none of it. He insists he knows about teal and can energize just about any role. Now I’m freaking out. Shingy practically has me hiring him. Before I email him an offer, I come to my senses and mention that Jeffrey always has something brewing in the pot. In fact, he’s working on another Fire phone and, who knows, maybe he could use an insider from one of the biggest cellular carriers in the US. Shingy lets out a shriek that practically breaks my iPhone, if not my eardrum. I tell him I’ll send Jeffrey an email about the opportunity. I figure I’m off the hook. Wishful thinking. Shingy insists I give him Jeffrey’s cell number. I explain that I’ll likely lose my life if I give anyone that number. Shingy then goes on about radical transparency, Wikileaks, teal, Edward Snowden, Burning Man, the internet, blah, blah, blah. He’s clearly filibustering me and I can only take so much. I tell him I’ll send the number only if he promises not to tell Jeffrey how he got it. Shingy promises with his hand on a collectors edition AOL CD and I breathe a sigh of relief, as our call comes to a merciful end.

MuppetNot an hour goes by and my phone rings. It’s Jeffrey. I pick it up and can feel the steam coming through my phone. Jeffrey is ranting about how he just lost 45 minutes of his life talking to “some guy who calls himself Shingy.” I feign ignorance but Jeffrey isn’t buying it. He insists that he knows it was me who gave “that maniacal muppet” his cell number. When I can get a word in, I ask why he (Jeffrey) didn’t just hang up. He said he tried, but his prototype Fire phone doesn’t handle phone calls all that well and the “end call” button wouldn’t work. He said he put the phone down on his table and tried to pretend that he’d never heard of a digital prophet.

One of the new features in the Fire phone prototype is a (NSA friendly) call recorder. Jeffrey insisted I be subjected to the “highlights” of Shingy making his pitch to join the orangest of orange companies.

Sound, man, it’ll be very important to us in the future. Imagine wearables everywhere – hyper-gratification. Users will embrace platforms that encourage co-creation. We’ll make Amazon a telepathic brand. Have you synchronized all this yet, man? Trick question – yes. The question isn’t what’s the future of orange at Amazon, the question is what’s the future of purple? Answer, dark purple. Fire phone is in good position. Videos are good. Sound will be very important to us in the future, you know? We’ll use dark internet to lighten the mood. Are you digging it, man?

Jeffrey asks if Shingy is a real person or was he the final creation of the late great Jim Henson. I assure him that Shingy is a 100% real decihuman and continue to deny that I would ever give ANYONE Jeffrey’s mobile number. He’s still not buying it and then forwards me a drawing Shingy sent him. It’s supposedly a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeroes.

Shingy's cartoon bear wearing zebra pants

“The guy has talent,” I try to say with a straight face. Jeffrey goes out of his mind, attempts to end our call, but can’t because the end call button (still) doesn’t work. The next thing I hear is the sound of Jeffrey letting out a guttural scream and plastic exploding into a million pieces. “Jeffrey, hello? Jeffrey?”

In rememberance of Quartz

Today is Memorial Day here in the States, a day where we remember our fallen heroes. I have one to add to the list – Quartz. My once all time favorite, “digitally native news outlet for business people in the new global economy”, pulled a Dud Caddell. I invited them into my home away from home, The Smith Center, for the quarterly Zappos All Hands, and this is how they repay me:

Zappos is offering to pay even more employees to leave

On Tuesday, May 19, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh stood nervously before his employees at the company’s Q2 All-Hands meeting at the Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas. It was just days after 14% of his company accepted a voluntary buyout offer if they weren’t fully committed to the company’s shift toward self-organization. That percentage could still rise depending upon how many employees take him up on a second, more lucrative offer.

It gets worse, they led with this image of me looking like I’m starring in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.

Quartz Mystery Science Theater 3000

This article has since led to another round of media mix-ups. Everyone wants to know what this second offer is all about. It also doesn’t help that, “Another Zappos executive told Quartz that 17 of the 132 employees extended this option decided to take the initial offer.” Let’s see here. Who could this “Zappos executive” be? Possibly someone who would love for Quartz to reference him as a “Zappos executive”? Possibly someone who remains fixated on titles while I attempt to demolish them? Forget those dreams about me in Wizard of Oz, I feel like Whitey Bulger. There are rats in my midst.

The second offer is for those working on Super Cloud, which is the most amazing paradigm shift since we went from riding around in horse drawn carriages to racing around in motor vehicles. Think of “the Cloud” and multiply that by 1,000 unicorns and then by 1,000 rainbows. Once you’ve done that, then multiply by 1,000 llamas and you’re getting close to what Super Cloud is all about. I was advised that if I didn’t provide a different offer for those working on Super Cloud, I’d have all those anti-tealites working on this most amazing paradigm shift leave before the job was done. The rat said we could hire an army of contractors. He caveated that by saying he wasn’t sure what Super Cloud really was, and if everyone working on it left, he might have a hard time explaining things to Jeffrey and company. I decided to play the odds – provide another “offer” and hire contractors. This other offer includes the original offer terms plus all you can eat cereal from the Zappos kitchens and ten zollars for every additional month worked on Super Cloud through the end of the year. I can’t believe I had to bend over like this for so many known anti-tealites. Will many of them leave at the end of the year? Yes, and good riddance. January 1, 2016 can’t come soon enough.

Aside from the Super Cloud offer, there was this little blurb highlighted by one of the Tin “men”:

The company has yet to announce exactly how it will compensate employees in coming months, but it will be tied to “badging,” where employees earn badges based on their skill sets instead of being compensated for holding a single title. At the meeting Hollie Delaney, who leads the People Ops/HR circle, shared that everyone will retain their current salaries as long as they continue to hold their same roles (thus earning an initial Grandfather Badge).

Go ahead, be jealous that your company doesn’t have a “Grandfather badge”. Still jealous? I’d tell you to apply to join the Zappos family, but even I’m not sure how one does that these days. It’s ambiguous. Don’t like that? You can leave…wait, you’re not here, that doesn’t work. Don’t like ambiguity? Don’t even think about joining the Zappos family.

There is maybe one person who earned the “Best Zapponian Ever” badge during All Hands, it is the gentleman mentioned at the very end of the awful Quartz article.

A young man wearing a bright neon shirt jogged up and took the microphone to give a shout-out to his CEO: “I wanted to thank Tony. People are calling for his resignation but I didn’t even think of taking the offer,” he said to applause and catcalls from the audience. “I’m in it to win it.”

Back to the original point – Quartz, we’re over. Consider this the great Quartz divorce. I will have to find a new favorite media source to bare my soul to who I can trust to take the truth and spin reprint it word-for-word. Jeffrey said Business Insider or The Washington Post are two sources with the utmost journalistic integrity. I’m starting to think he may be on to something. Do you hear that Quartz? You’ve caused me to seriously taking Jeffrey’s advice. Jeffrey, of all people!

Emails from Zapponians, #5

Well, this is awkward.

Hi Tony,
I’m not happy. I had a good manager. Forget the title, the guy was a good dude and strong leader. Now he’s off playing Lawrence of Arabia rather than here working with me and the others who decided to stick around. Did you get that? You made the Middle East look appealing! That’s one way to deliver “WOW”.
What the teal?
Lawrence of Arabia

Sounds like your former manager wanted to pursue his passion in the booming economy that is the Middle East. And you know who gave him the opportunity to pursue that passion? That’s right, me. Doesn’t sound so bad when you look at it that way, does it? In fact, it doesn’t sound bad at all. I’m looking forward to peace in the Middle East. Only a former Zapponian can pull that off.

Leaders eat last

I’ve had Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, sitting around the airstream for quite a while. I finally read it and it is one of the best diet books I’ve read since Freddy’s, Reinventing Organizations. While Freddy’s book is all about corporate diets, Simon’s book is how leaders eat last and can lose massive amounts of weight in the process. Simon makes a lot of good suggestions about dieting, which leads to a lot of happiness, which I just happen to be all about delivering. Win-win.

Here are some of my favorite chapters along with my takeaways.

  1. Chapter 2: Employees Are People Too Actually, they’re decihumans. You can slice and dice them into 100 pieces. This is science. I’m not sure what this chapter had to do about dieting, but my takeaway is that if you let your decihumans eat first, they’ll likely pig out and there won’t be any food left for you; keeping your figure lean and mean.
  2. Chapter 5: When Enough Was Enough In this chapter Simon argues that in days gone by, leaders only needed to eat maybe two saltine crackers and a glass of water. Today, too many leaders feel the need to gorge themselves on feasts fit for a king. I took this one to heart and now only stock saltines in the airstream. I’m also having all the Zappos kitchens stocked with the same.
  3. Chapter 7: The Big C We all know what “C” stands for here – Chef. And not just any chef, but the one and only, Chef Boyarbistro! That guy has a way of keeping the pounds off you, whether intentional or not.
  4. Chapter 9: The Courage to Do the Right Thing A strong chapter inspired by Spike Lee’s monumental film, which had many scenes in or around a restaurant. Spoiler: The ending is a riot erupting outside the restaurant with the restaurant losing. The moral of the story is that sometimes you have to destroy a restaurant if you want to win the diet war. Look out Nacho Daddy, here I come.
  5. Chapter 12: The Boomers All Grown Up While older, Boomers are capable of eating more than their fair share, leaving less for you to munch on. Hiring Boomers can be a strategic weight loss technique few have thought of – until now. Thank you Simon.
  6. Leaders Eat Last

  7. Chapter 16: Imbalance A balanced diet is critical. My experiment with eating only Soylent didn’t go so well. Towards the end I was kind of hoping it was Soylent Green.
  8. Chapter 20: Leadership Lesson 4: Friends Matter You have to eat last and you need lots of friends to make this truly effective. This is part of why I moved into a trailer park. It ensures that I have many people in front of me in the line to eat whatever it is we’re roasting that evening over the community campfire.
  9. Hannibal Lecter cartChapter 23: At Any Expense You’ll likely get really hungry and want to cut to the front of the line. Don’t. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself behind everyone else in line for the meal. I went so far as to have the Buncher make me a Hannibal Lecter mask and cart me around in a straight jacket. Remember, at ANY expense.
  10. Chapter 25: Step 12 Taking a cue from AA, Simon argues that, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially eat-firsters, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” It’s not enough to be the only one eating last. Everyone must eat last. If everyone eats last, no one eats. World hunger spikes, yet also disappears all at once. I just blew my own mind.
  11. Chapter 26: Shared Struggle Don’t deny the struggle in being the last to eat – it is real and must be shared. This relates to Chapter 20. In fact, I think this was a copy/paste from Chapter 20, now that I think of it. Maybe Simon got paid by the word? If so, how do I get that deal on my next book?
Mick Jagger

Let it bleed

Mick JaggerWhat an All Hands! I scrapped every single one of my ideas for something rawer, after having a heart-to-heart with SJP just hours before I was to go on stage. She said she gave her husband, Matthew, similar advice many years ago and it changed his career forever. I decided to ditch my ideas and pour out my heart just like SJP advised me to do, even if it meant I would carry my iPad mini out on the stage with my stream of consciousness notes causing me no shortage of stops and starts throughout. Regardless, unlike my guy Arun, I didn’t spill the beans on financials. I kept it 100% real and teal.

Mick Jagger scaryThere was a moment or two where I felt like I was going to have a bit of a breakdown on stage in front of the entire Zappos family. The press coverage of late has taken a dark turn against me. When I asked you dear readers if I should take the offer, you responded with an overwhelming “yes.” Freddy wouldn’t show up in person for the day’s big event. He provided a video that we played and by the end someone backstage had to wake me up with smelling salts. SF Weekly is actively mocking Zappos. I haven’t been able to get into my airstream for a week now thanks to Jeffrey’s gift of that Echo demon. Dud Caddell is still out there. Life has been hard for me the past month or so. I did my best to be open and honest with my fellow Zapponians. I left it all out there on that Smith Center stage.

Mick Jagger delivering happinessOn a happier note, I recently read a book that lifted my spirits. I mimicked what all the greats did in their moments of doubt. Picasso meditated on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon for hours on end. Henry Ford drove around in a Model T to nowhere fast. Steve Jobs endlessly gazed into the glare from a Power Mac G4 Cube. I read Delivering Happiness, a book that still holds up after all these years. If only it had mentioned Bahama the llama, the book may have received a literary Nobel prize. I looked into the mirror that is that 272 page novella and found the man I was afraid I had lost. I’ve lost enough people in the past six weeks.

Mick Jagger smilingWhere to go from here? I think it’s full steam ahead into a teally teal world. There’s no turning back. No surrender. No time to reflect and slow down progress. We must drive forward and fast. Zapponians have made it clear to me that they want the company to move faster, not slower. They want to speak out against the injustices of a pre-teal world, where confirmation bias is all too real and the only plan of attack is to recognize it, combat it head on (and, inexplicably, take the offer.) They want me to create more badges, generate more ideas about how compensation might work, become lead link of even more circles, appoint more (remaining) former senior managers as lead links, create more former Zappos employees who return as high priced contractors, establish more teal “apps”, further promote more radical (responsible) transparency while simultaneously empowering mysterious consultants to organize our new self-organized organization. Zapponians demand all of this and more. I couldn’t do any of it without the drive I have to be true to myself and the burden I feel to help others pursue their passions. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Peace out.♥

All Hands Q2, 2015

The day all Zapponians have been anxiously awaiting is finally here – Zappos All Hands Q2, 2015! It’s the first All Hands since I sent out my teal email. No pressure. I’ve debated whether to spoil the extravaganza or not. I made a compromise. I’m listing some of my best ideas that I’ve been considering for this monumental event. Maybe you’ll see them, maybe you won’t.

  1. The Buncher becomes my ventriloquist dummy, as I finally unveil my hotly anticipated act. He’s not keen on this idea, but I think it would take ventriloquism to the next level. In fact, we could land a show on The Strip if we pull it off. Honestly, the Buncher has had a lot of practice for this role over the past few years.
  2. Watch Divergent, followed up by Insurgent. That would be the entire meeting. Attendance required.
  3. Cut and paste all the existing Zappos Holacracy circles into a mind map that explains the meaning of life and maybe, just maybe, the Zappos strategy. Please bring your own pair of scissors, Zapponians. Gracias.
  4. Burning manReenact Burning Man, one of my all time fave life changing events. The Smith Center folks aren’t so sure about this. Something about setting flame to their precious building. Come on Smith Center, light my fire!
  5. Setup a large water tank on the stage and have each (remaining) Zappos decihuman hop in. Those who sink are teal. Those who don’t… See #6.
  6. A new zPrize! Back by popular demand. This time around the contest involves teams of the true tealites hunting the anti-tealites. I’m thinking less Hunger Games and more Battle Royale for this one. I’m still checking with our (formerly known as) HR and Legal teams about some of the (small) potential issues. The team to slay round up the most anti-tealites gets their own circle where they can dream up ways they can start hunting best customers.
  7. Iron Chef Boyarbistro. The format is much like Iron Chef, except the final judging is done by a Holacracy circle, all sitting on toilets. The circle members taste each contestant’s dish and are given five minutes to see how full the toilets get after each dish is consumed. Will Chef live up to his reputation? Tune in.
  8. Bicycle Man SnelRat out the rogue media member. More than likely they’ll be from one or more of Jeffrey’s rags masquerading as journalism. If you find someone from Quartz, do me a favor: if they holler, let them go. Thanks.
  9. An epic Q&A session with me, the two tin men and the cowardly lion. I know, I know. We did this the day after the teal email. But you know what? Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and Look Who’s Talking Too happened. Anything is possible.
  10. Dud Caddell gives a four hour talk about whatever nonsense he goes on and on about. I figure this is the surest way to finish Dud off once and for all. Seeing a bunch of Zapponians get up and leave before his talk is done will send a clear message. No way he misses that.

Where’s Waldo?

Today we’re going over the financials with the Zappos family. Numbers aren’t important, pursuing passion is, but Jeffrey and crew seem to care about numbers an awful lot. It doesn’t seem to matter whether those numbers are red or black for Jeffrey’s main biz, but Zappos has to be in the black and then some. I tried publishing our last quarter’s numbers in teal. Jeffrey had the doc printed out and then set it on fire as he was on video chat with the Zappos #legacyleaders-noleaders-notsurewhoweareanymore-circle during our last quarterly biz review.

It’s pretty normal to have your CFO present these numbers. We won’t. There are a couple great reasons for this.

  1. Zappos isn’t normal, we’re teal. We don’t have titles. (GOT IT ARUN?!) Speaking of Arun, he’ll be one of the guys presenting the numbers today. He’s always willing to step in and do whatever it takes. Truly a teal kind of guy. Though, he did ask me if it’s alright to update his LinkedIn profile with “CFO” in addition to “COO”, “CTO”, etc. Really, man?
  2. I can’t find the guy who held the CFO title before we went teal. He’s gone MIA on us. As a result, I’m having my favorite publisher, Hachette, put out a new book to help us find our guy Mike. If you find him, please let me know. It’s one thing for a decihuman to take “the offer“, it’s another for a decihuman to go 0% without me knowing.

Where's Mike?