I would rather lick a subway railing than attend a networking event. It’s a harsh but true statement. I will go so far as to say I loathe networking events and I rarely attend them. In the spirit of honestly, I am just not driven to grow my business. I have never been motivated by money and because of that, making connections solely to drive growth has never been on my radar. The good news is that K&P has enjoyed terrific growth in spite of what some may call a dumb perspective.
Last night Kel & Partners had the incredible opportunity to host a party as part of Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness bus tour. As most of you know, Tony’s book, Delivering Happiness, hit # 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. It’s a gripping read that tells a rare story of how Tony’s commitment to corporate culture lead to extraordinary success while delivering endless amounts of happiness along the way. Although Tony sold his first company to Microsoft for hundreds of millions of dollars and recently sold Zappos to Amazon for close to a billion dollars, it is Tony’s humble demeanor that most impresses me. While his business success is jaw-dropping, his kindness is even more notable.
Interestingly enough, Tony is also not a fan of networking events that are self-serving for pure business purposes. He prefers to get to know people as people regardless of their position in the business world and believes this indirect approach often times still leads to something good for your business. As such, we asked that people who attended the party only put their first name on the name tag and not include the name of their company. As a conversation starter, we also asked everyone to write one thing on their name tag that’s a little weird but makes them happy. My name tag said “Kel” and below that it said “Flossing.” The weird but happy comments were striking and acted as a catalyst for dynamic conversations that dripped of genuine passion versus obligatory motivation. The weird but happy comments included things like happy sea turtles, snoring bulldog, yawning pandas, hoedowns, bit o’ honey, polka dots, demolishing buildings and cats doing flips — although I’m concerned about the cat comment since most cats don’t do flips out of self-motivation. The conversation buzz level in the space felt lighter and more natural than what I usually experience at a networking-like event. As I looked around at the 150+ people, I saw unusual pairings deeply immersed in animated conversations. The insightful takeaway was that for as passionate as people are about the business they work for, most, if not all, get even more lit by something that has absolutely nothing to do with business.
Imagine a world where delivering happiness held the top spot on every corporate objectives list and displaced today’s reigning champion, Driving Revenue Growth. Last night, it was so invigorating for me to speak to so many young entrepreneurs who are as passionate about delivering happiness as they are about becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg. Even more exhilarating is the thought that because so many people have bought Tony’s book, propelling it to the #1 spot on the NYT Business Best Seller List, that maybe we are about to witness a shake up in the business world. Maybe passion and purpose will learn to coexist with profits. Maybe business leaders will have an “a-ha” moment where they have the epiphany that unheard-of customer service can lead to a business that exceeds even their wildest dreams. Maybe these same leaders will put their employees happiness ahead of their own and realize true nirvana is better measured in smiles than in dollars.
I’m really hoping Delivering Happiness becomes a thread in the fabric of all businesses. I’m kinda tired of licking subway railings and it is a total buzz kill to my flossing efforts.
Would you rather lick a subway railing or attend a networking event?
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