Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tip#238: The Importance of Team Spirit - Zappos -Celebrity Apprentice - Watchmen
Ego: Defined as an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others.
In order to get any job done it requires teamwork. And sometimes the biggest challenge is when your team is filled with extremely diverse personalities, talents and ego!
For years I've enjoyed the TV series The Apprentice with Donald Trump and recently caught the latest episode of the Celebrity Apprentice series. The unique spin on having celebrities participate in team projects reveals how even superstars can behave in ways that are shocking OR very inspiring.
The teams are divided between men and women with famous people like comedienne Joan Rivers, poker champion Annie Duke, Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker and country star Clint Black. Each week they have to beat the other team in projects as simple as selling homemade cupcakes.
In this recent episode their task was to create a superhero character for Zappos, North America’s #1 online shoe store. What was amazing for me personally was seeing the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh standing next to "The Donald" and all those celebrities. I met Tony back in December during my tour of the Zappos head office in Las Vegas and wrote about the experience in 2 tips (click here).
Part of the draw of this reality TV show is, of course, seeing how these individuals interact with one another. You get to see who are natural leaders and who can function in a team environment. You see how dysfunctional teams can become.
These dysfunctional teams reminded me of the new Watchmen movie. Based on the highly acclaimed comic book of the late 80’s it features a unique view of a superhero team with members having deep personal issues and ego challenges. One character called the Comedian and causes much friction with team members with his cynical, rebellious attitude.
On the other hand there is another team member named Dr. Manhattan who is so powerful he is almost God-like in his super abilities. And yet he does not see himself or others as better than one another.
The movie shows how despite having amazing skills and talents that they can be useless when ego gets in the way of teamwork.
The Zappos Culture
The irony is that the Celebrity Apprentice teams could have learned a lot from the Zappos work culture. From my first-hand view of their head offices back in December (see tip#213) I witnessed a fantastic example of team spirit. The Zappos workplace radiated a positive energy that was simply low on ego. They made 1 billion in web sales in 2008 and that definitely came from the result of team spirit.
So remember that individual talents and skills mean nothing if you cannot interact with others as equal human beings. Team spirit is about putting aside ego and working towards a common goal. It's about putting away all those awards and "superstar" labels and focus on how individual talents can solve a problem or task bigger than any one person.
Team spirit, most of all, is going to help us all during these economic challenges. We each have important skills and talents that can be used to build a supportive community. That sense of community is what will help everyone to overcome crisis.
More tips about Zappos:
Tip#205: Follow Your Passion No Matter What - Zappos
Tip#213: Zappos Inspires, Part 1 - Office Space
Tip#214: Zappos Inspires, Part 2 – Patch Adams
Tip#261: Synchronicity Stories – Zappos & Twitter – I Heart Huckabees
Tip#374: Create Your Own Universe – Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness - Inception
© Emmanuel Lopez 2009