Opportunities

“Don’t look for opportunities to compare yourself to others, but look for opportunities to learn the best quality of every person you meet.” I wrote this down one day when I was a young manager at Nordstrom. I had created my own personal scorecard for how I was doing in my job – call it a checklist – that I used to review myself on a monthly basis. I am a super competitive person by nature, and I found after a while I was reviewing the performance of my peers, using my checklist. It was a way to push myself and at times, bolster my ego a bit.

I received a performance review from my boss Steve, who gave me feedback that I was perceived as arrogant by some of my peers. It was a tough conversation and I was taken aback, as I thought of myself differently. It took some time wrestling with the feedback to recognize that I had become so competitive that I had forgotten that my peers were on my team.

But the real turning point came for me a year or so later when I was talking with Jan, one of my mentors, about being happy. She is the pastor of a church and always seemed to be full of compliments and praise (she’s still that way today). In any event, she shared how much she enjoyed learning from people and how much she admired in them what she found most difficult for herself. I had the proverbial lightbulb moment – and realized that I need to start enjoying people instead of competing with them.

So, my advice is: “Look for the best in others, as it will bring out the best in you”.

Let’s go be great,
Brad

Gratitude

As our colleagues in the US prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting upon the impact of gratitude in our day to day lives – both personally and professionally.

Our HR team has a long-standing practice of sharing their ‘weekly gratitudes’ at the end of each week via email. This simple, yet profound gesture encourages a focus upon not only what is going well, but in how challenges became opportunities and struggles became successes. This sharing of stories often provides encouragement to others.

Gratitude is powerful when made part of a regular personal practice, and even more so when we share those observations with colleagues, friends, and family. I am grateful for each of you, and for the invaluable opportunities we have to do great things together here at Tahzoo.

Have a great week as you enjoy time with family and friends, reflecting and celebrating.

Three Ways to Bring Out Innovation in Employees

threeways

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of maintaining Tahzoo’s unique culture through this expansion and the integration of Tahzoo Europe. This has led me to take a step back and look at what makes Tahzoo special, and it’s clear that our employees truly are our greatest assets. The ‘Zoo team is comprised of happy, smart, interesting people who are inspired by change and are driven to constantly improve and innovate.

As a CEO, or as a team leader, how can you foster a culture of innovation especially among a growing, global team? I’ve worked at a wide variety of organizations and in several different roles – from retail to sales – before founding Tahzoo (you can learn more about that transition in my Fast Company article here). Along the way, I’ve seen various tactics for driving innovation and I have worked hard to build a positive culture at Tahzoo. Here are three tips you can follow to drive innovation in your organization:

  1. Encourage creativity. At the most pioneering companies, a culture of creativity is an integral part of the corporate DNA. We hire employees based on their character first, and we follow the mantra of “shoes optional” from the top down. This helps encourage a culture where creativity and innovation are valued.
  2. Solicit feedback. It’s also important to ensure that all employees feel that their opinion is valued – you never know where the next great idea will come from! We support this inclusive culture through a weekly survey that employees at all levels complete – offering their constructive and honest feedback on what’s working, and what’s not.
  3. Make time for innovation. In today’s business world, there are distractions in every direction, all the time—from alerts on mobile phones, to constant meetings and invitations to touch base. I recently wrote an article for Entrepreneur magazine where I discussed a tactic that has been particularly valuable in driving innovation at Tahzoo: one hyper-focused meeting per week. Each week, I hold a two-hour meeting with the global senior team to talk through ideas mapped back to our higher-level goals. This helps eliminate distractions and creates a space for innovative thinking – vastly increasing alignment, productivity and motivation across our global team.

By following these three tips, you can help instill and maintain a culture of innovation. I’m looking forward to continued innovation from our stellar – and growing – Tahzoo team!

Always Growing

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

It’s been an interesting week for me, I was actually in DC for the entire week and I did not have to get on an airplane even once… The first time that’s happened since before the holidays! 
 
Earlier today, I received a wonderful email from a few members of the Netherlands team, providing me feedback on ways to improve the company. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness and commitment put into making Tahzoo great. As we continue to work our way through the integration process it is clear that I need to keep working on it and make things better. I want to encourage all of you to feel free to send me your thoughts and ideas. 
 
I hope you all had a chance to look at the new branding last week, the feedback from customers and employees has been very positive. Please make sure you start using the templates. I will be sending additional branding updates in the coming weeks including email signatures.  
 
Please feel free to provide any feedback on this new format of the Desk of Brad… I’m always open to ideas on ways to improve this and other areas of the company.