Does it seem crazy to drive four hours through the high desert to reach Las Vegas, just to see two of the biggest influencers when it comes to community and the relationship economy? What I learned from Tony Tsheih and Simon Sinek surprised me, I was selfishly looking to lead my team and grow my business, what I least expected was to come home to closer relationships and a breakthrough in writing.
The Zappos Ripple Effect
When I got in the Lyft for the event, and asked to go to Zappos, the driver who had lived in Vegas his whole life, talked about how Zappos has completely changed the city. Downtown Vegas had been run down but with Zappos bringing their employees to Las Vegas and opening up jobs, downtown Vegas became a place where small businesses can boom again. When I talked to the Zappos employees, the caterers and the airstream park residents, everyone had glowing things to say about not only Zappos, but also Tony and how much respect and loyalty they had for him.
Growing up in Austin and living near Venice beach, I love and appreciate all things weird. So when I walked inside Zappos HQ, it reminded me of the places in Venice or shops in Austin that have bright, colorful, whimsical and fun things, some are artfully crafted and some are complete nonsense. These places where things seem offbeat, weird and random were places where people tend to be more creative because it takes you out of your element of white walls and cubicles and into colorful, bright, spaces that ignite your senses and help you observe different things. When I create as a writer, having random things around you and piecing different things together are often a good exercise to come up with an idea.
This love of the weird and random beautiful things also trickled into the community where Tony resides where you can find airstreams trailers with happy residents and animals. There are dogs running around happily with a llama without barking at a bunch of strangers. The community that Tony brought from Zappos created a ripple effect to the Airstream Park and also through downtown Las Vegas as we around the newly built sculptures and shops.
First, Talk to Your Friends
Simon gave us a little clue about how you can understand your why by asking the people around you. First, ask a true friend a simple question, “why are we friends? What is it about me that you like?”
Don’t ask your spouse, don’t ask a family member, but ask that unconditional best friend that comes over when the house is dirty, that ride or die friend that would stick by your side during the most wild or absurd moments.
When I got back to Los Angeles, I did this with my bestie and some other close friends that I know from different points in my life—college, former coworkers, and fellow entrepreneurs—and my closest friends were shocked with the random question. They danced around the answer, they even asked if I was feeling anxious or depressed, but when you have to articulate relationships, people sometimes tend to avoid the more difficult answers.
But they had similar things to say, we’re friends because I’m genuine, positive and some of my friends like that I smile a lot—that is a trademark of mine—and it makes them smile too. Then they turned around and asked me the same question—answering this is so much harder than we think it is, and I did my best not to dance around the answer too but give the honest truth since I think it’s the most important thing friends can do.
So I had 2 qualities and a physical asset, but how are those things connected to my WHY and more importantly, how could I put my WHY to good use in service to others?
I started to think of the places where these qualities tend to show up, was it the foundation for everything I produced for my clients, my friendships, and my kids? Was it in the gifts I chose to share with the world, like my writing?
The next morning, I sat down to work on my current novel in progress, I re-read a previous chapter and I realized that characters have WHY moments in them when they hit pivotal points of conflict and change in stories. Once they hit this moment and the character has a dynamic shift, the story changes and the reader or the audience has a deeper connection with the character because they want to follow the hero on their mission. When you have this moment like these, you will have the same, and if you use your gift to serve, you can have the ripple effect too and get other people to join you on your mission.
But as writers we have control over the characters’ destinies. I didn’t know how my WHY was going to change my life—it has lead me to different industries like hospitality to sales to fitness to production and copywriting—and it has lead me to putting other people first and wanting to help them more than just selling books and writing stories in a dark room all day by myself.
Joining the Movement
As much as I want to go on about everything in my notes from the Q&A, I can’t help but talk about what this movement has done for the people I’ve met:
MGM Grand: Next trip to Vegas? Book at the MGM Grand, because not only is it one of the better resorts, there was a team of young millennials there who were all in the hospitality industry and wanted to make a change in how they lead the resort and their teams. If you’ve stayed in Vegas, you know that poor customer service in the hospitality industry will bring your business down because there is so much competition. See the difference now at the MGM Grand and other resorts, and see the ripple effect these young teams have.
Government: as I sat next to people in the audience, I saw teams of people coming down wearing their matching shirts, wanting to make a huge ripple effect in the world. I admired that passion because I once had the same desire to change the world when I was a young activist in my 20s, but once I had to fight the bureaucracy, I gave up because I knew it was a losing battle.
But then Simon talked about not making a huge change in the world, it will feel impossible, but instead, narrowing your focus and light the torches for change to pass on to the next wave of activists is very possible. Right then at that moment I wanted to go back into the cause, back in the women’s movement, back into the resistance, back home to Texas to help Houston and back into helping the homeless in Los Angeles.
I thought about the past managers I had in my career, and only 1 was happy that I went out of my way to work on myself to get better at my job. I didn’t see any of them ever go to a leadership training that didn’t involve them complaining because they would have to leave their post where they liked to crack the whip. I watched them take the leadership role for themselves, and it made me so happy to finally hear new, up and coming managers—people who did everything from managing restaurants to managing tech teams and startups—that they wanted to manage better, make a more positive environment and overall make everyone happier because it was the only way to create a win-win situation.
Join the Movement Now
Start now! Go talk to your bestie, get the honest, truthful answer and find out that quality that you have that connects people to you. Then continue to be the constant student of leadership by reading the books and practicing the values that Tony and Simon teach so you can better serve the world with your WHY. It will feel more natural than you think and the ripple effect will change many more lives than you realize!
Questions? I want to help!
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