by Josh Levine
What exciting times we’re living in! For those of us whose values include transparency, integrity, and natural law, it’s pretty amazing to watch the chickens come home to roost (I’m really hoping I know what that phrase means). In case you’ve been too busy, I want to bring to your attention two unfolding stories that particularly stand out to me:
1. The Big 3 are no longer big enough to be worthy of the title, and have been renamed the Detroit 3. They’re begging for cash in Washington. While every news outlet, many consumers, and Congress have been debating whether or not to bail them out, the top execs showed up in D.C. in their private jets – three separate private jets to be exact – causing outcry from all of the above. This action obviously did not support their case that their heads are on straight, they’re making sound strategic decisions and they just need some cash to tide them over.
2. Zappos.com went through a round of layoffs. CEO Tony Hsieh, an avid Twitterer and (crowned by us) a Rebel, posted updates about the layoffs on his Twitter feed, and even offered up a copy of the email sent to employees on his blog. The outpouring of support from Twitter followers was pretty incredible. Many applauded his openness and commiserated with the tough times businesses are in. Others promised to actually buy more shoes on Zappos and tell their friends to do the same.
Let’s consider these two stories as a juxtaposition of old-school and new-school thinking. Both are stories about companies going through hard times. One handles it with bravado, finger pointing, and an air of desperation, the other with humility and humanity.
What I find most interesting about the Zappos situation is not that Mr. Hsieh went public with traditionally private company matters, but that he had previously created an environment in which it made sense for him to do this now. He allowed himself the freedom to do the right thing in tough times, because he lived right when times were good.
Conversely, the problem with Detroit is not that they showed up in Washington in private planes, it’s that they were asleep at the wheel so long that they didn’t realize they have no business flying private planes. Ever.
Sidenote: New to our blog? Check out the first post here – consider it a map.