A couple of weeks ago, a story in my weekly suburban newspaper caught my eye. The title of the piece was “Hoisting a Business” and told the story of 18-year-old Anthony Waddle, a former high school pole vaulter who has set up a school in his parent’s backyard to train the sport to other kids. He charges $100/month with a $40 annual registration fee. His goal is to have 40 students and an indoor facility.

I’m always on the lookout for unique ways that people make a living without a job, of course. Another local favorite is a story about Dr. Michael Crovetti, who runs a sports medicine academy. Not only has Dr. Crovetti performed 8,000 surgeries, he started another business called Skeletal Metal, a jewelry business that sells bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants made from the same types of steel plates he used to pin together broken bones.

Examples of the entrepreneurial spirit are all around, but unless you’re tuned in, you’ll miss the good stories. If you’re going to be part of the revolution, it seems obvious to be curious and inspired by the things others are doing. 

A few years back, CBS Sunday Morning began a story about Chuck Leavell, a tree farmer in Georgia. I looked up from my crossword puzzle thinking his name sounded familiar. Since I don’t know any Georgia tree farmers, I was a bit perplexed until the story unfolded and we learned that Leavell has a second occupation playing keyboards for the likes of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. A devoted environmentalist, he studied agronomy while riding on tour buses. The piece was a fascinating study of making room and time for diverse passions.

Just yesterday, there was Zappo’s founder Tony Hsieh sharing his business philosophy with Oprah (via Skype from his headquarters just down the road from me). I’ve been paying a lot of attention to him lately so I was curious to see what he had to say. He may be the most unassuming executive around, but he really got my attention when he said, “We believe in chasing the vision, not the money.” Chasing the vision has led him to design a workplace this is wonderfully wacky while being wonderfully efficient. 

That’s not Zappo’s only guiding principle, however. Here’s their mission statement. Feel free to borrow.

Deliver WOW Through Service

Embrace and  Drive Change

Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

Pursue Growth and Learning

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Do More With Less

Be Passionate and Determined

Be Humble

One Response to “Tune In To The Spirit”

  1. Janice

    I saw him on Oprah as well. I too jotted down his quote of chasing the vision and not the money. Another thing that he said resonated very loudly with me, and it was about customer service. He said that at Zappos that it wasn’t about the shoes, that they wanted to be known for the good customer service. He also said that vision is about passion and his passion was about good customer service.

    Inspiring to see a young person turn a problem that he saw in the world into a vision and be successful at it.

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