Trader Joe’s was in a festive mood this morning. There were balloons and flowers everywhere and the employees were in costume. Alas, I arrived too early to sample the chocolate-dipped strawberries. I’m a raving TJ’s fan and not just because I love their food: I’m fascinated by the atmosphere. The other day, I was checking out and I asked the always-cheerful man helping me how he was. “Fantastic!” he replied. I pointed out that he always seemed to be fantastic and he said, “Having open heart surgery will do that.” Then he shared a bit about his philosophy of optimism.

Two other entrepreneurs that I love are Tom & Ray, the Car Talk guys. As I was heading home from the post office this morning, they were talking to a woman who called in for advice on buying used cars for her college-aged sons. She mentioned that she was also going back to college. Later in the conversation, they asked what she was going to study and she said business. Immediately, Tom lectured her about her decision saying, “But you’re an artist. You’ll be bored to death. After a week you’ll want to gnaw your leg off. Don’t do something just because you think it will make more money.”

My kind of guys.

They’re not the only self-bossers that I’m crazy about. My new love is Zappo’s founder Tony Hsieh who just made Fast Company’s list of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. Here’s a look at the foundation on which this company is built, in Hsieh’s own words:

At Zappos, we have 10 core values that act as a formalized definition of our company culture. Our core values weren’t formed by a few people from senior management that sat around in a room at a company offsite. Instead, we invited every employee at Zappos to participate in the process, and here’s the final list  we collectively came up with:

1) Deliver WOW Through Service

2) Embrace and Drive Change

3) Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

4) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

5) Pursue Growth and Learning

6) Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8) Do More With Less

9) Be Passionate and Determined

10) Be Humble

The cool thing about the Zappos core values is that  I’ve used them as my own personal values as well. So it makes tweeting really easy for me… Whether I tweet about something personal or something related to Zappos, if I’m living my life through these 10 core values, it all goes towards building the Zappos brand while shaping me personally as well.

I urge you to add to your Valentine weekend celebration by viewing this Zappos’ video on What is Love? .

This week’s My Turn piece in Newsweek is by Ann Banks and is called Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One. She’s talkiing about traditional storytelling (as opposed to the way I talk about it in the Compelling Storytelling seminar), but it’s a wonderful reminder of the power of storytelling. She ends by saying, “We need again to imagine a future that is meaningful in the face of difficult circumstances. Listening to each other’s stories may grant us a sense of common purpose that money can’t buy.”

I’ve been wondering how I’ll explain to my grandchildren what it was like to take pictures before digital photography. Thanks to Bill Geist, I realize there’s a much longer list of things to show them that are new to our world. Last week on CBS Sunday Morning, he did a delightful piece in honor of the show’s 30th anniversary. Geist introduces his toddler granddaugther to everyday things that didn’t exist 30 years ago. Take a look. 

I’ve always liked Rick Steves’ philosophy about travel being an opportunity to be a voluntary ambassador of world peace so I was happy to read that he received a Citizen Diplomat Award this week.. 

He wrote about the experience on his blog and said, “NCIV promotes citizen diplomacy with nearly 100 community organizations throughout the United States. Working for the US Department of State, their mission is to welcome and enrich the experience of people (mostly education, business, and political leaders) who visit our country…There’s always something uplifting about getting committed, caring people with the same passion together in the same room. I enjoyed giving my Travel as a Political Act talk, and they seemed to gobble up the ideas. Even though I may have been preaching to the choir, there is a powerful, intangible value in such a pep rally (for me, as well as for my audience).” 

Finally, if you have unrequited wanderlust, read this story about Anne Estes who has become an international petsitter. 

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. ~ Zora Neal Hurston

One Response to “How Much Good News Can You Stand?”

  1. Clare

    I love this. I’m with you on Trader Joes, they are always so upbeat and their prices are quite good. Barbara, thank you for being such an inspiration. You really walk the talk.

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