How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person (Repost)

Confession:  To this point, I’ve not been a huge “Twitter Guy”.

I’ll “tweet” occasionally, but even saying it like that, “tweet”, sounds a bit silly and I can’t say it’s become part of my normal workflow. However, I found this article from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced “Shay”) interesting on several levels. In fact, I find him a pretty interesting guy to listen to and read. People of passion and excitement who seem to be well grounded are often interesting.

This is a bit of a long one, but stick with me, I think there might be something of value here.

First, I’ll let you read his comments…

I was in Washington, DC last week and spent several days participating in inauguration-related events with various people including Evan Williams, the CEO of Twitter. So I thought this would be an opportune time to write about a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past few months: how Twitter has contributed to my own personal growth and made me a better person, and how you can take the same principles and apply them to yourself if you’d like.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about how we’ve used Twitter at Zappos for building more personal connections with both our employees and our customers. In fact, we recently “debuted on FORTUNE MAGAZINE’s annual “100 BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR”“:p-4382 list, and they began and ended the article talking about our use of Twitter to build more personal connections with people. That in itself is its own reward that has both personal and business benefits, but for this blog post, I wanted to share my stories and thoughts on how Twitter has helped me grow personally.

 For me, it comes down to these 4 things:

Transparency & Values: Twitter constantly reminds me of who I want to be, and what I want Zappos to stand for

Reframing Reality: Twitter encourages me to search for ways to view reality in a funnier and/or more positive way

Helping Others: Twitter makes me think about how to make a positive impact on other people’s lives

Gratitude: Twitter helps me notice and appreciate the little things in life

The great thing about all 4 of these things is that not only have they helped me grow as a person, but they’ve also led to me being generally happier in life. And the benefits aren’t just personal — they also spill over into what we want the Zappos brand and business to be about: Zappos is about delivering happiness, whether for customers (through customer service) or for employees (through company culture). It’s been interesting thinking about how all of my personal learnings about happiness can be applied to delivering happiness in the business world as well.

#1 – TRANSPARENCY & VALUES

What would you do differently if you were always on camera? I’m not talking about being on a reality TV show, but what if there were a permanent public record of everything you do or say from now on that anyone in the world could view at anytime? How would you act differently in certain situations? Would you be friendlier to people? Would you be less negative and less judgmental?

If you were always on camera, then everything you did would go towards shaping your personal brand, whether positive or negative. What are your personal values, and what values do you aspire to?

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.

A lot of marketers are initially mystified by how Twitter, in which you’re limited to 140 characters or less per tweet, can actually help a company build a brand when you’re so restricted in the length of your tweet. Here’s the analogy I like to use:

Think of each tweet as a dot on a piece of paper. Any single tweet, just like any single dot, by itself can be insignificant and meaningless. But, if over time, you end up with a lot of tweets, it’s like having a lot of dots drawn on a piece of paper. Eventually there are enough dots for your followers to connect them together. And if you connect the dots, in the aggregate it paints a picture of you and/or your company, and it’s that total picture that is your brand.

I have to admit, like probably most other people, when I first joined Twitter I felt a bit uncomfortable publicly announcing what I was doing and what I was thinking. But because radical transparence was part of the culture of tweeting, I decided to give it a try and be as transparent as possible, both for myself personally and for Zappos. It was also consistent with Zappos Core Value #6: “Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication”.

What I found was that people really appreciated the openness and honesty, and that led people to feel more of a personal connection with Zappos and me compared to other corporations and business people that were on Twitter.

By embracing transparency and tweeting regularly, Twitter became my equivalent of being always on camera. Because I knew that I was going to be tweeting regularly about whatever I was doing or thinking, I was more conscious of and made more of an effort to live up to our 10 core values.

A lot of people use Twitter to complain or vent, but I generally try to avoid doing so because it’s not in line with our core values. What I’ve noticed is that it’s also caused me to complain a lot less in real life, and because of that, I’ve found that my own personal happiness level has gone up.

#2 – REFRAMING REALITY

That’s not to say that I don’t get into situations that I’m not initially happy about. But now anytime something that used to get me upset or frustrated happens, I try to find the humor in the situation and think about how the situation can be reframed. I’ve found that almost every “bad” situation is actually an opportunity that can be entertaining to my followers on Twitter, which also forces myself to see things in a different light.

For example, last year I was staying at a hotel in Mexico and somehow managed to lock myself out on the balcony of my hotel room. I was stuck there for 45 minutes before I was finally rescued. This would haven normally been a very frustrating experience, but because I had my cell phone with me, I was able to tweet about it and it actually ended up being a very enjoyable 45 minutes as I tweeted about the progress of my situation and read all of my followers’ responses to it:

Went 2 my room after my speech, came out 2 balcony. Balcony door somehow locked behind me so now I am trapped outside. @ zappos_fred 2 rescue [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812279213 |http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812279213%5D]

Hotel front desk is telling @zappos_fred it’s not possible for me to be locked out on balcony. I assure you it is, I am not pretending. [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812287969 |http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812287969%5D]

Hotel security finally believed @zappos_fred, rescued me after 45 mins. Asked 4 ID so I could come in from balcony. No ID = stay on balcony [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812292469 |http://twitter.com/zappos/status/812292469%5D]

in fact, I now almost looked forward to situations that would normally be frustrating, because I’ve learned that almost any situation can be reframed to be funny as a tweet, which then makes the situation in real life funny as well. For example:

Airport bathroom: guy tries washing hands – auto faucet motion sensor broken. He tries voice recognition instead by yelling “Wash!” at sink [http://twitter.com/zappos/statuses/806944443 |http://twitter.com/zappos/statuses/806944443%5D]

If it weren’t for Twitter, I would have instead probably been a bit annoyed waiting in line behind this man who was unfamiliar with motion-activated sink faucets. But instead, Twitter forced me to search for and find the humor in the situation by taking a step back and realizing that it actually was a pretty funny situation.

#3 – HELPING OTHERS

One of the great things about Twitter is the instant feedback loop. Within 5 minutes of sending out a tweet, you can find out whether people enjoyed or appreciated your tweet. When I first started using Twitter, I used to just tweet about what I was doing. Most of my tweets were very “me-focused”, because the guideline Twitter gives is to answer the question “What are you doing right now?”

Every once in awhile I might share an inspirational quote or funny story or link to an interesting article. What I found was that those types of tweets also garnered the most responses. So today, with most of my tweets I try to do at least one of the following:

Cause my followers to smile with something funny

Inspire my followers (for example, with an inspirational quote)

Enrich my followers’ perspectives (such as with a link to an interesting article)

In other words, I’ve become a lot less “me-focused” and instead do a lot more thinking and asking myself, “What can I tweet about that would brighten the day for my followers or enrich their lives somehow?”

And by regularly putting myself into the mindset of asking what I can do for others, it inevitably ends up spilling over to my regular life outside of Twitter. And somewhat ironically, becoming less “me-focused” has actually increased my overall level of happiness for myself personally.

#4 – GRATITUDE

In my research into the science of happiness, many studies have shown that gratitude activities (such as keeping a gratitude journal) helps people increase their overall happiness level in life. There are many ways to be thankful, and many things to be thankful for, but one technique is to make a more conscious effort to notice and appreciate the little things in life.

For me, because I try to tweet every day, I’ve found that I’m always looking for opportunities to have something to tweet about. So I end up noticing and appreciating things that I would normally not even give a second thought to. Here are examples of some tweets I’ve sent about things I’ve noticed that I would have normally ignored or forgotten about:

http://twitpic.com/rcli – Guy in New York with a cat on his head. Apparently this is normal. [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/1046534414 ] http://twitpic.com/13fn1 – It’s so cold that the NY street food vendors’ tomatoes & lettuce are frozen [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/1124243255 ]

At Vegas airport. While in bathroom, I had an AMAZING revelation: Toilet seat covers are shaped exactly the same as life vests! [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/1109483429 ]

Enjoying just hanging out at home for my birthday. Looking at the full moon which is closest to earth today, happens once every 15 years. [http://twitter.com/zappos/status/1054918866 ]

So now, anytime I notice something that would normally be inconsequential, the very act of tweeting forces me to spend some time appreciating what would have otherwise been ignored or forgotten. And because of that, I’ve learned that every day, there are many, many opportunities to notice and appreciate the little things in life.

So for all of the reasons I’ve outlined above — Transparency & Values, Reframing Reality, Helping Others, and Gratitude — I’d like to say thank you to Twitter for helping me grow as a person.

Tony Hsieh – CEO, Zappos.com

SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU

Some questions for you to consider thinking about: What are your personal values? What do you want your personal brand and values to be? How can you use Twitter as a tool to help you grow as a person and be happier? If you’ve ever vented on Twitter, do you think you would be happier if you thought of Twitter as a tool for you to reframe your perspective? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts and comments below!

First, you can hear the excitement and passion Tony has for Twitter – heck, just for LIFE. The story of getting locked out on the balcony and the “voice recognition” sink guy, cracked me up – funny stuff. You can tell too, that he is a guy of self discovery and self-improvement, which is awesome.

However, after I read his book “Delivering Happiness” and this article, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between Hsieh and  King Solomon in the Bible. A guy of great wisdom and wealth, but in a perpetual search for happiness. Solomon, like Hsieh, searched everywhere  and everything but ultimately came to the conclusion that it’s “all is vanity“. Until I, we, Solomon, Hsieh realize that 1.) Happiness is circumstantial and 2.) True joy is only found in a relationship with Jesus, we come up wanting (figuratively and literally).

The other thing I found interesting as I consider Tony’s comments on Twitter, in particular, the four benefits of using this social media tool. When I substitute “Twitter” with “Jesus” it still works – only exponentially more:

Transparency & Values: Jesus constantly reminds me of who I want to be, and what I want Zappos (or my business, life, relationships, etc.) to stand for

    • “Sanctified” is a church word, it just means “to be set apart” and describes the ongoing process of becoming more like Jesus – every day and in every part of my life.- How I treat others (my wife, daughters, family, friends, co-workers, business associates, checker at the grocery store, the guy who pumps my gas, etc.)
      – How I view my circumstances
      – Having an attitude of thankfulnessNot only does the process remind me of the fact that I want to be like my Him, but He also shows me that I can’t do it myself, that I’ll fall short – every time. If you asked me, or anyone else what it means to be a “Christian” or even just to be a “good person” the list of characteristics will have a lot of similarities: be nice, don’t get angry, be patient, put others before your own wants, etc. However, I don’t even match up to my own list all the time. God’s standard is even greater – fortunately, what is impossible for me, is possible because of Him.

Reframing Reality: Jesus encourages me to search for ways to view reality in a funnier and/or more positive way

    • Paul tells us that, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 Isn’t that the very idea of changing my perspective from what I see or feel right now to something bigger and better?

Helping Others: Jesus makes me think about how to make a positive impact on other people’s lives

    • Jesus, being about the Father first and then about others provides countless examples of thinking of others, helping others, considering others better than yourself, even providing the “Golden Rule” – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There dozens of verses the communicate this principle.

Gratitude: Jesus helps me notice and appreciate the little things in life

    • Along with “others”, an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation is a theme that is prominent throughout scripture – probably because we (and by that I mean “I”) need to be reminded of it often.
So what’s my take-away on all this?
  1. I like the perspective that Hsieh provides on the value of Twitter and it has me reconsidering how it can be used practically as part of my story (although I think it will always sound funny to “tweet”).
  2. Twitter is a weak substitute for the benefits I get from being a follower of Jesus.
  3. As great as the list of four benefits Hsieh provides, and as much as I agree with them – I don’t do them as much as I should. I’m not who I want to be yet, I complain about my circumstances more than I’d like to admit, I don’t look for ways to help others as much as I should, I don’t always demonstrate gratitude or thankfulness. In short, I’m a knucklehead who blows it a lot. I mean A LOT.
  4. I’m glad Jesus loves and accepts knucklehead sinners like me.
One final thought – one of the things I continue to learn (and re-learn and re-learn and re-learn…) in life is this:  Jesus is way more interested in my holiness than He is my happiness. To the point that there are times He’ll even take away some of my “happiness” for a little while, to help me be more holy – that is to say, be more like Him. Which is really who I want to be like anyway. Wasn’t that Tony’s first benefit of Jesus…I mean Twitter?

Read the Original Article

Gratitude As A Business Strategy (Repost)

Fast Company wants you to have your best year yet in 2012; click for more advice and tips on how to work smarter, manage your career, and lead a more meaningful life.

Most of us are fantastic complainers. When someone doesn’t meet our expectations, we let them know. We may even let their boss or mother know.

There’s nothing wrong with expecting excellence, and taking steps to get it. The problem is, we tend to take excellence–and thoughtfulness, and kindness, and joyfulness–for granted.

When things go as we expect, we don’t even notice or acknowledge it. Dennis Prager refers to this as the “broken tile” syndrome: look at a ceiling with one broken tile, and where is your eye naturally drawn? To the broken tile, of course. Not to the hundreds of whole ones.

 

Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones – with ingratitude.
–Benjamin Franklin

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
–William Arthur Ward

Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.
–Christiane Northrup

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is “thank you,” it will be enough.
–Meister Eckhart

To see if this is true for you, think for a moment about your many contributions to the people around you. Do you get thanked enough for them? Does the gratitude-to-criticism ratio you experience feel right to you?

Gratitude Deficit Disorder: A Global Epidemic

Almost everyone I know, from pastors to parents, from cashiers to carpet cleaners, from architects to accountants, suffers from GDD: Gratitude Deficit Disorder. Despite all our good intentions and actions, we receive much more flak than gratitude. We are hungry for genuine appreciation and thanks. We want to know that we matter, that our efforts are making the world a better place.

And so do your customers and vendors and coworkers and friends and family. Think back on the past year. It’s been tough for many of us, for many reasons. What have your business associates done that you are truly thankful for? An extra phone call? A volunteer effort? Special customer service? An unsolicited referral or testimonial?

Between now and the end of the year, how can you communicate your appreciation? How can you fill the global hunger for gratitude? How can you catch people in the act of goodness? Spend five minutes now making a list of people you are sincerely grateful towards. Then create an action plan to communicate your thanks, with no hidden agenda.

Real Gratitude, Not Opportunistic Holiday BS

I’m not talking about Thanksgiving sales fliers: “To thank you for your patronage, we’re giving you 10% off all XXXL purple dress shirts from now until we make our sales quota.”

No, I’m talking about honest, unselfish, respectful acknowledgment of another human being. Actually, I take that back–partly. Living gratefully is probably the most selfish thing you can do. In the moments when I am bathed in gratitude, for a caring gesture or a spectacular autumn morning, I feel phenomenal.

And you can take that selfishness even further: When people notice that you thank them for their efforts, they’ll naturally work even harder to please you in the future. They may even start thanking you for your good work!

Do you think it’s possible that communicating an attitude of gratitude in your business could actually make you more money? Remember the cardinal rule of business: “Find a need and fill it.”

Who do you know who is a masterful “thanker”? Do you have any stories or examples of gratitude as a marketing strategy? (If so, please share them in the comments below.) As Ken Blanchard writes, “All of us is smarter than any of us.”

Happy Thanksgiving. I wish you a holiday season filled with abundance–lots of love, lots of kindness, and lots of gratitude.

Read the Original Article

[Image: Flickr user AlicePopkorn]

The One Resolution You Need To Make In 2012 (Repost)

Fast Company wants you to have your best year yet in 2012; click for more advice and tips on how to work smarter, manage your career, and lead a more meaningful life.

As the New Year approaches, many of us are thinking about our resolutions. What will we vow to do this coming year to be better–both at what we do for a living, and as members of the human race?

There’s only one resolution you need to make and keep. Do this one thing and you’ll be good to go for the year: Do what you say you are going to do, otherwise known as accountability. This one resolution can have any number of permutations:

If you say you are going to call, call.

Promise to send someone information? Send it.

Finish a job when you promised–or earlier–with quality work.

Let people know as soon as you can when you are running late for a meeting or won’t make it at all.

And, my personal favorite, make good on the promise “Let’s get together sometime.” Make a note on your calendar in the near future to set something up. Or don’t say it at all.

Every goal begins with your own accountability, whether it is business success, losing weight, developing your personal brand–whatever your goals may be this coming year.

Start now. This very second. You’ll be ahead of most of the world, long before their hangovers have worn off on January 1, 2012.

Happy New Year!

Dayna Steele is a marketing strategist, success speaker and the author of the forthcoming book 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day! Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele. Her resolution in 2012 is to break 100 on the front nine.

Read the Original Article

[Image: Flickr user C.M.]

Update: Rogue Firm Project

Updates have been made to my curent projects featuring The Law Offices of Davis, Adams, Freudenberg, Day & Galli.

Law Offices of Davis, Adams, Freudenberg, Day & Galli

 

Update: New Hope Christian School Project

Updates have been made to the New Hope Christian School Project page.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Review)

Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay)

The visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success.

Pay new employees $2000 to quit. Make customer service the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the #1 priority. Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too.

Sound crazy? It’s all standard operating procedure at Zappos.com, the online retailer that’s doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales every year.

In 1999, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an adviser and investor, and eventually became CEO.

In 2009, Zappos was listed as one of Fortune magazine’s top 25 companies to work for, and was acquired by Amazon later that year in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.

In his first book, Tony shares the different business lessons he learned in life, from a lemonade stand and pizza business through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Ultimately, he shows how using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life. (edited by author). Provided by Amazon.com.

Review:

The first third or half of the book was basically HOW Tony Hsieh got to Zappos. While certainly amusing at times, I got a little board. However, once he reached the point of explaining Zappos culture, how they reached decisions about culture, how they would implements those conclusions and hold fast to them, regardless of the circumstances – I found the book really interesting.

Hsieh, is obviously a super bright guy. You find that his passion is much more about the challenge before him (and the next one on the horizon) rather that “just” Zappos. Expect to see more books from Hsieh on a wide array of topics – each associated with the challenge he is tackling at that moment.

There is a ton of supporting documentation on the books content that he makes available to you that you can find at: http://www.deliveringhappiness.com/

My rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Advent :: My Final Advent Thought

Sunday, December 25

Scripture

Matthew 1:23

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel (which means, God with us).

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world,t that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!