Culture October 2nd, 2017

Our Common Core: Pursue Growth And Learning

The pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of money. The pursuit of a dream.

All of these things are actions. To pursue something, you need to have passion. If you don’t have it, then why are you pursuing it? Look deep into your soul and find that passion, whatever it may be. Find something you want to learn about, find something that will help you grow as a person. Do it with everything you’ve got. Do it now.

Core Value #5: Pursue Growth and Learning

At Zappos, we believe it’s important for employees to grow personally and professionally. It’s vital to challenge and stretch one’s self, and not be stuck in a position where they don’t feel like they’re learning. We believe that inside every employee is more potential than they realize. Our goal is to help employees unlock that potential. But it has to be a joint effort; Zapponians have to want to be challenged for it to happen. And for anyone we add to our family, the best expertise they can bring is learning, adapting and figuring new things out; this helps the company grow, and in the process, the person.

Who do you know that actively pursues growth and learning? Is it the child with dyslexia that continues to read in spite of it? How about the single Mom that takes online classes after her kids go to sleep? Does your neighbor spend his golden years volunteering at a local organization? Or perhaps these people have ignited the spirit of passion within you!

Steven Spielberg

Did you know Steven Spielberg’s first home movie involved a train wreck using his Lionel toys? And in high school, he created an 8mm film titled “The Last Gunfight” that earned him a photography merit badge in the Boy Scouts?

When it came time to pursue his dreams after grade school, Spielberg was turned down by the University of Southern California’s film school because of his “C” grade average. He was later accepted to California State University where he stayed almost until graduation. Almost. Obtaining an unpaid internship at Universal Studios, he created a short film called “Amblin'". Sidney Sheinberg, the then-studio vice president, was so impressed by the movie he offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract.

Spielberg did, however, return to Cal State Long Beach in 2002 to finish his BA degree in Film and Electronic Arts. As they say, the rest is history.

James Franco

James Franco is a man that doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. He’s been nominated an Academy Award for Best Actor and has been in live-action films including “Milk,” “Pineapple Express,” “Rise of the Planet of Apes” and the “Spider-Man” trilogy. He’s also done voiceovers for animated films like “The Little Prince” and “Sausage Party.”

In between his acting gigs, Franco is the epitome of a student-teacher. He’s pursued degrees at the Rhode Island School of Design, Columbia University, UCLA, Yale and is a volunteer film professor at New York University, the University of Southern California, Studio 4 and Palo Alto High School. But like any professor, he's been subject to mixed reviews.

As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he was recently bar mitzvahed at the ripe age of 37. Yes, James Franco is Jewish, and he chose to do the ritual now for charity to raise awareness for Alzheimer's disease. The Rabbi said he did a great job but sang the Shema badly.

Harry Zarek

CEO Harry Zarek has spent more than 30 years getting his company, Compugen, to become one of Canada’s biggest IT solution providers. In 2013, he was named Executive of the Year by CRN and was part of the Tech Elite 250.

When Zarek was approached to join QuantumShift, he was dubious. (QuantumShift is an annual five-day retreat designed for CEOs who lead businesses that are past the startup phase.) At the time, Zarek hadn’t been in a classroom in 30 years, never got an MBA and wasn’t sure what this leadership development program could offer him. After looking through the list of other participants who had gone through the class, he decided to take the chance.

Throughout the course, Zarek recommends these key drivers to employer/employee success: 1) Find different ways to get out of your comfort zone; 2) Don’t keep blinders on within your office; 3) Don't try to tackle too many changes all at once; 4) Be humble and don’t think that your company is better than someone else’s because of what they do or don’t do.

Manuel Rios

Manuel Rios, the former CEO of American Modern Insurance Group (AMIG), isn’t shy about admitting his desire to pursue growth and learning. He went back to college in his 40’s to earn a master’s degree in organizational development. Why, you ask? Because he wanted to better understand the younger tech-savvy generation.

Even though his company had an estimated revenue of $1.3 billion, Rios felt the need to up his game. “I felt like I needed it to compete,” Rios said of why he returned to school. “I needed to upgrade my skills. Now, it’s all about behavior. You’ve got the boomers and the millennials who have different workplace mentalities. We have to figure out how to appeal to both.”

Thanks to Rios, AMIG helped lead the way in creating a consumer smartphone app and use social media to promote their specialty insurance business.

What have you been pursuing lately? The quest for the perfect hamburger? The design of the perfect handbag? The search for the most diplomas one person can get in a lifetime? Share your stories with us! We’d love to hear about your pursuit of growth and learning!