How Tony Hsieh of Zappos is using the winning formula of ROC+ROL = ROI

By on January 24, 2014
Social-Entrepreneurship (1)

I first learned about the concept last November when I went to visit my cousin in Las Vegas and he took me on a tour of the $350 million downtown renovation project. The idea of succeeding by focusing on Maximum Happiness and Community Engagement is based on the concept that people are more productive and loyal when they are happy with where they work, feel a sense of fellowship, and are invested in the community. Return on Community (ROC) and Return on Luck (ROL) will drive long-term Return on Investment (ROI).

The concept is not entirely new. It is recently gaining steam and several CEOs and countries are trying out different versions of it.

I have become an avid student of purposeful entrepreneurship driven by the belief that we can continue to prosper in a sustainable way that is beneficial to all stakeholders. People can live happy, healthy, productive lives while preserving their natural and cultural resources for future generations. A lot can be learned from what is happening in other parts of the world.

By shifting obsession from pure bottom line financial numbers towards more attention to the general happiness and quality of life of workers, community, and the environment, a more sustainable model for profits can be created.

Make life more simple.

We can easily find ourselves harried and overscheduled in our modern, urban lifestyles. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people are more likely to reach self-actualization when their basic needs are easily obtainable. The idea is to create a place where the basics are accessible and convenient. People need a safe, comfortable place to live where they can work, play, and participate in the community with minimal unnecessary stress. Families need a place where their kids have access to quality education and extra-curricular activities while still having quality time with their friends and relatives. How do you do that?

Keep things close and accessible and affordable.
Provide comfortable, affordable housing and healthy food choices near where people work. Create a network of quality schools, community centers, and recreation opportunities that are connected with walkways, greenways, bike paths and sustainable transportation options.

Foster collaboration and innovation with public spaces that give people an opportunity to interact, innovate, collaborate, and expand their ideas. Create mechanisms for them to bring their ideas to the next level. Provide training and mentorship. Encourage and reward great ideas that lead to the overall well-being of all stakeholders.

Does that sound too unrealistically optimistic?

Tony Hsieh has shown what can be done by growing Zappos into an ideal model for customer service. He has rallied a great deal of support for the revitalization project in Downtown Vegas. He is tackling several issues in his attempt to make Las Vegas the most livable community in the world.

How much of people’s income is spent on their home? How much of their time is spent commuting to work? People often cannot afford homes in the downtown areas where they work, so they spend a great deal of time driving, spending money on gas, emitting pollution, and dodging crazy drivers on the highways. They often arrive to work frazzled and stressed which distracts from their work and productivity. In Vegas, millions of dollars are being spent to renovate old buildings in the downtown area to create lofts and condominiums that are both comfortable and affordable. This is to encourage people to move back into the center, closer to where they work to minimize the time spent commuting so they can arrive to work on time with a clear mind.

People need to feel safe where they live and work for them to be most productive. It is hard to think of new ideas if you are constantly worried about someone robbing you or harming your family. That is why a lot of investment is being done to clean up the downtown area and provide visible security. Having good people active on the streets helps to minimize the opportunity for bad people.

Healthy Food Choices
Would people eat healthier if they had better choices? You have to feed your family and it is also nice to hang out with friends. Find ways to encourage a variety of food choices is key for living. Healthy people have more energy and can think clearer. Encouraging outside activities and walking paths will help create happier and healthier lifestyles. When kids see their parents living happy and healthy lifestyles they are more inclined to follow.

What is the quality of the education in the area where you live? How far do people drive to get their kids to school? How congested are the roads? Getting kids to school seems to be one of the main drivers of congestion. Over and over we are finding that we need to build a quality work force with the skills that are necessary to be successful in the rapidly changing world. Teachers often spend more time with kids than their parents. There is an innovative education program that I witnessed in Vegas that encourages the parents to participate in class with the students. The work environment is conducive to make it easy for parents to stop by the school on their breaks from work. Quality time with loved ones strengthens families and helps in the child’s development.

Public Spaces
Having places for people to work and recreate helps to drive innovation and collaboration. The Vegas project is renovating several old casinos that are being turned into community centers with access to WiFi, billiards, and food sources. This is to encourage people to work and communicate with one another. There is also a park that is being renovated for family fun using old shipping containers for families to go with their kids with physical activities and exercise facilities.

Urban mobility is the main focus of what my cousin and I were discussing. Walkways, bikeways, and alternative personal transportation available.
This reduces congestion and encourages healthier lifestyles. My cousin operates a business centered around a 3 wheeled, personal transportation vehicle called a Trikke. It can be human powered or battery powered and easily folds up to be stuffed in a corner, put in the trunk, or taken on a bus. Rethinking public transportation can have a great impact on health, productivity, the environment, and quality of life. The Trikke is just one example. What other methods of transportation will be developed in the future? How can we encourage innovation in urban mobility and prepare for them? How are the current regulations affecting new inventions?

There is a lot to think about.  Many other communities have made great strides in the above areas. What is your community doing?

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