Book Review, Purpose & Values, Profitability

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Flash back 2 years. I was completely unhappy. I didn’t like what I was doing with my life. I didn’t enjoy work anymore. I was totally burnt out. I would fall asleep at 8 p.m. and I was still consistently (and constantly) exhausted. I knew I had to do something about it.

Since I could walk I have always been one to take action. If someone scraped their knee on the playground, I would run to get the nearest teacher. If someone was struggling in school, I would offer to help them through their problems. If friends are struggling with a dilemma, I listen and give advice. But the moment the tables are flipped and I am the one who needs help, I am typically floundering.

Flashback 2 years. I was completely unhappy. I didn’t like what I was doing with my life. I didn’t enjoy work anymore. I was totally burnt out. I would fall asleep at 8 p.m. and I was still consistently (and constantly) exhausted. I knew I had to do something about it. Since I could walk I have always been one to take action. If someone scraped their knee on the playground, I would run to get the nearest teacher. If someone was struggling in school, I would offer to help them through their problems. If friends are struggling with a dilemma, I listen and give advice. But the moment the tables are flipped and I am the one who needs help, I am typically floundering.  |  Think Creative Collective

This time, it had to be different. I had my big girl pants now, and if I was unhappy I had to do something about it. I started with reading every self-help article on the planet. Soon after, I officially launched the blog. And I got my library card.

Why is the library card significant? Well, I used to read, and read a lot. But high school hit and cliff notes (and internet access) just seemed like the easier solution. I went back to my roots. Both of my parents read all the time, and they definitely did their best to instill this within me.

What if I read something to help? Surely there had to be a book that could get me over this hump. Then I found, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose". It seemed like the perfect mix of fixing my attitude towards life and jump-starting my new purpose and passion. (Note: I originally read this book right after I started my own business, long before Emylee and I even started TCC.)

I would love to say I checked this baby out and read every last page (of actual paper), but I cheated and listened to the Audible version instead. It seemed perfect! I spent approximately 2+ hours in my car everyday driving (back when I commuted to and from work), so instead of jamming out to the same 5 songs the entire way to work, why not enrich myself a bit and hopefully learn something along the way?

The Book

I could go on for twenty minutes about the life of Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay), most notably, CEO of Zappos, and author of this book, but you can read his biography anywhere. What I want to focus on is why the book is relevant.

The Beginning 

Tony is a normal guy. Sure, he may have above average intelligence and incredibly supportive parents, but the only real difference is the amount of effort he puts into things. He didn’t accept failure and he certainly didn’t accept status quo. When he was unhappy with his first job, making great money at a stable company (Oracle), he quit. Sure, he had somewhat of a plan, but nothing was set in stone.

That first idea failed quickly (i.e. web design for the brand new Internet). But instead of pushing him back into the corporate world for stability, this failure just made him try harder. In 1996, Tony began developing an idea for an advertising network online. At first they were giving away services and free advertising, but two years later they sold that company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $250 million (source).

How did he accomplish this? Tony had pure determination and a bit of having the right idea at the right time in the right place.

What to Do When You Are a Millionaire

The obvious answer, become an angel investor and move directly above a movie theatre with all your “favorite” people. This part of Tony’s life, and his book, was more of a time of discovery. Sure, he had hit the jackpot, but he wasn’t happy and he hated how the culture had dwindled to nothing at his last company. In an effort to counteract this, he did a lot purely to make himself “happy”.

It was also a learning period. He put a ton of his own money on the line. He invested in companies that failed, companies that survived, and one that ultimately thrived.

Zappos

I don’t think Tony ever imagined being in the shoe business, especially with his background in computer science. He didn’t seem to mind though; it really was a happy accident. Tony didn’t found Zappos, it purely started as an investment in a company and person with a passion, meet Nick Swinmurn.

Tony, when left with all his options, i.e. companies failing (that he had invested in) and Zappos (slowly going bankrupt), he kept investing more of his own money into Zappos. Why? A question I honestly don’t think I could answer. When he went over every decision he made and how he came about it, it really seemed like a gut feeling to me. Zappos was not profitable for many years! Sales would grow, but time and time again Tony was in the same spot, pouring every last dime he had into the place. Most people would have folded, or decided it was no longer worth their time, but for some reason Tony kept with it.

It wasn’t until 2004 (5 years after start-up) that they finally received outside funding. Sales continued to climb. In 2005 Amazon offers to buy Zappos after sales hit $370 million. Tony declines the offer. In 2007, revenue hits $840 million and for the first time, it makes a profit. Fast forward to 2009, Amazon acquires Zappos for $1.2 billion. Tony remains the company’s CEO with a hefty salary of $36,000 per year. (source).

Reality

Let’s be real for a second. No matter how much determination you have, sometimes money is the only thing holding back an incredible idea from succeeding. Zappos 100% would have died if it weren’t for the continuous financial support of Tony Hsieh. That money would not have existed if it were not for his prior success.

Lesson Learned: Not all great ideas can become a reality.

Delivering Happiness

We could just pretend that the whole story was about Tony being a fool, who continued to be fooled into more bad investments. Of course, that wasn't the case at all. Tony and his team worked their butts off.

They made bad decisions and had to pay for them 100 fold, but they learned from their mistakes. Tony knew that if this were going to be a success the culture of the company had to be at the forefront.

It took many years before the core values were announced, but once they were, they didn’t just become a sign in the lobby; they became the reason the company existed. Zappos would only hire someone if they already lived out the core values (rather than forcing them to live in a box they didn’t belong in). They let many qualified candidates walk out the door, purely because fit wasn’t right.

When the culture and values became the center of the company, the customers and clients quickly followed. They put customer services at the forefront. Not just answering every phone call with a live person, but a person interested in you and making sure you got exactly what you needed. This might have even been taken to an extreme, as the longest customer call on record was 10 hours and 29 minutes (source).

What’s In It For You

You might be thinking this is just a book about Tony Hsieh and how he made lots of money and how companies he worked for made lots of money. It may all sound like pure luck, but if you read it (or cheat and listen to it), it is a story of what it is like the be an American Entrepreneur. It is not all lemons that make lemonade. Being a business owner is hard, but Tony wants to make it a little bit easier with his roadmap. Not only do you get to see the mistakes he made, in black and white, but you get in-depth views of how they developed Zappos. Many of these lessons are applicable to the mom and pop shop down the street, but also the mid and large sized corporations in need of a major culture overhaul.

My Action Plan

So I started reading the book because I was unhappy myself, and ultimately it lead me down a completely different path than I ever imagined. I am continually inspired to do more, try harder and never give up. I am reminded why I started my own business in the first place, and why I want to continue to build it with Emylee. My clients took center stage and as our business shifted away from one-on-one work this book reminded me just how important it is to value your customer. In fact, you are why we are in business at all. Ultimately, we want to deliver happiness and through that let our passion and purpose shine. . 

Interested in what we do here? Find out more here.

How do you deliver happiness to your clients? What is your passion or purpose? Comment below.



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Purpose & Values, Canva, Video Tutorial

How to Create Your Vision Board in Canva

One of my favorite designs to create is a vision board. I create one at the start of the new year and then reassess and tweak it every quarter.

A vision board is a great way to give visual meaning to your goals.

As women we’re drawn to and motivated by visual inspiration. It connects us to our emotions and making and creating business decisions that lights us up.

It’s great to include goals that freak you out a little, but it’s important to exclude “should” goals, or images that look pretty, but don’t hold any meaning to you.

One of my favorite designs to create is a vision board. I create one at the start of the new year and then reassess and tweak it every quarter.   A vision board is a great way to give visual meaning to your goals  As women we’re drawn to and motivated by visual inspiration. It connects us to our emotions and making and creating business decisions that lights us up.  It’s great to include goals that freak you out a little, but it’s important to exclude “should” goals, or images that look pretty, but don’t hold any meaning to you. | Think Creative Collective

So let’s create a meaningful vision board in Canva that will knock your winter boots or cute flats right off!

In this short video I show you how to create your vision board in 7 easy steps. Get cozy, grab your goals and let’s dig in babe..

Step 1: Create a Pinterest board for your vision board.

Create a secret board for your vision board and start pinning images that are in alignment with your goals, your vision, and the way you want to feel in this next chapter of your life. Consider your business, personal life, family life, health, spirituality, social circle, and any other important areas of your life.

Include sayings, images and quotes that spark joy!

Pro tip: If you feel stuck on setting “feel-good” goals, check out Danielle La Porte’s Core desired feelings or her book The Desire Map.

Step 2: Create a folder for to store your images

Create a folder on your desktop or dropbox and save out your top images to that folder. Save these out, one by one at and in one step to save time and keep your images in one easy location.

Step 3: Start your design

Hop into Canva and select the US letter size (or a large vertical design) option. I often print mine to frame it or stick it to my corkboard/pin board. If you prefer yours to be horizontal, totes go for it!

Step 4: Create a photo folder in Canva

I like to keep things easily accessible in my Canva account and to batch similar tasks. Doing it this way gets everything into one convenient place.

Step 5: Import your images

Batch import your images into your Vision Board folder. Looking good!

Step 6: Create your grid

Go to Elements > Grids and play around with a grid layout until you’re happy with the way it looks.

Pro tip: You can always map out your grid on paper before if you’re not sure how you want it to be laid out. Sketch it out with your word of the year or quarter at the center or just go with what feels right.

Step 7: Create your vision

The fun part. Now you get to add in your images, words and personality. If you prefer, you can load it up to your desktop or phone. And you can also print it out and frame it or stick it so your corkboard. Make sure it’s somewhere where you can see it every single day.

Yay, you nailed it! I’m so excited for you. We’d love to see what you’re creating so please share them with us and the other members of our beautiful community here.

Pro tip: Give yourself permission to tweak and revise your vision board as you move through the year. Goals and visions change and sometimes the initial idea, sparks a better vision. Trust yourself, and adjust accordingly to what feels right or has shifted in your life.

This is your life and your vision and you deserve it all, babe!

Love and to achieving your big, beautiful vision,
Nicholette

P.S. Want a copy of this Vision Board template?

Grab your own copy and three other layout ideas in my free Canva Resource Library.


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Purpose & Values, Blog

How to Start a Blog: My Journey

Before Think Creative Collective was born there was simply, Think Creative, ran solely by Abagail. She knew the role that blogging could play in the success of her business so she was intentional from the get-go. Coming into 2016 we have over 180+ amazing blog posts loaded up in our archives.  Here's a look way back from day one of this blog and how Abagail began her journey.

Many of you may know the beginning of my story, but in case you missed it, let me back up, way up. I am the bi-product of two engineering parents. They mean the world to me, but I remember the first time I told my mom I wanted to go to art school; she physically laughed out loud. Since then the laughter has ceased and they are two of the most supportive parents I could ever hope for.

How to Start a Blog: My Journey

After the shock and awe wore off, the real work began. Not many people go from wanting to be a bariatric surgeon to a designer, but to each their own. (So before you Google what the heck I mean, they do gastric bypass and other surgeries to help the clinically obese.)

School didn’t come as easy as it did to some of my classmates. Sure, I got good grades, but I worked my butt off to get where I did. I couldn’t draw…. AT ALL!! Still not my strong suit, but hey, I got through it.

When school ended, I had the same, shock and horror that most 20-somethings have when they are about to walk across that stage. I knew I wanted to HAVE A JOB! So what did I do, beg my current employer (where I was an intern) to keep me on full time. And I couldn’t be more thankful that he did! At that first job, like many do I learned SO MUCH. I learned all about production, printing, color, how long it actually takes to finish a project, easy clients, hard clients, etc. I can honestly say if it weren’t for my first professional gig I would be nowhere near where I am today.

Fast forward, I worked in higher education, corporate and start-up. I moved, married, bought a house, got a dog and now…. WHAT?! I hit a wall. Sure I am living the American Dream and climbing the corporate ladder. To date, I have worked for many industries and types of clients, but something is still missing.

Purpose

I started adding my life up and 1 + 1 just wouldn’t ever equal 2. My faith filled me up. My spouse and family filled me up. Volunteering countless hours to the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri filled me up. But work just keeps falling flat.

Feeling frustrated and empty, I started scrambling. I would read everything I could get my hands on (online mostly) about starting your own business, working from home, blogging and more. Shark Tank no longer became a show I watched, but a weekly escape into the world of entrepreneurs, go-getters and inventors.

I wanted nothing more than to be a part of this club. So, Think Creative was born. After months of reading, day-dreaming and researching the day has finally come that I get to reveal what’s next for me.

A Blog and a Business

I have been listening to “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh (C.E.O. of Zappos). In the first part of his book he talks about his childhood, college and his first “real” job. Tony defines one of his largest struggles with the corporate world as the disconnect between people. He was tired of working “for” people and instead wanted to work “with” them. This is exactly my frustration.

I enjoy getting to know my clients, knowing their background, their successes and frustrations. In a cube, it is hard to meet these needs. So this is my drop-ditch effort to be back “with” people.

Think Creative is a place where innovation and business come together. Running a small company myself, I realize there really isn’t a place to draw the line between what I do and how I live. This is a blog and business that doesn’t just talk about ways to improve your work, but also life. I aim to inspire, encourage, and inform you along the way in your creative journey. Think Creative is an online resource for small business owners, entrepreneurs, creatives and bloggers that shares thoughts and advice to excite, empower and motivate you to pave the way to achieving your goals.

Content that is Relevant

Well that sounds well and good, but what does that mean exactly? It means I don’t want to bore you! I want to talk about things that can help you personally, professional and occasionally just make you smile. Curious what I mean more specifically? I thought so… here are some of my main blog categories to start:

  • Business Fast Forward
  • Marketing Game Plan
  • Brand Connection
  • Social Media Simplified
  • Design Works
  • Kansas City Center Stage
  • Home Made

Ok, ok, still not convinced? I have some awesome stories coming up, including:

Now do you understand why I am so excited? Comment below and let me know what you are most looking forward to? Perhaps an idea for a blog post you can’t live without? Interested in being a guest on my blog – let me know!


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