On ‘Experiences’ vs ‘Things’

Firstly, I must say that I am enjoying ‘Delivering Happiness‘ – a book about the last 10 years of Zappos.com – and it’s evolution from a tiny Silicon Valley start up to one of ‘best companies to work for’.

Tony Hsieh had a point that resonated very well with me – ‘Don’t spend on things, spend on experiences‘ . He illustrated his love for the same through examples in his personal life. Despite making 40 million of his first venture, he still kept the car he used following his college days and retained his old lifestyle. However..

– Inspired by the sit-com ‘Friends’, he wanted to create a place for his ‘tribe’ i.e. group of friends to hang out. So, he invested in converting his home into a ‘party loft’ where people could get together and spent time. And ‘Club BIO’ as it was called, became a centre for many many great experiences.

– A few years later, despite being low on finances, he decided to go ahead with his plan to trek up Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. Zappos.com was plagued with difficulties then but he decided to still go as it would be an opportunity for him to clear his mind and ‘experience’ something new. The trip was extremely tough!! But, the experience of being amidst the clouds was unforgettable..

His focus on ‘experiences’ obviously rubbed off on Zappos.com as their first core value became ‘Deliver WOW through service‘. Tony worked very hard on creating an incredible customer experience i.e. a ‘WOW‘ experience. And thanks to that, Zappos.com enjoyed incredible growth and hit its $1 billion sales target 1 year ahead of schedule.. in December 2008!

This is a picture from Old Trafford, Manchester. Inspired by Tony Hsieh, I decided to invest in ‘experiences’ myself and finally went for a Manchester United game after having been a fan for 9 years! While this was not cheap, I am very glad I took his advice – for this was mind blowing. I cannot remember the last time I was THIS excited

Team Sport

Adrenaline
Screaming
Incisiveness
Eye for a teammate
Sweat
Energy
Enthusiasm
Risk
Technique
Chemistry
Passion
Joy
Rage
Calm
Shame
Claps
Encouragement
Power
Diversity
Speed
Fun

You’ve got to love it.
I hope you’re having your share of team sport this week…
PS: Playing, not watching.. :)

Email and Facebook

It was my birthday a few days ago and a friend sent in an email wishing me happy birthday and asking for my number.
And then, she added..

An email is no better than facebook but somehow in today’s time it just seems more meaningful doesn’t it?


Somehow, that made sense to me.

Transitions

The song is here.
(The lyrics more or less go with the song. Please excuse slight differences.. :))

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings.

I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or,
for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment.

It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing
And I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life.
I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers.
But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along,
I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?
I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me.
It’s empty,
and I know, in that place that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it.
It is my next step,
my growth,
my aliveness going to get me.
In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow,
I must release my grip on the present, well known bar to move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me, I hope (no, I pray) that I won’t have to grab the new one.

But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar,
and for some moment in time hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar.
Each time I am filled with terror.
It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing,
I have always made it.
Each time I am afraid I will miss,
that I will be crushed on the unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars.
But I do it anyway.
Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience.
No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy,
but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging onto that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives.
And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes,
I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”
It’s called transition.

I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.
I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing”,

a no-place between places.
Sure the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new one coming towards me,
I hope that’s real too.
But the void in between?
That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “nowhere” that must be gotten through as fast as unconsciously as possible.
What a waste!
I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing,
and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid, where the real change,
the real growth occurs for us.
Whether or not my hunch is true,
it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places.
They should be honored, even savored.
Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions,
they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away,

but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang- out” in the transition between trapeze bars.
Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.
It can be terrifying.
It can also be enlightening, in the true sense of the word.
Hurtling across the void, we just may learn how to fly.
Touched a chord, this one.