Hiring matters. A lot.
“I chose that name because it’s hard to spell and hard to pronounce, and most people don’t know what it means,” he jokes.
Despite the name, Chip has made Joie de Vivre a big success because he focuses relentlessly on hiring the right people, and creating a workplace where they can grow and thrive. He’s the author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, an excellent management book based on the well-known hierarchy of needs of psychologist Abraham Maslow. (See my 2007 blogpost, Peak Performance.)
“The most neglected fact in business is that we’re all human,” Chip says.
Chip, who is 50, started Joie de Vivre right after he graduated from Stanford Business School. Joie de Vivre is now the 2nd largest boutique hotel company in the U.S. (behind Kimpton). It employ 3,500 people in 35 hotels, 19 restaurants and five spas. Last year, Chip sold a majority interest to a private equity firm run by John Pritzker of the Chicago family that used to own Hyattt.
I’ve known Chip for years. He’s always full of ideas Last week, he gave a talk in San Francisco to the board of Net Impact. (Great organization, by the way: check it out here.)
Chip argued, as he does in Peak, that great companies succeed by meeting the highest expectations and desires of their workers and customers.
For workers, the base of the pyramid is money. That’s about survival.
At the top of the pyramid is meaning. That’s about giving people the sense that they are making a contribution to the world, that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
“Your goal (as an employer) is to help people move up the pyramid,” Chip says.
You need to start with the right people. So, for example, when Joie de Vivre interviews job candidates who want to work at the front desk a hotel —they’re called hosts—they’re asked to talk about a time in the last month when they did something for someone else that made the other person happy, and made them happy, too.
It’s obvious why, right?
If making other people feel good makes you feel good, you’re going to like working as a front-desk clerk. You’ll greet every guest who approaches the desk with a smile, and genuinely look forward to helping them in any way you can.
If you don’t much like helping people, you’ll see the job as eight hours of drudgery and the guests will notice.
For the hotel, that’s the difference between repeat business and a disappointed guest.
For the desk clear, it’s the difference between a calling and a job, Chip notes.
“A calling energizes you,” Chip says. “A job depletes you.”
Chip’s been fortunate to find his calling as a hotelier, a writer and a speaker. Here he is, giving a TED talk.