Zappos Getting It Right…Again

Well, since this blog is supposed to be sort of about business, I guess I’ll talk a little biz.

Recently, I’ve begun working part time for a communications firm in Baltimore. It’s wonderful to have something to give my days structure and it’s even better that it’s a place I truly enjoy. It’s a small firm but great people doing really great work. I never thought I’d be doing communications work when I began my MBA, I never would have suspected it even a few months in. But here I am, and it’s exactly where I should be. It’s only part time and it’s only for a little while so far, but I’m working!

** Sidenote: I mentioned this blog to my boss and he asked what I write about. I said, “it’s just me…rambling.” Why am I not in sales?!

Anyway, that wasn’t the biz to which I was previously referring. One of my tasks is to read all the newsletters of all these media outlets that touch on anything our clients might want to be aware of – or things our clients’ PR firm really ought to be aware of. Being a wordy person – I like to spend my time reading, writing and saying words – I LOVE THIS. I sit down each morning and read and read and read. Really only about 20 minutes but it’s blogs and millenial articles so I can easily cover the good stuff in that much time. It ain’t Ulysses. During this wonderful time, I occasionally come across an article that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. This is one of those very articles:

As the article tells us, during one of the worst days in the year to travel, Zappos awarded seven planes full of people with free gifts. What they received was decided by where their bags fell on the luggage carousel which had been turned into a big ol’ wheel of fortune. After a long flight, all we ever want is to get our bags and get the hell out. But Zappos made it into a big event in the best way ever. I wouldn’t want to fly the week of Thanksgiving for anything, but I’d love to have been down in Austin to see the reaction of the travelers as they came through.

I should tell you, I have a super huge company crush on Zappos. I love them. I love Tony Hsieh (the CEO who only take like $1/yr in base salary because he thinks that if he’s ever there for the money he needs to leave and he had a bunch of ups and downs in trying to make it work and he sold another company and he’s a genius.) I read his book, which has a huge following now, I’ve watched YouTube interviews, I might set a Google Alert one of these days on them. During my MBA, I convinced my team to do a report in our Leadership class on Zappos. If you’re linked with me on LinkedIn, you can see the PowerPoint that accompanied the presentation. When I own a company, which may or may not ever happen, I want it to be like Zappos. They do so many things right. They’re built to last because they’re built on a good, solid, purposeful foundation. I think the best companies are that way. (I know when referring to a business, one should write “it” not “them” but you can’t with a company like Zappos. They’re about people, so they’re a them to me.)

So, with all that background, I was hardly surprised by this article. It’s just what those zaney Zappos kids have been doing all along. But they’re now owned by Amazon, they’ve done really well, they soared through the recession and, best of all, they have me as their #1 fan. They could kick back and relax but nope. During the fourth quarter when everyone is worrying about moving into the black, getting 2014 planned, making it wherever for the holidays, getting gifts, and being everything to everyone, Zappos goes above and beyond to make some customers very happy. Of course it’s a marketing scheme, but business is business. If only all marketing schemes made us ordinary folk happy.


Substitute Teaching

I graduated with my MBA on August 17th and have had a little bit a free time since then. Like weeks and weeks of free time. It’s given me a lot of time to think, to create, to clean and to exercise. (And more important things like organize my Pinterest boards and watch House of Cards.) With the government shut down, it seems like a lot of things halted in their tracks. But even before that, it just feels like nothing is turning up roses. And I’m not alone in my struggles, it seems every day I see posts on Facebook about people begging for Administrative Assistant or temp jobs –  college graduates, graduate school graduates, people who should be out changing the world, running the show, climbing their way to the top. And I have been an Admin Asst. I, in no way, mean to belittle it. But in your twenties, you’re supposed to be chasing your dreams and taking the big risks, right? So why can’t my peers and I even see our dreams? Or have a chance to get in the work place and take big risks?

I know these people to be smart and hard working, the kind who spend hours on Indeed, Career Builder, Monster each day. Link with everyone on LinkedIn, find passion in their work, go the extra mile. I know in an interview they’d rock it. And I know that about myself as well. I’ve never not gotten a job where I had an in face interview because I apply for jobs I am excited about, I’m honest, smart and I know my stuff. Even the jobs where I have contacts and people pulling for me –  and I’m doing everything I was supposed to do. So what to do, I pondered.

Well, I don’t have the discipline with a full day to keep to a schedule. That’s just never been my jam, I love to be busy but to randomly allocate things to do and then stick to it without anything keeping me to it won’t work for me. When I have school, work, anything that needs to be at a certain time, I can make that work. But to assign myself something and keep it ain’t never gon’ happen. I certainly have filled my days. I’ve begun to pack away the things I don’t always need. (Because as soon as I get a job, I am moving quick, fast and in a hurry. And I like to get a head start on these things.) I’ve cleaned everything I own within an inch of its life. I’ve revamped my Etsy shop, spent time with good friends. I even helped one move although if I had my way, she wouldn’t have gone. I digress…It’s been a good couple weeks that not many people have the chance to have. I was determined to stay positive. I do not want to take a job out of desperation so I refused to become desperate.

Finally, a few weeks ago, an answer came. And not an answer to all my problems, but something to grasp onto. My aunt, who is also my idol and my hero for a number of reasons, texted me one evening and said, “Would you be interested in subbing at your high school until you find your big job?” To impress upon you the full weight of this text I need to tell you that my high school was beyond awesome. It’s actually a prep school and an all girls school. I learned from amazing teachers, made life long friends, created unique, crazy, ridiculous memories. This school had formed me in a lot of ways, it had planted the seeds for the strong person, the feminist and and the hard worker I have become. My teachers always pushed me and believed in me, despite my teen rebellion of not handing in my assignments on time and rarely doing the reading (Badass, I know. Watch out.)  Throughout college I had planned to come back and believe in my students the way my teachers had believed in me. Being an English teacher, especially at this particular school, was my dream. It’s what I had always talked about doing and finally, although in a slightly different fashion, a dream fell into my lap. I contacted my  principal and I am writing this during one of my free periods. 

My dreams have changed and I want other things now, but this feels like a good thing. It curbs my desperation and allows me to be in a place I love, even while I’m filling out tons of applications and praying for a “big job”. It reminds me that I only can control the smallest portion of what’s happening around me and to remain positive about it. And best of all, I get to hang out with my aunt!

As you know, I love my quotes. These perfectly describes how I feel at the moment:


Off Topic

Okay, so this blog post will be a little off base. My blog is about the business side of my life but in my social part of my life, I keep seeing things I want to comment on, so here goes:

I need to get something off my chest. As a single girl in her early twenties, I run into being third, fifth, seventh (really any odd numbered) wheel sometimes. I usually don’t feel bad about it because I’m very happily single and am not insecure about who or what I am. However, from my Facebook news feed and the stories I hear, I fear I’m a bit unique in that.

 First, yes, everyone wants to find love and be the apple of someone’s eye – particularly when surrounded by love birds. It can suck, I get that. But there’s no reason to feel bad about where you are. Own it like the boss you are and be proud of the things you’ve accomplished because your relationship status does not and will never define you. Because boyfriends sometimes suck and dancing all night with a beautiful stranger at a dance club ALWAYS rocks.

Second, when invited to a night out with friends and they’re all coupled off, what do you do? Bail. Abort. Anything. Fake an illness, a broken pinky toe, throw yourself down the stairs. If you have awesome friends, say you’re not feeling it and they will understand. Then either go out with your single friends and pick up some men or stay in and enjoy a night in about you. But do not, under any circumstances, walk into the situation insecure about your status. Because if you make more than one joke about being single, you make everyone feel bad and YOU look bad. They see you’re sitting there alone. It’s like telling someone about a sun burn. They know. So, sit next to the person you’re closest with, whose significant other you hopefully have some kind of rapport with and be social. Don’t sit at the end of the table moping. Don’t talk about the awkwardness of being alone, don’t talk about the differences of single life to couple life; don’t try to one up the coupled people in other areas of life. Be a normal person. Have normal conversations. Because although these people are in committed relationships, that does not mean they’re mutants…or even bad people. Just like because you are single, it does not mean you’re a weirdo. So don’t be a weirdo. You’re incredible and fantastic. You have a winning career, or a great fashion sense, an incredible sense of humor, so show those things off! Or talk about your recent trip to Spain, or Roanoke, or the mall. Talk about your fulfilled, beautiful life. And they will talk about theirs. And yes, relationship, engagement, marriage, children, couple-y things will come up. You’ve thought about these things before because you’re also human and every human has. So say what you think and talk about how happy you are for your friends. Because you should be.  So get your act together, throw back a margarita, put on your favorite dress and be you, they will be happy for you, too, because of how awesome you truly are.


But if you know you’re not going to behave accordingly, bail, my friend.

Go Confidently

go confidently

Sometimes it’s a little tough to stay confident, especially at graduation in the scramble to do well on the final projects, make plans for real life and oh..find an awesome job where you live your passion and work hard and love everyone and it pays really well with an incredible benefits package. All, somehow in your hometown. But that is the direction of my dream and Thoreau had such a way with words.


My first blog post was about a First Friday, a monthly event when my cohort spends a morning learning from career coaches and then usually visits a local company that has seen growth and success. We have had eight of these and each has taught us something wonderful about Maryland business. But today I want to focus on the morning sessions.

Twenty-one twenty-somethings in a room on a rainy Friday morning at 8 am ain’t a pretty sight. We don’t want to discuss our feelings, failures, fears or fights. And these are the things that career coaches often want to talk to us about. It’s been a weird tension because we understand their motivations and want to learn from their lessons but we are a tough and competitive group. To put all of our vulnerabilities out in the open is a tall order. Sometimes, though, we get a winner. Early in the year, we went over our Myers Briggs results which told us about our personalities. This was easy to get us to talk about because we could be positive, everyone was different but there weren’t wrong answers. And, I mean, what millenial doesn’t like to talk about themselves? From that, we were able to figure out how to better understand our team members and it has remained helpful and a good reference to understand the basics of others. But besides that, I don’t think we’ve had too many successes. They’ve been too personal and probing, no thanks. But this past week was pretty cool.

First, we talked about Integrity. It’s one of those key words that you know what it means but probably couldn’t define it very well. It’s important, and it’s good, it sort of has to do with morals, but maybe not? I don’t know, it’s on a poster in my office… But when someone, particularly a boss, asks you to act with integrity, what are they asking? No one defines it for the group or even for themselves.  So for the session, the coach told us a story and asked us to rank the characters by their integrity; first individually then in small groups. Each character had done good things and done bad things so the way we ranked them by ourselves would reflect what we brought to the story, how we felt in our own lives. Then to have to come together to agree on that was impossible, really, because none of us brought the same thing to the conversation and we didn’t take the chance to discuss what integrity meant to us as a big group. But I was proud of my small group- no two of us had written the same ranking originally yet by the end we were all satisfied. You might think that that means I got my way but trust me I did not. I thought the one character was flawless, I thought she was the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas and had integrity flowing out of her ears.  But my group mates ranked her last. So we had to get down to nitty gritty pretty fast. We ranked some of the other characters first because we found some common ground there, but we realized our problem was that we had no common ground in our understanding of the story, the meaning or what we each brought to the table. Some of us thought integrity was about motivation, some thought it was the actions and their consequences. There was disagreement about whether it was all or nothing and to have a moment without it was to lose it entirely, or a spectrum where you can have a lot or a little in any given moment and it changes.

The entire class was stopped in the middle so the coaches could tell us something important. We knew so much less about the characters than we were discussing. We had created relationships, motives, back stories, new stories, negative and positive attributes. It was a simple story about trying to cross a river and we were putting all of our own insecurities, beliefs and fears onto these five characters. One of my group members had a serious problem with one specific decision- it was something she had seen in her life, or a vague shadow of it at least and turned her off from that character. We had a momentary discussion of karma, a mention of spirituality. We found out the way you rank one character can show suspiciousness and another optimism or pessimism. They told us that we only ever know about half of a story and the other half we put into it ourselves.

We didn’t come to any conclusion; I have no more answers today than I did walking into that session that morning. But I was thankful for the discussion it led to. I don’t see eye to eye with all my classmates but I respect their opinions and to honestly discuss the meaning of a word with so much power a month before we are asked to go out and be leaders was enlightening. I’m a big fan of words, big and small. I have a degree in English, I write a blog and I read anything and everything. This was an important lesson, that when you are discussing anything, it must first be defined. Be it a project, a value or an idea. It’s summed up pretty easily in that quote about assuming…. You know the one. But it makes sense that we can’t possibly see eye to eye if we don’t stand on level ground.

Anyway, the end of the day was about inspiration. I get mine from quotes and words and I’m  sure I will share them often with you on this blog. In fact, we ended the day with a quote and a recommendation, both of which I will share with you now.

First, the recommendation- two books for leaders. I hope to read them and I’ll let you know what I think! They are “Boundaries for Leaders” by Dr. Henry Cloud and “Drive” by Dan Pink. The quote was a set of rules called The Paradoxical Commandements by Dr. Kent Keith and one of my favorites, I hope I’ll have it framed on the wall of my big, plush corner office someday.

CNN Article on Millenials

I like to keep up on what the world is saying about my generation. This is a funny and frank love note from the millenials to everyone else. If you’re asking me, I think we can do more and will do a lot of good. We are all adjusting to technology and what it means. I think this article is a little tough on the Times article, which wasn’t all bad. I’m proud of my friends, some are married and building beautiful homes, some are in grad school, some have budding careers in a broad array of areas, some are soul searching, some are spoiled, lazy brats. But we’re in our twenties with the eyes of the world on us. The people I spend my time with are hard workers with overflowing hearts. We will gladly take the crumbs given, make an awesome Instagram photo, get 100 likes and do it in 45 seconds before our first cup of coffee. I appreciate the work the generations before me have done, but I think we’re ready to give it a whirl.

Skillful Sailor

Skillful Sailor

Throughout this past year, I have had many tough times and stressful moments. Having a one year MBA course certainly was trying. But as the year comes to a close, I am most thankful for those instances. I know that I will be able to succeed and overcome challenges because of what I have learned about business, my colleagues and myself this year.

Work Life Balance

As an MBA student, I haven’t succeeded in balancing my work schedule and my life. But that’s the point of the rigor, right? To see if we can prioritize? To see if we can juggle? To see if we can hack it?

Well, I did a little reading up on work life balance and wanted to share my findings. A more balanced life will create a more successful person. 

There are many theories, rules, lists, to do’s and to don’ts when it comes to work life balance. Many people have tried to find the absolute answer to all of life’s struggles in these lists. However, as the millenials move into the work force, we are seeing a shift in work life balance. Millenials never stop working but at the same time never stop playing. There are pool tables in office buildings, gyms are not only being used early in the morning and in the evenings, some places have arcades and most allow a flexible work schedule so as long as you get your work done and are in the office for a set period of time, when and how the work is done is up to the individual. Tweeting, texting, facebooking and instagramming may never stop but I believe as our generation settles down to have families while moving up in careers, a sense of work ending and your other life beginning will have more importance. At that point, these lists will become more important as the juggle holds more than just career goals.

            In his book, Howard’s Gift, Eric Sinoway states that the term work-life balance is much too simple to explain the struggle. He says it is more like “juggling an egg, a tennis ball and a knife while walking on a balance beam — at the Olympics.” And even as overwhelmed as we, single, twenty-something MBAs feel, a middle manager with a pending deadline and three kids, a mortgage, an ailing parent, and a working spouse might have a little more on their plate. At both stages, remembering the juggling act we are performing and maintaining a conscious effort to simplify things will help us not only stay sane, but achieve our goals without the threat of burnout. As we go through our lives, we actually live at least seven lives according to Sinoway, the family self, the social self, the spiritual self, the physical self, the material self, the avocational self, and the career self. We balance each of these self’s needs on an ongoing basis. But when we feel dissatisfied in our lives, we need to reflect on which self needs more attention and focus on that part. If we realize we have neglected our friends, we need the social self, if we have felt like we are running in circles but not advancing our careers, that is the self that needs the attention. A key to this reflection though is to be honest with ourselves and not be unaware of our capabilities, strengths as well as limitations. [1]

            To keep our priorities in line, here are a few things we should always remain mindful of. Work is not more important that health, family, quality relationships and endeavors of faith. Stress can come on when we let work take over everything and stop to have time for ourselves. Later I will discuss things successful people do on weekends that align with this idea. “We control our calendars; our calendars do not control us.” Think of all the times we wish we could have been home for dinner, or any time we see a good friend and realize there has not been any time for that person when we really have wanted to or even needed to. In order to avoid those moments, we have to carve out time and write on the calendar family dinners and nights with friends because the things on the schedule are the things that are more likely to get done. It is also important to use time wisely. When running, maybe listening to a book you have been meaning to, or do productive things with friends when the schedule will not allow for hours in a restaurant. By combining tasks, time works for us and will be more fulfilling.[2] When priorities get messed up and it is difficult to decide how to proceed, the best way to deal with that is by thinking of the legacy we want to be remembered by. By reflecting on that, we can see where our true priorities lie and know to focus our energies there. [3]

            When in doubt, take advice from the pro’s. Forbes’ Jacquelyn Smith compiled a list of what top level business people say they do when they are not at their nine to five. And these are the people that nine to five is twenty four seven but even they insist that weekends be for a time to step back from work responsibilities. Make time for family and friends- as stated again and again, family and quality relationships help ease the burdens in life and help us to remain happy. Exercise- stress is hard on the body and exercise not only can help battle the toll from stress but also creates better confidence in appearance and make us healthier, the act of exercising will make you happier and achieving goals will create a sense of accomplishment. This is also an easy way to use time efficiently by allowing for time to think and be creative for things both in and out of the office. It is also easy to create a group that walks, runs, bikes, swims, etc, together to make deeper personal connections with the people in the office (particularly influential people). Pursue a passion – often even if we love the job, it does not fulfill a creative side that we have, by playing an instrument, joining a dance class, taking up hang gliding or whatever piques our interest, it will help us remove ourselves from the work week and refresh. “Successful people make time for what is important or fun. They make space for activities that add to their life balance.” Things like gardening, crafts, games, sports, cooking and cultural activities can also fulfill that need to pursue a passion. Vacation – get away from work, take the vacation time needed to be physically away from the office and from the routine. By shaking things up, we can get a better idea of how to do things, be reminded of new or old passions, and the office can see how much they actually need you. Disconnect – the executives interviewed for this article said they take some time every single weekend away from any type of email or phone. It may be just a long walk, but some said Saturday evening until Sunday around noon, they are almost unreachable. Email bombards and overwhelms us, taking some time away from it will not end the company and will give some much needed relaxing time. Volunteer – giving back to the community gives a sense of joy and community. Don’t do a lot of chores so that by Monday you are exhausted from the work from the weekend. Plan for Monday so the ball can get rolling immediately. Socialize – we are social creatures and get energy from being around people. A great way to use that time is to network in the same space. Reflect and meditate on the accomplishments from the past week, month, year and think about what you want to accomplish in the next week, month, year. By meditating and calmly thinking about hopes and dreams instead of planning with a pencil and a calendar, we can think more imaginatively. Recharge by using the weekend to take a deep breath and get back to who and what we love so come Monday we will not still be bogged down by the stress of last week, but ready and willing to move ahead through the challenges to come.[4]

            Creating a balance in work, life, and our seven selves, we allow ourselves some much needed time to get back to ourselves. We will succeed faster because Monday through Friday we are able to give 100% because there is no huge part of ourselves missing. As millenials take over the work force, we will need to become aware of the strength of our work ethic as well as the weaknesses and vulnerabilities we open ourselves up to. With smart phones and social media, work is now well over the 40 hours, we should make sure our personal life and needs get enough attention as well.



[1] Dumaine, Brian. “Why there is no such thing as work life balance.”

[3] Dumaine, Brian. “Why there is no such thing as work life balance.”

[4] Smith, Jacquelyn. “14 things successful people do on the weekends.”


My MBA class occasionally takes trips to different local businesses that are doing well so that they inspire our learning…and hopefully give us jobs someday. We’ve been to Moodlerooms, SportsZone and Blue Cross around the Baltimore area. We also took a trip out to San Francisco and met with Intel, Cisco and the guys that created YouTube. In May, we’ll be hopping on a plane to China to get an international view of business. These have been awesome, quick glances into a plethora of different types of business and we’ve gotten a unique chance to chat with entrepreneurial minds and business leaders. Each time we go on these trips, I fall in love with the company. They always show their best side and the coolest things about themselves. I have such a deep respect for the people who have built these companies from the ground up that no matter what they say, I want to start filling out my application right there on the spot. Until the newness wears off and I remember that I actually don’t want to go into the medical field (while it is an amazing profession, just not my dream). So, of course, some places are more up my alley. I don’t have much of a business background. Other than the jobs I had before I went back to school, which were all in Customer Service, I don’t have ANY business background. Which makes my end goal a little foggy at times but I know I have the energy and drive for a sales position so today was my cup of tea.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting with the CEO, CFO, a sales rep and some representatives from the Recruitment office at the digital marketing firm, Vocus. Walking up to the office building, you’re in an industrial park, but once you walk through the front doors, it’s a little seaside town with cute meeting rooms all themed as a main street store front. There’s even an Oasis with relaxing quiet rooms. Are you kidding me? Sign me up! But like I said, every company can show all their best attributes and make someone want to come on board but the shiny exterior fades and you start thinking of practical things like..what the company actually does. So why am I still beaming after the day is over? Because everyone from the CEO to a guy that was in my exact program two years ago and now works for the Sales Department was excited to be there, proud of their company and wanted to share it with us. They, along with the representatives from the recruiting office, were inspiring. When I talk about my company in the future, I want to get excited like they were. And when they spoke to us, they said “If you apply to Vocus…or anywhere else” – instead of a sales pitch to us, they gave us real advice. And in the overwhelming sea of advice that’s washed over us, this stuff stuck out because it made sense and was immediately applicable. (Thus, the blog you’re reading now.)

I don’t know if I’ll work at Vocus, I don’t know if I’ll end up in sales. In any case, today was an exciting one and got me motivated to start looking for summer internships and extending my network. Thanks to the speakers for an awesome presentation! 

Business Joie de Vivre

Welcome to my blog! I’m an MBA Candidate at Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School for Business and Management and I’ll be writing about my experience, questions and opinions about business, work/life balance and the daily challenges on my journey. I named my blog “Business Joie de Vivre” because this wasn’t where I expected to be and I don’t know exactly where my journey will take me but I’m enjoying each step and learning incredible new things every day. Check back occasionally to see what I’ve written! Oh, and follow me on twitter @Kbtruitt. Thanks!