Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 1/2/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about creating a Zappos-like culture, architecture from the inside out, taking a publication off paper and online, Udemy’s company culture, and how investment goals and product goals collided at an artisanal distillery.

From Hilary Burns: Zappos’ Christa Foley can teach you a thing or two about how to make a company (even a really big one) fun

“Foley arrived at Zappos when it was a startup. She was working for a staffing company in Las Vegas at the time and heard great things about Zappos through the grapevine. She was intrigued, so when an HR generalist position opened up in 2004, Foley applied and got it. After just two weeks on the job, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh asked Foley to set up a recruiting process for the company. They agreed on one thing — Zappos had to have a defined culture and find people who worked well in that culture.”

From Michael J. Solender: Charlotte’s ai Design Group practices architecture from the inside out

“Wes Jones and Kim Marks knew the recent economic downturn was going to create challenges for their Charlotte-based architecture and interiors design firm, ai Design Group. So they planned accordingly”

From Diane Mastrull: Taking publication off the presses – successfully

“It was 2006 when Joy Stocke and Kimberly Nagy did the unthinkable: They essentially converted the highly regarded literary magazine the Bucks County Writer – founded in 1998 and published by the Writers Room of Bucks County – to an online journal.”

From Julie Balise: Company culture, collaboration is focus at Udemy

“Workers at Udemy know what a gong strike means. It is used to summon employees for announcements about the online learning marketplace, introductions of new workers and group presentations called ‘hashes.’ Held during lunch or at the end of the day, the hashes highlight employee projects and passions — like e-mail marketing wins and conversational Spanish and Turkish. They’re recorded and shared with Udemy offices in Ankara, Turkey, and Dublin, Ireland.”

From Clay Risen: How Dreams and Money Didn’t Mix at a Texas Distillery

“The founder of Balcones, an award-winning artisanal distillery in Waco, Tex., sought out capital to expand. But his passion collided with investors’ bottom line.”


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