If Zappos can do this, why can’t the rest of us?

Last December I spent three amazing days – no joke – with a farmer, doughnut maker, author, apron entrepreneur, musician and academic, to name a few. And one particularly sharp internal communicator. (And yes, on more than one occasion, we walked into a bar together.) We participated in “Creativ Week,” a monthly experience for leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs to explore important social topics and learn more about theDowntown Project, an urban revitalization effort in downtown Las Vegas. Sponsored by Delivering Happiness, our theme was “Giving Forward: Sustainable Generosity and the new ROI (or Ripple of Impact).” We held meetings throughout downtown Las Vegas and a common discussion was company culture, particularly since Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh founded both the Downtown Project and Delivering Happiness. If you’ve read Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, you know he believes that company culture is the number one driver of business success. It’s a pretty simple formula: Happy employees = happy customers = more sales. So, for a culture geek like me, one of the highlights of the week was a tour of the Zappos headquarters. (By the way, anyone can schedule a tour if you’re in the area; it’s even reviewed on Yelp.) Through my internal comms lens, I noticed a few things about Zappos employees: They have a sense of humor. We were greeted by Zappos “mayor” Jerry Tidmore who checked us in. Behind him, I noticed a wall of business ties, all cut in half. Jerry explained that, if anyone comes in for an interview wearing a tie, they offer to cut it off and put it on the “wall of ties.”...

Five ways to boost your internal communications creativity

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My good friend, former colleague and internal comms expert was telling me she wasn’t creative. We talked it over and proved her wrong. We discussed many projects that demonstrated her creativity: from developing breakthrough internal communications strategies to hosting a mermaid-themed birthday party for her four-year-old that looked like it was planned by Martha Stewart. She soon realized that creativity was one of her major strengths. I wonder how many of our fellow communicators are in the same boat. If you work in internal communications, we often echo Rosie the Riveter, assuring our leadership “We can do it!” We are exceptional executors. It’s not that we’re unduly modest. We’re busy as hell, and many of us often forget or don’t stop to consider our own creativity. So how do we recognize and promote creativity within internal communications? Here are five suggestions: Use less corporate jargon. If we only did one creative, bold thing, just eliminate those words we know we shouldn’t use: utilize, leverage, world-class, impactful and synergize, to name a few. Be brave in pushing back on leaders who demand to use this type of language. And then write like real people talk. Your employees will listen. Write more intriguing headlines. David Ogilvy reminds us that, on average, five times as many people read the headline as your body copy. So give headlines some love. Write them in an honest, inviting and interesting way. And then make sure your copy delivers on the promise of that intriguing headline. Have a more creative purpose. We often get so caught up in being...