PEAK is one of my all time favorite business books. I will never be able to do it justice in this short review. PEAK is definitely a "must read" for every executive, CEO and business owner for whom "being ordinary is not an option."
Over the past 22 years, I have worked with many successful companies and leaders. Yet from the first pages of reading this book, I knew that Joie De Vivre (JDV) and Chip Conley (the CEO and author) are a rare breed in today's business world, integrating money with meaning, doing with becoming, success with significance. Here are my reasons why I love this book.
In my experience, there are few companies that go beyond meeting the basic needs of their employees, customers and investors. Only a handful of companies committed to honoring the full hierarchy of employee, customer and investor needs as the foundation to their own profitability, success and legacy. JDV and Chip Conley clearly walk their talk in that regard and are amongst that small minority.
PEAK is multi-fasceted. I felt like I was reading 3 books in one -- a personal narrative/story, a "teaching" manual and a "how to" roadmap -- packed with wisdom, inspiration, provocative ideas and action steps. The book grabbed my attention right away as the author shared his "hero's journey." A story about how JDV, a fast rising star in the '90's, plummeted into a downward spiral with the dotcom industry crash and then hit with an additional catastrophic jolt with 9/11. Tough times like these test a true leader's courage, tenacity, values and substance ... and his/her willingness to heed "the call" to embark on the hero's journey. As the saying goes, "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." It was in those trying moments and through synchronistic events that the author fell upon, via a book, his life and leadership mentor, Abraham Maslow. A mentor whose human motivation principles became the cornerstone of one the most successful hospitality companies in the world. A hero's journey is never complete without transformation and growth, and a "coming home." To me PEAK represents that "coming full circle" where the author shares his experience and wisdom gained during the past 10+ years ago.
PEAK is also a "teaching" manual. It opened my eyes to the power of Maslow's hierarchy in leadership, organizational development, marketing and investor relations ... and ultimately the profitability and legacy of a company. Below are some of my favorite gems from the book:
* The difference between "transactional" vs. "transformational" leadership
* Corporate transformation can only follow personal transformation
* The difference between a job vs. a career vs. a calling
* How JDV creates both meaning "at" work and meaning "in" work with their employees
* How JDV helps employees reach the top level of the hierarchy (meaning/fulfillment) by "becoming heroes participating in the profitability in a heroic enterprise"
* JDV's use of "dreaming sessions" with key customers
* Strategies for addressing unrecognized customer needs to create loyalty
* How to create strong investor relations that go beyond a healthy ROI and are built on trust, partnership and a common higher mission
* JDV's "heart" as the symbol of their corporate culture
* The "service profit chain" -- ie., how JDV's happy employees make happy customers make a healthy profit, and thus, happy investors.
* My favorite part of the book: the final graphic integrating the employee, customer and investor pyramids inside one big pyramid with JDV's "heart symbol" in the middle. A picture truly is worth a 1000 words.
Finally, PEAK is also a "how to" book. I love when an author pulls together at the end of each chapter the main principles and gives me (the reader) "prescriptives" how to apply Maslow's hierarchy to myself and my own business. I've already started applying a couple of Chip Conley's provocative, mind expanding prescriptives to my business - such as, applying the 4 themes that help my customers reach their own peak experience - and find every one of them worth their weight in gold.
While PEAK was my first introduction to applying Maslow's hierarchy in business, I do use Clare Graves Values System Hierarchy (who was Maslow's peer) in my corporate client work. Graves' hierarchy reflects levels of consciousness and assesses to what level an individual, an organization or even a country has evolved at any given time. There is definitely cross synergies between the 2 hierarchies. One of the big differences is that Grave's model is open-ended with no limit on how far one can evolved. According to Clare Graves, only a fraction of 1% have reached his "level 8" - the "holistic self." I sense from reading the book PEAK that Chip Conley and JDV are one of the rare few who have reached that level.
PEAK is more than just a business book. It provides an important message about how to live fulfilling, harmonious, joyful lives. If the principles of PEAK were to be applied by every CEO, executive and business owners, there is no doubt this world would be a much better place.