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Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow Hardcover – Sep 21 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite using the word mojo in the subtitle and citing inspiration he received from 1960s counterculture icon Timothy Leary, this guide to better management isn't for hippies. Yes, Conley started the California boutique hotel chain Joie de Vivre Hospitality with the Phoenix Hotel, once a haven for faded rock stars. And yes, he quotes liberally from rebel CEOs who surf. But Conley's book is packed with thoughtful, instructional stories and advice for entrepreneurs as well as Fortune 500 managers, gleaned from his own experience as well as other business books. At the center of this confessional how-to is psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a pyramid that ranks human needs from base to self-actualizing. Used as the basis for employee, customer and stakeholder satisfaction, Conley contends, it can transform a business and its people. Though Stephen Covey and Peter Drucker have looked to Maslow before, Conley describes how using the pyramid saved his company from bankruptcy when the dot-com bubble burst. Conley is most successful when he expresses his ideas in numbered lists rather than the wordy passages that slow down the beginning. On the whole, though, his advice is inspiring and accessible. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When Hotelier Conley was profiled by USA Today as one of its People to watch in 2001, he seemingly could do no wrong. His company, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which operates a chain of boutique hotels in the San Francisco Bay area, was riding high on the dot-com boom. But then the bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and an industry-wide crisis that hit his upscale business hard. As his world crumbled around him, Conley turned to the writings of psychologist Abraham Moslow for inspiration. In contrast to the darker premises behind Freud's psychoanalysis and B. F. Skinner's behaviorism, Maslow took a more positive approach, seeking to study the best and brightest that human nature has to offer, encouraging an environment of self-actualization that encourages peak experiences. Conley understood that personal transformation and corporate transformation are not all that different, and this story shows not only how Maslow's ideas brought about a resurrection in Conley's business but also how similar mind-sets continue to create growth and a positive work environment at companies such as Google, Netflix, Harley-Davidson, and Apple. Siegfried, DavidSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
With regard to the first two, I am reminded of a time when Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture on transcendentalism in Concord (MA) and then agreed to answer questions. A farmer stood up: "Mr. Emerson, how do you transcend an empty stomach?"
Maslow believed that the hierarchy of human needs is best understood when viewed as a triangle, with basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) at the base. As those needs are at least partially fulfilled, we ascend the pyramid to higher needs (e.g. security, stability, social connections, affiliations), fulfilling them along the way. As Conley explains, "At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, a place where people have transient moments called `peak experiences'...A peak experience -- comparable to being `in the zone' or in the `flow' - is when ought to be just is.Read more ›
Chip Conley takes that familiar perspective into new territory by describing how he applied the concept to employee, customer, and investor needs in building his Joie de Vivre, his boutique hotel management company. Employees get money, recognition, and meaning from their work. Customers receive what they expect, have their desires fulfilled, and are pampered by gaining what they don't recognize they want. Investors engage in a relationship that's established in the right way, enjoy a positive relationship with those who run the company, and help establish a legacy through their investment. By putting all three hierarchies in place, you can create a unique corporate culture, develop an enthusiastic set of employees and managers, build customer loyalty, and maintain a profitable business.
This way of describing the book makes it seem very academic, but that's not true. Mr. Conley is a hands-on manager who loves nothing better to develop boutique hotels that nicely fit a small psychological segment of mostly affluent travelers. He uses specialty magazines to identify his targets.
The book is as much about how he arrived at this set of conclusions as what the conclusions are. While Silicon Valley was booming, his San Francisco-area hotels were doing great. But when the dot-com bust hit, these hotels suffered along with the rest of the market.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Joie de Vivre - a lot of persons will learn to pronounce this soon! - is a boutique hotel chain and each property is unique. I have stayed at two and I can testify that the servce is outstanding. If ever you find yourself in San Francisco stay at the Miyako in the heart of Japantown. The faux ricepaper screens and artwork will make you feel as if you are in Japan and the deep granite soak tub and private sauna in the suite will round out the feeling.
Chip draws heavily from the work of Abraham Maslow in running his business. Maslow, as any MBA will tell you, is the guy who came up with the notion of the "hierarchy of needs" which postulates that all humans have basic needs for things like food and shelter and, as these are satisfied, higher order needs like belonging and esteem open up. At the top is "self-actualization" which is a need to realize one's full potential. What I did not know till I read this book is that Maslow had spent a lot of time pondering the implications of his theory for business and had actually recorded his thoughts in books many of which are now out of print. I will now scour the Internet for these.
Chip's genius is that he came up with an organized and disciplined method of applying these principles to his operations. The book is basically divided into three parts - one dealing with employees, one with customers and the final one with investors. For each of these, he offers tips on how to meet their lower order needs and then lead the way to them fulfilling their higher order needs and seeing that they are doing so.
He walks his talk. For example, during the double whammy of the dot.com meltdown and the 9/11 induced travel recession the hotel industry in California fell off a cliff. Conley took no salary for more than three years maxing out his credit cards to live and persuaded his senior executives to take 10% pay cuts. In his own words "...you make the right choice and acknowledge that yur lowest-paid employees deserve the greatest support during the most difficult times." What a contrast from the typical approach of firing dozens of the rank and file while preserving top-management perks!
Half of Joie de Vivre's employees clean toilets and make beds, but Chip has them feeling valued and and instituted recognition programs that move them up Maslow's hierarchy. For example, even chambermaids get to stay free for a couple of nights at any of the chain hotel so they can experience the service as a customer. I want to make an important point here and this I got from personal conversations with him. He doesn't just make employess FEEL valued. He DOES value them and looks out for what he can do to make their lives more meaningful. In fact his life's meaning derives from success in doing so. So there are things like sabbaticals for employess and many other perks that you willfind out about when you read the book.
Customers are easy to fit in to the hierarchy. A lot has been written about how to deliver great customer service and Chip does his bit with things like clearly communicating what each of his hotels stands for. He trains all his employees - particularly porters, desk clerks and others who interact with guests - to lookout for ways in which to delight customers. Thus, for example, a guest celebrating a birthday will receive a cake or special gift. Good section with lots of examples from other companies, but nothing stand-out here.
Investors are another story. I have never heard it explicitly mentioned that entrepreneurs should satisfy investors basic need - for return on investment and safety of principal for instance - and then move them higher up the scale as well. But Chip does this in various ways from only selecting investors who are aligned with his own values to drawing them into his vision for what each property is and can be. He describes a process where every consittuency, including investors, provides ideas about how to uniquely position each prospective hotel.
Conley totally disagrees with conventional wisdom that states 1) Money is the primary motivator for employees. He demonstrates that they come alive when you address thier higher order needs. 2) Customers stay loyal when they are satisfied. Satisfied customers are the minimum level to stay in business. You have to continually earn their loyalty by delighting them. and 3) Investors are exclusively focused on financial returns. This is important, but they will cut you a lot of slack if you keep them informed and make them feel as if they are in a cause that they believe in.
So, read this book and become an entrepreneur and do likewise. And please, pretty please with sugar and cream, let me buy some your stock BEFORE you go public.
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.
Conley has good advice for pleasing customers and investors, too, but I found his technique for bringing the best out of your employees most useful. Despite the fact that most of his employees don't have college degrees and half don't speak English as their first language, he's managed to both keep them and keep them happy. Those same techniques can work for any company. The point is that people are people everywhere and Maslow brilliantly realized what motivates all of us. Conley maps this to today's business environment with great examples and explanations.
Simply put, this book will make you a better manager. Get it!
The idea behind the book is great. The book itself is just light. It reads like a book report about other people's books and ideas instead of a description of personal experience as a someone building a business. I expected much more in-the-trenches talk.
Chip writes well, I only wish he brought a more concrete philosophy to the book and backed it up with more personal anecdotes or more anecdotes from other people/companies gathered first hand. Everything is told kind of at a distance and in broad strokes. I got the feeling that Chip has read a lot of the same business books that I have over the past few years, so there didn't seem to be a lot of new ideas. The Maslow angle is what I came for but got very little of it.
With depth and insight, Conley explores what it is that our jobs can really be for us - more than a career, but a calling, as he puts it. He explains and illustrates with lively anecdotes how aiming for self-actualization, optimizing our human potential, through what we do is most beneficial to both our own human development as well as the business itself. After reading this book, who wouldn't want to found, lead, or work for a company that encourages every single employee to be the most fulfilled person they can be? It makes perfect sense, and yet businesses so easily get caught up in short-term gains, foresaking these higher goals. Conley's own experience proves that paying close attention to employee, leader, and shareholder satisfaction pays off in spades, in terms of both profits and human happiness.
Three cheers for Chip Conley for writing a business book with SOUL: a book that shows everyone from the hotel clerk to the founder of a multi-million dollar business how to lead optimal, rewarding lives; a book that shows companies how to make money not just in spite of but because of their conscious fostering of human potential. This book is an enjoyable read for business people and entrepreneurs as well as for anyone interested in psychology, motivation techniques, and generally improving their relationship with their work.
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