They were staring at me. Two guys. Teenagers. They had stopped talking. I didn’t care. I was waiting for them to start pointing at me, but they didn’t. Two guys, teenagers, and me, that was it. We were at the local pizza restaurant. I had never seen them before, but still, they were staring at me.
I was waving my hands. My left hand. Then, my right hand. I had started talking. At first, I was thinking that nobody could hear me, but then, looking at the two guys, I realized that at least they could here what I was saying.
I was talking to a fly. I was saying, “please leave, please go away.”
Passion is not all good when eating pizza
I was soft. I was gentle. But nothing worked. I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted it to be just me and my pizza. Oh, and, the two guys. As long as they didn’t point. But not the fly. “Please leave. Please go away,” I said it louder this time. It didn’t listen. Flies never do.
I don’t kill. Not people. Not animals. Not insects. I don’t kill, period. To me, all life is sacred. So, I get to wave at flies that are just as eager for pizza as me.
A fly is not just a fly
While looking at the guys looking at me waving and talking to the fly, I was thinking about my experience as a customer. I realized that the fly is not just a fly, it represents all the details that we don’t think about.
The guys making the pizza probably didn’t know that a single fly could ruin my pizza experience. At the same time, I can’t blame them. It’s hard to stop a fly from entering the restaurant. Any one of my friends would have hit the fly hard, and they wouldn’t be bothered by it again.
Don’t look for a scapegoat
I could have blamed myself for not being able to kill the fly. I could have blamed the guys making the pizza for allowing the fly to enter the restaurant, and I could have blamed the fly.
I love flies, but just not on my pizza. They’re part of nature, and life, and they are one of many reasons why it’s so fantastic to be alive.
Why a company culture is so important
The guys stopped looking. I stared them down, I always do with those damn teenagers. The fly kept on flying, from one end of the table, to the other. Looking at me. Looking at the pizza. Eventually, it sat down, quietly at the far end of the table looking at me while I was chewing a marvelous slice of vegetarian pizza. I am not sure, but to me, it felt like it had finally understood that I would leave it alone as long as it behaved.
I was staring at the fly, eating pizza and asking an important question, “is there a way to organize every detail, and control every level of a business?”
No, there isn’t. That’s my answer. A fly could enter your business without anyone noticing it. The point is, do you have what it takes to notice it when it arrives, and what are you going to do about it?
We should prepare ourselves to be ready for whatever happens. We shouldn’t prepare the details about what to do to prevent the fly from entering. If we did, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else (remember, a fly is not just a fly). We should just make it part of our culture to be ready for whatever happens.
Zappos would never hit the fly
I’m not sure why, but sitting at the table, holding a slice of pizza in my hand, it reminded me of why I love Zappos without being a customer. It seems that they understand the importance of building relationships, and why customers are awesome no matter what. They have the best core values I have ever seen in a business. It’s just fantastic. It seems that they notice everything about their customers.
We all want to work with people that love challenges. And that’s especially important at a company. Remember, a fly can become a major challenge, especially if waving is the only weapon we are allowed to use.
Now, a final thought appeared as I was saying goodbye to my new friend. What would Zappos have done if they were making the pizza? My guess is that they would have noticed something was wrong even before I raised my arm in order to wave. And then, they would have made an entire pizza for the fly, and served it at another table. This way, we would both have had an outstanding experience.