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5.0 out of 5 stars A Template for Building from Positive Psychological Foundations for Success, 3 Jan 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
Many people who try to do good while doing well think in terms of Abraham H. Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs (proceeding from physiological needs like for food and water to safety needs to relationship needs to esteem needs and finally to self-actualization -- living as one wants to be). The basis for thinkers like David Wolfe, Raj Sisodia, and Jagdish Sheth in Firms of Endearment shares that perspective.

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. Years of no salary, unhappy investors, and putting up lots of his assets followed. It's an engaging story just for how to do a difficult turnaround under trying conditions.

I see a few other dimensions that Mr. Conley might add in future books:

1. What about doing a similar set of hierarchies for other stakeholders such as suppliers, lenders, partners, neighbors, and the communities in which you operate?

2. What about creating a strategy independent of the hierarchies that will provide superior performance in good times and bad?

3. Describing the special problems of publicly held companies and how they can implement such a program.

4. How to use the hierarchies to make continuing business model innovations.

5. Case histories of others following his advice.

I look forward to seeing those elements added to this fine work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How flourishing relationships help to sustain peak performance, 13 Aug 2008
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
As Chip Conley explains in the Preface, "This book is about the miracle of human potential: employees living up to their full potential in the workplace, customers feeling the potential bliss associated with having their unrecognized needs met, and investors feeling fulfilled by seeing the potential of their capital leveraged." I agree with him that all great leaders know how to tap into this "potential" and actualize it into reality." Moreover, I also agree with Conley that great leadership can - and should - be found at all levels and in all areas of an organization. So, what motivations do people need to achieve peak performance, especially in collaboration with others? In this volume, Conley responds to that question, suggesting that there are many valuable lessons to be learned from Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs." For present purposes, it can be abbreviated as follows:

Survival
Security
Self-Actualization

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." Or as Maslow himself suggests, "They are moments of ecstasy which cannot be bought, cannot be guaranteed, cannot even be sought...but one can set up the conditions so that peak experiences are more likely, or one can perversely set up the conditions so that they are less likely." However, as the Concord farmer reminds us, basic needs must first be filled. That is as true of individuals (who fear being terminated) as it is of a company's owners (who may have no choice but to file for Chapter 7).

In this volume, Conley offers a step-by-step process by which to build a great company. After acknowledging Maslow's influence on his thinking (and in process explaining Mallow's core concepts) in Part One (Chapters 1-3), he examines three "relationship truths." In Chapters 4-6, he explains how to create base motivation, loyalty, and trust for employees. In Chapters 7-9, he explains how to create satisfaction, commitment, and "evangelistic" fervor for customers. And then in Chapters 10-12, he explains how to create trust, confidence, and pride of ownership for investors. In Part Five (Chapters 13 and 14), Conley explains how to coordinate the three separate but interrelated "relationship truths" to create a "self-actualized life" for each of those involved. Although that may prove to be an unrealistic goal, it is worthy of pursuit nonetheless. Whereas a mountain has a finite height, Maslow's pyramid does not. No individual and no organization can ever become fully actualized. There will always be room for improvement because achieving one goal creates opportunities to achieve others. Revealingly, Conley describes himself as a Himalayan Sherpa who guides his reader to up to the summits of Nepal or Tibet. What he implies is that his role has another, in my view more important function: To guide his readers to insights that will enable her or him to chart a proper course when embarked on a never-ending journey from one peak performance to the next.

This is also true of a company whose culture that must constantly adjust to both internal changes (e.g. its workforce) and external changes (e.g. in its competitive marketplace) while in pursuit of greatness. Consider these comments John Kotter and James Heskett share in Corporate Culture and Performance that suggest a causal relationship between a strong culture and peak performance: "Corporate culture can have a significant impact on a firm's long-term economic performance. We found that firms with cultures that emphasized all the key managerial constituencies (customers, stockholders, and employees) and leadership from managers at all levels outperformed firms that did not have those cultural traits by a huge margin. Over an eleven-year period, the former increased revenues by an average of 682 percent versus 166 percent for the latter, expanded their work forces by 282 percent versus 36 percent, grew their stock prices by 901 percent versus 74 percent, and improved their net incomes by 756 percent versus 1 percent." My guess (only a guess) is that in all of the peak performance companies, the words "culture" and "character" are synonymous.

It is no coincidence that, year after year, many of the same companies on Fortune magazine's list of those that are "Most Highly Admired" are also among those most profitable. However, as we all soon learn once embarked on a business career, there is a "bottom line" to an individual's personal character as well as to an organization's financial performance. Maslow suggests that when reaching the summit of self-actualization, there is a recognition that "this is the real me." Bill George calls this one's "True North," "the internal compass that guides you as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point - your fixed point in a spinning world - that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life. Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership."

Self-actualization awaits each person who reads this book. Let the journey begin. Bon voyage!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Maslow for the next generation!, 11 Nov 2014
By 
John M Fisher (Exiled Yorkshireman) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
I use Maslow's hierarchy of needs a lot in my training and development work - mainly because it works!, people can see, recognise and understand it. What Chip Conley has done though is take Maslow to another level and extended it's versatility and impact by giving us three versions of the hierarchy - that for the employee, customer and investor. if you want to get some more ways to implement the basic principles of motivation and persuasion then this book will give you some!

The simplified employee version of the triangle gives us "money", "recognition" and "meaning" and expands on each,setting them in a wider context based on the authors own experience. Whilst the cultural implications of some of the examples and anecdotes, being American, will be lost to a non US audience the underlying strength of the theory is all there.

There is a nice questionnaire at the end looking at how the individual perceives their role - as either a "job", a "career" or a "calling" that I've already very successfully trialled with a couple of dozen first line leaders in a manufacturing environment.

The book works!, what more can I say
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4.0 out of 5 stars Applying Maslow's hierarchy of needs to business, 18 Aug 2008
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
Chip Conley's philosophy of business is also a practical guide to success. He shows you how to find self-actualization through helping others - in this case, by providing your employees, customers and investors with what he calls peak experiences. He uses an unusual framework for his recommendations about workplace culture: psychologist Abraham Maslow's well-known "hierarchy of needs," with self-actualization at the highest level. The book is nicely organized, with "peak prescriptions" and reading lists at the end of each chapter. getAbstract recommends it to managers and workers who need a boost.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read, 16 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
Building upon the tried and tested theories of Maslow, this is a current and relevant book about motivation and engagement. Full of stories that bring it to life and make it very easy to read. A must for anyone in business, managing a team, or just want to understand why some companies are just a good place to work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great principle, great strategic idea, great story..., 11 Oct 2013
By 
Simon Osborne (Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
Much like Chip Conley I love Maslow, indeed quoting Maslow at an interview once got me the job (well the HR guy liked it). I first found the book after watching a TED Lecture by Chip and was moved to buy the book.

I have found the book has reinforced many of my own personal thoughts and ideas with Chip moulding Maslow's Hierarchy into a readily usable everyday business formula. I have given 4 stars as I believe it is a great idea and Chip has great story. On a personal level however I would only give 3 stars, yet would struggle for a reason. While Chip is obviously passionate about his business and the success this formula has given him, it has just not transferred to me; the message has not jumped out the pages at me as it did with the lecture.

In his lecture he shows a picture of one of his employees, Vivian a hotel maid, yet in the book there appears to be a failure to directly connect how his principles are enacted by people like Vivian, there seems to a lack of tangibility in the book.

Great principle, great strategic idea, great story, and love the directed end of chapter bibliographies, just missing that Je ne sais pas...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) (Hardcover)
Great read. Very inspiring.
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