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Chip Conley; Peak - How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

Podcast with business author and Maslow-inspired strategist, Chip Conley

Chip Conley Chip Conley

"You can have a job, a career, or a calling." -Chip Conley

Chip Conley is the founder, President, and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality. Starting out in 1987 at the age of twenty-six with his creation of San Francisco's legendary Phoenix Hotel, once a haven for faded rock stars, Conley was profiled by USA Today as one of its People to watch in 2001, he seemingly could do no wrong. His company, 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 Maslow for inspiration. 

Chip has written a series of business books including The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business (foreword by Richard Branson) and Marketing That Matters: 10 Practices to Profit Your Business and Change the World. In his recent bestselling new book , PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow, Chip shares his unique prescription for success based on legendary psychologist Abraham Maslow's iconic Hierarchy of Needs.

Chip's new theory illustrates how Employees, Customers and Investors are ultimately motivated by peak experiences that address their higher needs-and he demonstrates how to create these experiences for each using real-world examples from his own company and others. Chip credits this theory for helping Joie de Vivre triple its annual revenues between 2001 and 2008 (2008 projected revenues of $250 million).

Excerpt from PEAK

People with JOBS focus on the financial rewards of working more than the pleasure or fulfillment of what they're doing. Many of these folks may find their true enjoyment outside of their 9-to-5 existence. Those with CAREERS focus primarily on growing their talent and advancement. While they may gain quite a bit of satisfaction in their work, it is often associated with the esteem that comes from external sources (like recognition or raises). The lucky few who pursue a CALLING find their work fulfilling in its own right, without regard for money or advancement. Those pursuing their calling would recognize Maslow's statement in their own life: "One must respond to one's fate or one's destiny or pay a heavy price. One must yield to it; one must surrender to it. One must permit one's self to be chosen."

Each of these three approaches to work correspond to a different level of what I call the Transformation Pyramid (Sustain / Succeed / Transform) or the Employee Pyramid (Money / Recognition / Meaning).

How do you know which level you, your friends, family, or work associates would be placed on this pyramid? It's clear to me that happiness takes hold of us when we turn off the external antenna and tap into the internal. The fact is, a spirit greater than you may be calling to a particular path in life but you and I put up such a collection of distractions and excuses that we can't even hear the whispers of this calling in our ear.

Given that this talk of job, career, calling, and just the basics of happiness have the risk of being vague, I created a test in PEAK for the reader to try and understand where they are in their life. Feel free to take the following test, although beware that your answers will be influenced by your current state of mind, which means you may want to take the test twice, at least one week apart, to really gauge your accurate score. Read each of the following statements and place a check next to the five that best describe your relationship with your current work. Be careful, as it's easy to think broadly about how certain statements SHOULD reflect your work life. What we're looking for here are the statements that actually reflect your work life today:

1. While I enjoy what I do at work and am very good at it, I often feel like I've "topped-out" and I have to look elsewhere

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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