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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanford MBA and entrepreneur tries to create a better world
Chip Conley has a bold vision - he wants to use his company as an instrument to make the world a better place. Rarely have I heard a businessman state his vision so boldly and this alone deserves a cheer.

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...
Published on September 22, 2007 by Srikumar S. Rao

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't click for me
This isn't a horrible book. I just wish I hadn't spent money on 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...
Published on October 10, 2008 by Kaizen


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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanford MBA and entrepreneur tries to create a better world, September 22, 2007
By 
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
Chip Conley has a bold vision - he wants to use his company as an instrument to make the world a better place. Rarely have I heard a businessman state his vision so boldly and this alone deserves a cheer.

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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book About The Heart and Soul of a Great Leader & Great Company ... A "Must Read", September 27, 2007
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to bring the best out in people, October 27, 2007
By 
Chris Anderson (Berkeley, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
You don't have to have an emotional bone in your body to find useful advice in this book. Chip Conley built a great company and weathered the dot.com meltdown by putting people first, both his employees and his customers. Sounds tough, especially for left-brainers, but the Maslow pyramid gives a framework that even the most rational mind can work with. Treat employees fairly, recognize their accomplishments and give them something to believe in. It's as simple as that.

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!
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't click for me, October 10, 2008
By 
Kaizen (Pacific Northwest, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
This isn't a horrible book. I just wish I hadn't spent money on 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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a business book with SOUL!, October 5, 2007
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
I was attracted to Chip Conley's new book "Peak" not because of my interest in business, entrepreneurship or hotel management, but because of the exploration of Maslow's hierarchy, as well as principles of motivation and self-actualization. And I must say that for these reasons alone, Conley's book is worth reading.

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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maslow for the 21st century, April 9, 2014
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
Chip Conley takes a people first approach to business and his innovative 3 pyramid stakeholder framework helped him build one of the most successful boutique hospitality chains in America. While Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is not a new concept, Conley was able to adapt this theory to craft a successful strategy for his business. I appreciated Conley's open-minded approach to business and the fact that he took a step back from the number crunching and instead focused on the entity that makes businesses run, its people. I believe the company is like a human body and the people are the cells that make up each part of the body. If one cell or set of cells isn't working properly, then the whole body could begin to break down. Many managers may look at the human and say its weak, conversely Conley looks at the cells and asks, how can I motivate those cells to give me their best?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transformation by Hotel, June 30, 2011
By 
Geoff Garland (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
Visit Zappos' headquarters in Las Vegas and they offer you a copy of "Peak". Each new employee at Zappos gets one too. Why? The Relationship Truths Pyramid captures the "heart" of author Chip Conley's vision, incorporating Maslow's needs pyramid with the three core elements of business--customers, employees, and investors.

Mojo is a slang term that usually means magical charm or power. Conley interprets Mojo as "the secret ingredient that gives life and vitality to your organization". Visit one of Conley's Bay Area hotels (he's the CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality) and you will pick up this vibe. It's more than a job for the employees, it's more than a room at a hotel for the customers, and it's more than a financial return for the investors.

I like "Peak" because it is one of those rare business books that will stand the test of time. I've had my copy for three years now; each time I take a look at it I find new nuggets of wisdom and application.

Transform your customers, employees, and investors. You will have a business that no one will ever leave.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A practical program for entrepreneurial success that includes more than just money, January 25, 2008
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
This book is proof that there are thoughtful, caring, and people driven entrepreneurs. It is possible to be very successful without being driven by insatiable greed and boundless narcissism. The author, Chip Conley, is a Stanford MBA who has carved out a great reputation and financial success with a California based boutique hotel chain called "Joie de Vivre" (you can find their website at jdvhotels dot com).

Conley has all the great personal stories showing his personal commitment to his businesses, being willing to sacrifice personally to give it time to succeed (the entrepreneur who has not lived for extended periods without a paycheck is the exception rather than the rule). What makes Conley quite special and someone it seems I would like to know (despite our likely polar political views) is his how thoughtful he is about what he is trying to do and his reaching into the meaning of his work shows on every page of this book. Just look at the end of each chapter for a list of additional reading on the subjects discussed!

Abraham Maslow is a hero to many thinkers, however, the closer you get to the front lines of business survival the more his ideas seem like a luxury rather than foundational principals. However for Conley, Maslow's philosophy is the bedrock of what Conley is about. He uses Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs and its usual presentation in a pyramid as the model for his own trio of pyramids to express what his business tries to accomplish. Conley turns Maslow's five section pyramid into three section transformation pyramids that consist of a base of survival, a middle section of success, and the peak section (note the title of the book) of transformation.

The author sees his work in three constituencies (and provides a group of chapters on each one): employees, customers, and investors. The sound principle being that without great employees who embody your business you won't have customers and without successfully building a profitable customer base you can't reward investors. However, Conley wants more than the base part of the pyramid for each of these stakeholders.

For employees the transformational pyramid is: Money (survival), Recognition (success), and Meaning (transformation). That is people come to work for their paycheck and feel good about their jobs when the business demonstrates that it sees their contribution. However, when the employee sees their job as a way to express their own values because they align themselves with the company's mission, it can create a meaningful transformation to the employee's life. That is, the paycheck provides motivation, recognition creates loyalty, and meaning sparks inspiration.

The transformational pyramid for customers is: Meets Expectations (survival) which creates satisfaction, Meets Desires (success) which creates commitment, and Meets Unrecognized Needs (transformation) which creates evangelism. For investors the pyramid is: transaction alignment (survival) which creates trust, relationship alignment (success) which creates confidence, and legacy (transformation) which creates pride of ownership.

Obviously, there is much more to these statements than I can bring out in this little review. My hope is that by listing them you will become intrigued about what Conley is talking about and want to get the book and read it carefully. I think it is an interesting read that will fire you up to want more for and from your business than a fatter bank account (although that is indeed a part of the story). The author illustrates his points with many examples from his own work that demonstrate how practical and desirable these principles are.

Bravo.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theory into Practice with Great Results!, December 8, 2007
By 
This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
Chip Conley has done a great job of studying Abe Maslow's hierachy of needs and asking himself the question how he could use it to turn his company around. In this book Chip shows you the theory and how he put it into practice and what results he got. Another good thing is that at the end of each chapter he lists a bibliography that people can tap into if they want to read more about a certain subject. This is definetley a good business model to use if you are in the people business.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chip is so inspiring!, July 25, 2010
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This review is from: Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Hardcover)
I watched Chip Conley present on [...] and was so excited about what I heard that I had to buy his book (he shared on the web for free and it turned into a book sale!). I'm only 1/4 of the way through the book, but I'm hooked! This is the most well-written book I've read in a long time.

Chip shares ideas on how companies can succeed by valuing employees and building on their strengths. He explains how to help them achieve self-actualization (Maslow), in other words to be "in the zone." He also talks about the importance of understanding customer and investor needs through his inspirational stories describing how some companies (including his own) excel and build long-term loyalty. He cites psychologists, corporate heroes and others and lists further recommended readings.

Chip's strategies make so much sense to me. I'll be implementing some as I train small to medium sized business about the value of customer service and in a tourism class for [...]
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Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow
Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley (Hardcover - September 21, 2007)
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