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Loving Your Job

If you are just doing what you love, you are doing it wrong!
Okay, I apologize, that was kind of for shock value, but please let me explain it a little more by sharing my journey with you. A long time ago, I heard about the Confucius saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” So I thought that if someone paid me to do what I love (programming), I would have a job I loved. Do what you love. Simple, right? Wrong!
Just 1 of the 7
Wrong because I have experienced first-hand what it feels like to hate doing what you love. The first time it happened, I convinced myself it was because of the pay and the outdated technology. Surely, if I found a job with better pay and newer technologies, I would love it!

Inside Zappos, Zappos Culture, Zappos Core Values, Zapponians, Zappos Insider, Zappos Insider program, loving your job, Zappos jobs, Zappos careers, Jobs at Zappos, Zappos Employees, Zappos HQ, The second time it happened, it left me frustrated and made me question whether I truly loved coding. How is it possible to hate two different jobs that paid me to do what I thought I loved? I talked to some of my friends and realized I wasn’t alone. In fact, according to Gallup, “70% of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’.” Why are 7 out of 10 Americans not engaged? More importantly, how could I be one of the other three?
Not Even Zappos
Moving on, I decided to apply for a job at Zappos because of their culture. I figured, if I didn’t love working there, I probably didn’t truly love software engineering. I was pretty excited to get an offer from them to work on their Enterprise Data Warehouse team. I learned quite a bit on that team and worked with some really smart people, but still, I didn’t love what I was doing. Not even at Zappos! 
Serendipity and Culture
I didn’t hate working at Zappos, but I didn’t love it either. I found that I enjoyed collaborating with fellow Zapponians and also liked the culture, but the work didn’t speak to me. I tried many different things working on various projects, then one day it clicked. Many random events led to me focusing all my efforts to quantify “culture” at Zappos, but how the heck does one measure culture? 
The question really piqued my interest. I started working with a small group of people who asked themselves the same question. Going into it, I had no idea how we would measure culture. Thankfully, I was working with some pretty smart people and they knew where to look first. We started by asking Zapponians “why do you like working at Zappos?” The overwhelming response was other Zapponians, more specifically the relationships that they had within Zappos. Furthermore, we dug a little deeper, did some research, and found that there are actually three types of relationships that people have at work.

  1. The relationship you have with other people in your company.
  2. The relationship you have with your company and its higher purpose.
  3. The relationship you have with yourself and your passion.

That’s great, relationships and culture, so what? What do relationships have to do with loving your job?
Finding Love
While trying to quantify culture, I really started enjoying my job. In fact, I came to love my job. Amazingly, it wasn’t just the coding that I enjoyed, I began to like doing things I normally dreaded. Things like reading lengthy research papers, giving presentations, sifting through spreadsheets…I loved all of it! Looking back, I realized the problem was that I spent way too much time looking for a job based on “what” I would be doing. When I should have been thinking about “who” I would be doing it with and “why” I would be doing it. Uh duh, or ah ha!
The 4 Ps
To summarize what I learned, I have distilled “loving your job” into 4 P’s and some related questions. I would be lying if I said this is the end-all-be-all of finding a job you love, but it would have helped me get there sooner.

  1. People: does the company create a trust-building environment?
  2. Purpose: what is the company’s higher purpose?
  3. Passion: does the company’s purpose speak to you? Or, does the company help you understand yourself by creating a space for you to explore and get meaningful feedback?
  4. Power: does the company allow you to contribute to its higher purpose by doing what you love with people you trust?

What questions do you consider during interviews?
The Zappos Insider Program
We believe that you shouldn’t wait to create the first two relationships (people and purpose). We believe that before you even start at Zappos, you should know the people that you will be working with and what we are all about. We also want to get to know you and see where your passions align with ours. This is why we have created the Zappos Insider program. We want to help you answer questions like:

  • Will I be working with like-minded people?
  • Will I be working with people I can trust?
  • What is the company’s higher purpose?
  • Am I passionate about the higher purpose?
  • Will I be able to contribute to the purpose?

Still Learning
So does Zappos have the “secret sauce” all figured out? Nope. We are still experimenting and learning how to make Zappos a place people love to “work”.

Help us learn more quickly by sharing your experiences with jobs that you have loved! Leave a comment below OR tweet us: @insidezappos!


467193987's picture
Jun 26, 2014 at 2:46 pm Kimberly277232 said:

Thank you for sharing, Darshan! It's amazing the part that relationships play in our love for our work.

493870695's picture
Jun 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm Kim277233 said:

What an awesome blog - I am graduating from the new hire month long training tomorrow and have felt inspired each day I come to the Zappos campus - In my 30 year career in banking, I never felt culture and happiness the way it is at this wonderful organization - so honored to be part of it!

500493368's picture
Jun 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm Patricia277258 said:

Just like Kim, I came from a banking background. At first it was hard to let go of all those years of being in a very structured environment. But a month in, I'm totally embracing it and I can't wait to see what the future holds. I do agree that this place isn't for everybody. I had friends that interviewed here and realized it wasn't for them...but for the right character fit, I think the sky is the limit. Thanks for your was very insightful and honest!

470376448's picture
Jun 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm Seth277510 said:

Simply awesome!! I've felt the same way for a while in current positions, words like this really inspire one to work harder and maybe take a look around at where you stand.

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Jul 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm lindsayfrances said:

Good to hear this from another programmer!

466724040's picture
Nov 27, 2014 at 7:20 am Ed287499 said:

This is inspiring to hear. Not just for the Zappos' experience, but in general for all aspects of life and work. Definitely struck a nerve. I've yet to work in an environment that is so unbound. Too many places have been like the Stanford Prison Experiment. But reading and feeling the tone of joy that each blogger has (including yourself) is unusual and at the same time enlightening. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

508246470's picture
Mar 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm JacqueGratitude said:

One thing I've discovered is that being really good at what you do doesn't necessarily lead to happiness or loving what you do.

The job I loved most in my life was coordinating after school programs. My day didn't need to start at 8 am, since it ended at 6 or later each day. I wasn't tied to a desk all day. I worked with students some days but mostly with the site staff. I loved training, I loved working with people who all had a similar goal: offering quality and FUN after school programs for our county youth. We definitely had our differences, but at the end of the day we wanted the same thing and we were making a difference in our community. I loved that my supervisor was supportive when we both realized the position I started in wasn't really the best fit for me and we were able to find a position that combined what I was good at with what I truly enjoyed.

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Aug 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm Shannon302884 said:

Hi Darshan - I'm a Transformation Lead aka Culture Architect at Cisco and I just read your article on Loving Your Job blog. I'm planning a leadership offsite in Sept 21-24 in San Jose, CA and I would love to have you be our guest speaker. Please email if you are interested. Thanks - Shannon

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Jan 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm Suchi313054 said:

Thank you Darshan for sharing the helpful insights about Zappos. Your article endorses my beliefs about achieving what I aspire for.