Q&A with the Outdoor CLT Business Unit

This is the second installment of Q&A with the CLT business units. The first post happened last week when I picked the brains of the Kids team CLT group . This week features the candid responses of our Outdoor CLT business unit!

Read on to live vicariously through the exciting experiences of William B, Lacy J, and Max M!

From left: William B, Max M, Lacy J

Question: What is the most exhilarating outdoor activity you have done?

William: “Scuba diving.”

Lacy: “Rock climbing. There is no comparison.”

Max: “There are too many times that I could mention and go on and on… but basically anything outdoors.”

Question: Our customers do a lot of shopping in preparation for upcoming trips. Have they ever shared a trip with you that you were totally jealous of? If so, where were they going?

William: “To Patagonia for four weeks. I was way jealous of that.”

Lacy: “This actually happens everyday. Yesterday I spoke to a mountaineer that’s climbing Grand Cathedral in the Tetons this summer. I was born a couple miles from there, so I’m a little biased, but they’re some of the most beautiful mountains in the world! I’m not usually the alpine mountaineering type, glaciers scare me, but even I would like to see the world from the top of Grand Cathedral. I’ve talked to people going to Kilimanjaro, the Alps, and even a couple to Everest and some of the other Seven Summits. I’ve also talked to rock climbers going to Thailand, South Africa, Madagascar, South America, Europe, etc. I can’t go a day without wishing a customer could take me along with them!”

Max: “Some customers taking trips overseas, to Italy, or the one guy who was going to hike across Europe for 2 months.”

Question: What is the craziest animal you have come across in your outdoor journeys?

William: “A giant eagle ray while I was scuba diving. The thing had to be three times my size, it was HUGE. I was both terribly scared and excited at the same time.”

Lacy: “I seem to be a wildlife magnet, so this is hard. But there is a refuge in Jackson, WY where the buffalo can roam and graze freely. You can also drive through this refuge and take a look. I have a picture of a 3-4 year old bull crossing the road, 10 feet from the front bumper of my car. No matter how many times I go see the herd, being that close to such a giant wild animal is a major thrill. And when your little car is surrounded my a hundred of them snorting and grunting and doing their buffalo business…well… let’s just say it’s crazy.”

Max: “I saw a panther on the beach in Guam. While on vacation, I was walking on the beach, just as the sun was setting, and I saw what looked like a large dog on the beach. He was with his trainers. So it wasn’t exactly a wild animal, but I was walking very close before I realized what it was.”

Question: What 5 items would you pack if you were going to be stranded in the desert for a month?

William: “Flint/Clothing /Jerky /Fresh Water /A signaling device”

Lacy: “Nutrogena Full Spectrum SPF 85/Therm-a Rest mattress/Gerber multi-tool with a decent blade and a shovel attachment/Topo map of the area/Snake tongs or a .22 rifle.”

Max: “Enoughwater/Shelter/Food/Map/Compass.”

Question: Would you rather be stranded on a remote island or lost in the mountains?

William: “I would rather be lost in the mountains because you can – eventually – find your way out of the mountains. On an island you can’t get past the ocean. There is also more potential food and fresh water in the mountains.”

Lacy: “That would depend entirely on the specific island or the mountains I had to choose from. I’ve seen examples of both that I would be perfectly happy on and could survive on easily enough, and I’ve also seen examples of each that would kill me in a day. Tropical Islands are okay, Desert Islands are not. The Northern Sierras I could handle, but I would freeze to death in the Himalayas in the first 24 hours. I’d pick whichever one had more stable, temperate weather conditions, lots of available food and fresh water, and potential shelter.”

Max: “I would rather be stranded in the mountains. I don’t think I’m that good at building boats… yet! But I sure can hike!”

Question: What is the most common question asked by our customers?

William: “How does this shoe run?”

Lacy: “It varies by season and also by degree of activity. We have hard core customers and casual customers. Right now a lot of casual customers are looking for hydrophobic shoes and sandals, while the hard core folks are looking for backpacking and mountaineering boots. In the winter we get lots of calls for Sorel bootliners and “fashionable” winter boots that will keep your feet warm in -60 degree weather. Haha.”

Max: “Most customers want to know how different shoes, boots, or sandals fit.”

Question: What was your favorite outdoor activity as a kid?

William: “Riding my bicycle and seeing the ocean.”

Lacy: “Horse Camping. It basically involves riding your horse out to the most remote location you can find, and camping there. You can fish and hunt at the same time. It’s like backpacking, but with a horse to help carry stuff.”

Max: “Riding bikes.”

Question: What do you love most about your job?

William: “That it happens to be at Zappos.com!”

Lacy: “Product testing! I feel so fortunate to work for the lifestyle department that embodies my lifestyle. I shop on Outdoor.zappos.com constantly! Because I love the lifestyle, I also love the product, buying it and using it. A few minutes ago a lady called for help finding rock shoes for her son, who is just learning. I was able to make several recommendations based on actual hands-on experience. I am also a beginner and have tried several of the styles on our site. I was able to give her real life evaluations and personal experience to help her decide. Customers really appreciate it when I can relate to their situation and they enjoy talking about the activities they love with someone who understands and relates. It makes their experience and mine much more enjoyable. Instead of work, it’s just a nice day talking to people about the activities, places and products we love.”

Max: “Being able to help our customers!”

No shirt, no shoes, no..dice

Ever since Jeff Spicoli sported those Vans checkerboard shoes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, footwear has played cameo roles in pop culture. Probably even before that, but my general frame of reference starts with 80’s movies.

Continuing with the movie theme, shoes were featured in two early Chevy Chase films, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Fletch. In Vacation, Cousin Eddie bought Clark a shiny new pair of white patent leather shoes with a buckle. When presented with these pimp-inspired shoes, all Clark could say is: “Eddie..you shouldn’t have..you REALLY shouldn’t have.” In Chase’s other film, Fletch (this author’s favorite movie), Chevy is often times seen with a pair of classic LA Lakers inspired Converse Weapons. Moving from the big screen to the small screen, Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City is often heard talking about her shoe fetish, especially her love for Manolo Blanik shoes.

Besides movies and television, shoes have also played bit parts, or in some cases been spotlighted, in music and in real life dramas. Run DMCs early success was due in part to their ode to their sneakers in “My Adidas”. In fact, adidas probably owes most of their early success to Run DMC, as they not only had songs about their shoes, but the guys in the group were pretty much outfitted from head to toe in their product.

In 1994, the OJ Simpson case was everywhere in the national headlines. One of the most incriminating pieces of evidence that the prosecution had were the shoe footprints found near the crime scene. It was discovered that these footprints were tied to a pair of size 12 Bruno Magli shoes. OJ just happened to be photographed a year earlier with those exact shoes. Coincidence, maybe?

There are of course lots of other iconic shoes/brands that have attained lofty status. Nike owes much of its success on their Michael Jordan inspired Air Jordan series. And where would British Knights be without Derrick Coleman endorsing their shoes? Well..maybe that one wasn’t too memorable. But you get the idea?.

Mannequins are Family too!

Seriously, the mannequins in our Images room outnumber the humans by far! I’m sure the photo department is much more involved in the mannequins lives than we are, but we are becoming fond of them, in a bizarre way. We just want to fit in with this mysterious society. Is that so wrong? We hang out with them from time to time. We like to make casual conversations, play charades, and sing at night time. It’s easier to sing at night, because it’s usually just you and them, and it gets very quiet. They don’t judge the way you sing either! You’re always on key when singing to them. We like to know how their day is going and how many outfits they put on that day. Kyle is super excited about Abby, the soon to be mother mannequin. He likes to feel the baby kick! He’s hoping for a baby mannequin soon. We’ll just keep telling him what we always do. “Any day now Kyle, any day now.”

Anyways, they have become a part of our family in imaging, even though they are creepy.

Zappos 2008 Carnival!

Every summer Zappos puts together an event to celebrate the warm weather and enjoy each other’s company outside of a work environment. This event is not just for our Zappos family, but the rest of our families are invited to share in the activities as well. This year, our picnic was at the Louisville Zoo! We had our own roped off area with all kinds of activities for all ages.

There were artists drawing caricatures, face painting, a strong man game, jumping bouncy structures, clown competitions, even wacky, waving inflatable arm flailing tube men! We had cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, burgers and plenty of sides to eat! We were also able to walk to the Zoo and see the animals free of charge if we wanted to. It was a beautiful day and it looked like everyone, and their children were having a really great time. All I can tell you, is if you forgot your sunscreen, you were regretting it!

Graduation Time for Derek "The Man" Carder

May is a special time of year for many reasons I’m sure, but I’m pointing out one special thing amongst many: Graduation! This year, we are helping Derek Carder celebrate his graduation from UNLV where he studied his fingers to the bone in Psychology. Leads, supervisors, and managers of CLT came to help Derek celebrate this glorious time.

Everyone dressed up in custom graduation caps and made their way to Derek’s desk where he was surprised with music and hearty applause and job well done. He even got cake!

Good job, sir….good job. Congratulations, Derek!

An Eerie Friday

Hey what ever happened to that plun guy? Well I still don’t know what a plun is but this post is the official baddest pun blog so far at Zappos. Why you ask? Well read on and see!

Here’s the back story – late last Winter, I was walking into Zappos and I saw Melody on a balcony taking a break. She was wearing her signature cat ear hoodie. <meow> She waved to me, I waved back and then pulled a child-sized velour cap with lil ears out of my bag and put it on. She cracks up. I head up to the 2nd floor and she showed me her cat mittens. We talked about doing a group picture of cat people sometime. The project went into hibernation but now with the warmer weather here in Vegas (expected to go triple digits this
weekend) it was back on the front burner.

So this morning I padded up to Duke’s row and this “eary” sight greeted me.

Going from the left, we have Duke the Bunny, Danny the Reindeer, Derek the Koala (when he is not the pink gorilla ) Jenna Cat, Lucas the Elephant, Megan cat, Melody with mittens, Toni the Tiger (behind Melody), Stacey cat, Shannon Reindeer and Augusta bunny. Click > HERE < to see a video clip.

Here’s a closing Cattitude quote from Melody – /Humans: No fur, no paws, no tail. They run away from mice. They never get enough sleep. How can you help but love such an absurd animal?/

Marketing to the Rescue

At Zappos we have a very unique culture where each team and/or department is responsible for creating their own environment. By environment, we mean our surroundings…our home away from home…the place that we live and breathe Zappos.

While it’s unheard of in most companies, at Zappos we tend to think it breathes a little life into what could otherwise be very drab and dreary office walls. Plus, it’s kinda fun!

So, what’s the marketing theme? Hint: Save the Customer, Save the World.

Okay, you’ve got it! Heroes! Here’s a quick introduction to a few of the heroes in the marketing department and what they think their superpowers are:

Fletch, the Investigative Reporter (aka Andy)
Super Shopping Woman (aka Ashley)
Guitar Hero (aka Brian)
Ultimate Multi-Tasker (aka Britni)
Search Sensei (aka Darrin)
Fairy Godmother (aka Holly)
Kristaman, does what the Kristaman can do (aka Krista)
Rapid Reader/ Predicting the Future (aka Libby)
Bionic Woman (aka Linda)
Keeper of Time (aka Michelle)
Donatello’s Voice of Reason (aka Mig)
Mandal Man (aka Ned)
Flying Wonder Woman (aka Rachel)
El Sonador – The Dreamer (aka Robert)
Spreadsheet Surfer (aka Vegas)

If you had to pick what kind of hero you’d be or superpower you’d have, who/what would you be? Comments welcome! Oh and by the way, we’re always looking for more heroes to join us in the good fight!

Fresh and Easy..CLT Incubation

Here at Zappos.com, our new CLT reps have many hurdles to go through to becoming full time employees, and today we are going to discussing Incubation.

After leaving our fantastic CLT training course, they head to what we call “Incubation.” I visualize it as a “training outside of training.” It’s purpose is to fine tune the skills that you have learned in training and also get you acclimated with the general “ways of the call center floor.” They move to the call center building, focus more their acquired skills and work together as
a team. With that being said, here is an account of one of our new employees, Derek Flores, who is currently in Incubation. Take it away, Derek!

“Today is the seventh day in incubation, and let me tell you, we are getting the whole Zappos experience. Our leads are awesome and have done a lot in helping us understand and overcome the various challenges that we will face once we get out onto the floor. First, we
have Jim who is the lead of the morning shift, 6:00-3:00. Then we have Derek (D-Rock) and Abbie who have the later shift, 11-8. Overall, we are very impressed with their knowledge base regarding the questions we have for them. It’s kind of hard to stump them, but I am waiting for that one question that will get Jim to say, “Wow, never heard that one before!” I feel that these guys, and girl, are a great fit for our group of unique individuals.

Each day has been very interesting and fun as we are introduced into the Zappos Culture. We are all embracing the core values and are doing so through Core Value Presentations. Each person is paired up with another person within Incubation and assigned a core value to present to the entire class. So far we have had some great presentations, but these couple have stood out in my mind.

Noelle and Liz’s group were assigned, Creating Fun with a Little Weirdness and they brought in pipe cleaners and clay for us to make weird little objects. Some people made unique things out of the pipe cleaners and others made really weird objects out of the clay, but it showed each and every one of us that we all can create fun and a little weirdness.

One more presentation I have to write about is Randy and Greg’s group. There core value presentation was on Building an Open and Honest Relationships with Communication. They brought in bread, peanut butter and jelly and wanted us to explain to Greg how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as if he had never made one before. I will let you know that one of us did not tell Greg to use a knife and he stuffed his whole hand into the peanut butter….it was quite a sight. The presentations are good because each group has related the core value to something that we encounter everyday here at Zappos and how we can use them to either help better us or overcome challenges that accompany the job.

Well, so far, so good, with seven days under our belt. Tune in later for more from the wonderful world of Incubation.”

Thanks Derek, hang in there!!