Last night I attended Creative Collaborative. I had a really fun time catching up with friends, such as, Stately Type, Old Home Love, and Stephanie Hock Art. I also met Phil Jackson, this really cool artist, not the basketball coach.
Tonight Jonathan E. Johnson III spoke. He is the Overstock.com’s chairman and he is also running for Utah Governor. His presentation covered some problems that Overstock solved in getting to 1.5 billion in revenue. As a fellow recovering attorney, it was exciting to see another individual who has been able to exit the legal world and have a successful career. My notes from his presentation are below:
When You Can Solve Problems for Two Groups of People You have a Business
Overstock has solved problems for its vendors by taking unwanted products, and it has solved problems for its customers by getting them products at a lower price.
Breaking through Inertia and Bureaucracy
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is getting people within an organization to become creative problem solvers, instead of people that say no to everything. One way to break through this problem is by creating competition between departments.
Practice Maniacal Expense Control
At Overstock they save paper clips. They do not waste money on expensive hotels or flights. They do invest in their culture and their people, but they do not waste money.
Innovate into Areas of Natural Strength
Sometimes taking a weakness and making it a strength will in turn make it an area of natural strength. Overstock had a really bad search engine that, once improved, was used to partner with the Humane Society to connect pets with people. As a result, the people who adopt pets spend much more time and money on Overstock’s website.
Be a Fair Partner
Make sure your partners are making money in deals or they will not want to do business with you in the future. If a deal is not profitable for both sides, then you should re-negotiate the deal.
Hire and Empower the Right People
Overstock became one of the best customer service companies in the country by giving the customer service representative the freedom to solve problems with customers. Not only did their customer satisfaction increase, but their turnover rate has decreased and job satisfaction has increased.