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Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile

Chip Conley Ted Talk


The Daily Good recently reminded us of hotelier Chip Conley’s inspirational TED talk on measuring what matters. Here’s a taste of Conley’s wisdom:

“I’m going to talk about the simple truth in leadership in the 21st century. In the 21st century, we need to actually look at — and what I’m actually going to encourage you to consider today — is to go back to our school days when we learned how to count. But I think it’s time for us to think about what we count.Because what we actually count truly counts.

Let me start by telling you a little story. This is Van Quach. She came to this country in 1986 from Vietnam. She changed her name to Vivian because she wanted to fit in here in America. Her first job was at an inner-city motel in San Francisco as a maid. I happened to buy that motel about three months after Vivian started working there. So Vivian and I have been working together for 23 years.

With the youthful idealism of a 26-year-old, in 1987, I started my company and I called it Joie de Vivre, a very impractical name, because I actually was looking to create joy of life. And this first hotel that I bought, motel, was a pay-by-the-hour, no-tell motel in the inner-city of San Francisco. As I spent time with Vivian, I saw that she had sort of a joie de vivre in how she did her work. It made me question and curious: How could someone actually find joy in cleaning toilets for a living? So I spent time with Vivian, and I saw that she didn’t find joy in cleaning toilets. Her job, her goal and her calling was not to become the world’s greatest toilet scrubber. What counts for Vivian was the emotional connection she created with her fellow employees and our guests. And what gave her inspiration and meaning was the fact that she was taking care of people who were far away from home. Because Vivian knew what it was like to be far away from home.”

Read more and/or watch Conley on the TED stage.

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