Chapter ThirteenThe Heart of the Matter

Business is simple. Management's job is to take care of employees. The employees' job is to take care of the customers. Happy customers take care of the shareholders. It's a virtuous circle.

John Mackey, founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market1

We've scaled three pretty impressive peaks so far; I hope you're not too worn out. In the first three parts of the book, we've seen how, by using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we can create a business model that fosters an environment in which employees, customers, and investors can feel more fulfilled and self-actualized. And we've seen how peak experiences for these three constituencies can create peak performance for the company. Like any good climber, I felt a bit of an endorphin high once I'd scaled that third peak—the Investor Pyramid—a few years ago. But as the exhilaration started to wear off, I had to figure out how these three relationship truths fit together and what kind of coherent and enduring whole could come from the sum of these three disparate pyramids.

Frequently, when I've pondered a philosophical business question, I've asked myself, “What would Herb do?” For years, I had a picture of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher on the wall behind the desk in my office. I've admired him because he was such a role model for visualizing potential in people and turning it into reality. Heck, Colleen Barrett, his secretary during the founding of the airline, ended up becoming president ...

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