Peak Book Review


How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

By Chip Conley

(Revised and Updated) Copyright 2017
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hoboken, New Jersey

Review Written by Evelyn Neis

  • Chip Conley advises organizations to review and consider changing their traditional management and business practices in order to remain relevant in the 21st century.

  • He describes how to create a business culture that will promote the goal of achieving more than meeting expectations of your customers, employees, and investors to exceeding their expectations.

  • According to the author, “This book is about the miracle of human potential: employees living up to their full potential in the workplace, customers feeling the potential bliss associated with having their unrecognized needs met, and investors feeling fulfilled by seeing the potential of their capital leveraged.”

Chip Conley founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality in 1987 when he was 26 years old.  His first venture was the purchase of a decrepit hotel, the Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco.  Within the next 15 years, he grew his business into one of the 3 most prominent boutique hoteliers in the U. S.   In early 2000 the hotel and travel business experienced a major downturn due to the 9/11/01 attack on the World Trade Center, the dot com bubble bust and the weak worldwide economy from 2001 to 2004.  This downturn had a very large impact on the Bay Area. Joie de Vivre was operating more hotels in this region than any other hotelier. Chip refers to this as a classic thrive-or-dive dilemma. It was during this time that he reconnected with Abraham Maslow’s writings and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid theory.  By embracing the Maslow-inspired management philosophy, Chip was able to take steps which helped him avoid the fate of many other hotels in the area and begin the most successful period in the history of his organization.  

A great deal of Mr. Conley’s writing discusses the importance of relationships in the business world.  Some economists view employees as “units of production,” customers as “units of consumption,” and investors as “units of investment.”  This is not a very humanistic view of your employees, customers, and investors. While preparing to write this book, Chip came across an article written by Ranjay Gulati and David Kletter that shared what they had learned by conducting a survey of Fortune 1000 senior executives regarding the need to manage business relationships at all levels.  They noted that during difficult times, “it is just as important for a company to manage, monitor, and measure their relational capital as it is to do the same with their financial capital.” During Joie de Vivre’s double-digit revenue declines in 2001, Chip Conley writes that he and his leadership team “spent as much time as possible interacting with our line-level employees and managers, our regular customers, and our loyal investors.”  

Throughout the book, the author shares many actions that can be taken to build positive relationships with the people that impact the success of your ventures.  He also provides examples from companies that have successfully implemented the strategies and tactics outlined in the book.   

A very important chapter in this book is: Chapter Fourteen – Peak Leadership Practices 

The author says, “…business principles are only as good as the practices that back them up.”

He writes about eight practices leaders need to exhibit to grow an operation into an exceptional business.  Here are some examples of the practices: 

  • Embody an inherently positive view of human nature.
  • Promote and measure the value of intangibles. 
  • Nurture, value, and evolve corporate culture as your ultimate differentiator.
  • Calibrate the balance between conscious and capitalism. 

If you are a business student, on the verge of becoming an entrepreneur, a leader or manager in an organization, or your current business is in need of a reset, this is the book for you.