Tony Hsieh: Delivering Happiness to Downtown Las Vegas

Beyond the casinos, past the clubs, over the glittering, multi-million dollar hotels that light up the Las Vegas Strip, beat the quiet drums of innovation and progress. Change is afoot.

Las Vegas is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks, in part, to the fantastical vision and persuasive passion of Zappos CEO and Delivering Happiness author, Tony Hsieh.

Credit Marc Burckhardt

What began as a relocation project, moving the online shoe and apparel shop headquarters from its Henderson location to downtown Las Vegas, has blossomed into a revitalization project, breathing new life into an area all too often described as seedy and run-down.

By the end of 2013, Zappos will take over downtown’s old City Hall building, which will receive a major renovation to accommodate 2,000 of its employees (the Henderson office is home to approximately 1,200), and several blocks of surrounding real estate have been procured to round out the “Zappos campus,” serving as a spark plug to the surrounding area.

It’s all part of Hsieh’s vision to make downtown Las Vegas a vital community — attracting families, urban dwellers, and business owners — to not only visit, but to live and thrive, with art galleries, yoga studios, coffee shops, book stores, sporting events and charter schools.

Hsieh is investing $350 million into the Downtown Project, with $200 million in real estate development, including residential, $50 million for small business investment, $50 million for education, and $50 million for start-up investments, in companies who are already in Las Vegas or are willing to relocate to downtown.

The start-up investment is a ripe opportunity for seedling companies looking for the right environment to get off the ground. Besides providing a lower cost of living, compared to many start-up hubs, the Downtown Project offers access to mentors, space and peers.

When I asked Zach Ware, who oversees campus, urban, and start-up development, about the strategy to attract start-ups and compete against fertile start-up grounds like Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle, he explained:

We’re less about comparisons and more about creating something new. Most cities have their fair share of incubation programs and other formal ways to accelerate learning and happiness. We see an opportunity to create a form of an incubator in an entire city, but without the formalities. So if you consider the elements that make up an incubator (proximity to mentors, proximity to others like you, access to capital and space) we think those things can be more organically scaled if they are a part of a city. 

Taking a cue from the edicts in Triumph of the City, the project aims to make downtown Las Vegas a great place to eat, meet, work, live, learn, and play.

After witnessing first-hand the kind of company Tony Hsieh has built with Zappos — during my recent headquarters tour, one senior woman commented, “Boy, would I have loved to work here when I was young” — I have no doubt the project will be a success. In fact, it’s the only Vegas bet I’ll make.

Facebook for Good: new update creates thousands of organ donors

Would you share your organ donor status on Facebook? You share what you’re making for dinner, how your garden grows, where you’re going on vacation…But what about your organs?

Mark Zuckerberg is hoping you will.

On “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, Zuckerberg and company Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced that Facebook is letting those U.S.- and U.K.-based users add whether they’re an organ donor to their timelines and the story behind the decision to become one. There’s also a link to the official donor registry for those inspired to become a donor.

via Tech Now

 

That was this morning and by lunchtime, of that same day, the news had gone viral:

“As of 12:30pm today, the Donate Life California registry has increased its online donor sign ups by nearly 800% from yesterday thanks to this mornings announcement of the partnership with Facebook! Thank you Facebook!”

The wait list can range from six to eight years, depending on the organ needed.

Donate Life California CEO, Charlene Zettel, said, “today, statistically, one-third on [the wait] list will die before an available organ is presented to them.”

via Tech Now

 

In the place where you normally update your status, there is now a "Life Event" section.

Apple goes on hiring spree in Israel, Ireland (to start domination of Europe?)

Apple is to hire 500 people in Ireland.

The consumer electronics giant will increase the headcount at its European headquarters in the southern city of Cork over the next 18 months from 2,800 at present, a spokesman for the company said.

He said the jobs would “support our growing business across Europe.” The Cork operation provides distribution, supply chain management and back office functions.

While workers are still being laid off as consumer spending continues to shrink, Dublin has succeeded in attracting Google and Facebook thanks to its low corporate tax rates and educated, English-speaking workforce within the eurozone.

via Reuters

And, in Israel:

The “major hiring campaign” by Apple will kick off in the next few weeks, according to Israel’s Ynetnews. The new positions will work at Apple’s R&D center in Haifa.

The company is expected to rely on the assistance of a “headhunter” who will handle the hiring of “dozens of candidates simultaneously.”

The new employees will join the roughly 200 personnel at Anobit, a flash memory company that Apple purchased in late 2011 for a rumored $490 million price. That strategic acquisition is expected to help Apple secure capacity of flash memory for devices like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook lineup.

Apple’s new hires will be located in Haifa’s Scientific Industries Center, an international technology center known as Matam. Other companies with operations there include Google, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

via Apple Insider

 

// Photo – eriwst

UNESCO World Heritage Map

This large format full-color map features the World Heritage sites and brief explanations of the World Heritage Convention and the World Heritage conservation programmes, as well as superb photos of World Heritages sites with explanatory captions.

 

Learn more and view past mapsWorld Heritage Maps

A lesson on patience

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard
box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly…

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut.It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

 

// Thx – Kristoffer Sorensen

U.S. Air Force places overpowering jet armada near Iran

The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran. Stealthy F-22 Raptors on their first front-line deployment have joined a potent mix of active-duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, including some fitted with the latest advanced radars. The Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.

The highly-experienced Massachusetts Guardsmen, who typically have several years more experience than their active-duty counterparts, would be ready “should Iran test the 104th,” said wing commander Col. Robert Brooks.

…it’s the methods above that the U.S. dogfighting armada would likely use to wipe out the antiquated but determined Iranian air force if the unthinkable occurred and fighting broke out. The warplanes are in place. The pilots are ready. Hopefully they won’t be needed.

via Wired – Danger Room

 

F-15 Eagle at Mountain Home Air Force Base

 

// Photo – Bundeswehr-Fotos Wir.Dienen.Deutschland.