I walked into my friend Kimbal’s company in Boulder, Colorado. He was an employee of mine 15 years ago and he’s been quite successful at building and selling companies since then.
Upon arriving at Kimbal’s office, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of Herman Miller Aeron chairs—which used to go for about $800 USD. When I saw Kimbal, I remarked, “Wow, you’re really burning through cash on this new business of yours!”
Kimbal said, perplexed. “Why do you say that?”
“I saw your Herman Millar Aeron chairs everywhere!” I said. I was convinced he was already spending the millions he’d made in business. I love Herman Miller chairs—I even have one—but I couldn’t imagine buying one for every employee.
So then Kimball asked, “You didn’t see the desks did you?”
I hesitated. “No, I didn’t see the desks.”
“Go take a look,” he said knowingly. So I walked outside, took a look, and noticed he had all these white plastic fold-up tables pulled up to those fantastic $800 Herman Miller chairs. So I walked back to Kimball and said, “What’s with all of the fold-up tables?”
Kimbal paused for a moment. “Well, everyone wants to have an amazing chair. You want to attract amazing people and keep them happy? Don’t give them a $200 chair. Everybody out there buys $1,000-$2,000-$3,000 workstations or desks and they buy crumby $250 chairs. So I buy $100 desks from Costco and Ikea, and $800 chairs.
My employees love me, never quit, and everybody walks in and sees we’re successful, but they don’t realize we spent $850 on each desk and chair while other companies spend $3,000 on their desk and chair – do the math!”
Expensive desks won’t support your back and make you more productive, expensive chairs will.
For more information on this topic, check out: Building a World Class Culture and Leadership at 100MPH.