Is 7-Eleven the New Zappos?

by Matt Sullivan on February 18, 2011

Zappos & 7-Eleven Corporate CultureEveryone that works in or around a marketing department knows about Zappos, their Core Values, and Delivering Happiness. If you live in the greater Boston area, you’ve probably heard the same types of things about HubSpot and their focus on culture.

These two companies, along with a list of others, are making great strides in revolutionizing everyday work culture in the US.

Would you be surprised to learn that 7-Eleven should be added to this list? I was. But I now wholly believe that 7-Eleven is doing as much for corporate culture as any hot Dot.com.

Say what?

I work for a franchise financing company and recently heard Joseph DePinto, President & CEO of 7-Eleven, speak at the International Franchise Association annual convention. You may actually recognize DePinto from his episode on Undercover Boss where he came across as a sympathetic employer and was one of the most approachable executives I’ve seen on the show. After seeing him discuss 7-Eleven and how he has focused on the culture since starting in 2005, I was convinced.

The ServantAt the core of DePinto’s culture is the “Leader as Servant” philosophy as developed by James C. Hunter’s book, “The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership“. This philosophy revolves around the idea that the greatest leaders are the ones that earn the trust & respect of their charges and in return, they now lead a force that will run through walls for them. The concept isn’t new, but it’s the first time I’ve heard it put in place by such a big and “old school” company.

Reality

But despite the amazing progress that DePinto and his team is making, will 7-Eleven ever get the recognition? To the general public, unfortunately, 7-Eleven is, well, 7-Eleven. There is one near my house and I’ll stop there for gas or coffee, but it doesn’t hold the same brand appeal that the aforementioned Dot.com has or even a “sexier” retail outlet like Target.

With companies like HubSpot, Zappos, Netflix, and Dyn all using their corporate culture as an inbound marketing tool, isn’t it time that 7-Eleven did the same? Would your perception of the 7-Eleven brand change if they were more vocal about their corporate culture?

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