C is for Chip Conley: How Companies Can Apply Maslow’s Ideas

In this video Chip explains how he applied Maslow’s approach to meeting the needs of the employees, customers and investors at his company Joie de Vivre Hotels.

This film is from a talk he gave at the Sustainable Brands Conference. So he also focuses on how to put sustainability at the heart of a business.

Chip built on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to produce his own model for transforming a business. You can discover more about this approach in his book and on two of his websites.




Here is an excerpt from the Peak website that introduces the approach.

PEAK Perspective

What’s the most neglected fact in business? It’s that we’re all human and, based upon our particular role, we have various needs we’re looking to fulfill.

What’s your operating manual for addressing these human needs?

That was the question Joie de Vivre Founder and CEO Chip Conley faced when he saw his company, the largest operator of hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area, get rocked by the combination of the dot-com crash and 9/11 tragedy in the early part of the new millennium.

At the bottom of that economic downturn, Conley reacquainted himself with Abraham Maslow’s iconic Hierarchy of Needs theory.

Maslow suggested that all of us have universal needs at the base of our human motivation pyramid and that as those needs are partially met, higher needs emerge up to the peak of the pyramid where self-actualization is the pinnacle of human experience (later in his life, Maslow renamed this self-transcendence).

Conley reinterpreted Maslow’s five-level pyramid into three key themes of Survival, Success, and Transformation in what has become known as the Transformation Pyramid: a paradigm for looking at your life and your business.

 And, his company, Joie de Vivre applied these three themes to their most important stakeholders: their employees, their customers, and their investors.


Many people have tried to apply Maslow’s business. Some were motivated by Douglas McGregor’s book The Human Side of Enterprise many years ago.

Some succeeded, but others failed for several reasons. These included the following.

Human side of enterprise

They failed to apply Maslow ideas properly and take the steps required to create the right environment for doing great work.

They failed to explain ‘The Deal’ clearly to the employees. They needed to explain to people that creating such an environment meant the employees also taking responsibility. People needed to encourage others and do their best to perform great work.

Chip focuses on how to apply Maslow’s ideas properly to revitalise a company’s mojo. Below is another video in which he talks to Jim Canfield regarding how this applies to encouraging employees.

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