Monday, May 16, 2011

Mojo, Maslow and Jewish Education

I am reading “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow” by Chip Conley with my friends, colleagues and teachers in my CoP—the Rhea Hirsch School of Education Alumni Virtual Book Group.

In this engaging book, hotelier Chip Conley, shares how he uses Abraham Maslow’s iconic concepts of the “hierarchy of needs” and theories of human motivations to create a dynamic and thriving culture for his employees in his boutique hotel business. We in turn, talk together about apply these concepts and Conley’s insights to our world of Jewish education.

In addition to theory and pearls of wisdom, Conley provides examples by sharing some of the “backstory” about culture, attitudes and practices from companies such as Google, Southwest Airlines, Zappos and other from the “100 Best Companies to Work For" list. While this might sound contrary to our image of the ‘profit-driven amoral business world’, we in Jewish education have much to learn about culture that supports community, personal growth, integrity from innovative businesses who pay careful attention to the needs of employees and customers.

Conley’s principles can be easily translated to how we work with our students, their families, our faculty staff and colleagues. In his book he talks about how to create lasting impressions, loyalty, peak experiences, trust, challenge and empathy. While the setting and roles of the examples Conley shares come from the world of business, it is easy to substitute synagogue, board member, teacher, learner or parents into the principle.

Given the time that we (the Fellows) spent at Google in Tel Aviv last December, I especially enjoyed reading Conley’s description of Google’s commitment to supporting their employees need to feel that they are making a difference in the world by encouraging employees to spend 20 percent of their time on projects they feel can make a difference in the world.

Conley’s book is a good reminder that people’s once basic needs are met, in a supportive culture, people (learners, teachers, colleagues, parents, staff, board members etc) are motivated by the human drive to find meaning and to make a difference.


  1. You are on to something bro.

    Triangulation is magic, sayeth :-)

    Stay cool.


  2. There are so few who ken what you do. Tie it to gestalt and we're there.