I never heard of Zappos 2-3 years ago. As far as I can remember, I might have read a sentence or two about this unique company in the many books that I read in my entire life (well of course, since I’m really interested in entrepreneur and business books only last year). I never bought any shoes from Zappos. I was clueless to who Tony Hsieh is. In short, to be honest, I never thought that I will finish reading this book and enjoying it! As my learning habit, to maximize my understanding, along with reading the book, I will also listen to the author’s interviews on YouTube and Podcast. After I read and listened to Tony’s talks online, I became Zappos’ fan and loss for a word to describe what I have read. Thanks to Jonathan Haidt, his praise for this book echoes mine: “This book illustrates so many of Zappos’ core values: It’s open and honest, passionate and humble, fun and a little weird.” In his humorous, genuine spirit (he shares stories of successes and failures too) and geniusity (I just made up that word), Tony shows that a business is not just about money but it’s also about Delivering Happiness to the customers and employees.
“It’s important to constantly challenge and stretch yourself,” writes Tony, “and not be stuck in a job where you don’t feel like you are growing or learning.” Tony is born as an entrepreneur. When he was a kid, he started a worm farm business! In college, he running a pizza business. Then after few years graduating (and working), he quits a high-paid job to cofounded LinkExchange. In the first section of this book (entitled Profits), he tells stories of him growing up, adventures and rebellions as a young entrepreneur and eventually became a CEO of Zappos at the age of 20 something. In the middle of this book, Tony start to think about what’s matter in life, he writes, “I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy.” And so, in the second section (entitled Profits and Passion), Tony outlines how the philosophy of happiness and purpose infiltrate into the blood and bones of Zappos’ business systems. Company culture based on happiness is more important and influential than the marketing strategy. “What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term?” Tony asked, “In a word: culture.” “For individuals, the character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.” “Your culture is your brand.”
In the book, Tony explains each of the core values in detail and share some stories from the employees as they applied the values into their work and life. Very inspiring. If you own a company or working in HR or thinking of starting a business, reading Chapter 5 Platform for Growth: Brand, Culture, Pipeline is worth your time and attention. The ideas, examples, and inspirations will make you think about how important customer service is and the culture in the company.
In the third section (entitled Profits, Passion and Purpose), Tony outlines the ‘marriage’ of Zappos with Amazon, Zappos’ vision for taking things to the next level, and how Zappos’ vision can become ours. “Zappos is about delivering happiness to the world.” The evolution of Zappos’ vision over the years is very interesting. 1999 – Largest Selection of Shoes; 2003 – Customer Service; 2005 – Culture and Core Values as Our Platform; 2007 – Personal Emotional Connection; 2009 – Delivering Happiness. “If happiness is everyone’s ultimate goal,” Tony asks his readers in the last chapter, “wouldn’t it be great if we could change the world and get everyone and every business thinking in that context and that framework?” Yes, let’s change the world. Let’s deliver happiness to the world by making yourself happy (by tapping into your passion and live with a higher purpose) and making others happy (that’s the real profit right there!).
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.