Customer Review

457 of 584 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much hype and not enough substance, June 17, 2010
This review is from: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Hardcover)
I can not believe it but after 12 years of buying my books on Amazon, I am compelled to write a review. I found this book extremely creepy.

First, I was disappointed in the flip tone of this book. The preface includes a blurb about not bothering to have the book edited by a professional editor because the author did not find it necessary and wanted to continue to poke at his past English teachers because obviously he "showed them" by being a best-selling author and not bothering to be a conscientious writer. I can not imagine having an ax to grind with a teacher I haven't seen in 20 years who may have corrected my work during my "formative years".

Second, I want to personally apologize to every [...] employee. How does one work for a fellow who prides himself on not hiring "talented people"? I am dead serious. Tony clearly states that bringing in talented people into the organization as it grew would cause the culture to change so would not be part of his strategy to build the company.

Third, I also fail to understand how drinking with your co-workers and spending nearly every waking moment with them brings profit, passion and purpose. Yes, team cohesion is obviously important. The military wouldn't function without it. Spending a happy hour with co-workers and eating lunch together for instance, makes sense. Failing to keep your job because Bob in accounting doesn't like socializing with you after work, doesn't make any sense. Failing to be promoted because you don't drink and (horror) actually go home to your kids at night, doesn't make sense.

To summarize, I would re-title this book "A Formula for Running a Successful Cult" by Tony Hsieh aka The Big Pumbah because he has mastered the most important features of a well run cult.

A sampling:
1. Alienation (Done! Replace real family with new family - aka other Zappos employees! Eat all meals together, work long hours, socialize with employees only.)
2. Us/Them Syndrome (Done! Emphasize the collective over the individual. Executed brilliantly by administering a culture test and immediately firing anyone who questions the company as arrogant and not a fit.)
3. Charismatic Leader (Done Well! Name another Zappos leader? Thinking, thinking. . .Can't? No because the cult(ure) is the cult(ure) of Tony! Let's go shave our head and paint it blue!)
4. Exclusivity (Done! Private company. Private goings on. No nasty prying by Wall Street and no grown-ups (remember the missing talented types that were going to destroy them?) to correct us. It's a Zappos' Thing, You Wouldn't Understand!)
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 21-30 of 32 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2011 11:34:34 AM PDT
EBSmith says:
Hi C. Behlivan-It was not my intention to be personal in my review and I can see how it would be taken as such. I was trying to be tongue and cheek and failed miserably. I understand that arrogant bastards are a pain to work with and can destroy companies. I do.

But having said that, I stick by my review. I think Tony is clear that successful people are not a good fit for his culture. Smart and successful are not dirty words to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2011 11:51:04 AM PDT
Yuma says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 6:06:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 22, 2012 6:12:56 PM PST
Dr. Don says:
Thank you Mr EB Smith for your very well done and brief rewiew.

A book I prefered is Path to Purpose, by Damon.

Please do more insightful reviews. Don't be a stranger.

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 9:12:59 PM PST
Ben says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 12:13:40 PM PDT
I almost didn't buy the book because of this review but after reading the sample (and then the whole book) I found that the, in my opinion, the reviewer misrepresents much of what the author says:

1. The author mentions that he wrote the book himself rather than use a ghost writer (a common practice among business leaders) and thanks his English teachers for what they taught him. There is no mention of an "ax to grind" as the reviewer states.

2. The author says that Zappos avoids hiring people who don't fit in with the company culture, EVEN if they´re talented. I think it's clear that he considers all the people that work at Zappos to be talented.

3. There is no mention of anyone in Zappos failing to keep their job because "Bob from accounting doesn't like socializing with you after work", or anything of the kind.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2013 9:56:52 PM PDT
EBSmith says:
Mr. Barnett. Excellent points. But I did fall out of my chair when I saw that the current version of this book is. . .wait for it. . .a comic book. Apparently, it comes up first during Amazon searches for the book these days (according to another review posted). A fact I missed until catching up on my new summer business reading list and checked in to see yours and others comments. A COMIC BOOK. I have nothing more to add.

Ben-I am not sure why insulting the very employees Tony represents and cares so much about (80% of that company works in the warehouse or in a call center - making the 9 dollar an hour you mention according to Glassdoor) is particularly helpful to potential readers of this material. Is your point that the public for whom the book is written must be of a certain financial class before being able to form an opinion on the tome? Or that we are not qualified to comment? Just curious.

My review is about the book. My review is not a personal attack on Tony, Zappos, its hard partying and hard working employees. It is about the content and the book itself. Nothing more. Nothing less. I make no claims that I am smarter, richer, savvier then anyone who has commented, the employees or Tony himself. It is simply my reaction to the material. So please take my observations for what they are. . .my observations and my opinions. Please formulate your own and continue to engage in the discourse of conflicting opinions. It is the basis of the review section.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2013 10:08:17 PM PDT
EBSmith says:
Oh I don't know Dr. Malnati, I would love to have polite disagreement and differing views shared across this review but I find a good portion are mild character assassinations and others not particularly engaging on the content of the work itself. Oddly, there is a cult of Tony. One he may in the end deserve for his good works in revitalizing his adopted home city of Las Vegas. But not for this book or the comic book he turned it into.

Bill Gates wrote a book 10 or so years past called "The Road Ahead" that was a real snooze. I hold him in extremely high regard for his philanthropic work. Had I been so inclined, I would given that book the poor review it deserved.

I have a new crop of reads for my summer that I will be sure to share. This time I will be prepared to take it on the chin, should I find another worthy book in need of a more objective review. I have to limit myself these of course with my limited income (see Ben's note below).

Best,
EB

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2013 11:39:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2013 11:43:37 PM PDT
Haha, that's funny - he just knows how to collate. I agree with you, it totally sounds like a CULT
environment.

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 7:14:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 15, 2014 7:17:14 AM PDT
NJD says:
Mr. EB- Tony clearly states that he doesn't believe maximizing profits defines success, and it certainly does not result in happiness. Everyone has their own definition of success. If yours is to make as much money as possible, then fine. But to him and the people at Zappos, it's about building a very specific company culture. It's why so many of the early employees stayed through the tough times, sometimes foregoing salary. That's why so many employees were willing uproot their lives in San Fran and move to Las Vegas. I've worked at companies that simply hire the "most qualified" person because their definition of a good employee is purely based on economic output. Like Tony said though, those companies almost always have a terrible culture. I can tell you from first hand experience, that mentality doesn't work in the long run. It's why those other companies have such high turnover--they think of their employees like rented machinery. The same can't be said for Zappos.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2014 11:00:02 AM PDT
Yeah, right. Luck. That's it.

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