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Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose Paperback – March 19, 2013
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The visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success.
Pay new employees $2000 to quit. Make customer service the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the #1 priority. Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too.
Sound crazy? It's all standard operating procedure at Zappos.com, the online retailer that's doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales every year.
In 1999, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos as an adviser and investor, and eventually became CEO.
In 2009, Zappos was listed as one of Fortune magazine's top 25 companies to work for, and was acquired by Amazon later that year in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.
In his first book, Tony shares the different business lessons he learned in life, from a lemonade stand and pizza business through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Ultimately, he shows how using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life. (edited by author)
Amazon Exclusive Author Q&A with Tony Hsieh, Author of Delivering Happiness
1. In the book you say, "I've been an entrepreneur for most of my life." Do you think people are born entrepreneurs or do they become them?
I think usually by the time you're 12 years old, you either have the entrepreneurial spirit or you don't. I would describe the entrepeneurial spirit as a combination of creativity and optimisim.2. Could you name one particular experience that inspired you to create a company devoted to customer happiness?
For me, it's really been driven by daily examples of bad customer service in my everyday personal life.3. Was the worm farm really the invaluable catalyst for forming your business and life philosophy?
My parents tell me that as a kid I was always trying to come up with different business ideas. The idea of starting a worm farm is my earliest memory of a business idea.4. You say that you have always been an avid book reader. What are your favorite books? Which non-business book helped you grow professionally?
1:106. You describe your way to happiness starting with profits, then going through passion and finally getting to purpose. Is that the only path to business happiness?
No, that was just the path that I happened to take. Part of the purpose of the book is to help other entrepreneurs and business owners shortcut the process and encourage them to go straight to combining profits, passion, and purpose.7. You seem to have taken risks with business ideas a lot while growing up. How do you recognize a risk that you shouldn't take?
I think it just comes down to really breaking down what the worst case scenario actually is. For most of us, we're lucky to live in a time and in a society where we aren't actually ever in danger of dying from starvation or lack of shelter. Most of us have friends whose couches we can crash on in the worst case scenario, so any "risk" we take in starting a company isn't actually that big a risk.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Zappos CEO Hsieh offers a compelling account of his transformation from callow Harvard student entrepreneur through his years as a dot-com wunderkind to the creator of a formidable brand. Interest might flag as Hsieh, fresh off selling his Internet company LinkExchange to Yahoo in 1999 for $265 million, kvetches about lacking fulfillment. But as the tech boom bursts, and Hsieh confronts his dwindling investments, his story comes alive. As the funding for his incubator companies dries up and one of his most promising startups, Zappos.com, a shoe retailer, seems doomed, Hsieh blossoms into a mature businessperson, slashing expenses and presciently making customer service the essence of the company's brand. The story becomes suspenseful as Hsieh recounts the stress of operating in survival mode, liquidating his assets to fund the company in its darkest days and seeking out an 11th-hour loan. By the time Zappos is acquired by Amazon for more than $1.2 billion in 2009, Hsieh and his team had built a unique corporate culture dedicated to employee empowerment and the promise of delivering happiness though satisfied customers and a valued workforce. An uplifting tale of entrepreneurial success, personal growth, and redemption. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I personally really enjoyed this book. It is motivational and opens a path for a completely revised way of thinking about running a business. Profits usually came last for Tony Hsieh, who sold almost everything he had to keep Zappos afloat. As an employee of a business, reading this book makes you jealous of all Zappos employees. Seeing the unique culture that was created at Zappos and seeing how it positively affected customers and the business as a whole is amazing. It was a culture that included employees extremely close to each other, departments that were not separated but unified, a fun loving and relaxed place, and a common goal of being happy while delivering the best service in the world.
There’s not much I didn’t like about this book, it’s incredibly relevant and helpful to anyone thinking or aspiring to become an entrepreneur. The most help the book gives to aspiring entrepreneurs is to realize the overall spectrum of a company, not just profits, but also how to thrive by creating your own core competencies that no one else can replicate.
Before reading I expected to learn from this book a history of Zappos; what made it a success, and insight into its unique culture. Soon I realized that the focus of the book was more about Tony Hsieh – not an autobiography per se but pretty close. A major part of his business success was Zappos, so in that sense you still get a history of the company.
Tony Hsieh indicates that the goal of the book is to be a resource for entrepreneurs so that they can learn from his successes and failures. He states “I decided to write this book to help people avoid make the same mistakes that I’ve made” (p. xiii). This book is not a how-to but rather a fable for entrepreneurs – a story to help teach and inspire them on their own path.
The book is well organized and easy to follow. Tony has divided the story into three sections: Growing Up, Business, and Vision. The choice to organize it this way very naturally leads the reader on his journey to find vision and define happiness for himself. It begins with some very interesting stories from Tony’s childhood and leads your through his professional journeys with LinkExchange and, of course, Zappos.
Tony discovered that culture was a key component to happiness in the workplace. Without a culture that aligns with your personal values you will feel unsatisfied. That is why Tony focuses a great deal of attention on maintaining the culture at Zappos and encouraging other companies and entrepreneurs to work towards a culture of happiness. “My hope is that through this book, established businesses will look to change the way they are doing things, and entrepreneurs will be inspired to start new companies with happiness at the core of their business models, taking with them some of the lessons I’ve learned personally as well as the lessons that we’ve collectively learned at Zappos” (p. 239).
I would recommend this book to business professionals and entrepreneurs for the insight it offers into the importance of culture in the workplace. I would also recommend this to anyone on a personal level interested in an introduction to sustainable happiness. Overall it was a very entertaining and easy-to-read story.
"Without conscious and deliberate effort, inertia always wins"
I am not sure the book delivers happiness. But here's what it does do, and does very well. It provides an insight into the success of one of America's trendiest and high performing companies as well as the brain of the man behind it. From my work life lens, it also shows an interesting approach to corporate culture that so far is working well for Zappos.
I put my hand up to review the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose because I'd read so much about Zappos' unique corporate environment. Innovative organizational psyches are right up my alley. Hsieh has a light and enticing story-teller's voice as he shares his youthful business adventures, Harvard stories (mostly about how little work he did and how well he performed doing that), mistakes and spiritual experiences in the rave/party years and climbing Kilimanjaro. Ultimately though, it's a book about relationships, and about how to create an environment where your best friends show up to work with you. You work hard and you play hard and you do it all together.
For all it's talk of a bold new paradigm of institutional culture, much of it revolves around getting drunk together, partying and playing golf. It is the way business has always been done. It might be really fun to work at Zappos. And clearly there must be more to it than that or it would not consistently generate the buzz about being such a great place to work that it does.
I'd love to know more about how career breaks, care-giving needs and flexible work options to handle work life issues are really handled. There is one beautiful story shared of a woman losing her husband and being given time off and much loving support from her team members. But the story stuck out as unusual compared to other employee experiences. For example, there were no insights into how parenting or elder care needs are handled either informally or through policy.
Rather, there were stories of walking away from your entire life with two hours notice and not getting home again for three months. It was, as always, the absolute dedication to the company kind of stories that came through loudest. There was a great deal of discussion about creating a family, creating a group of people who you want to be with every day. This is a wonderful thing in a work environment up to a point, but homogeneity, even the weird and wacky kind, can be stifling over the longer term.
As I read stories of bar room and golf course decisions, I did wonder if that self-selects the real Zappos stars as being single and childless, or with a partner at home full time who raises the children or at least has a much less demanding career? Certainly the book makes it evident that a non-drinker like myself would not be progressing very far! Zappos - can you help me understand more?
Things that most impressed me about Hsieh's story and the Zappos culture. The Pipeline - how most recruiting is done at entry level with incredible on-going training and continual internal promotion opportunities. He is very clear about the kind of person he wants to work with every day, knows how to find them and wants to make sure they have a trajectory. I also thoroughly enjoyed his cheekiness and regular rule breaking, his loving poke at Asian parental pressure stereotypes and his deep hunger for a community. Hsieh and his team have certainly created something unusual in corporate America. I take my hat off to what this daring 36 year old has built so far and will watch with interest as to what comes next.
My heretical closing thought. As his people get tired of partying and look for their higher purpose outside of the Zappos family, I do wonder how sustainable the culture will be over the longer term. I too have created a family of people I want to be with every day and it's called my husband and children. He talks a lot about work being a calling, not a job. I'm not sure free pizza and shaving your head days are gonna cut it in 20 years time. Then again, they might not need to.