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Delivering Happiness Paperback – Illustrated, March 19, 2013
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About the Author
Under his leadership, Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008 by focusing relentlessly on customer service.
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Illustrated edition (March 19, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446576220
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446576222
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.68 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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However, I didn't really gain anything personally or professionally from this book. I run a family business so we don't have employees to build a culture. It's a family that all has the same desire to do good work and treat our customers respectfully, so we already have that down and that was majority of the book.
I was hoping Tony would go into more details, actual emails of his interactions with customers. He did not, and that left me wanting more. In the past, I heard good things Zappos has done for their customers, but I would love to know more about those interactions and how he handles customer service.
In a way, the book felt like a big advertisement to Zappos. Like, "Look how awesome we are at Zappos!" than "How to do so and so".
Still, it was a fairly interesting read, but if you're a small business owner, you might not have much information to take from this.
Before Zappos, he had founded LinkExchange which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million. The reason he gave for selling was LinkExchange was as it grew, it lost culture and felt like it was a different company and it get to the point he dreaded getting out of the bed in the morning to go to the office. After this, he started venture fund from which he funded Zappos’s founder. Initially, Zappos struggle because it fulfilled orders with drop shipments which did not worked well because it did not have accurate information about vendors’ inventory, and because their warehouses were all over the country, delivery times weren’t predictable. Later, he began buying inventory from manufacturers, which was freezing its capital and also relying on a third party to manage its warehouse. He recalled that it never makes sense to outsource call center and warehousing because Zappos’s higher purpose is to provide the best customer service which is only possible when it has pulse of what customer want. He felt that trusting a third party would care about its customers as much as Zappos would was one of our biggest mistakes.
In the book, he talks about when Zappos was losing money and could not get any more money to run its operation, they figure out that while cutting marketing expense, only thing they can do is to focusing on the customer service. He sees his company offering the best customer services possible. He eluded couple times that Zappos could get in to many other areas including offering the airline services. Later he talks about how reading book; he learned that great company has a greater purpose and bigger vision beyond just making money or being number one in a market. He would later create a book club where each employee would read a book and discuss about it and apply lesson learned at Zappos. Unlike many businesses that put the need of the investors as the center of the business, he put the need of the customer as the core, yet believes that he needs to meet the needs and desires of all stakeholders. Tony put the best customer service at his end goal, for which he put making his employee happy as his primary target. He believes that his effort to make his employee happy will in turn make his customer happy.
Tony Hsieh saw his role as the philosopher. He sold his first company LinkExchange to Microsoft, because he felt that it lost its soul and reach to where he dreaded getting out of the bed in the morning to go to the office. When he invested on Zappos, and then become involved in it, he knew the culture was important. From early on, he develops a culture that he likes. As a CEO, he does not have authority like in the typical American organization. At Zappos, he saw his role as the gardener that allows everybody around him to flourish. Hsieh put the customer’s interest as his end goal. Employees are trained to have lifelong relationship with a customer. And there are growing list of CEO who toured Zappos to learn from Zappos insight and bought his idea and have implemented at their organization.
In this book, he talks about creating a culture that would outlast him. He believe that if it get the culture right, then most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand or business will be a natural byproduct. Culture starts with the hiring. Zappos uses two sets of interview: one by the hiring manager for the job specific role; and second by HR which is purely for the culture fit. To hire, a prospective candidate has to be pass both. It also fires employee if they are bad for the culture even though they are doing well on their job specific role. At Zappos, they hired only people they would enjoy hanging out with after hours.
This book talks about meritocracy system which Hsieh implemented in 2012. It allows employees to self-organize to complete work in a way that increases productivity, foster innovation and empowers anyone in the company with the ability to make decisions that push the company forward. All employees are part of one or more circle. People on the circle can fire another people on the circle. All employees can remove themselves from a circle and move to another circle. As a CEO, Hsieh cannot hire or fire his employee. This kind of system requires trust first. He was able to build trust by developing a culture that stems from intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. He frees his call center employee in many ways to build a lifelong relationship. One way he empowers customer service reps is by not measuring call times, not allowing them to upsell, and not using a script.
It talks about how leader can affect an organization’s future by sharing his values. When things are changing fast, employees need a vision of the destination that lies beyond the horizon; they also need to understand the principles by which they must navigate their course. Without the strong value that is shared and engrained to the culture, an organization will probably lose their direction and fail. Unlike many other companies that may take only senior leadership to retreat to develop company value, he email to all his employees about their input. From all employees’ input, Zappos developed 10 core values. Since all employees have contributed to this value, they embody the company value. One value is to be adventurous, creative and open-minded which displays how his employees have embodied Zappos value.
Another value he talks about is to “deliver wow through service”. To WOW, employee must differentiate themselves, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative. Once a year, Zappos ask its employee to write what Zappos cultures mean to them and publish them as a “Culture book” which is an employee review of a company and is a great way to communicate with its employee.
That book is fantastic read for all MBA students and those who wants to learn how to manage team.
Funny thing about society is, you can be lucky and get rich and people will listen to you as though you are all- knowing. The first third of the book I read was very self aggrandizing and I have now learnt to be careful when picking out books because of their high 4/5 star valuation. A lot of these stars are probably rigged by employees enmasse writing them and whose to say they didn't get a little something in their paychecks at the end of the week. Who knows, but I saw zero merit in this book from what I had read. As my title states - a waste of time .
What I learned: The main point that the book hits on is in the title. How to deliver happiness to everyone that comes into contact with you or your company. The word that is used many times is WOW. The book reinforced my belief that a small unexpected gesture can be just as valuable, if not more so, than a very expensive but expected one. One point that really got me thinking was how they extended their goal of delivering happiness even to their suppliers, a group that is typically not treated well. It forces you to think about the people that you treat differently just because they might not be employees or customers. Additionally, he mentioned how culture was his passion, something I greatly relate to, and that building a process to invest in his employees was what he expected would continue to help the growth of the company. This insight will follow me through my professional career for sure.
Top reviews from other countries
What makes the story compelling is that even though you know how the story ends, the story of how the business began and grew has some peril and jeopardy along the way, which convinces you that it could all go badly wrong at any moment along the way. So is he lucky? Not really. This is not the story of a compulsive gambler. It is a story recognisable in many business stories where success is rescued from the jaws of failure by talent and determination. This is perhaps told best in the part where he and his business colleague drive a truck across America as driving buddies. So why didn't they just have a stopover or two? No there was a determination and commitment whereby they just had to keep going. The story contains warmth and humour and a surprising lack of commitment at times to work and study. If he ever needs a job there are bits of his CV that he might expect a few questions on.
The slight spoiler for me is the insertion of other people's accounts of their story randomly inserted at times, which breaks up the momentum of the story. I am not saying that their account isn't relevant. Of course it is relevant in the way that it captures the spirit of the company but I personally feel that the story should come first and then the personal accounts at the back, like outtakes at the end of a film.
YES I agree with many comments on here that it seems the book has been written by a 17 years old nerdy kid at times, however that is exactly what makes this book even more genuine and sincere.
I do highly recommended to anyone who wants to read what goes in the mind of business leaders and visionaries.
The book is above all a story: of the making of Tony Hsieh (now the CEO of Zappos.com), of his entrepreneurial journey starting in his childhood through college and later, of how he came to be involved in Zappos.com first as an investor and then as the CEO, and finally of what made Zappos.com the unique e-commerce success story it is. Organised in three parts, titled "Profits", "Profits and Passion", and "Profits, Passion and Purpose", it appears to map Mr Hsieh's journey of personal and professional growth.
Mr Hsieh is a child of Taiwanese immigrants. The parents feature in the book, but refreshingly not in the holier-than-thou tone, which is the staple of much immigré writing. They have made seminal contribution to his entrepreneurial spirit, mainly by not strangulating it with the burden of parental expectation, although Mr Hsieh himself, as a young person, wasn't above some mischief to get his own way. In many ways, it made me wonder if Mr Hsieh's story could pan out the same way anywhere but in America.
The story slowly morphs from being about Mr Hsieh's entrepreneurial adventures and misadventures - including the lessons he learnt at Link Exchange and the Venture Frogs fund he ran jointly - to being about Zappos.com. It is in the description of the the mechanics at Zappos.com that the tone changes to more business-like, especially the emails he has included. In illustrating what the famous Zappos.com values mean, he has included write-ups from his colleagues and Zappos.com employees. That is a nice touch. The story culminates with the share deal Zappos.com made with Amazon, after which Amazon let Zappos.com continue to operate independently.
The recurrent themes in this story are loyalty, relationships and risk-taking, besides the obvious ones in the title of the book, namely, profits, passion and purpose.
There is intended and perhaps, unintended, humour in the book. For instance, Mr Hsieh writes about how his parents appear to have found "all ten" Asian families in Marin county for regular get-togethers. Michael Moritz of Sequoia doing the Macarena is not an image easily banished from the mind! There are also some notable gaps. Not all key characters in his story are featured, a sometimes deliberate exclusion which Mr Hsieh explains in the foreword. But while Fred Mossler appears prominently, rightly so, Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos.com appears to have been glossed over and his departure doesn't figure in the book. This seems a bit strange seeing as the Zappos.com story is about motivating the team, and engaging and leading them to a higher purpose. Towards the end, the book become a tiny bit tedious and "corporate". Especially in the chapters titled "Taking it to the next level" and "End game".
But if one can get over those quibbles, it is an engaging, hilarious, often moving, thought-provoking and inspiring read about creating a business that many now look to as the exemplar in customer service.
Usefulness note: While reading it, I thought of mentors, friends and young entrepreneurs I know and admire. Many of them appear to have read the book already; others will certainly benefit from reading it.