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on October 15, 2016
I am currently a student at the University of Baltimore enrolled in an Entrepreneurship class and this book was given as a recommended reading for a select amount of students in my class. Delivering Happiness is about Tony Hsieh and his life path, the Zappos Company, and how a company culture can shape the whole company from its fundamental ideas. Customer service and company culture are some of the main themes in this book that Tony Hsieh highlighted because these were Zappos core competencies that made them a one of a kind company.
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.
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on January 13, 2018
I knew a little about Zappos story and bought the book to learn more about their extraordinary culture that grows out of their mission to live and deliver WOW. As Tony says, "A word is a word, and a picture is worth a thousand...but a brand is worth a million." Millions upon millions, upon millions, in the case of Zappos. Tony shares the Zappos story from the beginning and talks about the kind of culture he wanted to create...making it fun and delighting customers were key. Quite different from the way most companies operate. Despite all the talk about social media, Zappos operates under the premise that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there giving them untapped opportunities to deliver an extraordinary and memorable experience that customers will gladly share with others. They offer a 365 day return policy, don't use call center scripts, and don't measure call times...the longest of which was almost six hours! They try to build a life-long relationship with each of their customers and want employees to view their work not as a job, but a calling to deliver happiness to the world. It's quite a story! linkedin.com/in/jeanmathews-learn,share,inspire
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on May 2, 2018
Living in Australia, and having heard a number of inspiring stories about Zappos over the years, I bought the book to learn more about their incredible story.

I struggled to get through the first half of the book. In Tony Hsieh, I couldn’t relate to someone who chose to spend part of his upbringing as a professional poker player in Las Vegas.

The book became meaningful to me when Tony explains how their culture was fostered and how they developed their 10 core values. This was not done by the founders but by involving every member of their team in a process that took more than 12 months. He then explains in detail how they live their values and the effect this has had on team members inside and outside of work.

Two other gems for me were:

1. Tony Hsieh emphasises that the telephone is the real relationship building tool at Zappos. Most unusual for an internet company and a very different approach to their parent company, Amazon.
2. When employees log on to their computer a photo of a randomly selected employee appears on the screen. They are given a multiple choice test to name the employee. Afterwards the profile and bio of that employee is shown. What a great way of reducing silos in a growing company.

Tony Hsieh did not use a ghost writer for this book which I reckon was a mistake. However, because of the insights mentioned above and the depth of his explanation about the development and evolution of their culture at Zappos, it still proved to be a worthwhile read with useful insights.
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on August 16, 2014
“Delivering Happiness” is the mostly biographical book by Tony Hsieh that details his life so far and his exploits in building Zappos. Zappos is the world’s largest online shoe store (though now does fashion as well), and has been acquired by Amazon. It’s operating as an independent entity, and the reasons for that are made obvious at the end of the book.

Hsieh writes well, and the book is engaging and quite funny at times. He starts by framing his life in the expectations of his Asian parents, and details his early entrepreneurial successes and failures and his schooling. His early work at Oracle quickly gets pushed to the side as he and friends strike out to create their own businesses, with the first largely successful one, Link Exchange, making him a very young millionaire after its sale to Microsoft.

With money no longer a concern, Hsieh details his days of being an angel investor and his time incubating companies in San Francisco. Detailing the rave culture (and its subsequent decline into more commercialism), he uses the concept of PLUR – peace, love, unity and respect – to explain how he came to have a belief in the idea of a culture and its importance in providing the framework to a work environment, and the idea that work shouldn’t just be a place that you go every day, but a family with whom you serve others in an effort to engage in your passion while also defining your purpose and hopefully making profit along the way.

The latter portion of the book is spent detailing the core values of Zappos, and each of their ten values is explained with anecdotes from particular employees. Hsieh makes no effort in hiding his mistakes or the fact that the company has not always been the perfect place to work, and it seems he is genuinely pained when he has to make tough economic decisions that result in layoffs. Detailing the culture in exquisite detail though does have its drawbacks, and it seemed to me to be a bit cultish. The story of a woman whose husband died placing a call to her manager before another family member struck me in particular. I can understand wanting to be close to co-workers and having a sense of purpose, but I get a little worried when people do this to the extreme that they would call a manager before family when their spouse suddenly dies.

Still, it’s hard to argue with Hsieh’s results. Growing Zappos from nothing to a $1 billion a year (in sales) company in ten years is an impressive achievement. He garnered an acquisition from Amazon in all stock to allow the company to operate in the same method it always had, thereby protecting the culture that he worked so hard to achieve. Hsieh’s stress on placing the service aspect of the business first – service to customers, vendors, and employees alike – does show that people can gain passion and purpose while also pursuing profits.

Having attended a high school whose motto was “Men for Others” and a business school whose motto was “Where business is taught with humanity in mind”, the lesson of service to others is not lost on me. Hsieh shows that it works, and works well, and perhaps if more people followed his example the idea of “having a case of the Mondays” would vanish from our collective consciousness, and “capitalism” – the word – as it exists today might not have so many negative connotations.
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on March 24, 2013
This is an entertaining "fly on the wall" account of the authors journey from his first failed and successful businesses up to the sale of Zappos to Amazon.com for ~us$1bn. As an entreprenuer I had previously been inspired by many aspects of Zappos' culture and this book gives more of the background to that. I think the biggest takeaway is to learn just how close (and how often) Zappos' was to failure as it grew to finally turn a profit, around five years after it was started.

Based on the headlines, it had seemed to me that the author had led a charmed life, turning his midas touch from one business to another. Turns out the truth is very different and author is just as human as the rest of us with the main difference that he has made some very big bets in his life, bets which very nearly went bad. Personally I found this very inspiring.
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on October 17, 2013
Delivering Happiness is probably one of the most popular business books in 2013. I saw people reading it everywhere, especially in the plane. So, I decided to read it and it is pretty good. It is a very easy read with some good points.

Delivering Happiness is the story of Tony Hsieh, who is the founder of Zappos and therefore it is also the story of Zappos. The book consists of three parts called 1) Profits, 2) Profits & Passion, and 3) Profits, Passion and Purpose.

The first part (Profits) tells the early life of Tony growing up and always trying to make a profit out of everything he did. Most of his attempts as a child and teenager failed miserably, but some of them succeeded. After graduation, he worked a bit for Oracle and started a new dot com company called link exchange. He sold the company for a couple of million to Microsoft and reached his early goal in life and began wondering what he should do next.

The second part (Profits & Passion) he decided he likes to build a company and joins Zappos. He is basically the core investor in Zappos and his private money keeps the company alive. At the first years, it wasn't going very well until he changed the direction of the company to expand the choice of shoes. Finally the company took off and became one of the largest eCommerce sites and was eventually sold to Amazon.com. From the outside, Zappos became especially known for its customer service.

The last part (Profits, Passion, and Purpose) is a fairly small part where Tony explains how Zappos changes from only focusing on Zappos to a larger purpose of also improving other companies. He researched a bit in "happiness literature" and comes to the conclusion that (unlike his early life focus) money and profits don't make people happy, but the passion and purpose of contributing to the world does. So, he makes creating and delivering happiness a motto for Zappos.

The book is a very easy read. It is basically a sort-of autobiography of Tony and Zappos. Because of that, it does explain everything from one perspective, Tonys. Some reviewers complained about that, but then again, what can you expect from an autobiography. This book isn't a research on why Zappos in a successful company but is is Tony Shiehs perspective on why Zappos is an interesting company. And Tony is a pretty good story-teller which makes the book quite engaging and he does introduce some innovations in how companies are run that I loved. For example, offering people a bonus for leaving the company to check their commitment to the company is something I haven't heard done before.

The book is a quick read, an interesting story and contains some useful insights. Yet, I wouldn't rate it as a 5 star book either. In the middle of the company, it became a bit too much "promoting Zappos" and the Zappos values (which I understand are important) got repeated a bit too often. Though the company does offer some innovation, it doesn't go as far as for example Richardo Semler with Maverick. So, all in all, a good an easy read. Recommended for in the plane.
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on October 18, 2015
First of all, I want to say that I am currently a student at the University of Baltimore, I am enrolled in the survey entrepreneurship course and this specific book was my recommended reading during the 2015 Fall semester.
This book is very interesting because it shows people how to build and manage a successful business in a rather unusual way. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, basically explain that having a great employer/employee relationship is key to successful business. It is how he gets and maintains this relationship where it gets “weird” and unusual. In this book, he shares that he personally hangs out with his employees outside of the office, he is throwing parties for them, he is drinking with them and so on. Surprisingly, it works. The result is that employees are more productive, especially in delivering great customer service (Zappos is well known for great customer service and they take pride in that). For the company, customer satisfaction is not the task for one specific department; the whole company gets involved and makes sure that satisfaction is delivered.
What I especially liked about this book is that it made me think outside of the box. It made think about all the different possibilities on how to begin, manage and maintain (especially talking about startup businesses). What Tony did is absolutely brilliant and although it may not work with every business cases, it is a good example on how to work differently and still get great result.
I understand that this book also include an little bit of autobiography but as the reader, I think there is few unwanted details that can confuse other readers because it tends to get out of topic.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I really recommend this book to people who want to get some inspiration. I especially recommend other student just like me to read it as well because it can be helpful in future projects.
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VINE VOICEon September 7, 2014
My mentor recommended Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh and I was thoroughly entertained by it. The book is an insider's look at the technology industry and includes numerous management experiences. My husband and friends all work in this industry, so as I read the book I found myself in agreement numerous times. It was nostalgic to look back at these industry giants and the progression to success. While reading the book I often found myself laughing, frowning, or sharing tidbits with others...yet the most enjoyment for me was the unedited and natural writing style of Tony Hsieh. I truly felt as if I was sitting across from him in a coffee bar sharing stories of the past! Delightful to read, inspiring and fun...don't miss this gem!
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VINE VOICEon April 19, 2014
The book is a good, and easy read. Tony Hsieh takes the reader on a light hearted, and easy to read, whirlwind tour of his childhood through the sale of Zappos to Amazon...and beyond. As noted by many other reviewers, the book is extremely entertaining, but focuses more on the lifestyle and Tony's experience than replicable business elements that might be expected given the title.

The Zappos culture is incredible, but Tony takes too little time explaining it, and the steps taken and lessons learned in developing it. I was hoping for more lessons learned and accidents avoided from his initial experience at LinkExhange that helped avoid the same challenges at Zappos - and this was only lightly covered.

Having said that, the real gems of the book are the last chapter and the epilogue.This is the 20 page meat and potatoes that Hsieh alludes to in the other 200 pages of the book. The driving force of happiness, purpose and connection. Ultimately, I judge a business book by how much it makes me think or change my perspective. This one didn't until the last 20 pages - which almost transformed a 3 star review into a 5 star.
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on March 6, 2016
This book was recommended reading for an introduction to entrepreneurship class that I am enrolled in at the University of Baltimore. I was immediately captured by the laid-back tone Tony Hsieh took when telling his story, and it helped me imagine a similar culture at LinkExchange and Zappos. While I wish he would have elaborated on how he made some of his tougher decisions, I was struck by how straightforward he was in informing employees of his 9 month plan in getting Zappos to profitability. If only all CEO’s sent out emails that were as candid about the company’s situation as Hsieh’s! His commitment to both the success of the business and the well-being of its employees is a key component of his success as a leader. When discussing the importance of company culture, Hsieh hit the nail on the head in saying “if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff – including building a great brand – will fall into place on its own.” A leader must understand both the business aspect of having to cut costs and the human aspect of meeting employees’ needs and keeping them engaged. His example of cutting salaries to keep the company operational and then providing a place for employees to live rent-free was a creative way of addressing both aspects in a way that engenders loyalty and better performance. Hsieh’s message of having a core set of company values and sticking to them is apparent throughout the book, especially when he lists his top ten questions to ask when looking for investors and board members. A leader who is willing to turn down money because it’s coming from someone who doesn’t share the company’s vision is a leader who will stay the course. Everyone planning to start/lead a business should take these lessons to heart.
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