One of my resolutions for the New Year was to read more. My goal at the beginning of this year was 20 books; 10 non-fiction and 10- fiction books. Considering it’s already June, I’m a little behind, but at least I am reading more.
One of the books I recently completed was Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay). Tony is the CEO of Zappos and the book is basically his story about how he came to be part of the company and how the company culture was formed. If you don’t know much about Zappos, well let’s just say that while they sell shoes online they are best known for their outstanding customer service.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Zappos headquarters while in Las Vegas for a work event last December. They’re one of the few companies (if not the only one) I know of that let you tour their entire office. I’ve been on tours of companies like Celestial Seasonings (here in Boulder) to look at the production lines and see how the tea is packaged. But, at Zappos we walked by people working in accounting that rang cowbells as we went by, in the tech department where they threw chocolates to us filled with alcohol, and the customer service department where one desk had been covered in aluminum foil. You felt like they truly lived up to the words “work hard, play hard”. Except that these people play at work!
I received a copy of the book after the tour and I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. Tony speaks openly about the road to making Zappos a success and as an entrepreneur I appreciate that he told about the hard times as well as the good. It’s amazing to hear how their determination, hard work and gut instinct kept the company afloat.
Before Zappos, Tony had been fortunate enough to sell another company for over $250 million dollars. Of course not all of that was his to keep, but he was successful and probably could have gone the rest of his life without having to work again if he had wanted. However, in the book he talked about how as that first company grew the culture changed and became a place where he didn’t want to go into work everyday.
It was one of his regrets and so when he became the CEO of Zappos he set out to focus on the culture. That culture, their focus on service and the drive to never give up has resulted in a company that makes over $1 billion in sales each year and was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for over $1.2 billion as well.
Now he’s on a mission to spread his message of delivering happiness. It’s a movement that using scientific sense, business sense, and human sense to nudge the world to a happier place. For anyone starting a company, creating the culture is paramount so I highly recommend reading Delivering Happiness. It’s a great place to start formulating your own ideas and thinking about the type of company you want to create and what you want to be known for.