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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?

Business books: Good to Great, Peak, Tribal Leadership Made to Stick

Non-business books: The Happiness Hypothesis Comedy Writing Secrets The Game

5. What is the ratio between rebelling against conventional wisdom and sticking to the good old truths in building a successful business?

1:10

6. 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.

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Details

ISBN-10:  0446563048
ISBN-13:  978-0446563048
Author:  Tony Hsieh
Genre:  Professional & Technical, Business & Investing
Publisher:  Business Plus
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review by . May 03, 2011
   I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I had heard about Zappos and had heard about their deal with Amazon but I had never purchased from Zappos in my life. I also wasn't sure if it was going to be a book where it would be 200+ pages of why you should buy from Zappos. Sure there's a little bit about it in there but it wasn't overwhelming in the slightest. Before I started reading, I briefly skimmed through some reviews and saw that people had …
review by . August 10, 2010
In this volume, Tony Hsieh (pronounced "SHAY") shares all of the business lessons he learned from success and (especially) from failure prior to and then during his association with Zappos.com, first as an adviser and investor in 1999 and then as CEO, a position he continues to occupy after the acquisition of Zappos by Amazon in 2009. He has organized the material in this book as follows: "The first section is titled `Profits' and consists mostly of stories of me growing up and eventually finding …
review by . August 08, 2010
Imagine a company that actually cares about its customers. Sure it sounds like a fairy tale, but its not. I know almost every company SAYS they care about its customers, but actions speak louder than words. This is a truly unique company, and you can learn a lot about success by reading this book.    I read a lot of business books and I have heard a lot about Zappos, so I was very happy to see they wrote a book. The book talks about the process and hard work that went into creating …
review by . August 03, 2010
If you are expecting a handbook about how to deliver excellent customer service, you will be surprised by this book.    It's about one man's journey through the startup seas from the late 1990's through 2009.    Tony Hsieh made $40 million in the dotcom boom in the late 1990's. He lived life on his terms, built a tribe of friends he enjoyed to hang out with. Left millions on the table after one deal, poured all his money into another deal (I won't spoil all …
review by . April 07, 2010
I certainly had no trouble reading Delivering Happiness; it moves smoothly through the story and kept me turning pages. My disclaimer is that I can't tell the difference between Zappos and any other on-line shoe vendor so I am not moved to care about the company behind the scenes.    Funny. I can't generate any enthusiasm for writing the review, nor recall any particularly moving parts of the story. If you want nuts and bolts of starting a business, Norm Brodsky, The Knack, delivers …
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