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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose » User review

"First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Mohandas Gandhi

  • Aug 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 my way to Zappos...The second section, `Profits and Passion,' is more business-oriented, covering many of the important philosophies that we believe in and live by at Zappos...The third section is titled `Profits, Passion, and Purpose.' It outlines our vision at Zappos for taking things to the next level, and will hopefully challenge you to do the same." As Hsieh explains, the name Zappos is derived from the Spanish word "zapatos" meaning shoes. The company's gross sales exceeded $1-billion in 2009.

As I began to read the book, I was especially interested in sharing Hsieh's thoughts about subjects such as these:

Why he sold a company he co-founded, LinkExchange, to Microsoft
Why he became involved with Zappos initially
Why he agreed to become CEO
What the drivers of Zappos' extraordinary growth have been
How Zappos has differentiated itself from its competition
Why Zappos offers $2,000 to some of its new hires to quit
How and why everyone in the company is customer-centric
Those who have had the greatest influence on his development as a leader and manager
Why he agreed to have Zappos acquired by Amazon
How both he and Zappos have been able to retain an entrepreneurial spirit

Near downtown Dallas, we have a Farmers Market at which some of the merchants offer sample slices of fresh fruit. In that same spirit, I now offer three brief excerpts that suggest the thrust and flavor of Hsieh's insights.

"One day, I woke up after hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock six times. I was about to hit it a seventh time when I realized something. The last time I had snoozed so many times was when I was dreading going to work at Oracle. It was happening again, except this time, I was dreading going to work at LinkExchange." He was co-founder of a company whose culture, over time, had changed from an "all-for-one, one-for-all" team environment to one that was now "all about politics, positioning, and rumors." (Page 48) Hsieh realized then that the most successful organizations are those whose people love what they do and do what they love.

After Zappos was literally "saved" by a line of credit provided by Well Fargo Bank, Hsieh sent an email to Zappos' employees, vendors, and friends. After citing the increased sales (from "almost nothing" in 1999 to $32 million in $32) and noting that the company is "on track" to reach $60-65 million in 2003, he warns against carelessness and overconfidence. Zappos will continue to be customer-centric, not because it has to do it to achieve shirt-term results but because "we believe that in the long run, little things that keep the customer in mind will end up paying huge dividends" to everyone. "There will be a lot of changes ahead as we grow, but one thing will always be constant: our focus on constantly improving the customer experience." On this very special day. Hsieh reaffirms the company's commitment: "Deliver WOW Through Service."

Whenever asked what he would have done differently if doing Zappos all over again, Hsieh responded, "I do wish that we could have done things faster." He makes that point again on another special day when he sums up everything in one sentence: "Getting married to Amazon will allow us to fulfill our vision of delivering happiness to the world much faster... To me, that one moment [of celebration and appreciation] represented success far beyond what I could have possibly imagined would be achievable ten years ago...[The moment signified that] half intentionally and half by luck, we had found our path to profits, passion, and purpose. We had found our path to delivering happiness."

True to character, Hsieh devotes the final chapter of his book to his reader to whom he speaks directly and frankly, asking tough questions and making practical suggestions because he is determined to help his readers - as he continues to help Zappos colleagues - to find their own path to profits, passion, and purpose...a path on which they can also "deliver happiness."

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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 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 …
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this book


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 ...
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ISBN-10: 0446563048
ISBN-13: 978-0446563048
Author: Tony Hsieh
Genre: Professional & Technical, Business & Investing
Publisher: Business Plus
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