Delivering Happiness & Awesome Accessories

Delivering Happiness:  A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh; Business Plus, 2010

I don't buy a lot of shoes, and I have never purchased shoes online.  So I didn't know a lot about! until I had the chance to listen to one of the company's marketing directors speak at the latest Drive Conference at Northpoint Church in Atlanta.  When I mentioned to my wife how awesome I thought the talk had been and how great the company was, she said something like, "Oh yeah, they are incredible!  They offer free shipping if you need to return your shoes if they don't fit!"

I didn't ask how she knew this. 

I was dismayed that I had come to the Zappos table so late, but better late than never.  When I saw that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh had written a book, I pre-ordered it like a huge geek.  It was worth every penny.  Delivering Happiness is more than just a book about Zappos, it is an autobiography of sorts for Hsieh, who makes a point of declaring that he wrote the book without a "ghost writer."  This point may not seem like a big deal at first blush.  However, the reason that Hsieh gives for eschewing the benefits of a professional writer to assist him are in keeping with the business culture of Zappos that he was instrumental in creating.  Delivering Happiness is open, honest, non-traditional and includes more than just Hseih's voice.  The book is filled with "asides" by Zappos employees, managers and vice presidents that speak to, among other things, Zappos Core Values Document.

Zappos' story is one of wild success.  It's easy to focus on the wild success part of their story--especially the part where they sold it to Amazon for $265 million or so.  But what Delivering Happiness reveals is that Zappos' wild success was a long, difficult process that was filled with unbelievable dedication, huge setbacks, years of seeming un-profitability and commitment to a dream that conventional wisdom asserted would never come true.

I think that every leader, entrepreneur, team, organization, business, whatever should make this a must read.  Delivering Happiness is as authentic as it gets.  Hsieh "gives" away his ideas and his methods in the same way that his company provides unbelievable customer service--generously, without expecting anything in return and with an unmistakable sense of joy.  The templates to success in business that are revealed by Hsieh and his team are simple and quite frankly they have been stated and/or restated in other books that were written by people with lots of letters at the end of their names, most of whom have never really run a successful business.  Hsieh has.  And the intangibles that are present at Zappos are clearly evident in the tribal mentality that its employees demonstrate--a mentality steeped in the very passion and purpose that has led Zappos to profits.


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