Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

You want to learn about the path that we took at Zappos to get to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in less than ten years. You want to learn about the path I took that eventually led me to Zappos, and the lessons I learned along the way. You want to learn from all the mistakes we made at Zappos over the years so that your business can avoid making some of the sam...

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Title:Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Author:Tony Hsieh
Rating:
ISBN:0446563048
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:246 pages

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose Reviews

  • Otis Chandler
    May 11, 2010

    Tony Hsieh has some nerve suggesting that he built a billion dollar company in pursuit of happiness. But the surprising thing is I actually think he's onto something. Something that cuts through a lot of corporate BS and really makes sense.

    Tony's thesis is basically that, whatever our intermediate goals in life are (get your dream job, make a lot of money, find the right girl, etc), our ultimate goal is simply to be happy. And what's more, (this is the key), happiness in life has to come from y

    Tony Hsieh has some nerve suggesting that he built a billion dollar company in pursuit of happiness. But the surprising thing is I actually think he's onto something. Something that cuts through a lot of corporate BS and really makes sense.

    Tony's thesis is basically that, whatever our intermediate goals in life are (get your dream job, make a lot of money, find the right girl, etc), our ultimate goal is simply to be happy. And what's more, (this is the key), happiness in life has to come from your job as much as your personal life.

    Tony lays out a framework for how he personally has used happiness to create a very unique and successful culture at Zappos - and how he personally came to that conclusion in his own life.

    I heard Tony Hsieh speak several years ago, and from that had one key takeaway: that instead of spending marketing dollars acquiring customers, just have mind-blowing WOWingly good customer service - and your product will spread naturally - as people will tell their friends about their good experiences. It's harder to calculate the ROI, but it's something that makes a lot of sense, and we've definitely incorporated it into Goodreads.

    Tony's Happiness frameworks has four pieces:

    1. Perceived control: people need to be in control over their own fate. At Zappos reps can earn up to 20 different skill sets or "badges", and each one represents a pay raise. It's up to the employee how much money they want to make.

    2. Perceived progress: nobody likes to feel like they aren't going anywhere. At Zappos they give smaller raises every 6 months instead of bigger ones annually.

    3. Connectedness. Studies show that engaged employees are more productive, and the number of good friends an employee has at work is correlated with how engaged the employee is. I found this one most interesting.

    4. Vision/Meaning/High Purpose. People need to believe in something bigger than themselves. The book

    discusses how the truly great companies in terms of long term financial performance are those with higher purposes beyond making money. This I do believe, which is why on the Goodreads

    page our mission is stated as "to get people excited about reading".

    Other things I learned about Tony that were interesting:

    - Tony walked away from $20 million dollars because he didn't want to waste a year being miserable working for Microsoft.

    - Tony spent every cent he made from the $265 million LinkExchange acquisition in keeping Zappos afloat. Again - admirable.

    Things I learned about Zappos that were interesting:

    - The

    actually help the company quite a lot, as they've made believing in their core values a core value.

    - The Core values are the way to keep the culture strong, because they are guidelines for people hiring to keep the desired qualities and traits. Each core value has different interview questions, and employees try to gauge new candidates on each value using these questions.

    - Zappos believes so much in it's culture that Tony created a program to teach other companies how it did it - called Zappos Insights.

    - Zappos built a culture book filled with stories of employees describing what each of the core values means to them regarding the company. This makes the company feel like a big family.

  • Ryan Kent
    Jun 24, 2010

    Nice and honest account of Tony Hsieh's history. I'm not sure how much of his success I account for his 'genius', or simply his being in the right place at the right time. I wonder if his devotion to Zappos was really based on his gut instinct that the company would succeed, or if that is a story he has told himself to cover the fact that he was simply desperate to have it work since all of the other efforts he had funded had failed and he had wasted his riches on partying and 'finding himself'.

    Nice and honest account of Tony Hsieh's history. I'm not sure how much of his success I account for his 'genius', or simply his being in the right place at the right time. I wonder if his devotion to Zappos was really based on his gut instinct that the company would succeed, or if that is a story he has told himself to cover the fact that he was simply desperate to have it work since all of the other efforts he had funded had failed and he had wasted his riches on partying and 'finding himself'.

    Regardless, I feel the 'going for broke' mentality he portrayed is not something to aspire to - and is more akin to seeing someone win the lottery after buying a million tickets and thinking 'hey, he's a genius!' - and trying to do the same.

    Don't get me wrong - Hsieh defiantly made Zappos into what it is, and I love the start-up, entrepreneurial attitude...I just don't think his story is very inspirational, and people are in awe of him because of the halo effect of the Zappos sale.

  • Patti
    Oct 22, 2010

    I haven’t read many business books, but when the “Delivering Happiness’ bus came to my workplace, I received a free copy, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    I understand that this isn’t a ‘tell all’ or an autobiography, but what you get is a scrubbed clean Channel One telling of how to succeed in business without really trying. In a time when many people are anything but happy in their workplaces, I found the book to be more of a guide to start a Fraternity, except without any mention of drugs and a

    I haven’t read many business books, but when the “Delivering Happiness’ bus came to my workplace, I received a free copy, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    I understand that this isn’t a ‘tell all’ or an autobiography, but what you get is a scrubbed clean Channel One telling of how to succeed in business without really trying. In a time when many people are anything but happy in their workplaces, I found the book to be more of a guide to start a Fraternity, except without any mention of drugs and alcohol. For real, you can’t have a whole section about how great Raves are without mentioning Ecstasy. The advice comes off as disingenuous when even the stories of the worst times could have happy faces at the end of each paragraph.

    I’ve always been very suspicious of crow baring the importance of ‘culture’ into business. It seems to me that trying to hire people you want to be friends with would eventually result in group think. It’s hard to argue, though, when Hsieh has millions of dollars and I have dozens of dollars. From my experience, though, the amount of stress a company puts on how much fun they have, the less fun they are in reality.

    I’ve read that newer generations are less engaged with their jobs as a lifestyle and place family and friends first, not really mixing the two. I wonder how these attitudes will mesh with the intense, “Your coworkers are your family now” philosophies. I much rather have a professional, structured work environment, with a product that I understand and believe in, and make money equal to the amount of energy I put forth.

    I did take some good away:

    1) Hsieh’s story makes you realize how much you should support the Entrepreneurial spirit in kids. I was always trying to start businesses as a kid, so it was funny to hear about his trial and errors.

    2) I love the theory of giving people a two grand out if they quit after the initial training. Not every job is the right fit for everyone.

    3) The idea of call centers being treated as a valid business careers. No call times, no scripts, but instead hiring and training people to do their jobs professionally.

    4) Building a pipeline of talent – having clear paths of how you can grow professionally.

  • John Cass
    Feb 15, 2011

    I'm not sure that Mr. Hsieh really knew what he was doing most of the time. He was obviously quite young when he enjoyed his initial success with LinkExchange, and it's hard to tell wether or not there was ever any sound basis for the decisions he made.

    I liked his ideas on 'Ask Anything', and how a business should be obsessed with its customers in order to remain successful over the long term. The book also provides some interesting insights as to what it was like to start one's career right at

    I'm not sure that Mr. Hsieh really knew what he was doing most of the time. He was obviously quite young when he enjoyed his initial success with LinkExchange, and it's hard to tell wether or not there was ever any sound basis for the decisions he made.

    I liked his ideas on 'Ask Anything', and how a business should be obsessed with its customers in order to remain successful over the long term. The book also provides some interesting insights as to what it was like to start one's career right at the beginning of the dot-com boom, and life on the west coast during that era in general. I was amazed to learn how many high-risk, radical changes the leadership team was willing to introduce in the early days of Zappos in order to try and address problem areas. And how these radical interventions helped shape the culture and result in the business eventually turning profitable for the first time.

    It ain't Drucker, but if you enjoy feel-good hippie business books, or have not explored the genre before, it may be an entertaining read.

  • Laura
    Jun 28, 2011

    Recommended by Kate Burgess at FulfillNet.

    Easy read. Some takeaways:

    - Pg. 65 "Don't play games that you don't understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them."

    - Pg. 136 "Ask Anything" idea. Employees are encouraged to send an email and ask any question they want. The anonymous questions and answers are compiled each month and emailed to the entire company.

    - Pg. 149 Re: the Culture Book..."if someone asked you to recite your corporate values or mission statement without lo

    Recommended by Kate Burgess at FulfillNet.

    Easy read. Some takeaways:

    - Pg. 65 "Don't play games that you don't understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them."

    - Pg. 136 "Ask Anything" idea. Employees are encouraged to send an email and ask any question they want. The anonymous questions and answers are compiled each month and emailed to the entire company.

    - Pg. 149 Re: the Culture Book..."if someone asked you to recite your corporate values or mission statement without looking it up, could you? People wonder how Zappos employees somehow remember all 10 Core Values by heart. To me, it's simple...it's easy when your company's core values are ones that apply not to just work, but to life."

    - Pg. 154 Core Values:

    1. Deliver WOW through service.

    2. Embrace and drive change.

    3. Create fun and a little weirdness.

    4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.

    5. Pursue growth and learning.

    6. Build open and honest relationships with communication.

    7. Build a positive team and family spirit.

    8. Do more with less.

    9. Be passionate and determined.

    10. Be humble.

    "Even though our core values guide us in everything we do today, we didn't actually have any formal core values for the first six or seven years of the company's history, because it was something I'd always thought of as a very "corporate" thing to do. I resisted doing it for as long as possible. I'm jus glad that an employee finally convinced me that it was necessary to come up with core values--essentially, a formalized definition of our culture--in order for us to continue to scale and grow. I only wish we had done it sooner."

    - Pg. 160 "Our core values should always be the framework from which we make all of our decisions...Make at least one improvement every week that makes Zappos better to reflect our core values. The improvements don't have to be dramatic--it can be as simple as adding in an extra sentence or two to a form to make it more fun, for example. But if every employee made just one small improvement every week to better reflect our core values, then by the end of this year we will have over 50,000 small changes that collectively will be a very dramatic improvement compared to where we are today.""

    - Pg. 164 "Think about what it means to improve just 1% per day and build upon that every single day. Doing so has a dramatic effect and will make us 37x better, not 365% (3.65x) better, at the end of the year. Wake up every day and ask yourself not only what is the 1% improvement I can change to make Zappos better, but also what is the 1% improvement I can change to make myself better personally and professionally. In the end we, as Zappos, can't grow unless we, as individuals, grow too.

  • Reid
    Sep 04, 2012

    I was already pretty familiar with many of the more unique aspects of Zappos' customer service-oriented culture, which may be why I wasn't blown away by this abbreviated history of the company. Hsieh front-loads the reader right off the bat by warning you that the book is a vague autobiography and company history and business manifesto, but it still feels like it glosses over all three. The most interesting revelations about Zappos' founding and development was how close Zappos (and Hsieh himsel

    I was already pretty familiar with many of the more unique aspects of Zappos' customer service-oriented culture, which may be why I wasn't blown away by this abbreviated history of the company. Hsieh front-loads the reader right off the bat by warning you that the book is a vague autobiography and company history and business manifesto, but it still feels like it glosses over all three. The most interesting revelations about Zappos' founding and development was how close Zappos (and Hsieh himself) both were to bankruptcy during the company's early years.

    I think the big take-away lesson for me was hearing how Hsieh allowed Zappos to develop not just a customer-oriented culture, but a staff-focused culture where employees are excited to come to work because they get to spend time with each other. The seeming total lack of separation between work and personal life is a fascinating counterpoint to all the recent buzz about people trying to reclaim "work-life balance". At Zappos, it seems like there's no dichotomy here; "work" and "life" are indistinguishable. Hsieh throws huge company parties in a loft purchased

    . The staff all go to raves together. He casually mentions that many pivotal decisions and ideas from the company's early years all seemed to take place at the bar. It was refreshing, for me, to hear about a company succeeding without trying to wall off the personal and professional lives of its employees.

  • Benjamin
    May 03, 2013

    I enjoyed reading about the story of Tony Hsieh and Zappos here more than anywhere else because of the way he tells the story. He openly admits he's not the perfect writer, but I definitely agree with some other reviewers here that it makes the story seem much more personable and believable. Although there were some positions he maintains I disagree with, the fact-of-the-matter way he talks about his background and his eventual work with Zappos makes him seem like a person who really is striving

    I enjoyed reading about the story of Tony Hsieh and Zappos here more than anywhere else because of the way he tells the story. He openly admits he's not the perfect writer, but I definitely agree with some other reviewers here that it makes the story seem much more personable and believable. Although there were some positions he maintains I disagree with, the fact-of-the-matter way he talks about his background and his eventual work with Zappos makes him seem like a person who really is striving to do the right thing. Whether that's the truth or just something he puts on his business card is another point entirely.

    I believe Tony had a great mission statement going into most of his projects, Zappos most definitely included, and I think it's a mantra that a lot of companies have adopted, especially in recent years. There are some great lessons to be learned here for anyone interested in business or just anyone looking to provide something to end consumers. I read this right after I read Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, and even though the two books were entirely different in tone and perspective, I enjoyed this book nearly just as much.

    (Possible) Spoilers ahead:

    One problem for me was the fact that Tony seemed to imply that his background was unique and that he had to work incredibly hard to get to where he is now. I'm not doubting that he put in countless hours of work in the companies he's founded or the unmatched devotion and dedication he has given and continues to give to Zappos. He's an incredibly smart and hard-working person, but he comes from a family that that fits the mold for a lot of (Asian) households. He's required to excel in academics, required to pick up a "choice" of musical instruments (but violin and piano are highly, HIGHLY suggested... actually, there's not much "choice" at all, it turns out), and a couple sports here and there. And it's not a coincidence that he comes from a wealthy family that lived in the Bay Area. The kind of free time that allowed Tony to start his own business in his own room with his parents' loose money as an "investment" isn't an opportunity most people have. Again, this doesn't mean I think Tony had it easy. The bottom line is that Tony is one of a handful of people who reinvented e-commerce (coincidentally Jeff Bezos of Amazon is in that group too), and regardless of how he got there, he deserves the praise and recognition for doing so.

  • Jacob Mclaws
    Jul 03, 2014

    I like that Tony Hsieh is so straight forward about what he writes. It makes it easy to follow the story of his founding Link Exchange and then running Zappos. This isn't a groundbreaking book and the existential stuff at the end is a bit overkill for a book like this, but I appreciate the intent and I think all in all this is a great story of a entrepreneurial hustler that had some good team building habits.

    Thought experiments I want to do occasionally:

    When he gets offered $20 million dollars f

    I like that Tony Hsieh is so straight forward about what he writes. It makes it easy to follow the story of his founding Link Exchange and then running Zappos. This isn't a groundbreaking book and the existential stuff at the end is a bit overkill for a book like this, but I appreciate the intent and I think all in all this is a great story of a entrepreneurial hustler that had some good team building habits.

    Thought experiments I want to do occasionally:

    When he gets offered $20 million dollars for Link Exchange and sits down to write down what he'd do with the money. I should think through what I want to do with the money I'm hoping to earn and think about whether those things are what I really believe will make me happy.

    (pg. 43)

    When he goes on a poker spree and spends a year just gambling he learns an important lesson:

    "I'd realized that whether in poker, in business, or in life, it was easy to get caught up and engrossed in what I was currently doing, and that made it easy to forget that I always had the option to change tables. Psychologically, it's hard because of all the inertia to overcome. Without conscious and deliberate effort, inertia always wins. I'd started to force myself to think again about what I was trying to get out of life. I asked myself what I was trying to accomplish, what I wanted to do, and whether I should be sitting at a different table."

    I should stop and think about other tables more regularly.

    (pg. 69)

    Other highlights:

    "A great company is more likely to die of indigestion from too much opportunity than starvation from too little."

    -Packard's Law

    (pg. 89)

    Zappos Core Values:

    The Zappos Mission: To live and deliver WOW

    1. Deliver WOW through Service

    2. Embrace and Drive Change

    3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

    4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

    5. Pursue Growth and Learning

    6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

    7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

    8. Do More with Less

    9. Be Passionate and Determined

    10. Be Humble

    (pg. 159)

    Advice on how to be a good public speaker:

    "1. Be passionate

    2. Tell personal stories

    3. Be real"

    (pg. 206)

    Two big parts of making a good company culture are "perceived progress" and "connectedness" with others. Essentially, promoting people more often in smaller increments (or having more milestones) and helping people have more good friends at work are awesome ways to make your company culture great.

    (pg. 234)

    There are three types of happiness:

    1. Pleasure (rock star happiness)

    2. Passion (flow and engagement)

    3. Higher purpose (being part of something bigger than yourself)

    Pleasure is unsustainable and is analogous to profits in terms of a business. As much as possible I should aim to fill my life with flow activities and finding a way to be part of something bigger.

    (pg. 237)

  • Srikanth Krishnamurthy
    Jan 08, 2015

    Delivering Happiness begins like an autobiography of the author ( one of the successful entrepreneurs ) Mr.Tony Hsieh. I felt the first section from the way he described his childhood trying to explore different business opportunities he undertook wasn’t much pulsating. It was a great comeback in the second and third sections of the book which delivered not only happiness but also many other ingredients such as motivation, passion , inspiration, core values and so forth at its best. He sets a gr

    Delivering Happiness begins like an autobiography of the author ( one of the successful entrepreneurs ) Mr.Tony Hsieh. I felt the first section from the way he described his childhood trying to explore different business opportunities he undertook wasn’t much pulsating. It was a great comeback in the second and third sections of the book which delivered not only happiness but also many other ingredients such as motivation, passion , inspiration, core values and so forth at its best. He sets a great example for people who are passionate for business and entrepreneurship right from their childhood and bring profit.

    The second section can be summarized with an effective quote from the author

    “I had decided to stop chasing money, and start chasing the passion”.

    Yes Tony was unstable after he sold his first owned company named “LinkExchange” and he wanted to run his second company for not making money or profit but to go beyond the horizon, deliver the best for everyone including employees, customers , vendors and to the entire world. It finally resulted by starting one of the best companies in the world called “Zappos”. He described the success story about zappos and the core values which makes it unique and stupendous.

    In the final section apart from portraying about zappos and its successful relationship with amazon he also introduced and focussed on the term happiness wherein it plays a vital role for everyone to be happy anytime. He believed that we will be in the seventh heaven when we rejoice with our real happiness not necessarily through business but in what we think, what we say, and what we do are in harmony.

    Overall Delivering Happiness - Happiness delivered wholeheartedly in many ways from a best real life story.

    Thank you

  • Yodamom
    Nov 28, 2015

    Audiobook

    Narration- excellent, various speakers

    I loved this story the unique way they developed this wonderful company. Their moto, respect for each other and love of their customers is something I wish more businesses would aim for. They risked it all, they believed and they won the golden ring but they aren't relying on that ring to carry them, they are always striving for being better. There are amazing firsts, and fumbling fails but never a giving up or giving in.

    I loved following the path o

    Audiobook

    Narration- excellent, various speakers

    I loved this story the unique way they developed this wonderful company. Their moto, respect for each other and love of their customers is something I wish more businesses would aim for. They risked it all, they believed and they won the golden ring but they aren't relying on that ring to carry them, they are always striving for being better. There are amazing firsts, and fumbling fails but never a giving up or giving in.

    I loved following the path of the most resistance with Mr. Hsieh and friends. Inspirational ? heck yeh this book is good for the developing mind and opens the mind to dreams of what could be.

    The epilogue is not to be missed, stay till the end.