A couple of years ago I was having coffee at a friend’s house when a bunch of boxes arrived. I was surprised to find that she had ordered 5 different winter boots to try on and then ship back the ones she didn’t like. Frankly, I was a little appalled. I asked her, “Why would you pay shipping to try on boots when you could just go to the store?” Then, she clued me in to Zappos’ policy of free shipping on delivery and returns. I remember thinking that this company was either amazing or doomed because this did not sound like a smart business – it was too nice!
Since Amazon acquired Zappos in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion, obviously they fell into the amazing category. And now we all know that I do not have a sound mind for business. But, what you don’t know today is just something you can learn about tomorrow!
Which is why I am featuring Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh. After a couple of years of being a happy Zappos customer and reading about Amazon’s acquisition, I wanted to learn more. There are a lot of books that feature Zappos as examples of new business models but I wanted an inside look at the company. The author, Tony Hsieh, is the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. and wrote this book about how his life path lead him to Zappos and the way Zappos is trying to change the way we do business. Broken into three parts, Delivering Happiness, is written (for the most part) in a clear, direct and often funny manner.
The first part, entitled Profits, is focused on Tony’s early life. It includes some stories of him growing up, his college experience, his first unsuccessful businesses (worm farm) and his other more successful businesses (LinkExchange). I really enjoyed reading about Tony’s formative years and how he came to Zappos. Tony seems to be a very introspective, humble person who cares deeply about the people around him. Throughout the book he talks about mistakes he made and how he learned from them. While he makes casual references, it is clear that Tony is constantly in pursuit of knowledge for personal growth.
The second section, “Profits and Passion,” is more business oriented. If you are interested in starting your own business or improving the business you already work for, this section is right up your alley. “Profits and Passion,” was a little hard for me because I am not interested in running a business. Still, it was full of insightful pieces of information about how Zappos became so monetarily successful while simultaneously being recognized as a “Best Companies to Work For.” From a consumer perspective, I shop at Zappos for their outstanding customer service. But, I also like to frequent businesses that go above and beyond for their workers and vendors. After reading this book and seeing how the company treats everyone they interact with so mindfully, I am probably never buying shoes anywhere else.
The third section is, “Profits, Passion and Purpose,” and Tony outlines how they take things to the next level at Zappos and how this mentality can be used for everyday life and happiness. I especially enjoyed this third section where we see Tony again evaluating, self-reflecting and seeking more information in order to create a life full of happiness for himself, his family and friends and everyone at Zappos.
Delivering Happiness was an informative and enjoyable look at the formation of a new successful business. If you are trying to start your own business or you want to work for a great company I highly recommend this book. If you, like me, are just wondering how people go from an idea to a billion dollar company, this is a fun book to read.