Tony Hsieh is a really nice guy. This is what makes him a very unusual CEO, which is what makes his company so interesting. It also makes him a writer who doesn't use much corporate lingo, and a terrifically casual reader of his own book on the growth and development of Zappos, his unique company. One part memoir, one part philosophy, one part corporate handbook, and all silly optimism, Delivering Happiness will appeal to a surprisingly wide audience.
Hsieh begins with his business history, which adequately conveys his wackiness. First, there was the worm farm in elementary school. All the worms escaped, and he lost money. Then there was the mail order button business in middle school, so successful that he passed it along to his younger brothers in succession. In high school, he learned a bunch about programming, thereby combining his instincts with an appropriate knowledge base. He laughs out loud at his own computer club lunchtime antics, and so will you. Then there was the pizza business in his dorm at Harvard, where Hsieh found innovative ways not to attend any classes, and a high-paying corporate gig after graduation where he once again did as little as possible.
This is a man who likes to take business risks, and as he explains how he made decisions that caused him to grow from slacker into a Red Bull-pounding, 24-hour working machine, you'll be amazed that it sounds like he's smiling the entire time. From his first major start-up, which was subsequently sold to Microsoft, to his repeated close calls where Zappos almost went under before it was eventually bought out by Amazon, this true story of one man's corporate odyssey will leave you believing that anything really is possible. It will also at least make you want to shop at Zappos, if it doesn't make you want to move to as Vegas to work there.
Shot through with brief guest-narrations using the actual participants relevant to Hsieh's fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, there are a wealth of memos, emails, and testimonials that all serve as evidence to his weird intellect. And if you played a drinking game where you drank a shot every time Hsieh mentions having a drink, you'd be drunk before the book is half finished. From the tone of his voice to the story he tells, this is clearly a guy who needs his work to be fun and challenging. Just as Zappos has done, Hsieh's book casually fires the opening volley in a new era of corporate culture and management.
This eye-opening treatise on how to be happy at work has the added bonus of an hour-long conversation between Tony Hsieh and Warren Bennis, who has been universally considered one of the most significant leadership gurus for the past 40 years. Much of what Hsieh says is a more concise version of what he says in the book, though insights from the aging but still hilariously astute Bennis do offer something extra exciting. They discuss happiness in a way that is useful to all people, not just corporations. Megan Volpert
In this, his first audiobook, Tony Hsieh - the widely admired CEO of Zappos, the online shoe retailer - explains how he created a unique culture and commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of employees, customers, vendors, and backers. Using anecdotes and stories from his own life experiences, and from other companies, Hsieh provides concrete ways that companies can achieve unprecedented success. Even better, he shows how creating happiness and record results go hand-in-hand.
He starts with the "Why" in a section where he narrates his quest to understand the science of happiness. Then he runs through the ten Zappos "Core Values" - such as "Deliver WOW through Service", "Create Fun and A Little Weirdness", and "Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit" - and explains how you and your colleagues should come up with your own.
Hsieh then details many of the unique practices at Zappos that have made it the success it is today, such as their philosphy of allocating marketing money into the customer experience, thereby allowing repeat customers and word-of-mouth be their true form of marketing. He also explains why Zappos's number-one priority is company culture and his belief that once you get the culture right, everything else - great customer service, long-term branding - will happen on its own.
Finally, Delivering Happiness explains how Zappos employees actually apply the Core Values to improving their lives outside of work - and to making a difference in their communities and the world.
©2010 Tony Hsieh (P)2010 Hachette
The first quarter of the book about Tony Hsieh's childhood and the lessons he learned feels a bit forced (my button business taught me the lesson of ______). But, my doubts were quickly dispelled with the story of Zappos. I loved how Tony focused on one thing, the best customer service, and did it really well. To have the best customer service, they focused on company culture through a system of hiring (it's easier to hire people who fit the culture than try to change people) and through employee advancement opportunities through their "pipeline," giving employees perceived control of their careers. I can't think of any other large company that has been able to sustain a culture (Starbucks had a unique culture, but in recent years they've become too big to sustain it). Tony says that the Zappos company culture is their one sustainable competitive advantage. Will company culture work for your company? It's hard to say, but there probably is one thing that your company could do better than any other company...and it is probably worthwhile to develop that.
The argument was made about Tony "getting lucky." I have to agree, but I'd add that any business success is 80% luck and 20% planning, tenacity, insight, and work ethic. The 20% is critical to making success, but it's not sufficient. Even the most brilliant people will fail more often than they succeed, but you don't often see the entire journey of failures before success. You could use the "luck" argument for any success (Thomas Edison just got lucky, after all, he was wrong 999 times before he was right).
I thought that Tony did an excellent job of narrating his book. This isn't the case with many authors turned narrators (i.e. Beer School), but with several authors like Malcom Gladwell and Bill Bryson, hearing the book in the author's voice puts you into the story better than with a professional narrator. I'd put Tony's narration squarely in this category.
This book is interesting and very informative for a business owner. I love Tony's style of writing - it's very natural and you feel like you know him. I would recommend this book to other business owners and my employees.
This is an amazing story, and one that inspires you to move forward with your passion. Success, as everybody knows it when it already hits the media, portrays the glory but not the story. Entrepreneurship is like surfing, you have to ride out the waves, you never know when you hit a great one.
I really enjoyed hearing about Tony's growth as an individual and listening to the trials and tribulations when building Zappos. Opposed to the standard book rambling off stats or uncommon words to give the perception of intelligence; Tony along with some other Zappos employees informally talk to you just like you were at Starbucks telling a story. Opposed to be lectured to like the professor in the last chapter of the book, it feels like you're experiencing birth and rise of Zappos alongside Tony and his staff. If you a business owner looking for an excellent inspirational book that provides a blueprint on how you can start thinking about changing your company's culture then this is the book!
The only thing I couldn't handle was the listening to an interview with Warren Bennis and Tony at the end. This guy is the typical professor who is obsessed with himself, self promotes another one of his ignoramus books, and talks down to Tony, all while trying to appear that his vast intellect is fair superior than Tony's while having no clue who Tony even is. I seriously would have rather listened to an air horn next to my ear than listen to Warren Bennis for another second. What's even worse that that the guy that introduces Warren and Tony to the group is so infatuated with him (Warren) that I wasn't sure if the guy was going to start licking Warrens big toe or start talking about the fan club.
Here is the thing, the book is a good listen. It was a crazy trip the man took from start to finish and made for an exciting listen. But as for a business book, not good. There is nothing business about it. The book should be in Entertainment section.
I am in business, and i can tell you, if you are doing $46 millioin a year in rev. and not making a profit. you have issues and a horrible business plan. Yes in the end it worked out for him, but 999 out of a 1,000 times the person will be writting a book on how they lost everything. And he almost did, dont get me wrong i know how the story ended and they deserve everything they got in the end.
But not because of great business, if anything, it shows when the owner of Amazon (a real business man) wasnt interested in the company until years later when really business people made it profitable....
With that being said, like mentioned earlier, great listen, exciting, but dont plan on learning anything to help you in your business.. this should be in entertainment..
Delivering Happiness is part brief autobiography, part “here are my brilliant ideas for how to conceive, start, and run a business”. He is more strongly oriented towards creating a corporate culture than any other business guru, and presents interesting ideas for how to create that culture. However, I’ve got a problem with Tony and the book - proof (or at least viable evidence) and replication. Tony was at the right place at the right time once and pretty much by accident made millions in the process. Out of boredom he joined what was to become Zappos. 10 years later he has made Zappos the largest online store specializing in footwear, with sales over $1B per year. But Zappos has always been on the verge of failure and is completely dependent on an ongoing 100 million dollar line of credit with their banks. This tells me that they have less than $1M (less than 10%) in profit. This would not be considered a successful situation for any business. For all of the hype about how brilliant Tony is, he hasn’t proved that culture is the key to business success. I wish he had–I’m a huge believer in developing corporate culture, one based on integrity, contribution, and “doing what is right”. He as not demonstrated that if you build the right culture the profits will follow. He has not demonstrated anything except that he was successful at making money by accident one time in his life, and his Zappos isn’t it. More disappointing is he discusses the dozens, possibly over a hundred other companies he helped start, most of which failed, none of which had more than marginal success. So like most of the other business gurus, he provides no proof or evidence of his ideas, and has not been able to replicate his one (apparently accidental) success. Not someone I would consider a viable role model, leader, or even teacher.
This book should have been sub-titled "An autobiography of Tony Hsieh." I bought this book expecting to learn alot of valuable lessons from someone who is clearly a brilliant business man. Instead I got hour after hour of his life story (and sometimes in WAY too graphic of detail). The second half of the book is one long commercial about Zappos. There were a few pearls of wisdom to be had, but overall I'd say this book is only for the hard-core Zappos/Tony Hsieh enthusiast.
I've always wanted to read this book ever since it got published in 2010, but I kept putting it off. I should had read this a lot sooner. If you are looking for another "Accidental Billionaires (Facebook)", "Delivering Happiness" is not for you. This book will never be a screenplay for the big screen, because it's more about philosophy, than sex, drugs, and tunes.
Delivering Happiness is not so much a business book so to say, but it's a cultural movement how business should run in this new Internet era. Many old school's companies tries to deliver happiness, base on their margin profit and their employees and customers comes second, and the Internet is another marketing scheme. With Tony Hsieh and his Zappos' team, they are becoming the new Nordstrom, where service and their employees always comes first.
I wished that all companies would take notice of Zappos' ways of doing business, but they won't because most companies are run by the elites and don't understand the new culture of customer service to be successful in the next era.
The first half of this book was very interesting, to see how Tony Hsieh got started and how he buildup Zappos, but the story faded toward the end, by having numinous praises among Zappos' staffs, trying to please the boss.
I just wished that we would had heard more from their customers.
Good content, nevertheless.
It was an entertaining book to listen to on the road, great ideas about culture in companies, customer service, experience and capacity building. Will start to apply ideas in my company.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, provides a most interesting memoir and biography of the company in Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. The book falls into three sections . In the first Hsieh relates stories about himself as a young entrepreneur and how he came to become involved in Zappos. The second section outlines the development of Zappos and its values. The last section actually, sorta, presents Hsieh’s philosophy of management. It is really Hsieh’s free flowing expression of who he is, how he got here, what Zappos is, and his philosophy. A particularly revealing section, for me, appears when Hsieh tells how Zappos because a part of Amazon. He shares details which are particularly interesting. His, albeit brief, introduction to the literature on happiness is stimulating as well. The book is a hoot, provides all sorts of perspective on business, management, and customer service. Along the way the reader gets a taste for what it is like to be an entrepreneur in general and to bring an organization like Zappos to life. It is delightful and fun. Delivering Happiness is more of a conversation with Hsieh than a book per se. Portions of the book are read by others which is a benefit of the Audible edition. For example, when Zappos merged with Amazon, Jeff Bezos produced an 8 minute video for Zappos employees. The audio is included in the Audible edition. Different voices are used to represent portions of the text as well. Otherwise, Hsieh reads the text himself.
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