Book Review – Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Written by Tony Hsieh
I knew this book from a book review in a business magazine which told me that this book is all about Zappos, a company which is considered to have the best customer service in online world. And I just knew that Zappos is an online retailer (especially in shoes) which acquired by Amazon at $1.2 billion. Wow. So fantastic.
This book generally tell us about the life of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos building Zappos from a startup company transforming to a giant online retailer. Well, this is some information about him
In 1999, at the age of 24, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million. He then joined Zappos.com as an advisor and investor, and eventually became CEO, where he helped Zappos.com grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously makingFortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list. In November 2009, Zappos.com was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing.
Tony’s first book, Delivering Happiness, was published on June 7, 2010, and outlines his path from starting a worm farm to life at Zappos.com. Tony shows how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success and happiness. Delivering Happiness debuted at #1 on the New York TimesBestseller list and remained on the list for 27 consecutive weeks.
So, Tony is not a new name in Online Business World. He has so much experience with it, and he has sold his company to Microsoft in 1999, when Internet has not been as massive as nowadays.
The book consisted of 3 parts, and maybe I can say that it’s 3 part of Tony’s life stage. First, Profit. Second, Profit and Passion, And the last, Profit, Passion, and Purpose.
At first, Tony just worked as an intern in software company, and he also worked at Oracle, but later he found that those jobs are boring. Then, he co-founded his first company, LinkExchange, an internet service about online advertising.. In that time, Google Adwords has not been so popular (or even been found?) The Idea is, a website can sign up for LinkExchange service, they put some banner in their website, and whenever a visitor click on that banner, the website will get some credit which will be used to promote the website on other website too. At this time, what Tony thought is just to build a large network of this link exchanges and then sell the company to bigger companies and they will get much more profit, remembering that theoretically, they didn’t spend too much on initializing this startup.
The company became bigger and bigger, and Tony received some offers to buy his company (including from Yahoo), but he still didn’t want to sell it. Later, he found that the company became boring too, all of his work became another routine, which he wanted to avoid in his previous jobs in software company. So, he sold the company to Microsoft for $265 million.
After selling his company, Tony became an investor for other startups, especially technology startup. This is how he met Zappos. Zappos was initially Nick Swinmurn idea, which he saw a market for footwear was really huge. He imagined that it would be a lot easier for customer to just choose shoes he want from the internet. And then he made shoeunite.com, which later changed to Zappos. Zappos is came from Zapatos, ‘shoes’ in Spanish.
In this company, Tony found an interesting life and challenge. He even nearly ran out of his money just because he loved this company so much, and he decided to help them as much as he can, up to selling his last property with 40% price under normal price (because that time was the crisis time in US) in order to get some cash for Zappos operational. He truly believed that Zappos will be a worthy company.
In Zappos, he also set a great and valuable things, Companny Core Values. He wanted Zappos to be different, to be the best in Customer Service. So, he did extra mile to make sure that this company has the best customer service in the world. He and his team also made several breakthroughs that made Zappos as big as now, for example:
- Set Core values for Zappos based on employees opinion and make sure all of the employees work based on that values. Some of that values: Be different and little weird, Be adventurous, creative, and open minded, etc. You can see the complete list here
- Print out and share the culture book of Zappos.
- Give the vendor tour to Zappos to understand Zappos core value better and to have greater cooperation.
So, you can see why Zappos is become one of the most successful company in the world directly from their own CEO, Tony, and how he managed to do it. He told us a lot of his thought and what he had done in Zappos in this book, with details! 😀 And the happy ending for this company is joined with Amazon (Tony don’t like the word ‘acquisition’). Tony agreed to join with Amazon because he wanted to make Zappos free from shareholders who only thinks about dividends, while he want Zappos to keep their most important things, the customer satisfaction. At that time, he thought that the merger was the best decision to keep Zappos as it is.
Later, Tony’s perspective also changed. While still controlling Zappos to keep making profit, he also find another interest, happiness discovery. He want to deliver happiness as much as he can through this world, and he decided to make a ‘delivering happiness’ movement which you can see here: http://www.deliveringhappiness.com .. He is still pursuing his purpose right now, and he is delivering happiness 🙂
I give this book 5/5 marks. I think, this book is really great and it’s not just a Tony Hsieh life journey. It also contains many business and management great ideas, including the company core values setting. For a business man who just start business, you can learn how to make a great company like Zappos, while for those who already has running business, you can ‘imitate’ the key of success of Zappos adapted with your own company culture. Tony publicly open Zappos core values, even their ‘secret’, because Tony believe that no other company will be able to copy Zappos exactly the same. Each company will have their own unique culture. And after all, pursuing profit is not enough for a person. You will need another too as the time pass, which are passion, and higher, purpose of life, just as Tony did 🙂