How I discovered the book
You might all know that I am interested in landing myself a job at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, etc. Few months back, when I was looking at their ‘Work with Us’ page, I was intrigued by the job description for Happiness Engineer. After reading through it carefully, I decided that I should apply to become a Happiness Engineer once my college days are over.
On that page I came across the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of the online shoe and clothing shop Zappos. Fast forward a few months and now, when the price was within the amount I had in my Amazon Pay balance, I placed the order.
Got the book delivered to me six days ago and only yesterday I got some time to push myself to start reading it. To be honest, it is one of the best books I’ve ever read on business, startups and entrepreneurship. Tony Hsieh reiterates why it is very important for a successful company to be customer centric and have a healthy company culture.
The book is divided into three sections, namely ‘Profits’, ‘Profits & Passion’ and ‘Profits, Passion & Purpose’.
Section 1 – Profits
In the first section, Tony describes how his life started – being born and raised in an Asian family where getting good marks, being talented and getting into a good college was all that mattered the most. Also, it was at that time when he realized his interest in making money out of business.
Later as he graduated from Harvard University and got a job at Oracle, he understood that it was not for him and he quit. Then along with one of his friends (Sanjay Madan), he built LinkExchange – a popular internet advertising cooperative, similar in function to a web ring, originally known as Internet Link Exchange or ILE. Later it was acquired by Microsoft for US$265 million.
After selling the company to Microsoft, Tony co-founded Venture Frogs, an incubator and investment firm with his business partner, Alfred Lin. Then Nick Swinmurn brought up the idea of selling shoes online thus paving the way for Zappos. Though initially successful, they had to face a whole lot of hardships and cash crunch.
Section 2 – Profits and Passion
Tony and his friends kept inspiring their employees, defined Zappos’s core values and cultivated the culture book. Moreover, their customer service is what helped them to grow on to become one of the most successful e-commerce stores at that time. What was different from Zappos and other similar companies is that, they treated everyone like a family – customers, employees, buyers and vendors alike.
Here are the ten core values at Zappos –
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Section 3 – Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Since Zappos continued doing what they had always done – improving their customer experience while strengthening their culture, they started getting more media coverage and once in a while a popular blogger would pick up something they were doing and the story would go viral making Zappos a household name.
Later, Tony sold Zappos to Amazon in an agreement in which all of the existing shareholders and investors of Zappos will be exchanging their Zappos stock for Amazon stock. But Tony wanted people to see this differently, like ‘Zappos and Amazon sitting in a tree…’ rather than traditional headlines such as ‘Amazon acquires Zappos’ or ‘Zappos sells to Amazon’.
Though Zappos was acquired, it still runs as an independent entity, that is, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.
For people involved with customer service, Delivering Happiness gives us an example of how relationships should be built with customers and how it will greatly help if employees were allowed to think outside the box rather than following traditional scripts to increase the profits by up selling. Overall, it was a great read.
I would rate the book ☆★★★★.