Delivering Happiness


Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

My Highlights

I had read somewhere that you’re in your best negotiating position if you don’t care what the outcome is and you’re not afraid to walk away.

I was already helping run a company that I was excited about. It seemed kind of silly to sell a company that I was excited about in order to start another company to be excited about.

I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy.

I thought about how easily we are all brainwashed by our society and culture to stop thinking and just assume by default that more money equals more success and more happiness, when ultimately happiness is really just about enjoying life.

I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew what I wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to sit around letting my life and the world pass me by. People thought I was crazy for giving up all that money. And yes, making that decision was scary, but in a good way. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a turning point for me in my life. I had decided to stop chasing the money, and start chasing the passion. I was ready for the next chapter in my life.

Remember that it’s a long-term game. You will win or lose individual hands or sessions, but it’s what happens in the long term that matters.

Ever since selling LinkExchange, I’d committed to living by the philosophy that experiences were much more important to me than material things.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

Even though it would hurt our growth, we decided to cut most of our marketing expenses, and refocused our efforts on trying to get the customers who had already bought from us to purchase again and more frequently. Little did we know that this was actually a blessing in disguise, as it forced us to focus more on delivering better customer service. In 2003, we would decide to make customer service the focus of the company.

We learned that we should never outsource our core competency. As an e-commerce company, we should have considered warehousing to be our core competency from the beginning. Outsourcing that to a third party and trusting that they would care about our customers as much as we would was one of our biggest mistakes. If we hadn’t reacted quickly, it would have eventually destroyed Zappos.

To keep our culture strong, we wanted to make sure that we only hired people who we would also enjoy hanging out with outside the office. As it turned out, many of the best ideas came about while having drinks at a local bar.

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 just to work, but to life.

Usually marketing departments assume that the lifetime value of a customer is fixed when doing their ROI calculations. We view the lifetime value of a customer to be a moving target that can increase if we can create more and more positive emotional associations with our brand through every interaction that a person has with us.

We believe that your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture at first, but eventually it will catch up.

We’ve formally defined the Zappos culture in terms of 10 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

One thing I encourage you to do is to refer back to our core values document and make at least one improvement every week that makes Zappos better. Ideally, we would do this every single day. It sounds daunting, but remember improvements don’t have to be dramatic. 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.

One of the things that makes Zappos different from a lot of other companies is that we value being fun and being a little weird. We don’t want to become one of those big companies that feel corporate and boring. We want to be able to laugh at ourselves. We look for both fun and humor in our daily work.

The problem when someone feels burned out, bored, unchallenged, or stifled by their work is not the job itself but rather the environment and playground rules given to them to do the job at hand.

At Zappos, we think it’s important for employees to grow both personally and professionally. It’s important to constantly challenge and stretch yourself, and not be stuck in a job where you don’t feel like you are growing or learning.

Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most. In order for someone to feel good about a relationship, they must know that the other person truly cares about them, both personally and professionally.

We must never settle for “good enough,” because good is the enemy of great, and our goal is to not only become a great company, but to become the greatest service company in the world.

There’s never one way to do things, but an incredible amount of ways to get things done. It takes an open and creative mind to find, invent, and execute them.

“If you have more than 3 priorities then you don’t have any.” —Jim Collins

A strong culture and committable core values are important because they create alignment among employees. I was now learning that alignment with shareholders and the board of directors was just as important.

“I get asked by a lot by people what we would do differently if we had to do Zappos all over again,” I said to the crowd. “There’s actually not much that I wish we would have done differently. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but learning from those mistakes has made us that much stronger. But I do wish that we could have done things faster.”

The question for you to ask yourself is whether what you think you want to pursue will actually get you the happiness you think it will get you.

In fact, the research has shown that the best way to train for a marathon is to do long runs at a slower pace than you would actually run the marathon at. A rule of thumb is to run slow enough so that you can comfortably carry on a long conversation without being out of breath. When I tried to do that the first time, it felt almost uncomfortably slow. This training strategy is now accepted as common knowledge among marathon runners, but for the rest of us it can seem pretty counterintuitive.

The higher-purpose type of happiness is about being part of something bigger than yourself that has meaning to you.

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