Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is part biography and business memoir as it discusses aspects of Tony’s life and his business ventures especially those that have to do with Zappos, the online shoe company which Tony is a part of, which was later purchased by Amazon. The book starts out outlining parts of Tony’s early life especially his education and his business exploits when he was young. After leaving university Tony would start a business called LinkExchange which was bought by Microsoft making him a lot of money. With the money Tony set up an investment fund which was how he came across Zappos, an online shoe company he invested in and later joined as CEO. Zappos was a risky bet for Tony, as he put almost every penny he owned into the company, including selling his personal possessions to fund the company. It was a company almost destined to fail, but Tony stuck with it, helping to build up the value of the company which would later be purchased for over a billion dollars by Amazon.
The book holds many lessons for business leaders. For entrepreneurs, Tony’s shows that you should never stop trying. His experience outlines how challenging it can be to build a successful business, but also teaches us about the importance of persistence. For other business leaders, the greatest lesson here is that of choosing a focus and sticking with it. Tony and team made Zappos unique by creating an outstanding culture of customer service. That was their focus. While there were other companies that were in business similar to Zappos, they couldn’t match Zappos’s customer service. And it was mainly that culture that led to Amazon buying the company.
Business leaders reading this book should pay particular attention to the part in the book where Tony writes about how the culture at Zappos was developed. He goes into details about the ten core values of the company, but a very interesting aspect of developing the company’s culture is their culture book. The culture book was created when an email was sent out to every employee to ask for their uncensored view of the company. All replies from the employees, both positive and negative were included in the book, which is now the company’s culture book. A copy of the book is given to every new employee. The culture book is updated on an annual basis.
Overall this book is enjoyable and easy to read, but at the same time includes some crucial lessons that business leaders will find beneficial. My main lesson from the book was the importance of great customer service. A business or organisation that makes customer service a focus will always get the attention of customers.
From each of these books I will be curating one to three lessons and publishing them as a pack at the end of each month so look out for those lessons. The three lessons I have learnt from the book which I shall be writing a learning point summary on are:
- How to strenghten your culture with a culture book
- Using a focus to differentiate your business
- The importance of being transparent