Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Summary

  1. Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos and wrote this book to help people avoid the mistakes he made and encourage people to be more entrepreneurial
Key Takeaways
  1. Tony was very curious and entrepreneurial as a child, starting many small businesses and once he graduated from Harvard he eventually founded LinkExchange  which was sold to Microsoft for $625M
  2. He formed an investment group and one of his investments was Zappos, which he eventually became CEO of and devoted all his time to
  3. Being conscious of what you want your culture to be and taking steps towards that every single day is maybe the most important decision you can make for your business. Decided to make Zappos bigger than shoes by making their core competency customer service regardless of what space they were in
  4. Never confuse a good outcome with a good process
  5. Choose experiences over material things every day
  6. Never outsource your core competency
  7. Look at all decisions through a customer experience lens as opposed to a cost minimization lens
  8. People are terrible at predicting what will make them happy long term.
  9. 4 frameworks to happiness – perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself)
  10. 3 types of happiness – pleasure (short lived), passion (flow) and higher purpose (longest lasting)
  11. Happiness only increases when shared with others
  12. Zappos 10 Core Values
What I got out of it
  1. Interesting and inspiring book by someone who is clearly passionate about what he does and has created a company and culture which aligns shareholders, customers, and employee incentives
  • 3 sections – profits, profits and passion, profits, passion and purpose
  • Tony was very curious and entrepreneurial as a child, starting many small businesses – worm farm, newsletters, button making, study guides, selling McDonald’s burgers at Harvard, pizzas stand at Harvard…
  • Learned early that telling the truth is important but equally as important is the presentation of truth
  • Went to Harvard and skipped pretty much every class his freshmen year. He got lazy and watched a lot of TV since he didn’t know how to handle the newfound freedom
  • He quickly resigned from Oracle in order to pursue his own thing with his friend and roommate Sanjay – they founded LinkExchange 
  • LinkExchange grew really quickly but they made the mistake of just “hiring bodies” and not making sure they were hiring great people. No single incident ruined the culture but over time it deteriorated. Drop by drop
  • After selling LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265m, he did a lot of thinking of what success means and what truly made him happy and it was creating companies and being around smart, ambitious and fun people
  • Throw ideas against the walls, see what sticks, iterate and make it happen
  • Never confuse a good outcome with a good process 
  • Respect inertia 
  • Tony got pretty into poker for a while and found that many of the principles could be applied to business as well
  • Tony and some link exchange guys formed an investing group and one of their investments was Zappos. They decided to invest more instead of let it go out of business even when Sequoia turned them down
  • Determined that his tribe, his connectedness to others, made up a large part of his happiness
  • Choose experiences over material things every day
  • Wasn’t a big fan of EDM until he went to a warehouse rave with his friends and felt an unbelievable sense of connectedness and non judgment
  • Dislikes networking events – believes you should genuinely try to help and build a relationship with everyone and you’ll get so much more out of it
  • Envision, create and believe in your own universe and the universe will form around you 
  • Never outsource your core competency 
  • Decided to make Zappos bigger than shoes by making their core competency customer service regardless of what space they were in
  • Created a Zappos library with required reading for all their employees
  • Moved their HQ from SF to Las Vegas and 70/90 employees decided to move with them
  • Ask their employees to write a short paragraph on what the Zappos culture means to them. The paragraphs are compiled annually into a culture book to see how the culture is evolving
  • Culture is so important and you have to think of it as a long term investment. Zappos 10 Core Values
  • Look at all decisions through a customer experience lens as opposed to a cost minimization lens
  • Your culture is your brand
  • Hiring may be the most important part of building and maintaining your culture
  • Do something that wows people every day
  • Things are never as bad or good as they seem in the moment 
  • For their different departments, they hire people who are already passionate about those topics (running department hires marathoners…)
  • If you deliver a product or service which wows people, the news will eventually spread 
  • 3 rules for public speaking – be passionate, give personal stories, be real
  • Alignment with shareholders, board and employees is so important. The board and the employees were not on the same page so Hsieh looked to buy out the board. Eventually they agreed to be acquired by Amazon in an all stock transaction
  • Bezos – must obsess over customers, invent (can invent your way out of any box), must think long-term (5-7 year time frames), it is always day one (you can always do more, try new things, etc.)
  • What is your goal in life? – For me, it is to learn as much as possible, experience as much as possible, see as much as possible, meet as many interesting people as possible and give back as much as possible
  • Why are these things your goal in life? – most people get to a simile core answer – it will make them happier
  • People are terrible at predicting what will make them happy long term. Make certain your goal will truly bring you sustained, long term happiness
  • 4 frameworks to happiness – perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself) 
  • 3 types of happiness – pleasure, passion (flow) and higher purpose (longest lasting)
  • Are you working towards your happiness each day? Are you bringing happiness to others?
  • Happiness only increases when shared with others 

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