DELIVERING Happiness | Book Review

Tony Hsieh’s (pronounced “shay”) book, subtitled A PATH TO PROFITS, PASSION AND PURPOSE, written in a personable, storytelling style, illustrates many truths we face throughout our lives. In Hsieh’s case, he encountered numerous significant decisions and reflections as an entrepreneur, and has shared them in a book essentially weaving personal and business leadership.

We All Have a Leadership Story | E2L

“One day, I woke up after hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock six times. I was about to hit it a seventh time when I suddenly realized something…”

Much of the first section of the book, PROFITS (Chapters 1-3), recounts Tony’s academic and business success, including the launch and sale of LinkExchange. More importantly, Hsieh realized that “building stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy (page 53),” constituting his core instinctive needs. From an early age, Hsieh was exploring his motivational needs while accumulating business experience. Chapter three, Diversify has a wonderful analog, whereby Tony learns via poker we should not confuse right decisions and individual outcomes (page 64), and it was “easy to get caught up and engrossed in what I was doing, and that made it easy to forget that I always had the option to change tables (page 69).” Going further, Hsieh extends his understanding to the organizational level (page 76) promising never to lose sight of the value of [corporate culture] a tribe where people feel connected.

Corporate Culture | Walk The Talk

Chapter Four, Concentrate Your Position, culminates (page 124) with a major decision - eliminating drop ship products from the Zappos web site – exemplifying Hsieh’s primary focus on customer service even at the expense of profit. Looking back, Tony wishes he focused on culture and core values sooner (page 155), eventually listing ten codified core values (page 154). Ten is a lot, but Zappos’ core values all begin with verbs (e.g. Be Passionate and Determined) and are intertwined with operations and day-to-day behavior.

In short, Zappos Walks the Talk.

BCP | Why We Develop Others

Perhaps inspired by Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Hsieh and Zappos focus on building a sustained talent pipeline rather that just consider individuals corporate “assets.” On pages 198 & 199, Hsieh outlines a sample of 29 Pipeline Team courses ranging from Tribal Leadership to WOWing Through Tours. Pretty amazing. Zappos belief (page 137) is that “our Brand, our Culture, and our Pipeline (internally BCP) are the only competitive advantages that we will have in the long run.” WOW indeed.

A Couple More Nuggets

Testimonials abound, with a reflective series on pages 161 – 182. Hsieh recounts on page 82 the power of building relationships (rather than common ‘networking’) often leading to something positive and unanticipated. On pages 204-208 Tony shares his story of public speaking and how tying his stories to passion and knowledge make all the difference.

Finally, in Chapter 7, End Game, Hsieh reflects on Maslow culminating in parallel purpose and passion charts (see page 239). Additional on-line resources are listed on pages 245-246.

A great story. A great book.

JE | February 2015