At the same time I was reading the biography of Steve Jobs, I was discovering Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Clearly, the Apple brand is far more renowned than Zappos.com, and Steve Jobs more a household name than Tony Hsieh; but it was nonetheless and interesting study of contrast and comparison.
Delivering Happiness is the story of Tony Hsieh’s life in the business world, focusing in as a memoir of the beginning and establishment of Zappos.com. Although it is a business bestseller, this book also holds a wealth of information in the fields of positive psychology/psychology of happiness, leadership, and inspiration.
Tony’s parents had dreams for him to be successful academically and eventually become a medical doctor or lawyer. Tony had other ideas, though. Even as a child, his entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well, sometimes successful (a button business), other times not (a worm farm). His academics did win him a scholarship to Harvard, where he had fun playing around and dabbling in more business experiments. Shortly after graduating from Harvard, he and a friend quit their well-paying jobs at Oracle in California and eventually founded LinkExchange, which sold to Yahoo for $265 million.
While Tony could have taken such a lump sum and used it to fund an early retirement, he soon discovered he loved working as an entrepreneur. His millions went into a variety of investments, which were eventually all funneled into Zappos.com. In spite of such investments, the early days of Zappos.com were quite shaky. As the company grew and outside investors provided financial upstart, Tony and the other spearheading the company were determined to focus on company culture and outstanding customer service to set them apart.
Besides learning some interesting facts about Zappos.com (they offer free shipping both ways, you can return products up to a year from purchase, you can call or chat a customer service representative 24/7, and they have some crazy company culture), I also learned a lot about serving others and “delivering happiness.” I found the book to be both informative and inspirational and applicable to many areas of my life. And if I’m ever in Las Vegas, I’m definitely booking a tour of the Zappos.com facilities.