Wednesday, December 12, 2012
2012 Book Review: "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh
"Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose"
by Tony Hsieh
Reviewed by Joan Carleton
Lighthearted and funny, "Delivering Happiness" tells the story of Tony Hsieh's, the CEO of Zappos.com, path to success. Zappo's main initiative being quality customer service falls right in line with Hsieh writing a book that speaks to the masses and delights the crowds. This is clear from his closing statement: "If this book has inspired any of the above (making your customers, your employees or yourself happier), then I'll have done my part in helping both Zappos and myself achieve our higher purpose: delivering happiness to the world."
At the age of 24, Hsieh sold his first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million. After he made his profits, passion was discovered through love of poker, rave culture and a strong camaraderie with others, which all relate back to community, commitment and culture. Knowing he needed to translate these qualities to everlasting passion, he found his purpose with Zappos, first as an advisor and investor, and then as CEO. Hsieh helped Zappos.com grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. In November 2009, Zappos.com was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing.
Zappo's company culture and core values include bullet points such as "deliver WOW though service," "create fun and a little weirdness" and "build a positive team and family spirit." If Hsieh can build a company that truly embodies these qualities, it is easy to understand how he can transfer over this enthusiasm to pages of a book.
It is interesting to note the similarities between successful entrepreneurs. Josh Linkner, a past Mac-OU INC Fireside speaker, strongly advocates his passion for creativity. Jake Sigal, CEO and founder of Livio and an Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition 2012 panelist, told the crowd more than once that all entrepreneurs must read Hsieh's book for the words of wisdom. Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year is chosen partly based on the company focus on individual employees, the ability to embrace innovation and preserve company culture, and the choice to put customer acquisition over venture capital, which are all very similar to Hsieh's business ideals.
As the reader, I was left with the elated feeling that starting my own company would be fun and easy. More realistically, it is a long, tough road that entrepreneurs must devote their life to. As long as it is kept in mind that Tony Hsieh is one of the few stars of the entrepreneurial community, then inspiration overload will come from reading this book.