Monday, June 7, 2010

Delivering Happiness :-) Book Report

Is your work just a job, or is it a calling? How do you feel about today being Monday? Got a SMILE on your face? These people do:

You may have seen the Zappos puppet commercials, or like me, you may have seen CEO Tony Hsieh on Oprah a coupla years ago when he was on The Secret Millionaire show. You may even know about him because you shop at Zappos, the super-friendly online, shoe store. I've been following him on Twitter because he is funny. More than that; thought-provoking, smart, creative, & entertaining. I love seeing the world through his eyes because he has managed to keep the enthusiasm and curiosity of a child. It's contagious. I was a fan long before I bought shoes--last month. So I was excited to get an advanced copy of his new book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

My path began on a worm farm.

And so he begins, telling of growing up Asian-American and his first entrepreneurial venture at the age of nine. Spoiler alert: the worms escape, but it marks the beginning of his business pursuits.

He went from aspiring worm farmer to selling his first company to Microsoft for $265 MILLION* at the age of 24. He took online shoes to $1 billion in sales for the year, 2 years ahead of schedule. He tells his story with humor, and without a ghostwriter. It reads like a novel: Oh, no! Zappos doesn't get funding from the bank? What's going to happen next? And throughout the book, Tony's sense of humor and playfulness shine through everything he does; from pranking employers in his first jobs, to creating fun experiences for employees.

This is why every business should read this book: It wouldn't matter what the widget was. It just happens to be shoes. It's not about the shoes, it's about the culture of the company, and their core values:

Our goal at Zappos is for our employees to think of their work not as a job or career, but as a calling.

Much like "having the right people on the bus" in Jim Collins' Good to Great, Zappos expects to have the right people and then train them. All employees, no matter what position, go thru the same training. They all have to spend time on the CLT (Customer Loyalty Team) phones. And new employees actually get paid $2000 to quit in their first month if they don't like working there. Less than 1% do. Phone time is the foundation of their customer service. There are no time limits, no up-selling, and more often than not, phone calls don't even translate to sales. It's all about building relationships. When you've got nothing, and no marketing budget, how do you get people to talk about you? Customer service. Can you imagine how different the world would be if businesses just made that little shift?

There is so much more I could write about this book; it's fun and quirky and inspiring. It's a simple principle: define your values, create your culture. And so powerful.

Perhaps with the launch of Delivering Happiness, Zappos will become a verb, much like Google. What if school's said, "You know, we're not fostering enough fun and creativity. We should Zappos the curriculum." What if they did that at the grocery store? Or the dry cleaners? Or . . . everywhere?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Zappos my day. We can live in the now, or to quote Tony:

*I didn't realize I'd misquoted that number until I got an email from John Morgan:

You may want to double check your figures. I believe the amount he sold his company to Microsoft for had 3 more zeros on the end. Is math on the Mensa exam?

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