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In this volume, Tony Hsieh (pronounced "SHAY") shares all of the business lessons he learned from success and (especially) from failure prior to and then during his association with, first as an adviser and investor in 1999 and then as CEO, a position he continues to occupy after the acquisition of Zappos by Amazon in 2009. He has organized the material in this book as follows: "The first section is titled `Profits' and consists mostly of stories of me growing up and eventually finding my way to Zappos...The second section, `Profits and Passion,' is more business-oriented, covering many of the important philosophies that we believe in and live by at Zappos...The third section is titled `Profits, Passion, and Purpose.' It outlines our vision at Zappos for taking things to the next level, and will hopefully challenge you to do the same." As Hsieh explains, the name Zappos is derived from the Spanish word "zapatos" meaning shoes. The company's gross sales exceeded $1-billion in 2009.

As I began to read the book, I was especially interested in sharing Hsieh's thoughts about subjects such as these:

Why he sold a company he co-founded, LinkExchange, to Microsoft
Why he became involved with Zappos initially
Why he agreed to become CEO
What the drivers of Zappos' extraordinary growth have been
How Zappos has differentiated itself from its competition
Why Zappos offers $2,000 to some of its new hires to quit
How and why everyone in the company is customer-centric
Those who have had the greatest influence on his development as a leader and manager
Why he agreed to have Zappos acquired by Amazon
How both he and Zappos have been able to retain an entrepreneurial spirit

Near downtown Dallas, we have a Farmers Market at which some of the merchants offer sample slices of fresh fruit. In that same spirit, I now offer three brief excerpts that suggest the thrust and flavor of Hsieh's insights.

"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 realized something. The last time I had snoozed so many times was when I was dreading going to work at Oracle. It was happening again, except this time, I was dreading going to work at LinkExchange." He was co-founder of a company whose culture, over time, had changed from an "all-for-one, one-for-all" team environment to one that was now "all about politics, positioning, and rumors." (Page 48) Hsieh realized then that the most successful organizations are those whose people love what they do and do what they love.

After Zappos was literally "saved" by a line of credit provided by Well Fargo Bank, Hsieh sent an email to Zappos' employees, vendors, and friends. After citing the increased sales (from "almost nothing" in 1999 to $32 million in $32) and noting that the company is "on track" to reach $60-65 million in 2003, he warns against carelessness and overconfidence. Zappos will continue to be customer-centric, not because it has to do it to achieve shirt-term results but because "we believe that in the long run, little things that keep the customer in mind will end up paying huge dividends" to everyone. "There will be a lot of changes ahead as we grow, but one thing will always be constant: our focus on constantly improving the customer experience." On this very special day. Hsieh reaffirms the company's commitment: "Deliver WOW Through Service."

Whenever asked what he would have done differently if doing Zappos all over again, Hsieh responded, "I do wish that we could have done things faster." He makes that point again on another special day when he sums up everything in one sentence: "Getting married to Amazon will allow us to fulfill our vision of delivering happiness to the world much faster... To me, that one moment [of celebration and appreciation] represented success far beyond what I could have possibly imagined would be achievable ten years ago...[The moment signified that] half intentionally and half by luck, we had found our path to profits, passion, and purpose. We had found our path to delivering happiness."

True to character, Hsieh devotes the final chapter of his book to his reader to whom he speaks directly and frankly, asking tough questions and making practical suggestions because he is determined to help his readers - as he continues to help Zappos colleagues - to find their own path to profits, passion, and purpose...a path on which they can also "deliver happiness."
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on June 7, 2010
The book is all about Zappos and their culture which they feel drives business results.
Looking at the book from a learning and development angle I take 3 things out of it.
1. We need to be sure that our learning interventions connect people to purpose, community and their world.
2. There is no substitute for hard work and repetition. The were able to achieve results by working hard and practicing. Are we giving learners that chance with the training we design.
3. You can formalize informal learning,Zappos practice of having a library and those books being part of a formal development curriculum are a great example of informal learning furthering business results.
I was disappointed in one element of the book.Tony glosses over a central element of his success, his skills as a software developer are glossed over. All the culture and warm feelings in the world won't help you without technical expertise, great processes and skills at doing something. Expertise, process and skills are the ticket to entry and it's culture that allows you to last and enjoy success.
It's a worthwhile read for learning pros. From [...].
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on November 3, 2010
This book is fantastic! Not just the way it was written but the fact that they are a company who is transparent and wants everyone to be happy. What a concept - make people happy and they will want to do good work for you, buy from you, refer your business and be honorable in supplying you. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a forward and out of the box thinker.
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on November 2, 2010
Imagine building a company from scratch, having a big company like Yahoo! offer to buy it for $20M and turning it down. Not because you thought it was a bad offer but because you realized that you would enjoy building that company more than you would anything that money could buy you.

"I had decided to stop chasing the money, and start chasing the passion" says Tony Hsieh early in his book.

Of course, it wasn't as simple as that, and you find out the struggles, the sacrifices and hard decisions Tony made during his career to date (which by the way is not a long one ... he's so young!).

His story is one of blazing your own trail when the one everyone else uses just doesn't quite work for you. It's about creating vision and purpose for your business, your team and yourself. And most of all it's about contribution - to yourself, to your company, to others.

And a big bonus at the end is Tony's advice on happiness. What is happiness to him and how you can find more happiness in your life, your job or your business. His purpose is to contribute to a happiness movement to help make the world a better place. Pretty powerful isn't it?? So is the rest of the book. READ IT!
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on July 6, 2012
Not your typical autobiography book. History of Zappos and some autobiography elements from Tony's life nicely woven into interesting story. And you get your share of "howto" in business culture and building business in general.

To me, most valuable part(s) of the book is story of building company culture and sense of belonging and connection to your job. The other one, maybe not so obvious, is how many times Tony's bussinesses were hanging on a brink of bankruptcy. Something you don't read about often and something that is very, very common. This story teaches you that if you want to succeed in what you are doing there's no giving up and it is not a walk in the park if you want to make big things.

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on June 2, 2010
Just received your book Tony, and I can't put it down! This is going to help a lot of people in their quest for greatness. I just want to thank you for putting what made you who you are in a book, to prove to people it is possible to live your dream, be happy, and pay the bills along the way.

Anyone who reads this. Do something selfless today. Deliver happiness to a stranger or loved one, no matter how small.
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* There's a lot to be said about the egregious executive structure and the ever-fluctuating state of the economy as it affects the working public, especially here in the United States. However, what is addressed and outlined here in these few pages by one of America's youngest and most successful corporate CEO's gives me reason to hope.

* Brief Overview
** Lessons Learned/ The Author's Transformation
*** Conclusion

** DELIVERING HAPPINESS: A PATH TO PROFIT, PASSION AND PURPOSE is essentially one man's journal entry from boyhood entrepreneurship to geo-centric, corporate executive icon. It is also the measure of his spiritual matriculation.

This is the remarkable story of Tony Hsieh (pronounced "Shay") and, later, people involved with the formation and participation in the day-to-day function of his latest company, Zappos.

Hsieh's rise was, by most accounts, rapid and unorthodox. (Perhaps, this was what was meant to be.) From his early recollection, Hsieh says of himself that he was instinctively goal-oriented in a way peculiarly different than the expectations set for him by his parents and the Asian-American community. Instead of newspaper routes, Hsieh by some unknown instinct was entertaining much bigger and, might I say, stranger business ideas like creating a worm farm. He looked at the logic of supply and demand (and, we're talking in his middle/ junior high school years now). This venture didn't prove to be what he anticipated, but it didn't deter him from exploring other potentially lucrative avenues, much to the chagrin of his parents.

One of the more successful projects he undertook worth mentioning here was a picture-button business he thought about after seeing an ad in the back of a boys' monthly magazine. What's special here is the fact that Hsieh wasn't only thinking about the nickel and dime profits associated with those selling merchandise for kiddie toys: he thought practically about the bottom line. After surmising that he could make an unlimited amount of sales through a mail order business, he devised a makeshift business model that was good enough for his parents to invest in and a magazine marketing department to allow his ad to run in its pages.

Some years later, while a student at Harvard, Hsieh was involved with several catering businesses, but most intriguing and instrumental to his later success was an incident involving one of his classes that he was about to fail in.

Hsieh was about to flunk a religion course that he failed to show up at since day one (how he managed to stay enrolled is a question that remains unanswered!) He discovered by chance the then-emerging social networking capabilities inherent in the internet. He created a discussion board using the pool of possible questions that would be drawn from to make the final exam. Over the course of a couple of days, to his surprise, he found people very passionate and very eager to be involve with any project that might enable them to share their interest. Aha! A light went off in Hsieh's head and it would prove to be one of the defining moments and a key in his later success.

Hsieh would graduate and take a job at Oracle in California, but would leave that job in a matter of months to start up a company with one of his Harvard friends who also took a position with Oracle. The move was risky, but by now, he was familiar with that feeling of certainty of success when it came upon him. This, believe it or not, was not the denouement for him, just its predecessor. The challenges both professionally and personally would occur some two years later when a start-up company with a funny name and its free-spirited and zealous employees risked bankruptcy.

*** Hsieh risked it all. He didn't have to. The employees of Zappos did the same. They, too, didn't have to. But, they needed to. There was something both Hsieh, the executives at his investment firm and the company of employees learned about the quality of belief. The belief in one's ability to meet any challenge. The belief in another's right to freely express their humanity without fear of discrimination. The belief in a vision of a healthy global economy. The belief in a free-market system that is both profitable and yet not unethical. All of this came about when this community of people, including Hsieh himself, was asked to sacrifice for a larger goal above their individual needs.

Do I think this book will change the corrupt corporate structure of executive compensation, foreign exploitation, disregard for natural resources and dwindling remunerations to local-based employees on the whole? No, but at least it's a start. It shows that you can have a corporate CEO that is both fiscally responsible and socially and ethically concerned. This story, indeed, serves as another example of individuals who are making a real, real difference. And that, for me, makes all the difference in the world.
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on December 4, 2012
Best book I have read so far on service. Shows you how to create great service and also motivates you to deliver great service. It's easy to fixate on the little bit crazy aspect, but none of their results could have been achieved without the basics: getting the orders out fast without any mistakes and great unsurpassed employee training.
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on July 25, 2011
I enjoyed the book as it provided insight into real life situations.
I was able to relate to the different things that went on and found some of the solutions to real problems both creative and enlightening.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is dreaming of starting a company to a seasoned CEO looking to keep his culture fresh.
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on May 28, 2015
This has to be one of the entrepreneur's staple diet reads. Tony Hsieh shares his business success stories in an easy to read style with credible advice on what makes a great company. If you are still unconvinced on how core values shape company culture and become operating principles for the entire organization, then you better get this wisdom from the master who's results prove the concept twice over.
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