Article by: MaryEllen | Sunday, June 1, 2014

A guide to success, without success being the goal in mind.

When many businesses first start up, one of the most important questions is how to be successful; questions are asked about products and services, employees, profits, and many other things.  However, in his book Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, explains the perfect way of finding all of these things, without actually worrying about those few details.  Hsieh describes ways to build and change a company, without losing sight of why the company began in the first place.

Co-founder of LinkExchange, which sold to Microsoft in 1999 for $265 million, Hsieh uses this book to lay out his interest in business, from the time he was a very young child.  It is amazing that he achieved so much when he was so young, but after reading this book, it becomes clear that he is a natural businessman.  Hsieh was interested in building companies, and often grew bored with each adventure.  This has everything to do with the way he ended up running Zappos, and why he feels so strongly about the way he does business.

He wrote this book on his own, without the help of a ghostwriter, in an effort to stay personal.  But you wouldn’t know that he was not a writer first.  He has done a phenomenal job of putting this book together in such a way that it is easy to forget that this is his first book, and that he did it alone.  There are plenty of moments of seriousness, with other instances of comic relief, and the whole book flows very well.

The book is broken down into three parts: ‘Profits’, ‘Profits and Passion’, and ‘Profits, Passion, and Purpose.’  That may seem repetitive, but the stories from the many different perspectives make it an easy read and keep you as a reader interested.  In each section, he dives into the subjects deeper than in the last, and provides his views on the topics as they changed over time.  Hsieh describes his experiences and mistakes and how he has learned from them.  But do not misunderstand; this is not an instruction manual on how to avoid the mistakes he made and become successful.  He does not say, “Here is how to achieve your goals,” but instead includes stories from friends and employees, excerpts from other sources, as well as information from the Zappos handbook. These factors transform the book from instructive to a narrative that just so happens to have a very useful lesson.

His approach to business is very different by some standards; he has chosen to focus on pleasing customers, and believes that if they are happy, word will spread.  With this philosophy, he has not had to worry about spending much on advertising or using cheap tricks to impress customers.  Instead, he focuses on something he calls “WOW”, and uses this to make customers happy. When they are happy, they want to come back, ultimately making him happy.

His emphasis on personal relationships with employees and buyers makes his lesson applicable to many situations.  Hsieh believes in forming friendships with those around you, and that by having such strong bonds, there will be benefits professionally.  Many times, he spoke of the staff as a family, and never spoke of his employees as though they were below him. He told stories of hiring new employees and including their opinions on company culture in the interviews.  He believes that if someone would not fit in personally, it would be much harder for them to fit in professionally.  This attitude can be applied by readers outside of work, which makes this book even more interesting.  The fact that it is a business book about happiness and relationships makes it easier to read and more fascinating to a wider audience.

Whether you are looking to start a new company, improve a company’s success, or simply learn about new and unique ways of doing business, Delivering Happiness is both informative and entertaining.  It is personal and professional, and there is a lot to be learned from Hsieh and his many experiences.


Get your copy of Delivering Happiness HERE.