Delivering Happiness - by Tony Hsieh

“Great companies are about more than making money.” In the end, life is really all about the people, and this is an interesting study in one of the greatest coporate culture stories in recent history. Tony came up selling earthworms, got into raver culture, got rich on his first company, and then almost bankrupted himself building Zappos. Can be a bit culty sometimes, but if you’re into the subject matter, it’s worthwhile nonetheless.

Raw Notes

Started with selling earthworms. Scrappy- sold buttons. Always wanted to make a lot of money. Into computer science.

Always thought outside the box. Tried to do as little work as possible. Negotiated not going to classes if still did well in classes. Recorded himself and played it back to get rid of playing instruments.

Sometimes the truth alone isn’t enough. Presentation just as important. Wrongfully accused of stealing lunch card.

Having fun in the office- replacing water in the microwave with ice.

LinkExchange: Couldn’t come up with a long list of things to do if he sold. He was already excited about his job. So decided not to sell.

Learned how important company culture is. Not in it for the company, but to make money. Decided to sell the company for $265M, $40M for Tony, $8 extra if he stayed a year. Vest in Peace.

When am I enjoying life? What makes me happy? There will never be another 1999, so what are you doing about it? Walked away from the money.

Played a lot of poker. There’s a lot of parallels to business. Table selection is key in poker; in business, picking the right business to be in.

Got bored with poker, then started to dabble. Invested in movies, weird companies, day trading, etc. Lost a lot of money.

Having a tribe is the most important thing. Decided to buy a loft, as a gift to his tribe. Having relationships and experiences more important than possessions. Rave culture is PLUR = peace, love, unity, respect.

“Envision, create, and believe in your own universe, and the universe will form around you.”

Tribe faded as partying got old. Some people went to go find their passions.

Almost all investments in the fund died- only Zappos survived, and was largest return. Turns out investing is like a portfolio play. Tried to raise a second fund… nobody interested. Decided to prove he could do it again, and join Zappos.

“To dare is lose ones footing momentarily, to not dare is to lose oneself” - Kierkegaard

Almost out of money. Decided to buy inventory. Needed: 1. Build buying team 2. Convince brands to sell to them 3. Update website to not just drop ship 4. Get a warehouse, shipping, and staff 5. Open a brick and mortar store 6. Get money to buy inventory 7. Few month timeline

Sold party loft for the extra money, at 40% loss.

Great companies are about more than making money. Decided to make the brand about customer service. Had to put their money where their mouth was, and turn off the profitable but terrible customer experience drop ship business.

Naturally created the culture-book, as a result of a convo with a new hire at a bar.

Bezos’ “Things I know” List:
- Obsess over customers
- Invent (don’t fall into either-or trap; get both)
- Think long term (5-7 years)
- It’s always day 1… you’re never done

4 Parts of Happiness:
- Perceived Control
- Perceived Progress
- Connectedness/Relationships
- Meaning/Purpose

Chip’s book Peak collapses Maslow’s hierarchy as:
- Customers: Meets Expectations => Meets Desires => Meets Unrecognized Needs
- Employees: Money => Recognition => Meaning
- Investors: Transaction Alignment => Relationship Alignment => Legacy

3 types of Happiness: Pleasure < Passion < Purpose

Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself

Hiring people who already live core values is most important part of building the right culture. Interview questions:
- How lucky are you?
- How weird are you?
- Pay people to leave after orientation if not a fit