Book Thoughts — Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

If someone asked me about my favorite fantasy books, I would give a couple of names without any hesitation. But if someone asked what would be the best book that I have read about business, I might have to think a bit, since I have read so many biographies and business related books and liked most of them in different ways. From all those books I have read so far Delivering Happiness is one of the best business books that I have really enjoyed reading.

One thing I really liked about this book is Tony’s writing style. Tony has mentioned that he wanted to write this book by himself without having a ghost writer because he wanted the writing to reflect how he normally speaks. Tony’s writing style makes us closer to his life, his thinking process and it makes us easy to understand the theoretical aspect of the business as well. Rather than throwing out jargons and big words, he explains everything in a simple way of writing that anyone can understand.

I am a firm believer of cultural values of a company. I always think that becoming a good paymaster would not be sufficient to expect a loyal and diligent service from employees. If all employees only expects a monetary value for their service it would feel like working with robots, hence it would be much easy to make them happy and pursue organizational goals. Unfortunately, we work with humans and their motivational factors for their lives vary for one another.

In this book, Tony explains two factors for the success of his company; make Zappos’ employees happy and make Zappos’ customers happy. Giving the best customer service for your customers is essential for survival and retain customers in the long run. Also building a good culture within the company is a necessity to provide a better customer service. When the employees are happy they will eventually make sure that their customers will also be happy. Many organizations don’t invest on customer care, thinking it won’t have a direct impact on the ROI in their business. But they are the employees who represent the company to the customers and they have the power to retain a customer or make them discontinue the product or service within seconds.

Even though these good practices sound obvious, living up to it seems really hard and most companies are not willing to sacrifice their big budgets to invest on their employees and customer care due to various reasons. Hence struggle on customer satisfaction and KBIs such as employee retention, creativity, innovation, communication and internal politics.

There are valuable insights inside this book on how to build a better culture in your company and how to apply the core values of happiness into business and run the company with profits, passion, and purpose. This is a good read for everyone who is passionate about business startups and cultural values of a companies.

Some takeaways from Tony’s story:

“Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.”
“I’d realized that whether in poker, in business, or in life, it was easy to get caught up and engrossed in what I was currently doing, and that made it easy to forget that I always had the option to change tables. Psychologically, it’s hard because of all the inertia to overcome. Without conscious and deliberate effort, inertia always wins. I’d started to force myself to think again about what I was trying to get out of life. I asked myself what I was trying to accomplish, what I wanted to do, and whether I should be sitting at a different table.”
“Our core values should always be the framework from which we make all of our decisions…Make at least one improvement every week that makes Zappos better to reflect our core values. The improvements don’t have to be dramatic — it can be as simple as adding in an extra sentence or two to a form to make it more fun, for example. But if every employee made just one small improvement every week to better reflect our core values, then by the end of this year we will have over 50,000 small changes that collectively will be a very dramatic improvement compared to where we are today.”
“Think about what it means to improve just 1% per day and build upon that every single day. Doing so has a dramatic effect and will make us 37x better, not 365% (3.65x) better, at the end of the year. Wake up every day and ask yourself not only what is the 1% improvement I can change to make Zappos better, but also what is the 1% improvement I can change to make myself better personally and professionally. In the end we, as Zappos, can’t grow unless we, as individuals, grow too.”

P.S. Thanks Fathhi for lending me this book.