The Email Technique Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Lives By

Tony Hsieh on life hacks, morning routines and what gives him energy.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Tony Hsieh: 1. Brainstorm for 15–30 minutes while still in bed. 2. Read for 30–60 minutes. 3. Make coffee.

TG: What gives you energy?
TH: I love brainstorming out of the box ideas.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
TH: When I wrote my book “Delivering Happiness,” I learned that one of the frameworks from the science of happiness was that happiness was really just about 4 things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of relationships), and being part of something bigger than yourself that has meaning to you. So I generally try to make decisions in life based on increasing at least one of (but ideally more than one of) those 4 things.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?TH: I use it as my alarm but I put it on silent so I’m not distracted by it while sleeping.

TG: How do you deal with email?
TH: I created a technique called yesterbox, where I only worry about the emails that came in yesterday, so there’s an actual end point and sense of completion (and sense of progress). You can learn more about the technique here: http://www.yesterbox.com/

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
TH: If it’s mid-afternoon and there’s a bed or couch available, I’d take a power nap :)

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
TH: I think I do a good job of not getting to that point. In general, if I notice I’m feeling less energetic or less motivated, I’ll take a break or move around or cancel meetings so I have time to myself to do something relaxing.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
TH: “Know thyself”

In 1999, Tony Hsieh sold LinkExchange, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $265 million and joined Zappos as an advisor and investor. He eventually became CEO, where he helped Zappos grow from almost no sales in 1999 to the multi-billion dollar company it is today. The company was acquired by Amazon in 2009 in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Tony currently lives in an Airstream on half a city block right in the middle of downtown Vegas, with his dog Blizzy and two pet alpacas who enjoy hanging out by the campfires every night.