Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness: A path to a successful values-based business



“The biggest vision would be to build the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service,” writes Tony Hsieh in his “Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose.” Hsieh refers to the early days when he and his team were still shaping the Zappos model in a market inundated by just shoe sellers. Financial challenges were also posing a threat to Zappos livelihood. How to survive the financial storm? How to make a difference? What model to follow? How to build a long lasting brand? Those questions led Hsieh to reflect on “WHY” they were doing what they were doing as he writes in his book. It started a process of looking at the same problem from a different perspective: Defining a long term vision, a higher purpose, of the company, higher and bigger than the company and its members. That statement had to embody the genuine dreams of all Zappos employees from the early days, beyond just making money and selling shoes online. Hsieh brightly tells how after 7 years of collective growth and learning a greater cause was defined “Zappos is about delivering happiness to the world”, not just rhetoric. The mission statement is a genuine commitment written in Zappos employee’s genes that does both challenge and inspire the quest for new standards in the bloody arena of customer service.
“Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose” summarizes the learning process that Hsieh and his team undertook to create core values and reach their dream of building an excellent customer service company in a very competitive market. Tony Hsieh himself started elaborating about the essential role of culture in Zappos. Culture was the full set of shared experiences and beliefs that bonded all employees and were vibrantly describe in their core values. With great clarity Hsieh would write an article for his blog titled “Your culture is your brand,” where he would remark Zappos employees the importance of creating a brand not around the obvious item they were selling—shoes but instead to create a brand around their sparkling passion for customer service. According to Hsieh, stressing culture became the new mantra for all employees. That is how Zappos systematically organize all that body of principles in what they call the “Culture Book.” The “Culture Book” is one of Zappos most precious assets and is the result of all employees’ contributions. It is designed to implement in a more practical level actions to reach the company’s vision.
Tony Hsieh’s book offers his recipe for delivering happiness: 1) Refining customer service: “Client receives correct item (meets expectations); 2) Free shipping (meets desires); and 3) Surprise upgrade to overnight shipping (meets unrecognized needs). These actions are the genuine expression of a greater cause and a strong set of values. Gross sales, from zero to more than a billion dollars per year, prove this novel approach both right and profitable. Hsieh, ultimately, makes his case “It turns out that we’re all taking different paths in pursuit of the same goal: happiness.” After reading the book you get the flavor that happiness is not anymore an unreachable abstraction shyly hidden in our mind. Happiness is the new paradigm that ignites our passion and it can be applied to business as well. “Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose” is an inspiring book. One of the most valuable Hsieh’s contributions is to define from a practical standpoint a values-based business: A new high standard of doing business that all new entrepreneurs should live by.

The book officially launches on June 7, 2010. More information about the book on http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com
They also have a copy giveaway program for bloggers: http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com/contact/apply-for-an-advance-copy/