The world recently lost a pioneer of company culture, the shoe industry, web advertising, and a gentle soul. Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos, will be remembered for the happiness he delivered to so many people, including me.
Our family was not only happy ordering shoes from Zappos, we were incredulous at the free shipping and the 365-day free return policy. In 2010, the Ironman leadership group I’m a part of, devoured Tony’s NY Times bestseller, Delivering Happiness. Those arly morning discussions lead to innovations in our personal, business, and church cultures.
Tony’s 2009 Zappos Culture Book is one of only ten books I have handy on my shelf.
What I Learned From Tony Hsieh
1. Discover the one thing you are passionate about.
Realizing your passion is important, because it makes all the decisions that follow easy. Always remember what you are aiming for, your ultimate goal.
2. Take things slow. Rapid development can be counterproductive.
Ensure every person on your team shares your vision and wants to be a part of the culture you’ve created. Short-term sacrifices to protect culture and stick to core values are a long-term benefit.
3. Success is closely tied to your culture, so focus on creating one that you believe in.
Connectedness, and feeling like part of a tribe makes people happy and creates a sense of fulfillment. When a group of people feels connected, like a family, there is a strong sense of obligation to the whole team, to work harder and treat each other better. However, simply feeling connected is not enough. Your team should also have a shared purpose and shared passions.
4. Strive to be always learning, and make it a priority for your team as well.
Create a culture that fosters both personal and professional development. Build an office library, offer classes for developing new skills, take on new challenges. Help your team feel their work is part of a greater purpose, and that learning, growth and the ability to adapt are not only allowed, but appreciated.
5. Choose one thing you want to be the best at and focus on that thing.
Tony Hsieh and the Zappos team decided that customer satisfaction and creating a WOW experience was the one thing they wanted to become great at. They wanted to focus on extraordinary customer service, and on delivering happiness to people. If there’s something you want to be a leader in, extend it throughout your team.
6. Don’t focus on building buzz around your brand, but rather build engagement and trust by treating people well.
Put effort into doing what you do best. When you’re doing something that naturally creates interesting stories, people will want to get in on the action and talk about it. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Because Zappos went above and beyond to WOW their customers, buzz was naturally generated around their brand, and they received a great deal of attention for it.
7. Your vision of a higher purpose generates an outcome of happiness.
Even though Zappos was a shoe business by technicality, that’s not the real thing they sold. Their higher purpose was making people happy by delivering great customer service, and WOWing people by going above and beyond their expectations.
Ultimately, happiness is what everyone is looking for in life, and a team can be successful by finding ways to make people, and partners happy. Achieve happiness through extraordinary service and a culture that is uniquely healthy.
Hope grows here. You’ll find stories that inspire, build faith, and offer lasting purpose.
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