Monday, June 7, 2010

Delivering Happiness:: Zappos CEO's new book:: And a CONTEST!

Hey everybody!

I once heard a story about how a customer service employee at Zappos sent a customer flowers when she asked if she could return a pair of shoes belonging to her deceased husband.

If you know anything about how I run Benfield Photography, you'll know that this came as such encouragement to me: if a company focused on service and relationships (instead of just on killer product), it could thrive. I was immediately interested in learning more about Zappos, and Tony Hsieh ("Shay"), its CEO. Months after this obsession began--okay, maybe obsession is a bit strong-- I learned that Hsieh just finished writing a book. Better yet, as a daily blogger who occasionally reviews business books, I had a chance to get an advanced copy of the book: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

I don't like writing book reviews like everybody else does. They use fancy words, teasers that tell you nothing, and are typically overly-dramatic. I'm going to be real, real, and real. Hope you don't mind. ;)

Probably the best way to start is by saying that Tony and I should be/could be best friends. We have many of the same core values, and he's pretty entertaining. I didn't expect to be laughing out loud reading a business book, but it kept happening and kept happening. [if you buy and read this book, my biggest laughing fit came during the cup of ice story] Additionally, his first example of crowdsourcing by compiling exam final essays was not only hilarious, but also it gave a clear picture how his brilliant little mind works.

Next, I want to list some of the super quotes I found through the reading of Delivering Happiness:
1) Presentation of the truth is just as important as the truth.
2) Marketers should be focused on creating engagement and trust.
3) **in the photo industry, this one really stands out, and is long but worth it** "If we want to continue to stay ahead of our competition, we must continually keep them guessing. Others can copy our images, our shipping, and the overall look of our Web site, but they cannot copy our people, our culture, or our service." Meredith have told this to so many people in the past few years; it was nice to see him say it so eloquently.
4) Any one who wants to compete with us has to learn the same things, so problems are just mile markers.
5) If it ever gets too easy, start looking for a tidal wave of competition to wash us away.
6) For individuals, character is destiny; For organizations, culture is destiny.
7) Never outsource your core competency
8) The ENTIRE multi-page section on how poker lessons that can be brought to the business world: (Act weak when strong, act strong when weak. Know when to bluff). Kind of brilliant.

In addition to these gems, there is a world of information on how Zappos is run, as well as on how Hsieh develops creative solutions to problems. For example, in dealing with a logistics/shipping problem in their Kentucky warehouse, the gang decided to start a second warehouse and create a competition between the two for full distribution rights, giving the failing warehouse a chance at redemption and creating and developing the best long-term solution for the company. Another example that shows how Zappos functions (in a very entertaining way), is a prank call to the customer loyalty (service) team, made by an inebriated Tony and friends who wanted to order a pizza for delivery: the confused employee (not knowing Tony was behind it) showed off her masterful training in such a way that made Zappos proud. **On a side note, what would YOU do in the same situation as the employee?

Lastly, Hsieh unveils his quest for pure and total happiness, becoming a scholar along the way. The lessons he learned in business and life along the way to creating a company with $1B in annual sales lead to his pursuit of happiness, making the realization that higher purpose and meaning is invaluable to a one's long-lasting happiness. Obviously, he goes into much more detail on this, as well as his process, but I've already written enough for one day.

If you want to read more, buy the book here, or enter my contest for a brand-spanking-new copy of Delivering Happiness. It's easy. Just email me or leave a comment about

WHAT IS HAPPINESS TO YOU????!!!!!!

(for me, it's Saved by the Bell reruns, a perfectly cooked steak, and road trips).
I'll announce the winner on Friday.
Talk to you soon,
Dale

P.S. Yes, that's Ashton Kutcher, who also got an advanced copy.

P.P.S. No, you don't win him too.

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