Delivering Happiness: Inside the Mind of Zappos’ Tony Hsieh

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I first met Tony Hsieh a little over a year ago…

Jenn Lim, Tony’s friend and “backup brain” was in NYC and had asked to film an interview with me for a project they were working on. About halfway through filming, Tony walked over and sat down next to Jenn, wearing a t-shirt with a zipper hoodie and jeans. He sat quietly and, after the interview, we talked for a little while about what’s important in business, life and traded ideas on the health and fitness industry.

Tony’s an interesting guy. I’d heard him speak a bunch of times before and was always fascinated by his “regular guy” on-stage persona. At first, I wondered if it was just his shtick, but the more I heard him and came to know his approach to business and life, the clearer it became that what I was seeing was largely just Tony being, well, Tony.

Very unassuming, low-key when you first meet him, yet it’s pretty clear that he’s fiercely intelligent, quest-driven and curious. Very curious. Which I, in turn, found curious. Because a lot of guys sitting atop a company soon to be sold to amazon in a deal valued at more than $1 billion dollars lose that sense of genuine curiosity, the notion that every other person at every level can add to your knowledge base and experience of business and life.

I sense a big part of what’s made Tony so successful is this quest for knowledge and openness to the idea that those who might serve as sources of knowledge, insight and experience can and do come from all walks of life, all levels of education and all socio-economic backgrounds.

Pedigree is not a prerequisite to contribution.

And, in his new book, Delivering Happiness, you get a deeper look into how that curiosity and willingness to stand with rather than above those who’d eventually help build his empire formed what he views as the essence of success.

It’s not about the product, systems, logistics, branding or positioning, but rather culture.

Actually, it IS about all these things, but the culture and the mission define how each of these elements is brought to life. Delivering Happiness is chock full of business nuggets, but it’s not a heavily tactical book. It’s not a how-to book, full of checklists and strategies (there are some), but rather a look at the bigger picture core drivers.

You won’t learn to write copy, set up a marketing funnel, design systems or persuade customers to buy. But, you will learn how to focus on the deeper stuff that lays the foundation for doing all those things on a level that drives cult-like loyalty, evangelism and eventually, success on a much larger scale.

And, to me, that’s worth many times the price of the book,

Book Giveaway:

Tony’s crew actually sent me two advance copies of Delivering Happiness. One to read and review, and another to give away. So, in the spirit of the book, here’s how you can be eligible to win my extra copy….

Before Friday at 12pm EDT, go out and deliver up some happiness.

Get creative, it can little or big, touch one person or thousands. Whatever floats your boat. Do something to make someone else happy, then come back and share your “Happiness Delivery” in the comments. I’ll then pick a winner based entirely on my massively subjective, biased (but not buyable, well…) opinion and ship my extra copy to you. Just remember to circle back and share your efforts in the comments before Friday at 12pm EDT.

[FTC Disclosure – In case you didn’t get it from the fact that I said I was given both copies of the book…I was given both copies of the book. Didn’t pay a dime. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. And, I was asked to share my honest opinion about it. I should also probably disclose that Tony’s company sells shoes…and I wear shoes. But, I’m not looking for shoes in exchange for this review (size 11), nor would I ever sell my opinion (Teva Itunda) simply as a means to try to get (2-day air) something I’m not entitled to. Just wanted that (a card would be nice too) to be clear.]

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20 responses

20 responses to “Delivering Happiness: Inside the Mind of Zappos’ Tony Hsieh”

  1. I encouraged a total stranger to go take a NLP training and just this second got an email of thanks that said (among other things):

    “I am going to stop thanking you all the time cause I know that can get annoying but I just want to thank you one more time. I know to you it was just a casual meeting one sunday afternoon but to me it was the opening of doors and I just really wanna make sure you know that.”

    He’s halfway through his first training and I was simply jazzed to get that note. How fortuitous that you’ve provided a place to share it! Anyways, getting that already made today great – books are good too though 😉

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Melanie Phung, shelleyadelle and others. shelleyadelle said: New Post from @jonathanfields- Delivering Happiness […]

  3. […] Johathan Fields says: “in his new book, Delivering Happiness, you get a deeper look into how that curiosity […]

  4. Scott says:

    Hi Jonathan –

    I delivered happiness by letting go of a current employee because the role in my company did not suit his skill set or talents. He’s very creative and methodical. The position in my company was only using his abilities around 20% of the time.

    So I decided to sit him down and discuss this with him. I will still use him and in virtual position to allow him to work from home. He was happy with this decision to be able to telecommute and it allows him to work on other projects that suit his God-given abilities.


  5. Dee's Music says:

    Your article is great.. and who doesn’t want to hear behind the scenes of the wildly successful Zappo? But the reason I’m commenting is because of your “FTC Disclosure” THAT is the funniest thing I’ve read in a loooong time. Handsdown! LOL

    I got to the ‘size 11’ and started cracking up.. and continued on and can’t stop chuckling. 🙂

  6. Kenny says:

    So do you have any recommendations of books that would help me learn to write copy, set up a marketing funnel, design systems or persuade customers to buy?
    I’ll probably read “Delivering Happiness” too 🙂


  7. JP says:

    Nice review… I also have some books to give away:

  8. caitlyn says:

    You have just changed someone’s week – and it isn’t mine particularly – although I almost died laughing at your disclaimer. Having watched Tony speak, I wouldn’t be surprised if you get the shoes you’re after … maybe with a bill just to keep you honest!

    Anyway, I’ve lived in my house for 4 years. Every year I get a property tax notice for the rural property the previous owners have in a very nice part of the province. Nice enough that if I weren’t creating my own reality I could be bitter that I don’t own property there – with access to the ocean.

    The previous owners of my house live one block away. When the occasional bit of stray mail comes our way, I walk it down & put it in their mail slot. This year, I have usually included a cheery note to remind them to change their address with whomever. For property tax, however, I didn’t like feeling responsible for remembering to walk it down the road since it is time-limited for paying without penalty. It arrives, like now, 3 weeks before pay day, but 2 weeks before write the cheque & mail it day. So, I’ve been writing little notes since year one!

    This morning, I decided I would return to sender so things would get sorted out. If I get it in the mail early enough today, there may still be time to pay without penalty, I reasoned. (Although, we are now all aware that this may not be enough time.)

    Well, I am going to spread the happiness … I will walk down the street today and put it in their mail slot – and it won’t matter if it’s early enough in the day or not. I will include a cheerful card with a ladybug on it and invite them to come see the revamp we’ve done on their beautiful garden (we had to replace the sewer line and everything got torn up) and invite them in for tea in the renovated kitchen.

    Not only will I deliver happiness, but your contest has helped me act from my best self. And, I’ll even let them read the book (after I’ve previewed it for suitability, of course!)

    🙂 Caitlyn

  9. Jimmyj says:

    Ok, after reading this post my daughter of four years old fell down off her bike outside and skinned her knee pretty bad. She was very upset and I picked her up brought her inside, cleaned the wound and bandaged it up. I told her everything was okay and asked if it felt better now? She looked up at me with a tear strewn face and nodded her head, touched her band aid, then looked back at me with a very large smile. That made my day more than words can express. That smile from my four year old daughter.

  10. Hey good one Jonathan ha ha ha that disclaimer. I already gave my book away guys should have came over to “fun lifestyle” when I had it. You gotta read this book its the best I’ve read all year, along with Rework.

    The entire first chapter had me laughing so much…really personal but also useful.

  11. Adam inspiring people says:

    It seems the really wealthy people of the world that have started businesses are always motivated on a constant quest for knowledge. Most have the philosophy that the day you stop learning is the day you stop living. There is so much to discover in our crazy world.

  12. Krisenkindt says:

    One of my favourite quotes is by Michel de Montaigne, and it says “The only real proof for wisdom is happiness”. 🙂

    Now I personally love that quote because I have unbreakable happiness, that goes far enough to annoy people at times (such as at 6am on a hung over sunday, or when I try to tell people the good in airplane delays, unfriendly waiters, etc…) But there is also a lot of truth in it, as wisdom is not knowledge. But rather the intuition and judgement you gained from living curiously, awake and open to anything… at least in my non-native-english-speaker defnition 😉

    The book definitely sounds interesting!! Thanks for the tip!
    Uhm, I hope I didnt go to far off topic now… 😀

  13. Melissa K says:

    What did I do to deliver happiness? Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. For two years now, we’ve been working on Project 2013: by 2013, we want both to release ourselves from full-time employment because we are spending too many hours on making money, and not enough hours with people we love and doing things that make a difference. We figure there must be a better way to do this without becoming a beggar. Two weeks ago, a friend suddenly passed away. It made me realise that 2013 is not good enough: we need to spend the time with people we love NOW and do things that make a difference NOW. So for his birthday, I got him a trip to follow (and ride part of) the Tour de France. Tomorrow may never come; deliver happiness today.

  14. […] PDRTJS_settings_409814_post_14213 = { "id" : "409814", "unique_id" : "wp-post-14213", "title" : "Reading+about+Delivering+Happiness%3A+Inside+the+Mind+of+Zappos%E2%80%99+Tony+Hsieh", "item_id" : "_post_14213", "permalink" : "" } Delivering Happiness: Inside the Mind of Zappos’ Tony Hsieh. […]

  15. Michelle says:

    I’ve been working on happiness for awhile now. One of the things I’ve discovered is that happiness can be found in stringing happy moments together. Yesterday I assisted in delivering one of those moments. My 13 year old son has been begging me for a pet bunny. It’s the last thing our house needs. I’m sure every parent goes through this. I know I certainly wanted a pet everything as a child, including a monkey. But we currently have a golden retriever, a cat and two goldfish and I really don’t want to add another animal. Finally I relented to my son’s pleas (I’m weak). I told my son, who had his heart set on a blue bunny from a major pet store, that my suggestion (other than he care for the bunny) was that we should get the bunny from a bunny rescue place and not a pet store. He found a rescue 30 minutes from our house. It was obvious the rescue we visited was a love mission out of control. It was operated out of a family’s farmhouse and they had over 400 rabbits. I felt bad taking only one. Needless to say, we left them an extra donation to help with their mission. I was happy we got to help at least one bunny. After we brought the bunny home, all 3 of my kids had friends over to celebrate “Bunny Day”—the day we found Miss Butterscotch. The smiles on their faces as they held and played with the bunny were priceless. My 13 year old-sometimes moody-going through changes-and trying to find himself-son in particular was full of smiles and happiness and love. As he and I sat on his bedroom floor with the bunny late into the evening, talking and laughing and bonding, I was thankful for that moment of happiness and thankful that I was sharing it with him. I know changes are ahead and now I savor each moment with him. As I went to bed that night I was also very thankful that I relented and allowed this bunny to come into our lives. Such a small creature has brought such happiness to my children in just one day. The bunny has also given my son something he can think of as “his own” to care for as he paid for everything with money he has saved and has the responsibility for its care. He told me that when I let him pick out his own clothes when we go shopping that I am allowing him to express his freedom, something which is so important to him as a teenager. I suppose that he was seeking the same thing with this bunny—an expression of freedom. This bunny is one of our “moments” of happiness—the time I sat on my son’s bedroom floor with him was a time I wasn’t worried or stressing about anything. We were merely “being”. Being happy, being present and being loved. In allowing my son this freedom, we both found happiness.

  16. Hey Jonathan. Loved the disclosure too. You’re making that a bit of a trademark lately!

    My Happiness Delivery was this: A little while back I took part in a contest around a book on music success (Ok, I actually won the contest) and the author asked me to do a short guest post to help promote round two of the contest.

    I overdelivered in a huge, outrageous way… I just wrote a post that would make me want to buy the book and take part in the contest even if I weren’t a musician. I’m pretty sure it will make her happy – well, she seems to be a happy person anyway, but still.

  17. Paula D. says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I know it’s past Friday to enter the contest, but I still want to comment. My Happiness Delivery happened this last weekend when I was able to make a whole bunch of people happy with our annual La Honda Fair. I didn’t do it alone and it felt really good to make the community happy with great music, arts and lots and lots of fun.

    Happiness Delivery on a big scale.

  18. […] You’ve got to focus on what type of culture you want to build within your organization. Same way Tony Hsieh focused on culture as a driving force in building Zappos.  The culture becomes a core driver of your business’ success and if its not built right – […]

  19. […] You’ve got to focus on what type of culture you want to build within your organization. Same way Tony Hsieh focused on culture as a driving force in building Zappos.  The culture becomes a core driver of your business’ success and if its not built right – […]

  20. […] got to focus on what type of culture you want to build within your organization. Same way Tony Hsieh focused on culture as a driving force in building Zappos.  The culture becomes a core driver of your business’ success and if its not built right […]