Book Review: Delivering Happiness

Book Title: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Author:  Tony Hsieh
Overall Rating:  4/5
Format:  Audiobook (Audible)
Narrated by:  Tony Hsieh
Length:  8 Hours 17 Minutes
Key takeaway:  Everything in life ultimately comes down to happiness.  If you can deliver that, you will succeed.


Delivering Happiness isn’t designed as a set of instructions on becoming successful, but to encourage others to create their own path to success.  Although this isn’t a detailed history of Zappos or a complete autobiography of Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay), you learn quite a bit about each one.  Tony is upfront about writing the book himself and not using a ghostwriter, and I’m glad he did.  I love the style and perspective in which the book is written.  Zappos was certainly not an “overnight success.”  It took a lot of work, risk, and persistence to get it through several tough times that could have easily led to its demise.  Tony is very open with his failures and mistakes along the way.  You quickly realize he was determined to be a successful and happy entrepreneur.  It is important to note after he sold LinkExchange to Microsoft, he was set to make $40 million by simply staying at Microsoft for a full year.  He decided he wasn’t happy working there and it wasn’t worth it; he left millions of dollars on the table rather than continuing to do something he didn’t enjoy.  That says a lot.


Zappos has figured out 10 core values that really work for the company

The book goes into more detail about each of these values. Some may seem like every company should be following them out of common sense, and others are a little more…unique. I especially like number three.

  1. Deliver “wow” through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth in learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
Think about your company.  What would it look like if someone were to be given a tour?  At Zappos, you may see a popcorn machine, coffee machine dressed up as a robot in the lobby, aisle of cow bells, a makeshift bowling alley, employees dressed up as pirates, employees singing karaoke,  a nap room, a petting zoo, a hot dog social, a parade, an internal life coach (their own version of Tony Robbins), an opportunity to wear a crown, get your picture taken and put up next to Serena Williams or Gladis Knight, or witness bald and blue day, which is a challenge to all men shave their head bald.  Something tells me your company doesn’t come close to creating that kind of experience.  Sure, you probably aren’t in the business of giving company tours, but neither is Zappos; they’re an online retailer.  Just think of the type of culture a company must have for all that listed above to be possible.


Top 10 Ways to Instill Customer Service into your company
  1. Make customer service a priority for the whole company, not just a department
  2. Make “wow” a verb
  3. Empower and entrust your customer service reps
  4. Realize it’s ok  to fire customers who are insatiable or abuse employees
  5. Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to upsell, and don’t use scripts
  6. Don’t hide your 1-800 number
  7. View each call as an investment
  8. Have the entire company celebrate great service.  Tell stories of “wow” experiences to everyone in the company
  9. Find and hire people who are already passionate about customer service
  10. Give great service to everyone – customer, employees, and vendors
I love Tony’s personality and how he really seems to have fun.  He talks about a prank in the book that I absolutely love: one of his former bosses used to heat water in the microwave for tea, but would go back to his office and wouldn’t wait the three minutes for it to heat up.  One day Tony turned it off as soon as he left. The boss came back and thought he forgot to turn it on, so it started it again.  Tony turned it off again.  When the boss returned the second time, he muttered something about the microwave being broken.  He tried one last time and set it for five minutes.  When he came back, he yelled “What is this” – Tony had turned it off again and replaced the water with ice


Other Good Takeaways

  • Tony was very open about his successes – and his failures.  While to an outsider it may look like Zappos was an “overnight” success, it’s fascinating to hear how close Zappos was to going out of business on numerous occasions.
  • At the end of the book, Tony discusses “Positive Psychology.”  While I haven’t heard that term, I’ve heard of studies related to the concept.  I am very interested in learning more about this.
  • Every employee goes over exact same hiring process – and no matter your job to start with two weeks of answering phones/customer service
  • “To become really good, you need to live it and sleep it”
  • The longest-lasting type of happiness is higher purpose – being a part of something bigger than yourself

Simple, but Effective Ideas

  • Learn by doing
  • Have fun
  • Read books
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
  • Be nice and make friends
  • Treat others as you’d like to be treated
  • Experiences are much better than material things
Tony went from a failed worm farmer to the CEO of a billion-dollar company.  That’s pretty good progress if you ask me!  This was the first book I’ve read about customer service, and it was certainly a good place to start!  Tony and I seem to share a similar sense of humor, which helped me relate even more to the book.

The Downside

About the only thing I didn’t care for in this book was that parts of the book went into too much detail about little things for me; these seemed to drag on at times.

Who I Recommend This For

You don’t have to be a top executive to benefit from this book.  If you or your company have any kind of interaction with customers, I recommend this for you.  Even if you are happy with the way things are going right now, there is always something you can improve on.  Delivering Happiness encourages you to think outside the box and find new ways of doing things.  This is an easy-to-read book that just may give you some fresh ideas of your own.

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