Tony Hsieh on Delivering Happiness [Video]

Apr 17, 2013 | Articles

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Tony Hsieh on Delivering Happiness [Video]
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When it comes to running a successful business, one of my role models is Tony Hsieh. I’ve watched countless interviews, speeches and read his book enough times to learn that it takes more than just selling a good product or service to become one of the greats. Tony Hsieh, is an internet entrepreneur and successful VC. He became the CEO of one of his investment projects, Zappos – which is now one of the world’s largest online shoe retailers, raking in $1-billion in sales annually. Prior to Zappos he also co-founded LinkExchange and when we wasn’t happy with what the company was becoming, he ended up selling it to Microsoft – for $265-million. It goes without saying that Tony Hsieh definitely knows what he’s talking about. He has taught me a lot about what it takes to build a successful company from the ground up and how to distinguish yourself from everybody else in today’s competitive market.

Hsieh believes that the number priority is company culture. If you get the culture right, everything else will happen naturally on its own. Creating corporate culture and paying attention to specific core values allows you to have a strong foundation and is a platform that makes everything else possible. Research has shown that there a few things that consistently separate great companies from good ones. The great ones make sure that employees are not only focusing on job performance, but are following core values as well.

At Zappos, some of the core values that Hsieh has implemented are being adventurous, open-minded and humble. He talks about the importance of not only clearly stating your company’s core values, but to really enforce them. A lot of companies use corporate culture and core values as a way to boost PR and that’s it. When they hire employees, they might read a list of core values or have a plaque on the wall, but at the end of the day nobody really believes in them and the message isn’t being spread across the company by upper management. Hseih’s approach to making sure Zappos follows its core values is different. During performance reviews, he actually emphasizes 50% on job performance and 50% on how well you are fitting in with the company. During the hiring process, Zappos has developed a series of tests to determine whether or not you are adventurous, whether you are open-minded to new ideas and whether you are humble or egotistical. Hsieh talks about flat out rejecting applicants simply on the basis of not representing just one of Zappos’ long list of core values.

It doesn’t matter what your core values are, but you really need to think about core values that your own company is willing to commit to. Sometimes, its easier to relate things back to your personal values, and build your company based on that foundation.

Another factor separating the great companies from the good ones is having a higher purpose. Companies should not only focus on being number 1 in market or having higher revenues/profits year after year. If money is your main motivator, you aren’t  going to be as successful as if you pursue something that you actually have passion for. Chase the vision, not the money because the money will follow. In 1999, Zappos set out to be the market leader in shoes. In 2009 they changed their focus not to delivering shoes, but to delivering happiness instead. Happiness is their higher purpose. Zappos aims to deliver happiness to everyone – their customers, their employees, and their vendors. They pride themselves in having exceptional customer service but they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing to try and tell people this. Instead, they invest in making their customers happy and rely on word of mouth to help grow their business. What will your business’ higher purpose be?

Check out Tony Hsieh’s informative speech at the WordofMouth.org Supergenius conference to learn more about building a company that’s not just good, but great: