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Book review: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and PurposeDelivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This isn’t your typical “follow these steps for business success” book. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, tells the story of his life (so far), with many lessons mixed in. I found Hsieh’s story as entertaining as many fictional stories I’ve read, and I felt enlightened and motivated by his insights on business and life. Hsieh explains how Zappos came to achieve its purpose: delivering happiness to employees, customers, and vendors. The main takeaway: experiences and relationships make people happier than money or things, so stop chasing money and chase your passion.

Hsieh showcases his intelligence, and I was struck by his knack for finding a plethora of business opportunities from childhood on. I admired his ability to remain focused on the long term despite many short-term setbacks.

Hsieh references two books that greatly influenced him: Good to Great and Tribal Leadership. It’s apparent that he worked hard to build his startups into great companies, and saw himself as the leader of the tribe in several social and business groups. I could tell that there’s a strong sense of team and family in the Zappos culture. The book contains many anecdotes and stories from Zappos employees, which provide a picture into life at Zappos, but I thought distracted from Hsieh’s first-person account.

The end of the book talks about scientific research into happiness, and summarizes several happiness frameworks. The first framework says that happiness depends on 4 factors: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (the number and depth of friendships), and vision or meaning (a higher purpose; being part of something bigger than oneself).

The second framework is based on Maslow’s hierarchy, and explains that once people’s basic needs are met, they derive happiness from intangibles such as recognition. The third framework says that happiness comes from pleasure, passion, and purpose, in ascending order of the length of happiness they bring.

Notes
Throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks, improvise, and make things happen.
It’s OK to “change tables”; to change your focus, business model, industry, or target market.
Form many, deep friendships; not business connections. Friendships often lead to business opportunities.
Never outsource your core competency.
Look at each customer interaction as a branding opportunity, not an expense.
Your company culture is your brand.
There’s no such thing as luck; only being open to opportunities.



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