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Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh

A few weeks ago I traveled to Las Vegas for the HP Technology Forum 2010 show, and as usual, got suckered into buying a few books at the airport shops in Newark, NJ.  (Those prices are really outrageous, but it just goes to show how much “location, location, location” is part of the profit equation).

One of the books I bought is entitled “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos.com, an online shoe retailer that is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com), a fascinating summary of events that lead from Tony’s earliest entrepreneurial childhood memories to how he turned Zappos into a billion-dollar company in about eight years.  (The other book is “Crush it” which sounded interesting and I’m still trying to finish… more on that later.)

I’ll tell you upfront that I’m a pushover for these types of books where you are given some insight into the “hows” and “whys” behind a successful person in almost any field.  (Except sports — I just can’t find anything interesting in reading about sports.  Either you are playing it or you are watching it.)  The book is an easy read, and didn’t last longer than the five-or-so hours spent in the airplane.  Note: it’s not meant to be a fully-engineered plan to achieve success in a new startup — anyone criticizing the book for being overly-simplified and misleading is asking too much from a 253-page book that never delves into very much detail.

There’s a fairly quick build-up in the first third of the book, going from birth to the college years (humorous), then another third of the book where Tony talks about his success with LinkExchange (interesting), and then the final third about the struggles to build Zappos.com (insightful).

The last chapter is interactive and meant to direct the audience to think about the meaning of happiness — somewhat thought-provoking if you’ve got a few more minutes to burn.

All in all, a fun read with a dash of inspiration and soul-searching thrown in.  Well worth the time spent and exactly what I was hoping for.  I am inspired to try out some of the Zappos ideas in my own life and career (stay tuned).

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  • Teresa July 7, 2010, 3:23 pm

    Oh thanks for the review! I haven’t read the book yet, but was trying to decide whether I would or not. Now I think I will – but maybe when I finally get an ebook reader of some sort (my house is already stuffed full of books and I don’t really need more of them – LOL). As a company I love Zappos – great great customer experiences with them. He created an excellent company.

    You may be interested to know that Investors Business Daily generally has a short article every day about people who have done well in business. Some are sports stars, but they generally were also into some other money making endeavor outside the sports arena. And they are short enough to glean a few tips once in a while and even learn about a person you may never have heard of who did something terrific.

  • mike July 7, 2010, 5:43 pm

    Have you seen the giant price drop of the Kindle? You can get it new for $189 now, and refurbished $139.

    However, just last week I found a Kindle app for my Android phone. The screen is a bit small, but I think I’m going to give it a shot soon… Otherwise, I do have major Kindle lust.

  • Teresa July 8, 2010, 3:25 pm

    I have seen the price drop, but also have seen the kindle itself (of that size). I was rather disappointed at the screen being so small with the large keyboard at the bottom. The DX price just dropped and I was thinking about that but can’t quite make myself click through and buy it. The ipad is too new – it will be much better next year I think. I do have the kindle app on my iphone and it works very well. I like the ability to make the screen a more yellowish cast so it doesn’t glare (can’t remember what they call that). It’s why I’m considering waiting on the ipad 2nd gen with a kindle app I think it would be excellent. Not too wild about the ibook app on the ipod touch – it’s got some issues (probably needs faster processor than my ipod has available – LOL). I’m a gadget geek – but I like to wait until the bleeding edge is past. 😉

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