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).