In ‘Delivering Happiness’, Tony Hsieh tells the story of his company, Zappos, and demonstrates how long-term thinking and pursuing his passions generate not only profits but also a happy life for its employees, clients and himself. In this book, Tony describes an approach to creating a corporate culture focused on making people around him happy and thereby increasing their happiness.
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To build a great company, it is essential to find out what you love to do. This microbook is recommended for anyone interested in conducting a successful business and learning how a company focused on extraordinary customer service, employee happiness, and profitability can coexist. Let’s go?
Discovering What You Love To Do
In both life and business, you will inevitably come up against success and failure. But what matters is finding out the thing for which you are genuinely in love. Understanding your passion is important because it simplifies all the decisions you have to make. That allows you to always have a definite goal in mind.
For example, let’s say you are an entrepreneur who has been offered an excellent opportunity to sell your business. If you know you’re passionate about your business and love the satisfaction it gives you, the decision to decline offers is easy. A passion for what you do is more important than making lots of money doing things that you hate. That is why, first of all, you must decide if you will meet the challenge of stopping focusing on just the money and start pursuing your passion.
One way to find it is to venture into many different things to see what works. At the very least, these experiments will show you what you do not want to do. The more things you eliminate from your list, the more you will know about yourself and the easier it will be to find your real passion. The closer you get to find it, the less likely you are to go after wrong dreams.
Networking Or True Friendships?
For Tony Hsieh, you should stop worrying about the traditional networking concept. In a sense he uses, networking occurs when you just seek to meet more people pursuing business goals only. However, just meeting people is not enough. You need to grow and diversify your network of genuine friendships and deep relationships, where the relationship itself is win-win for both parties.
The more you can diversify your friendships, the more likely it is that you will achieve more prosperity and prosperous business opportunities in the future. That is a long-term challenge. You do not know what the fruit will reap, but the certainty is that they will magically appear in 2 to 3 years.
Beware of Speed!
Take it easy: Rapid growth can kill your company’s culture if the wrong people come in. Stay with employees who share your dream and seek true happiness, aligned with your business vision.
It’s exciting when your business grows fast: bursting sales, streaming investments, and newly hired employees almost every week. But beware of super growth. In fact, consider it a warning sign. Growing up fast can lead to hiring the wrong people, which, in turn, can destroy your company’s culture.
Regardless of how fast you need to hire more people, always take the time to weigh each hire carefully. Be very cautious and do not employ in a hurry. You must be sure that every person who joins your team shares your vision and wants to be part of the company culture that you have created.
Quick decisions about hiring new employees can cause damage to the company’s existing culture if new people are looking only for personal gain and career advancement in the short term. If you make these mistakes, one day you will find that you no longer enjoy working with your company or the people who are part of it.
Tony Hsieh, in his first company, went through this. On the LinkExchange, there was such rapid growth that he did not know some people working in his office. In the struggle for success, the company hired employees who were not passionate about the company’s mission; instead, they were merely seeking a hefty salary to finance their pensions. That was extremely detrimental to the company’s culture.
It’s best if your business grows slowly. In this way, the hiring process can be carefully monitored to ensure that everyone on board contributes to the culture you want to create. Short-term sacrifices to protect the culture of your company are beneficial in the long run.
Make Learning A Priority For All Employees
To build a great company, you must seek both growth and learning. Continued growth should be a goal for your business and for the people who are part of it. It means instigating them to learn new things constantly.
Create a culture that feeds personal and professional development. Build a library in the office, for example, and give your employees lessons to develop new skills. Your team should feel that their work is part of a larger purpose and that investing time in personal growth and learning is not only allowed but also encouraged.
Ensure that all of your employees are continually facing new challenges and growth opportunities, so they do not feel immobilized. As they develop, they can take on more tasks and responsibilities, greatly benefiting their business.
That is precisely what happened at Tony Hsieh’s Zappos company: employees grew and developed when they were pushed to meet new challenges, and that experience helped them deal with the problems that Zappos faced itself. The most valuable expertise a newcomer can have is the ability to learn, grow, and adapt.
A Zappos employee, inspired by the freedom she had to come up with new ideas and deal with more challenging projects, became so confident that she started talking about Zappos at conferences. Although she started out as a timid operator, she eventually worked her way to a management position. This growth has also accompanied her personal life, inspiring her to read more, pursue a healthier lifestyle and travel the world. Today, she spends her holidays climbing volcanoes in Central America.
A Larger Purpose Results In Happiness
Seeking a higher purpose means having a goal that goes beyond merely making a profit and growing your business. Although Zappos is a shoe business, it’s not really what they’re selling. The company has a more significant purpose: to make people happy.
They do this by providing excellent customer service and charming people by exceeding their expectations. Whether surprising a customer by improving product delivery or by offering free trade, Zappos always has in mind its long-term goal, not just its revenues.
When you have long-term goals in life and business means always having to wonder why you are doing what you are doing. It means that everything you do should be aligned with your highest purpose. Having that goal and striving for it every day will eventually make you happier.
For Tony Hsieh, the big goal of building a company based on customer satisfaction and creating a culture in which he and his employees believe is happiness. Yours, your employees and your customers. In deciding to focus his efforts on making happy customers unknowingly, he created a solid foundation for the company to reach $ 1 billion in revenue in 2008, two years ahead of schedule. The critical decisions that allowed Tony to achieve this were:
- Invest more than all competitors in customer service and thus encourage the word of mouth recommendation of the company;
- Invest in culture, documenting the company’s values;
- Invest in employee training and create career progressions plans;
The rest of your business can be copied, but these values cannot be replicated overnight.
Believe In The Company’s Culture
The culture of your company is one of its most essential characteristics. Indeed, it is the brand, and employees are its ambassadors.
That means that you can not base your decisions on recruiting solely on skills and experience. Preferably, you should hire only people who fit into the company culture; people that you would happily go for a drink after work.
Feeling connected, as if everyone is part of the same tribe, makes people happy and creates a strong sense of obligation to work hard and treat each other well. However, this is not enough. Your team should have shared purposes and passions.
To facilitate this, just hire people who live and breathe their core values, that is, the primary tenets that guide all of your company’s business decisions and practices. You can start by looking for people who share your goals. If you want your company to be a place where employees feel like a family, then hire only people who believe in this idea. When you bring together people with a common goal, the core values of your business will naturally emerge. The culture of the company is even more important than customer service. If the culture is right, then excellent customer service will inevitably follow.
For Tony Hsieh, the process of stimulating a great culture involves a lot of trial and error, but the main ingredient seems to be to get the team together and spend time together outside the office. When the entire Zappos team moved to Las Vegas, they grew up together because they had to tell each other. Your team does not necessarily have to move to a new city, but the experience helped the Zappos team think about what was collectively important to them. From this experience came its core values.
An example cited by Tony that helps in creating the company culture is what he calls “The Faces Game.” While in most companies, when accessing a computer, the user has to enter their username and password only, in Zappos there is an extra step. When you enter the data, before the machine starts, it shows you the face of a co-worker. You have multiple choice options to hit that person’s name. When you get it right, her profile and biography are displayed to you. That allows people to get to know each other and work better together. It’s fun and functional, and everyone follows the rankings of the people with the best memories of the company.
Focus On Existing Clients Or Meeting New Ones?
Common sense says that to grow, you need to find new customers. Despite this, Tony has a contrary view. At Zappos, he invested little in marketing and focused on keeping his customers happy and getting them to buy more often. That was a great decision because it put the company’s entire focus on customer service. Already in early 2003, all of Zappos’ efforts were aligned with one purpose: to deliver happiness to customers.
Focus On One Thing To Be The Best In It
Being merely good at many things is not enough. Identifying a single thing that your company wants to be the best in the world will help you to specialize, stay focused and become great at it.
Tony Hsieh and the Zappos team decided that customer service was the thing they wanted to be great at. They wanted their service to be so extraordinary that it would bring a delightful experience for their customers, delivering them happiness through excellent service.
Since the culture of a company and its customer service are closely intertwined, excellent customer service and its consequent satisfaction are only possible if you treat your employees well. Happy employees will be passionate about their jobs and will make customers happy by providing great service.
Tony’s most important advice is never to outsource the thing in which you want your company to be the best in the world. From experience with his old company, he learned that the responsibility of delivering this one thing could not be just one department but extended throughout the company.
Zappos demonstrated its commitment to radically delivering extraordinary customer service by moving its headquarters to Las Vegas, where it would be the location of the customer support call center. That was Zappos’s way of showing that customer service was the top priority for the entire team, including management.
Do not focus on creating a buzz around your company as this is counterproductive and does not produce long-term results. Seek to build trust and commitment by treating people well. Instead of stressing on how to get media attention, focus on what you do best: deliver excellent service and great customer experience. So the buzz will generate itself naturally.
The goal of your customer service should be to create positive emotional associations with your brand. Every interaction with him is an opportunity to grow your brand through word of mouth advertising. Deliver great customer service and let them do marketing for you.
Zappos has developed a loyal following thanks to fantastic customer support, particularly through telephone service.
Zappos invests the money it would spend on traditional advertising to enhance its customer experience. That allows for some perks, such as free shipping on every order, a 365-day exchange policy, unexpected shipment the next day and a wonderful telephone assistance. Because Zappos went beyond its obligations to impress its customers, buzz naturally popped up about its brand and drew media attention.
When you are doing something that naturally creates interesting stories, people will talk about it, and the media will pick up on it.
Zappos’ 10 Values
The Zappos culture was defined and documented in 10 fundamental values. They are:
- Delivering WOW on all client experiences;
- Embrace and encourage change;
- Have fun and be a little weird;
- Be adventurous, creative and open-minded;
- Search for growth and learning;
- Create honest and open relationships;
- Create a positive team and family spirit;
- Do more with less;
- Be passionate and determined;
- Be humble;
These are the values that, according to Tony, allow the company to deliver happiness to millions of people every year. Documenting your company’s values is essential to building a consistent identity and knowing if the people around you are aligned toward a common goal. Use this in your company to have more and happier customers and employees. Deliver happiness!
Deliver Happiness is a great book on how to build a company and a culture where customer and employees are the central parts. Companies without purpose do not tend to become enduring, so, before starting on the entrepreneurial journey, this reading is mandatory.