Home > Innovation, Internal communication, Leadership, Uncategorized > Book Review…Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Book Review…Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

I’ll have to admit it: I’ve never ordered anything from Zappos, the online shoe business that achieved $1 billion in sales in less than a decade. (Yet.) But I kept hearing about Zappos while following Lance Armstrong and the president of his Livestrong Foundation, Doug Ulman, in social media.

Ulman’s story appears as the forward to my wife Tami Boehmer’s  From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds, due out this week. See www.miraclesurvivors.com.

Doug recently appeared on a livestream hosted by Zappos employees. A promo for the stream led me to a website describing the coming launch of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.

There was an offer for bloggers to review an advance copy of the book, so I put in a request. Luckily, I got a free copy — with instructions to give my honest opinion.

Well… here it is:

I couldn’t put Delivering Happiness down. I devoured the 258 pages in two days.

Hsieh, 36, took me on a compelling journey from his adolescence to Amazon’s 2009 purchase of Zappos for $1.2 billion. By the way, the words were his — not those of a ghost writer.

It was fascinating reading about Hsieh’s businesses of youth — both ununsuccessful (worm farm, magic trick) and successful (buttons with pictures). I loved the story about playing recorded music of himself practicing musical instruments to fool his demanding parents. His tales about setting up a pizza operation on campus and compiling a money-making study guide so he could pass a class at Harvard were delightful. (He was more interested in TV, friends and making money than classes.)

The story about his $40,000 job at Oracle right out of college — work that consisted of showing up at 10, setting up an automated test, e-mailing friends, going to lunch, then checking test results — shattered my image of the software giant. I have to give Hsieh credit for not staying in the boring  job, or a website design business he and a buddy started.

He went on to co-found a software company called LinkedExchange that sold to Microsoft in 1999 for $250 million!!! He was only 24.

Easily bored, Hsieh was back in the business world with Zappos, a startup just before the dot.com bust. The ensuing story about the financial twists and turns of Zappos kept me glued to the text. I couldn’t wait to see what adventure awaited on the next page.

The description of Zappos culture and customer-service focus kept me eagerly reading, although it seemed anti-climactic after Hsieh’s portrait of the early days.

I’m glad he shared some of his research about what makes people happy to conclude the book. It made me excited enough to pass on my copy to my boss this morning and another that I was supposed to offer as a give-away to a close friend starting a business.

I highly recommend that you read this book. It offers hope in a time of so much negativity about the economy. It shows how a smart, hard-working individual can use his (or her) creativity to build a business that goes beyond making money. It provides a vision of how an accessible, transparent businesses in this era of social media will succeed.

Today, the hardcover version of “Delivering Happiness” launches in bookstores across the country. Here are some links for you:



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