My husband recommended this book to me and he goes through a lot of books in a year. I trust his judgment. This wasn’t on my list of the 5 personal finance books to read for 2018, but since I finished the list, I wanted to continue with my reading goal of 30 minutes a day. I love reading on the background stories of entrepreneurs. Here is my Delivering Happiness book review.
Who is Tony Hsieh?
Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com. Zappos.com is a shoe store on the Internet. He went from $0 in gross sales per year to $1 billion in gross merchandise sales per year in less than 10 years with Zappos.com. He first started his entrepreneurial foray co-created LinkExchange in 1996 when he was a fresh Harvard graduate. Basically he it sounds like he might have created affiliate marketing/ banner ads. He sold it to Microsoft TWO YEARS LATER for $265 million (after declining a purchase offer of $1 million just a few months prior). He created Zappos after living the dream and almost went bankrupt (he had to fund Zappos himself with his own money and sold off real estate to keep it alive). In 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos.com for $1.2 billion.
He wrote the book Delivering Happiness in 2010 and it has been translated to over 25 different languages worldwide because it is such a hit.
He is known for having an unconventional work culture style, where he values community, communication, and friendship amongst all else and with these, it provides a foundation for a better work culture and productivity.
He’s a Billionaire but Lives Humbly
I love learning about wealthy individuals who live a non-wealthy and humble lifestyle.
Like Warren Buffett who lives in the same house he has been living in for the past 50+ years.
Despite his almost-billionaire net worth ($840 million according to Wikipedia), Tony Hsieh lives in a 240 square foot Airstream in a trailer park in Las Vegas. He has a motto where he values experiences over things. He is an ultimate minimalist, if you ask me. He walks to work at Zappos from his trailer park in Downtown Las Vegas.
Here is a Youtube video of the Airstream Park where he lives, courtesy of HGTV of course! He has two alpacas that live at the park and about 30 residents live there, according to Business Insider.
Our Zappos Company Tour Experience
Earlier this year when we went on the YOLO Las Vegas trip we included a Zappos tour on our trip. The tour cost $10 a person but it was well worth it. It was a 90 minute tour and very memorable. The culture and happiness at Zappos was very very evident. People that worked there looked like they really had fun and loved what they do. Everyone looked relaxed and happy. I had never seen a workplace like that.
I signed a nondisclosure agreement am wary of sharing too much about Zappos in this blog post, but here is a blog post from the Local Adventurer that summarizes the tour very well. Yes, there really are license plates with the number of years at Zappos.com at each person’s desk. We were lucky as it was just us that hour so we had a private tour of the building and company. Baby GYM even hung out in the ball pit for a bit.
If you are in Vegas, you can sign up for a Zappos tour here.
What I liked about Delivering Happiness
Okay back to the Delivering Happiness book review!
I really enjoyed reading the first and third parts of the book. Section 1 is about Profits and how he first started his entrepreneurship as a young child. He was/is very creative and always in pursuit of trying to do less work for more and to make money. His first entrepreneurial adventure was creating a worm farm. He also made a profitable business as a teenager selling personalized buttons that made a few hundred dollars a month and ended up giving that business to his younger brother because it was too task heavy.
At school in Harvard, he didn’t go to his classes and found a way to get people to send him their notes and he summarized it and he charged them a fee for collating it. So he found a way to make money without studying for the exam!
He started a job out of school at Oracle but found it super boring and not challenging enough, so he quit his stable, well paying job to start a company instead.
Section 2 is Profits and Passion and about how he built Zappos and how he developed core values for the company. There was a lot of tumult in the early days of Zappos because it was not profitable yet. He had to sell one of his real estate acquisitions for a loss in order to keep Zappos viable. In this section he talks about hiking Mt Kilimanjaro and how it was one of the most grueling things that he has ever done. He got a cold during the hike (I did too!!! And was miserable as well) but when he was at the top of Africa, he thought to himself “Anything is possible” and tears welled up in his eyes.
That’s how I felt when I made it to the top too. It was hard hiking that night before and I couldn’t help but start to tear up, it was beautiful, the glacier, the clouds, the sun, the cold. It was all beautiful.
Section 3 is called Profits, Passion, and Purpose and he talks about public speaking and how he was very terrified of public speaking. He would study his notes and memorize his speech one month in advance of his public speaking engagement. He viewed it as a challenge and felt like he owed it to his company to overcome this challenge. He shares some real emails he sends the company about the Amazon acquisition and how it transitioned the company. The level of transparency and the level of servant leadership that the author Tony Hsieh has is very evident.
In addition, he talks about a Happiness Framework, where happiness is having perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness, and having vision or meaning in your life.
What I did not Like about the Book
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the book. Some of the stories in Section 2 from employees were a bit redundant, but it was nice that he included it to share their perspective.
Otherwise, this book was a great read and very inspirational. I highly recommend Delivering Happiness if you are interested in work culture the attainment of happiness.
Have you read Delivering Happiness? What is your Delivering Happiness book review?
Have you ever ordered shoes online through Zappos before?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.