Some days ago I finished reading Delivering Happiness, the book about the Zappos’ history, from its CEO, Tony Hsieh.
Actually, the book is not only about Zappos, but rather about Tony Hsieh entrepreneurial history.
This story starts decades ago, when Tony was only a kid and wanted to start making his own business.
I am sure those stories help readers to understand better the entrepreneurial character of Tony Hsieh from his childhood.
Later, a section explain the history about Link Exchange, the first startup of Tony Hsieh and how ended sold to Microsoft for US$ 265 million.
What is Delivering Happiness about?
But most of the book is dedicated to tell the story about Zappos, from the very beginning.
In fact, if you don’t know about Zappos, you could feel the worry about the company getting out of business at any moment. The story is told in a thrilling way.
But Delivering Happiness is not just a book to get thrilled. Is about profits, passion and purpose.
Finally at the ending you could understand why Tony Hsieh says the story is about profits, passion and purpose.
Maybe get familiarized with that concept could change your life, forever.
The main purpose of Delivering Happiness is to let people and companies know about customer service and company culture.
To WOW all the people connected or related to you is an advice you will read a lot in Delivering Happiness.
In his book, Tony Hsieh take enough time to explain each one of the 10 core principles of Zappos.
I also think every company should have its own core principles. After reading this book, I wrote the ones for my startups, and shared it with the team.
So now, I am going to write here a brief description of each one of Zappos’ core principles
The Core Values of Zappos
- Deliver WOW through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More with Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Let’s take a closer look to each one, like is done in Delivering Happiness.
1. Deliver WOW
Keep improving your company. At Zappos, every employee is challenged to make a weekly improvement (could it be something simple) in order to reflect better their core values.
So, just imaging how many improvements could your company have in one year by doing the same.
To deliver an outstanding customer service, you need to keep your company innovating and differencing from the others.
To make this possible sometimes you need to do unconventional things. But this actions can make you gain the clients who are not satisfied with the other’s services.
Zappos don’t offer promotions or discounts to clients. They give a WOW service.
For make this happen in your company, you should give the first step. Make a WOW service all the time for those around you or related to you as a rule.
Then, you can impact in your staff for them to make the same.
2. Embrace and Drive Change
You should not only be prepared to change, but you should embrace and, if possible, drive it.
This is only possible if you are open-minded and are aware of the need of keep changing all the time.
Changes to be made have to be improvements, not simple change one thing for another.
Improvements don’t need to be drastic, just slight improvement will do the work.
Usually we think about changes or improvements like things you need to think carefully, plan for a while and choose a date for launch it.
But if you make little improvements daily, you will not need an entire department to plan a change.
As they say, the only constant thing should be change.
Actually, what Zappos people recommend is that you make a single improvement daily.
Yes, that should be your goal. This improvement, ideally, could take place in your work as well in your personal life.
Personally, I really think that is a doable and worthy way to keep things going on. Since I heard about I practice it and recommend it.
3. Create fun and a little weirdness
The fact that work can be a happy place is unknown for the most of companies out there.
But Zappos not only allows the fun and -a little- weirdness, but encourage to employees to act like themselves. That feel free to be funny with everybody.
One good effect this policy can have is that employees become more creative and think in solutions out-of-the-box to resolve daily problems at work.
4. Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
When you are open to take risks and daring, you will for sure to make mistakes.
But you don’t should be afraid. Instead of that, recognize your mistakes and learn from them.
If you are not making enough mistakes, is not because you be perfect, but because you are not taking enough risks.
Sometimes you will need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, says Tony Hsieh in Delivering Happiness, based on his own experience.
But the reward in make all this is that you will become ahead because you are making the path, not just following it.
When someone is burn out in his/her workplace, usually is not the work itself, but the environment.
So, let your employees to take risks and try new things.
5. Pursue growth and learning
Growth is an endless route. If you are facing new problems every day is because of growth.
As Tony Hsieh says in Delivering Happiness, this means that you never will be able to be done or “get it right”.
But even when this could seem discouraging, is actually a way of live and work that will keep you at top all the time.
You are going to face problems every day, but is not only you, everybody who is working is also facing trouble to make a path. You are doing this to survive and to success.
The reason for you to keep doing what you do is because is hard but you do it magnificently.
Otherwise, you had been drawned by yours competitors a long time ago. So, keep your work hard and make it better every day.
In a few words, make something every day for you and the others around you to grow.
6. Build open and honest with communications
Develop stronger emotional connections between employees is one key goal for any company who is eager to grow.
At Zappos they strive for develop trust and confidence in all their relationships.
This include internal staff (no matter position) as well business partners and thirty parties.
Trust is a real difficult thing to achieve, but when you have it with someone, you could feel confident and work a lot better.
Say the truth and having confidence allows you to achieve more in less time, also.
If, for example, in films, everybody would say the truth or were honest about what they feel o mean, the entire movie would long no more than 15 minutes. That would be fast work.
Of course, if you encourage your team to be open and honest, you will find that not everybody agree with you. In that case nothing better could happen.
A wider criteria and way of thinking can bring brand new and unexpected solutions to the table.
And, surely you understand that part of being honest is recognize that others can have the reason, instead of you.
7. Build a positive team and family spirit
Zappos’ staff feel their team members and colleagues as well as part of a family.
That way, even having different points of view or ideas, they keep close together.
Also another effect this approximation between achieve is that all the employees feel free to suggest improvements. That is not only a task for leaders.
In fact, in Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh says that at Zappos the best ideas and decisions are coming from the people in front line, the ones who talk to customers.
That is pretty understandable when you are in a company driven by customer service.
For this to happen, leaders need to pay attention to what their report have to say.
The only way to achieve this is being humble. Well, that is another whole core value, I will cover later.
Sometimes you will find that decisions or changes are based in conversations outside of the office.
In Zappos case, many of them. For example, their Culture Book was decided just while having fun out of the office.
8. Do more with less
Maybe just hearing the phase “do more with less” you could be thinking about save money.
Even that is one meaning, in Zappos the principle behind is relative to everything they do.
The point is to obtain the greater benefit from the minimal effort.
The final objective is not to do less, but to do more, better, bigger. That is effectiveness.
I going to put an example of my own: Imagine you are in a party. You could just sit around and enjoy the joyful atmosphere.
But if, in instead, you try to make new relations and retake older ones, you could feel better during and after the party. And some surprises may come from that.
You were doing at the time an effort: being in the party. But if you try to connect to some people, you’ll be doing more.
And if you try to connect to several at the time, you’ll be doing more with less.
This totally corporate unrelated situation prove that in everyday life you could be practicing doing more with less.
9. Be passionate and determinated
People are incredibly affected by their emotions. Most of people don’t do the things just because is a duty or is necessary, but because they want to do it.
So, if you fuel your staff with the passion they need to accomplish their work, they will do it, with joy.
At Zappos, they encourage their employees to be determinated, perseverant and keep a sense of urgency.
Particularly, this sense of urgency can complete change the way you give service to your customers. Let me put an example.
Doctors in emergency rooms generally are hurry in receive and treat new coming patients.
They behave this way because they know patients are in pain or can die suddenly.
What if we see our clients as patients? They indeed have a “pain”, because otherwise they hadn’t contacted customer service.
Be passionate about your clients, as if they were painful patients and you a doctor.
10. Be humble
For a lot of people and cultures, maybe one of the most difficult things to do is being humble.
This is especially hard when certain success have been achieved.
But, despite our own nature, being humble is one of the most appreciated qualities in people. A humble person is one easy to treat with.
No matter how big or small can a company or person be, is a good advice treat them with humility and respect. The same treat will come to you.
In fact, was Jesus, thousands of years ago, who said the Golden Rule: Treat others as you’d like to be treated.
Happiness in Delivering Happiness
Although we could think that the book is about Zappos and Tony Hsieh, at the ending, he gives a turn and start explaining his views about happiness.
He started studying the happiness phenomenon as a hobby, like it was poker in other time. But what he found results really interesting.
Usually people relate happiness with getting or reaching something. That something can vary a lot from person to person. But everybody is pursuing something.
But studies, like the ones applied to lottery winners, have demonstrated that get or reach something is not the key for happiness.
Even more, usually we think we know how to get or reach that something, or with some thinking we figure it out.
But in many cases, the right way to get or reach something is not the one that everybody thinks that is.
Tony Hsieh explain this using the right training for running a marathon. People generally think is about running faster. But, the right way actually is running as slow as you feel comfortable for long periods of time.
As result of his research, at the very ending of Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh explain what the happiness is about.
In the first framework, happiness is the product of 4 factors: perceived control (to feel you are in charge), perceived progress (to feel you are advancing), connectedness (the quantity and quality of your relationships) and vision/meaning (to feel that you are part of something bigger than yourself). He explain later the way Zappos accomplish to its employees each one of these factors.
The second framework is about needs, using the Maslow’s human needs hierarchy pyramid. The Maslow hierarchy explain the order the human needs should be fulfilled in order to be happy. Following, Tony Hsieh explain how Zappos manage this with its employees.
The third framework is about three types of happiness, which are pleasure, passion and higher purpose. Each of these types of happiness has a definite duration and intensity.
As if were a fractal, in Delivering Happiness Tony Hsieh finds similarity between this types of happiness and what researchers have find make great and long-term companies: profits, passion and purpose. It can’t be just a coincidence.
What I learned from this Delivering Happiness
In my humble opinion, this book is a must about customer service and company culture. It gives the why about customer service and company culture.
Can we talk about customer service and company culture as two separate and unrelated matters? Now I don’t think so.
Reading this book helped me to deepen the roots of my own customer service philosophy.
I have decided to live for WOW everybody related to me, no matter who is it. That is the only way to make great service customer.
Due this book I decided to change my company organization chart: Now the big chief is the customer. And all the rest of us are working to WOW them.
Have you reading this book? Want to read it? I would love to receive and answer your comments.