Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Zappos - Tony Hsieh

The current speaker is Tony Hsieh - founder of Zappos. His story is a huge success story. I am looking forward to reading his new book - Delivering Happiness.

Apparently the Zappos tour in Vegas is worth going on.

His first "real company" was LinkExchange that he sold to Microsoft for $265 million. He sold it because he "was not having fun". "Corporate culture went to hell".

Zappos sold for $1.2M to Amazon on he condition that "they stay out of the business". He views himself to be in the "customer service business" - not just a shoe sales company which is how they started. It is about the "wow" factor to create great customer word of mouth.

His big focus is on culture. He starts with a rigorous interview system. Pick the right ones. Then they are all put through the same training program. While in training, anyone can quit and get paid a $4,000 bonus! Interesting idea.

I loved the last core value - Be Humble.

Zappos has full transparency for staff and suppliers. Everyone can see all the numbers.

Zappos values learning. They have a company library. 2 Books that are always in stock are Tribal Leadership and Good to Great. They do seminars based on these books.

All great companies had great cultures. And all great companies had a higher motive. So it is not all about money. "what would you be so passionate about that you would do it for 10 years and be happy to not make any money". "Follow your heart". "values are inspirational".

The culture sounds perfect. It inspires me to consider starting a new business. Why start as opposed to buy or drop into an existing business? My experience is changing culture is difficult. It can be done but it takes time, focus and energy.

My view is the larger the company is, the more the CEO's job becomes pushing for the right culture. I always say "encourage people to make decisions and coach on culture".

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