Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Delivering Happiness" as Reviewed by Sandra Oberdorfer

Title: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Author: Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

Hardcover: 253 pages
Publisher: Business Plus; 1 edition (June 7, 2010)

#1 Hardcover Business Best Seller (New York Times)

Why I Picked The Book - Browsing through the book section at Barnes & Noble in Colorado Springs in early September, I ended up in the business autobiographical section and Tony Hsieh's book caught my eye. Interested in a retail e-commerce business myself, I thought this might be a good read. Also, the emphasis on happiness made me curious. After all, who doesn't want to be happy.

Read this Book if you are interested in retail e-commerce, customer service, HR & company culture or simply a good old American Dream story - The more I got into it, the more I got hooked and the more I was trying to find out about Zappos. Eventually, I talked to Scott Klein, a manager in the Customer Loyalty Team at Zappos in Las Vegas, ordered my first pair of shoes from and got WOWed along the way. In essence, I tested the book on its authenticity and was not let down. Zappos is an inspiring story, an inspiring company, especially when it comes to its customer service, culture and supplier relationships. This book reminded me of The HP Way at its best and I wonder if this amazing culture only works for high-growth companies but somehow gets lost when the business turns very mature?

What the book is about

  1. The first portion is autobiographical about Tony Hsieh, the CEO who kept his humility – growing up with a clear sense of entrepreneurship, turning down an offer to sell his LinkExchange company for $1 million while eventually selling it for $265 million to Microsoft a few years later at the age of 24; and how he got involved with Zappos, became the CEO and invested nearly his entire fortune in this company.
  2. The second portion of the book describes Zappos itself, its culture and its path to success through employee, customer and supplier engagement leading to customer loyalty and profits.
  3. The third section is about taking Zappos to the next level, by serving a higher purpose namely to bring the Zappos philosophy into other companies as well as people’s lives. In fact, Tony Hsieh is on a bus tour right now (October 2010) delivering his message around the country.

The primary value of the book - The book teaches valuable lessons about boldness, humility and tenacity in addition to many business tips. The section on customer service, employee culture and supplier relationships is extremely strong if not revolutionary for corporate America and retail. Zappos has free shipping, sometimes the next day, a 365-day return guarantee and a win-win approach with it internal and external employees and partners. One of Zappos questions is: Have you WOWed at least one person a day?

Putting Zappos to the Test - Check out my video, where I tested the customer service and culture of Zappos. Find out how many WOWs I received on my research journey.



  1. Love the video Sandra! You really captured the essence of Tony's book and what the Zappos Wow culture is all about. I enjoyed our interview and wanted to assist because we like to share our culture with as many people as possible. Your video will help spread the Wow throughout the world!

    -Scott Klein

  2. I really liked your video as well. Very creative. It was cool to see zappos get involved and really want to help you out. You definitely sold me on a book that I otherwise wouldn't have thought to pick up.

    The whole WOWing idea is an interesting attitude and goal for a company.

  3. Also liked the video. Makes me want to read the book about a company that puts the customer first. I was impressed about the Zppos culture and the Wow factor. Not enough of that in today's market.

  4. Excellent work on the presentation. It was professionally crafted to capture the "out of box" thinking of the new marketing culture by Zappos.

  5. We really enjoyed Sandra´s video. You gave us a perfect idea of what the whole Wow-thing is about and why the Zappos-strategy obviously works out well for both Zappos and the customers. The Zappos-people definitely have a good sense of spreading the wow-idea further and further. As Sandra perfectly proves they make the customer not only say but also feel "Wow, Zappos really cares about me!" We need more of these wow-attitudes in European markets! Zappos, rule the world! (See, I am infected by the Zappos-virus as well....-:))

  6. Awesome job! Great choice of companies to highlight. Excellent job on the video and going above and beyond the requirement. You were really effective at transferring some of the "wow factor" to the class.

  7. Thanks for reviewing this book! Zappos was a long favorite company of mine years ago, and now that I'm in the Masters Program, I have found so many more reasons to appreciate them. Your book review sealed that impression. Thanks for the great review and the interviews with the company - it gives us great insight into the way they do business.

  8. I was very impressed with Zappos. They must have spent a small fortune on the books, shipping, the managers time, and making Sandra a VIP member. Most companies probably wouldn't commit the resources for this. But I wonder how many Zappos customers they created through their WOW experiences that we all had?

  9. Thank you guys :-)
    It was a great experience and Zappos did inspire me. I recently went over the top responding to a customer and the feedback is rewarding for sure.

  10. Sandra, thanks for involving me in the video creation! It was a perfect project for me to improve my video production and editing skills on. And, what a great company to learn about - I can only say, "WOW"!

  11. Great review and presentation, Sandra! It was awesome to get a first hand account of Zappos corporate philosophy through your interview.