If you’ve ordered shoes online, chances are you’ve used Zappos.com. Our team recently read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. In the book, Hsieh shares his experiences growing his business and the lessons he learned along the way.
Tony Hsieh has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He started his first business—a worm farm—when he was nine years old. Shortly after graduating college, Hsieh and a friend began an internet advertising business called LinkExchange. The company grew and eventually sold to Microsoft for $265 million.
Hsieh and his former LinkExchange coworkers then started an investment fund. Hsieh took an interest in an online footwear e-commerce company called Zappos. He invested in the company and shortly thereafter became its CEO.
Zappos faced many challenges in its early years, including a lack of funding and difficulties with vendors. Hsieh and his team pressed forward, and the company grew to earn over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. In 2009, Amazon acquired Zappos in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion.
As we read this book, we reflected on our own journeys and the growth of Menlo Group. In 2008, Tanner Milne was working for a local commercial developer when he decided to open his own commercial real estate firm. Around the same time, his daughter was born with a rare heart defect. Tanner spent most of the year in the hospital, focused on his family and not on the struggling economy.
Along with his brother Grafton, Tanner opened Menlo Group’s doors in late 2008—just as the market tumbled into recession. They persevered through months without earning a profit, motivated by the desire to serve clients. Now Menlo Group is a leader in the Phoenix office, medical, dental, industrial, retail, child care, and investment real estate markets.
In his book, Hsieh shares many of lessons he has learned throughout his career, and many of his thoughts applied to us at Menlo Group.
Zappos has a unique company culture centered on its 10 core values, including Create Fun and a Little Weirdness and Be Passionate and Determined. To share its culture, the company publishes an annual Culture Book and offers office tours to the public. Menlo Group hosts a biweekly book club and quarterly team events to encourage professional development and camaraderie. We also regularly recognize team members for demonstrating our core values: Success Minded, Committed, High Integrity, Speed, Positive Energy and Professionalism.
Zappos’ self-proclaimed mission is to deliver WOW to customers, employees and vendors. The company goes above and beyond in its customer service by empowering call center employees to adapt to the needs of the client. At Menlo Group, we differentiate ourselves by implementing our unique processes, the Ideal Space Navigator and Ideal Outcome Navigator. These tools guide clients throughout the real estate transaction and ensure that each client receives consistent great service.
Hsieh ends his book by talking about the science of happiness. He outlines different frameworks to help readers achieve happiness, reflecting Zappos’s goal to deliver happiness to others. For members of our team, true happiness can be found in family, community, faith, personal growth and serving our clients.
We enjoyed this book and learning from Hsieh and the Zappos team. Want to know what else we’ve been reading? Click here to see our other book club reviews.