Delivering Happiness – The Key to a Great Company

I’ve thought about two topics more than anything (excluding constantly thinking of my family and those important to me in my life):

1) The pursuit of happiness – this is really what success is all about – nothing much more.
2) Loving your job – after all, most people spend more time at their job than any other area (if you subtract out sleeping hours).

So I was very excited to read Tony Hsieh’s (CEO Zappos) book “Delivering Happiness” because this book really addresses the intersection of the two.

(Full disclosure … I received an advance copy of “Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos) with an agreement to review the book on my blog on the week of June 7th. BUT – I would have reviewed this even without my agreement, and I want to share this with you before June 7th.)

For much of my life I have been putting so much mental energy into work – looking at it to deliver a perceived success and happiness. Problem has been that I viewed myself professionally and personally as two different people. What a major mistake. In “Delivering Happiness” Tony interjects his personal experiences that have influenced his approach to business. Whether it was the influence of a strict academic and musical arts upbringing from his (self described) Asian culture, his love for Rave in the early days with the PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) motto, or his interest working with friends and creating a friend/family culture at Zappos, the positive end result is obvious – but the path to get there is not.

The book does an excellent job of spotlighting the importance of self assessment – know what you are really looking for in your definition of success and happiness. Repeatedly, there are examples of pursuit of wealth when in fact that is not an element of happiness. Hsieh reveals his own questioning of himself as he dealt with issues of acquisition of Link Exchange, staying on as a consultant after the purchase from Microsoft, and a similar scenario when Amazon acquired Zappos.

Another key theme of his success has been complete acceptance of change. Really a proactive drive for change, constantly. Most people look for routine. It sets a level of comfort in most. But adaptation as the world around you changes is imperative. More importantly, true leaders set the change. I love the addition of the quote from George Bernard Shaw … “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” No quote could be so true for me in the past few years. While the past few years have been a challenge for so many (me included), I must say they have been most rewarding for me. For I have recreated myself. Some impart for my love and passion for social media, and some impart for a new found form of meditation called “Conscious Breathing.” (A shout out to my mentor, Disia, here.) For now, maybe for the first time in my life, I feel like I am shaping the world external to me rather than the reverse.

For the first time in my life, I love what I am doing. I absolutely love my position as the social media leader at Hachette Filipacchia Media (Elle, Elle Decor, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Woman’s Day, Cycle World). True – the culture at Hachette does not resemble what is described in “Delivering Happiness.” But I have untapped what I love and now I take some of the characteristics described by Tony to make a positive impact at Hachette. I do find that the book is probably more applicable to start-ups, but it certainly has best practices and other suggestions applicable to mature companies. The reality is it will take longer to influence change at established companies. But nothing gets built in a day and it is never too late to take on things that should change for the good of all.

If there is one thing that any company can take from Zappos and learn, it is their relentless pursuit of a customer focus and a TOTAL commitment (under any circumstance or economic climate) to WOW them. I have worked for numerous companies (as a consultant and employee), and my experience is that there is too much looking inside as opposed to having a complete understanding of and focus on the customer.

There was one area I would be a little critical of in the book – the ending discussion on happiness. Tony talks about his interest and research on happiness from a personal pursuit and scientific investigation. For me, the most important life impacting source was ignored, “The Art of Happiness” by Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, M.D. Dalai Lama’s views on the difference between pleasure and happiness have set a tone for my life. Hsieh’s discussion of “Pleasure, Passion, and Higher Purpose Meaning” could definitely use some influence from “The Art of Happiness.”

All-in-all, I highly recommend “Delivering Happiness” for anyone – business professionals and nonprofessionals. It makes no difference. What is most compelling is Hsieh’s blogger style of writing – that is, a lack of polished prose, but rather a story from a real person with real experiences beneficial to just about everyone. Tony has no facade to put up and is willing to share (and learn and laugh off) his mistakes. As I learned in one of my first professional courses I ever took, “It takes more failures to succeed, than it does to fail.” Bottom line – here is a book written from the heart with many great teachings. Can you really pass that up?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under Book Review, brand reputation, change management, passion, Social Steve, SocialSteve

6 responses to “Delivering Happiness – The Key to a Great Company

  1. Tamra

    Enjoyed the book review. I’ll pick up a copy of the book. I also enjoy following your social media blogs. i was impressed with my few encounters with you when you worked at Unisys–but am even more so now as I peek into your work of blogging and social media. Very cool.

  2. Social Steve,
    Nice review! Thank you. I also received an advance copy but did was not requested, as you were, to do a book review. However, I was so moved by the book that I did one anyway! It’s a great book and a great story!

  3. Hi Steve
    My first visit to your blog- i’ll be back. Appreicate your insights and review. This post and the prior one on passion, speak to what I’ve come to believe and experience, within myself and others -which your son’s poem so richly describes: that happiness and passion are interconnected/related when we feels “alive”- connected to our inner ‘juice’- whatever that is (and for many of us it is many things). In over twenty years of helping people, I’m still surprised at how little people know about themselves – even those whom may be deemed as ‘successful’ – (all the better for your son who’s on his path right now and knows what makes him feel alive, and corny as the phrase may be, from that he’ll ‘thrive’). Of course happiness is about many other things; e.g., making a difference, etc. But, using the same lens, being alive, those who find happiness there do so because that’s part of their core self – the ‘who’ they are. (to add to your earlier post question of ‘why you are’). Advise to parents, which I’ve worked on following with my sons: look for those ‘juicy’ moments in your children- when does that spark show up? Is it one area or many? Are there patterns or themes? These same questions are great ways to access our own ‘juice’ or ‘wow’ parts of ourselves. Some of these are ‘knock your socks off’ moments of high energy, others may come in quiet moments and small acts. It’s usually never ‘what’ we do that’s important, but how it makes us feel/think, what’s generated inside that flows out. Follow the golden threads. Thanks again.

    • Lenore –

      Appreciate your kind words and encourage ment you provide here to ALL readers.

      Social Steve

      • thank you, Steve, I appreciate your reply and opportunity to share some thoughts. I’m enjoying reading your other social media posts- very helpful in my effort to ramp up knowledge in this area.

        All the best!

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