Building a Company on Happiness

Zappos is a bit far away from a Dutchman. We don't have it here, yet. But of course you hear a lot about them. Zappos is praised for its culture, very engaged workforce, use of social media in business, great profit, etc.

Recently I wrote a post about 'Organizing on Passion'. Frederik Vieten, a student doing research at Océ, pointed me to Tony Hsieh's new book, Delivering Happiness. I hadn't heard of it yet, so that was a great pointer. I'm going to order and read it. But I also browsed the site and found a recent talk by Hsieh at Google.

Man, I watched it this talk this evening. And it's absolutely great. If you have an hour, just sit down, watch it and be inspired. What a great company and what a great leader Tony is. Here's the video:

I really liked the way the importance of company culture is stressed and how it can be crafted. I also love the way they select new employees based on questions linked to their core values. One of the most important Zappos values is 'be humble'. Wow! Tony says a company doesn't have to have the same values as Zappos, but if you have them it is key to really commit to them. To prove they are committed to their values they offer $2.000 to every new employee who wants to leave the company.

A neat thing is Zappos trains their employees to use Twitter (to express themselves, for customer contact, colleague connections, etc)

Another wow-moment was about their library. They have an open and free library for their employees and guest. Two key book in their to which Zappos relates deeply are: Jim Collins, Good to great and Dave Logan a.o., Tribal Leadership. Both books are great. And I've always wondered which high-level managers would take G2G and use it as a mirror for themselves as a leader and for the company. Hsieh is doing just that.

Thanks a lot Frederik for pointing to the book, that led to me finding this video!

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