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The Three I’s of Delivering Happiness

Submitted by on June 7, 2010 – 6:20 pmNo Comment |

After reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and starting a Happiness Project of my own, I’ve found myself contemplating the concept of happiness–particularly as it relates to my professional life–a lot lately.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to learn that I’d been selected to receive two advance copies of Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.

Today is the book’s official release date (Keep reading to learn how you can win your own copy!); and as promised in exchange for the advance copies, I’ve read the book and am posting my official review.  Tony and his book team told my fellow Delivering Happiness bloggers and I to give our honest opinion of the book; and if I’m being honest, I found Delivering Happiness to be equal parts indulgent, inspiring and informative.

Indulgent: In section one (Profits), Hsieh gives readers some background about his upbringing, education and what brought him to Zappos.  I found his candid writing style refreshing and his entrepreneurial skills nothing less than impressive. However, I thought Hsieh’s admission that he skipped most of his classes at Harvard while maintaining good grades and only reported for his first post-college job at Oracle half of the time, somewhat arrogant; and I was slightly nauseated by Hsieh’s description of building Link Exchange with his buddy, selling it to Microsoft for $265 million and proceeding to “pursue happiness” through buying multiple lofts in San Francisco, playing poker and  climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  That being said, I’m sure my critique of section one is partially clouded by my jealousy that I didn’t get in on the ground floor of the Dot Com era and make some serious cash; and sections two and three more than made up for the first one so I’m glad I kept reading.

Inspiring: The thing that struck me the most in section two (Profits and Passion) was Hsieh’s relentlessly daring pursuit of his dream–even when he wasn’t exactly sure what that was or how it would turn out.  At one point, he sells almost everything he owns (which mostly makes up for the indulgence) to keep Zappos alive.  Why? Because he believes in the company, the product and most of all, the mission–to provide superior customer service to consumers and vendors.  Section two gives detailed information about how Zappos’ culture and values were formed. (I found the personal stories of Zappos employees littered throughout the section to be the most inspiring.) By the end of the section, you either wish you worked for Zappos or want to walk in to your own office and give your co-workers a major pep talk.

Informative: In the vein of honesty, I will tell you that you can probably skip the first few chapters of section three (Profits, Passion and Purpose). Self-indulgence rears its ugly head again. However, in chapter seven (appropriately titled End Game) Hsieh does a nice job of bringing the book full circle and telling readers how they can pursue happiness in their personal and professional life.

At the end of the book, Hsieh asks readers to ask themselves the following questions in order to evaluate their own personal happiness quotient.

  • Are you working toward maximizing your happiness each day?
  • What is the net effect of your existence on the total amount of happiness in the world each day?
  • What are your values?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What inspires you?
  • What is your goal in life?
  • What are your company’s values?
  • What is your company’s higher purpose?
  • What is your higher purpose?

Conclusion: All in all, Delivering Happiness is a worthwhile read–especially if you own your own business (great required reading for your employees) or are thinking of starting one. Hsieh has done a remarkable job of building Zappos  and keeping it true to its core mission of superior customer service and I wish him nothing but success with the business and this book.

You can purchase your own copy of Delivering Happiness on Amazon, OR you can leave a comment answering one of the questions listed above for a chance to win a free copy of the book.  I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win on Friday, so you’ve got plenty of time to formulate an awesome answer!

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