In a way, Tony Hsieh is a genius by definition. He has the book smart and talents; he was able to breeze through high school and Harvard with ease. But most importantly, he has the entrepreneur blood running since childhood with his earthworm venture and button-making business. He stumbled into the Internet craze during the dotcom boom with the LinkExchange in his first endeavor after quitting the boring Oracle QA job upon graduating from Harvard. He made a killing after selling it to Microsoft for $265M and walked away with almost $32M, forfeiting $8M during the VIP (Vesting in peace) period because he was bored. Up until this, one can probably discount his ability that he was born the right time and got lucky. But what came next defined how he was as a mature businessman and visionary.
Zappos.com was one of his angel investment. He was supposed to sit back and pick the winning horses. Instead, he dived in and staked all of his “easy” money in it. Along the journey, he evolved the company into a company with a mission and strong differentiating culture with emphasis in customer service – an unusual differentiator for an internet company. At the end, he was the white knight that Zappos needed and a better man he became.
There are lots of lessons learned (like never outsourcing your differentiators) and interesting stories that Tony told throughout the book. I admire his entrepreneur spirit (quitting when he’s not challenged) and tenacity (tough it out like climbing the summit of Kilimanjaro and driving 36 hours from California to Kentucky). It’s a very good book who wants to start and grow a business with a good culture as a foundation. “Your brand is your culture.”
This is a great book to learn and it’s quite funny too. Highly recommended.