Zappos: Happy People, Delivering Happiness and Shoes.

Tony Sheih, CEO of Zappos has just written his first book,‘Delivering Happiness, a Path to Profits, Passion and Happiness.’ It chronicles Tony’s life, from childhood entrepreneurial efforts, to college and his time at LinkExchange. In some ways it reads like Ricardo Semler’s‘Maverick, The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace,’Both books talk about lessons learned, mistakes made and happy coincidences that lead them to success.

What is Zappos? It’s not a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). It’s not democratically run, like Semco. Zappos does manage to keep it’s employees very engaged. Engaged employees result in growth and profits by way of creativity and innovation. The management, led by Tony Sheih focuses on the company culture and delivering happiness.

Zappos has a Culture Book, it publishes every year. Everyone who works with or for Zappos is encouraged to contribute the book describing Zappos culture. They publish all comments and only edit for typos, so the good, the bad, everything gets published.

Zappos does use carrots and sticks, though in a way that employees can control. You can take classes that will bring you to the next career level and after taking them, you get a small raise. You can take them at whatever speed you like or not at all. Employees are empowered to do there jobs in whatever way works best, there does seem to be a large amount of autonomy. If you look at the Zappos Core Value Document, it’s obvious that they focus on mastery as well:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service

  2. Embrace and Drive Change

  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

  5. Pursue Growth and Learning

  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

  8. Do More With Less

  9. Be Passionate and Determined

  10. Be Humble

Create a fun, creative work environment, where people are largely self directed, are encouraged to get better at what they do and acquire new skills; combined with being a part of something larger than themselves and the result is growth and profit. While Zappos may not be a new business model like ROWE, Results Only Work Environment, it is game changing.

Their purpose is their culture and delivering happiness. They’ve put most if not all of their marketing dollars into customer service, letting their customers be Zappos marketers. This approach, which is one of the cornerstones of Zappos’ success sounds like it came out of Seth Godin’s play book. Check out, Tony is trying to start a movement.