Amazon tells me that I last purchased Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness on August 26, 2010. The timing was fortuitous. I had recently moved back to San Francisco and, after a less-than-fulfilling detour into the world of marketing and advertising, was doing some soul searching about my next career move. I also had a trip to New York City scheduled for the following week. As I packed, I tucked Tony’s book into my carry on — and then, on the flight home, devoured it cover to cover.
Delivering Happiness tells Tony’s story of selling a startup to Microsoft for $265 million at the age of 24, then joining Zappos and nearly bankrupting himself as he fought to keep the then-tiny online shoe retailer alive.
But it wasn’t his life story that entranced me. With every page turn I soaked up his beliefs that corporate culture and customer-centricity could lead to wild business success.
I was hooked.
By the time the plane landed at SFO, I had made two decisions that would shape the rest of my life. 1) I would devote my career to helping organizations improve their customer experiences. And 2) I would write a book to inspire others, as Tony had inspired me.
And so, it was with great sadness that I learned of Tony’s death this past December — and with even greater sadness that I learned of the demons that haunted this man who I so greatly admired. A man whose mission, as former Zappos executive Fred Mossler said, wasn’t to sell shoes, but “to improve the human condition.”
The subtitle to Delivering Happiness is “A Path To Profits, Passion and Purpose.” Tony, wherever you are, I want to thank you for reigniting my passion for customer experience and giving me purpose in my career. I will never forget you.
Photo credit Zappos.