Connection to Experts: Tony Hsieh

Article by:
Tony Hiesh, EO Speaker
Tony Hiesh
EO Speaker

From selling pizza to establishing one the most dominant e-commerce Web sites in history, Tony Hsieh (pictured) has come a long way as an entrepreneur. In this special interview, the best-selling author, EO speaker and founder of Zappos.com talks about the importance of living core values, the power of company culture and the pursuit of happiness.

What’s your biggest lesson learned as an entrepreneur?

“I’d say the biggest lesson learned has to do with the importance of company culture. With LinkExchange, my first company, we didn’t know any better to pay attention to company culture, so over time the culture went downhill. As a result of that, culture has always been important at Zappos, and today it’s our number one priority.”

What’s the secret to stellar customer service?

“Hire employees that are already passionate about providing great customer service, and give them the tools to empower them to do their job. If you hire employees whose personal values match the corporate core values, then you don’t need to convince them to buy into the culture— it’s already part of who they are.”

What are some keys to creating a strong company culture?

“The most important thing in creating a culture is that it must create strong alignment within the organization. What the culture is doesn’t matter as much as the commitment to that culture and core values of the organization. And by commitment I mean that you are willing to hire, fire and give performance reviews based on whether an employee is living up to those core values. A lot of companies have core values, but they are usually a meaningless plaque on the wall that nobody pays attention to. It doesn’t do much good to have core values if the organization isn’t living by them.”

What one piece of advice can you offer our members?

“Rather than focus on what will make you the most money or be best for your career, figure out what you would be passionate about for 10 years and pursue that. A lot of people work hard at building a certain career because they think it will eventually bring them happiness. Most of the time, however, when they finally accomplish their goal, they realize it doesn’t really bring happiness for the long term.

“One of the things that research has shown is that people are very bad at predicting what will make them happy. If the ultimate goal is to achieve enduring happiness, it seems like it’s worth spending some time learning about the science of happiness so you don’t wind up in the same situation.”


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