So, I don’t normally get up early on Saturdays. In fact, I don’t typically get up that early any of the other days, either, if I’m being honest. I’m not really a morning person, I suppose. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling and being self-employed.
Today was an exception for me.
I was invited to attend a talk/event that made it worth getting up before the sun today. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. was speaking as part of the “Delivering Happiness” bus tour across the country. It was organized by the Austin chapter of the American Marketing Association, and my friend Angela Brutsche invited me to come check it out. Big thanks to her for this!
After watching the Zappos crew’s introductory video “Happy Wrap” (which was actually a pretty catchy rap with an interesting hook that reminded me of the 80’s band Book of Love), it was clear that this was to be no ordinary networking event. We were given nametags and instructed to list “something weird that makes you happy”. I originally chose the scent of freshly cut grass, then I was informed that everyone enjoys that (i.e. not weird enough), so I changed mine to “seeing older couples kiss”. Whenever I see that, it gives me hope, and warms my heart. I saw my grandparents do this after being together for 64 years, and it made an impact on me.
But I digress….
After a brief introductory speech from Zappos’ chief happiness officer (Jenn), Tony took the stage. Well, there wasn’t really a stage, since it was at an Italian restaurant meeting room, but you get the picture.
I’ve seen a lot of business leaders speak, and I’ve learned something from all of them, but I rarely come away feeling inspired. One notable exception would be when I saw Gary Vaynerchuk in March. Today, I can add Tony Hsieh to this list. After listening to Tony discuss the evolution of their corporate culture, how they hire (and avoid hiring the wrong people), and the science of happiness, I felt excited to be able to implement some of the ideas I came up with for my own businesses.
The Zappos commitment to stellar customer service is well-documented and as solid as it gets, but it was great to hear some additional stories today from Tony. For example, if you’re headed to Vegas and you want to tour Zappos, just let them know ahead of time. They’ll pick you up at the airport, take you for a tour, and drop you off at your hotel ( this service is available Monday through Thursday). He also mentioned that they recently set a new record for longest Zappos phone call, clocking in at 8 hours and 3 minutes. He also mentioned that they field-tested one of their phone reps by having a friend who wanted pepperoni pizza call Zappos at 3am to see how they could help. Not surprisingly, the problem was solved. Clearly, they really just want to make people happy, and that has been the essence of their success to this point.
I picked up a copy of Tony’s new book while I was at the event as well. I’ll probably post a review after I have a chance to finish it.
I would, however, encourage you to check out the bus tour site to see if they’re making a stop in your city. If they’ve already been through your area, maybe you can catch them next time around, if they decide to do a 2011 tour. 🙂
If you want to learn more about what makes this terrific company tick, watch this:
Lastly, if you’d like an online resource that can help you to shape your company and its culture to be more like Zappos, visit http://zapposinsights.com.