For those that don't know, Tony Hsieh is CEO of mega-shoe store Zappos (they sell more than shoes now). Before reading this book and from videos I saw, Tony came off as a monotone soft-spoken company leader with sharp focus on long-term goals.After reading the book, I learned there is quite the story behind this guy and his entrepreneurial adventures. He's like a typical college party buddy with a nerdy edge. And like Bill Gates once said, "Don't make fun of nerds because you'll probably end up working for one some day." I think this is one guy I wouldn't mind working with or for some day.Rather than being a boring dictionary of cut and dry business concepts, the book relies on experiences and story telling. The first 3/4 of the book has an easy flow and I found myself getting engulfed in relating his adventures to my own experiences with our business. The latter 1/4 has almost too many guest interjections from other employees that expound the "Pro-Culture" position the company lives by, making the last part of the book choppy. All in all though, I respect how Tony wasn't afraid to shine light just as much on his failures as he did on his successes. I also like the fact that he revealed numbers that are normally top-secret for companies, like the cut he was entitled to with the sale of LinkExchange. Those of us who dream of swimming in a pool of money some day can drool over the monetary numbers he throws around like it's just another walk in the park. Yet later down the road, he does a good job of demystifying the delusional correlation between true happiness and boat loads of money. There's a weird mix of arrogance and modesty going on here.The core values that Zappos employees stand by are really common sense if you think about it. Yet, unless you've bounced a beach ball around a conference room or dared a coworker to shave his head and get his body painted blue with your boss's approval, I guarantee you have never worked for a company that comes even close to the extraordinary culture they live by. They definitely work hard and play harder and if you tour their compound, don't expect to see any bubblegum chewing employees in their cubicle twiddling their pen, bored out of their mind staring at the ceiling. Dead-end job isn't in their vocabulary and they pride themselves on incubating personal growth.As a business owner in the trenches of a first year startup, I found Tony's roller coaster ride a valuable read. If your dream is to not only run a successful business, but to reach farther and actually stand for a cause, then you can learn a lot from this book. I definitely see things at a different angle now and probably won't be using the words "money" and "happiness" in the same sentence ever again.
Tags: tony hsieh, zappos, book review
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