Most readers of this blog have heard of Zappos, their CEO Tony Hsieh, and know about their relentless obsession on customer service and their acquisition by Amazon. They've possibly bought shoes at Zappos, and like me have been surprised and delighted with upgraded shipping and the entire experience.
But if you want to get the whole story and the bigger picture, Tony wrote a book about it called Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose and I'd strongly recommend reading it. Actually, I'd recommend listening to the audio version so you can hear Tony and his team tell the story themselves.
The book struck me on several levels. The most obvious part is the growth and the successful outcome – their eventual sale to Amazon HAD to happen – they were out Amazon-ing Amazon. I also liked hearing about his early days as a budding entrepneur, meeting Alfred Lin at Harvard and starting their first few businesses together. If there were any misconceptions that this was an overnight success, the book puts that to rest – they put everything they had into the business – literally – after years of challenges, difficulty raising money, and much more.
But the real story of Zappos is about building Culture. For Tony and the team, it's the most important thing, the reason they started it in the first place. At Zappos, core values drive the the culture which drives the brand and everything at the company. They obsess on it from hiring, training, learning, personal development, sharing, and having fun along the way. It got me thinking a lot about our culture at First Round, and across our companies. In our current portfolio, I'd say that Bazaarvoice and their CEO Brett Hurt are probably the closest example, and it's probably not a coincidence they're one of our best porforming companies. Take a look at their Culture, Vision and Values.
Get the book, check out the site, and see how far you can move your company towards delivering happiness and creating a culture.