Delivering Happiness — At Zappos and Beyond

I recently visited Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas.  Sitting in his condo in a room lined with hundreds of plants and overlooking the Vegas skyline, we talked about his success and what’s next for Zappos. is an online retailer with a specialty in shoes.  It has branched out into other clothing lines in recent years.  It is known for its exceptional customer service.

A Very Different Company

Zappos is different in many ways.  Here are three:

  1. Zappos will pay $4,000 to a new hire to quit during the training program.  Why?  The company wants employees committed to the brand and the culture, not just a paycheck.
  2. Customer service representatives are not measured on traditional metrics.  Most companies want to end calls as quickly as possible.  Not at Zappos.  Everyone celebrates the longest customer service calls.
  3. There are ten core values in the Zappos culture.  My favorite is, “Create fun and a little weirdness.”  When you visit the Las Vegas call center, you see these values come to life.

Culture is a central part of the Zappos company DNA.   Tony’s book, Delivering Happiness, inspired companies worldwide to examine and improve their own culture.

During our conversation, Tony explained that the Zappos brand previously was represented by three c’s: clothing, customer service, and company culture.  They have now added a fourth c: community.

Tony’s vision of creating a vibrant community is obvious during a quick walk with him around the Las Vegas downtown area.  At first, you may only see empty lots and rundown buildings.  Keep walking with Tony and you will start to see what he sees:  The old city hall building?  Zappos’ new headquarters.  The empty lots?  Shops filled with artisans.  He sees a connected community with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries and technology start-ups all vibrantly supporting each other.  His vision is an ecosystem to make downtown Las Vegas the most community-focused city in the world.

I had decided to stop chasing the money, and start chasing the passion. –Tony Hsieh

The wall of Tony’s condo is filled with post-in notes.  Each represents an idea to improve the downtown Las Vegas community.  It’s a window into the creativity of the team he has assembled.

On my way back from the visit to Zappos, I found myself dreaming up ideas.  I’ve always been a fan of working on corporate culture, so what could we do to create a more engaging and fun environment?  One of the many ideas on my list was to add game rooms to the facilities.


How is your organization working on its culture? How are you participating in your own community? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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