Delivering Happiness – Book Review

A Path to Profits, Passion, and PurposeI picked up Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh through the Amazon Vine program (love that program…free stuff to review!).

I’m a big fan of Zappos and the things that the company has been able to do. I love the idea of a culture driven company and Zappos has been the poster child for this idea for quite some time.

When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it.

Quick Review

The first section of the book covers a great deal of time (birth to Tony’s start as Zappos’ CEO).

Tony provides provides a pretty interesting, and at times funny, walk-through of his childhood, high school and college.  While describing his life, its easy to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and kicking throughout Tony’s life.

One of the really interesting parts of this section is the description of the building of Tony’s first company LinkExchange (LE) and the subsequent selling of that company to Microsoft.  The building and sale of LinkExchange isn’t chronicled in detail but an interesting summary is provided the gives the reader a good feel for what happened.

In addition, Tony describes the years after the LE sale and his search for something to do.  In this part of the book, Tony details the lessons he learned playing poker…and tries to equate them to strategies for business…and he does a pretty decent job of it too.

About half-way through the book (starting with Section II) Tony gets into the details of how Zappos became the company it is today.  The trials & tribulations of an internet company trying to survive the bursting of the dot.com bubble, the economic troubles of the early 2000’s and other issues (9/11, etc).

This part of the book is pretty interesting as Tony gives the reader some insight into how Zappos was kept afloat during the initial few years.  Basically, if it weren’t for Tony putting his own money into the company (and almost going broke doing so) Zappos might not have survived.

While describing how Zappos was built into a thriving business, Tony also provides some insight into his approach to building the Zappos culture that we’ve all become aware of.  There are some great tidbits of knowledge in this section of the book.

While I found the first two sections of the book (described above) interesting, the final section of the  book is where the real lessons can be learned about building a culture that fits an organization.

In the final section of the book, Tony describes the concept of Delivering Happiness.  This section is very interesting and worth reading a few times (which I’m doing).

This book is a winner.

I like this book for a few reasons.  First, its just an interesting read.  Being able to hear about Tony’s life from Tony is interesting to me.  Second….it provides some excellent insight into what its really like running a startup and the ups/downs that comes with the territory.

Will you like it?  I think so…but here’s some advice for those of you who are on the fence about the book:

  • If you have any interest in building a business, read this book.
  • If you have any interest in a building a culture that ‘fits’ your organization, read this book.
  • If you like reading about success stories in business, read this book.
  • If you are a grammar nerd and hate it when people don’t write in perfect grammatical english, you may not like this book.  But heck…if you’re reading my blog, you probably aren’t a grammar nerd 🙂

Buy this book when it comes out…great read and some excellent insights.

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Don’t let the big (or small) words win – The New CIO Series

In the world of  technology we tend to use either really big words, really small words and/or acronyms.

What do you think of when you think of  ‘the cloud’ what do you think of?  Do you think about Amazon‘s EC2 or S3 or do you think about  “Parallel and Distributed Processing”?  Both could be right but neither are instructive to the ‘business’ user.  For that matter, is “the cloud” instructive to the business? Probably not.

The New CIO & Language

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about finding IT leaders who can speak to the business. I agree wholeheartedly…but I also think the business needs to learn to speak to the IT world too….but I’ve covered that in detail in a post titled Information Technology Leadership and Alignment. Moving on.

To help align business and IT, The New CIO needs to first look at the language of IT.  Get rid of the big words….and perhaps the small words if they aren’t clear enough.  Look at your IT group’s language to make sure acronyms and tech-jargon are purged from the external facing documentation and communication.  Take a long look at what you communicate to the organization and how you communicate to make sure you aren’t letting the tech-speak take over.

Want to really take it up a notch and make sure you’re communicating what the organization needs to hear? Bring in a marketer and a   communications person to build an IT marketing and communication plan for your team.  Your organization has marketing plans for how you’ll attack the market, why can’t you have one for how you’ll communicate to the rest of the organization?

Be careful though…you don’t want to get too far into business language or you’ll end up using the same marketing/business jargon that every other group within your organization uses.  Keep it simple and real and you’ll be fine.

Next time the CEO asks you “what’s this cloud computing thing I keep hearing about?”, how will you respond?  Big words or the right words?

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges. Join me next week for another article in the series.

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