I love receiving packages in the mail. The only thing I love better? Surprise packages!
Imagine my excitement, then, when about a month ago a special delivery came my way without my expectation of it. Who knew the package would beDelivering Happiness?
I graciously accepted Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose for free and his invitation to read and review it on launch date today June 7th.
I’ll admit I was overly excited to read it. It’s kind of like one of the quotes from his book, “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.” (Bertice Berry) It felt serendipitous that this book fell into my hands. Hsieh’s sense of passion and purpose mimics those I’ve seen in Walt Disney and I quickly realized that to make it big, you better be ready to risk big.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
One of Hsieh’s 10 core values for Zappos is to “Build Open and Honest Relationships Through Communication.” This book review will like all my otherreviews will be an honest look from my own perspective. So here goes.
Hsieh is not a writer. And unlike Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, you won’t be wowed with its prose. With that being said, I closed the book feeling inspired. His stories spoke for themselves. Hsieh’s commitment to customer service at the sacrifice of profits is the kind of thing you can’t help but respect and admire. And maybe more than that secretly wish that your own boss would read the book and start caring about your own personal growth and happiness.
But it is a book after all. And many cynics may question Hsieh’s purpose for writing the book. Is this just another marketing tool to help get more customers and to show Zappos in a nice, shiny spotlight? He actually tackles this question at the back of the book. While Hsieh admits that this book may have added benefits, kind of like the cherry on top of the sundae analogy, his purpose he says is bigger-to spread happiness around the world.
Can he do this or more importantly can this book deliver the goods-the happiness goods?
Here’s what fell short: At times the book seems to be a mishmash of different goals: a) Is it an autobiography? b) A how-to for entrepreneurs and businessmen c) A self-help book on achieving happiness
I admittedly was worried when in the first part of the book (what I believed to be the autobiographical section) in regards to Asian culture, Hsieh said,”The accomplishments of the children were the trophies that many parents defined their own success and status by.” I would have much rather he said “his” parents instead. I am 100% Asian and I cared more about my grades and successes than my parents did.
Here’s what worked: Although I was temporarily and initially bothered by the comment above, I was quickly propelled into the whirlwind of Hsieh’s life and became intrigued with his early childhood desires to make money, his early adulthood financial success and his early wisdom in this statement: “I thought about how easily we are all brainwashed by our society and culture to stop thinking and just assume by default that more money equals more success and more happiness, when ultimately happiness is really just about enjoying life.” It seems that Hsieh can deliver more than shoes.
If only all of us met with that kid of success and understanding of happiness in such an early age.
There’s lots of riches sprinkled throughout the book. Quotes like this one, “Envision, create, and believe in your own universe, and the universe will form around you.” And it’s in Hsieh’s story of his blood, sweat and tears (movie worthy, really) to create his own reality (something most of us are too afraid to do, let alone imagine).
Perhaps the real jewel of Delivering Happiness is its applicability to almost anyone who reads it. It can hopefully inspire employers and entrepreneurs to care more about their employees than profit realizing that supporting them to grow and caring about their happiness are actually beneficial to the company in the long-term. (Something this job hopper has seen go wrong in several businesses.) At the same time, it can inspire anyone searching for purpose, needing motivation to fulfill their own dreams, or those feeling uninspired about life, feel moved to recreate their destiny. Pretty powerful stuff!
As a freelance writer, I was actually surprised that there were things I could learn about focusing my passion into my business. Somewhat in the words of Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better writer.”
Overall, Delivering Happiness was a very inspiring read!