“Delivering Happiness” is a book by Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) I picked up recently after hearing about it from Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Tim Ferriss. It’s actually the first Kindle book that I’ve purchased, despite not actually owning a Kindle! I actually started reading the sample on my iPhone, which was a really pleasant experience, and after the first chapter I was hooked. So a few days later, I went to Barnes & Noble and read the hardback version for about an hour and I was ready to make a purchase…just not purchase the hardback. This post is less of a review of the book and more of a stream of my thoughts on the book itself, unedited. I hope to update it as I read through and comment on some of my highlights and notes.
The first chapter of the book reminded me a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!” (A book that’s soon to be on my yet-to-be-materialized recommended reading list). In it, Tony describes his childhood ventures into entrepreneurship, and like Gary and others, he was quite successful at an early age. As I look back on my childhood, I don’t think I could write such fascinating stories of business success. I grew up in the country, which didn’t really make for good door-to-door or neighborhood sales. But really, I was never concerned with money much as a kid. I earned my allowance by begrudgingly doing errands around the house and was pretty content. Oh to have such contentment at this point in life…
The book really starts to pick up when Tony talks about his days on a computer. He quickly became adept at programming and talks about some middle school mischief that eventually lead him into a job at Oracle. He hated his job and started a web design agency with his roommate, and eventually they started linkexchange. I felt like I could relate to most of his experiences through college and beyond.
What I couldn’t understand, however, was how his own company went so wrong. He started it, and yet found himself later wishing to be anywhere but there. It’s just crazy to me how it could’ve gone so wrong. Eventually he left the company after being bought out by Microsoft, but he never explicitly explained how much money he walked away with.
A then along came Zappos. Tony was investing in other companies and getting bored not building something. This resonated with me because I love to build things. Always have. It was doubly interesting when he stated that despite having money, a home, and complete freedom, he was unhappy. Parts of the book, including this part, were so heavy that I had to just put it down and ponder for a while what I would’ve done.
So after deciding to invest in Zappos, and seeing it fail, Tony decided to take the reins. What baffled me was how Tony could see the potential in a company that was making no money. He poured everything, all his savings and investment fund, into this one “basket.” He was really “all in.”
More to come soon.
** Update October 8th **
I just made it through the most boring part of the book. For I don’t know how long, Tony gave up the driver’s seat and let his employees do the talking about Zappos’ culture. Some of the content was interesting, but mostly I just wanted to hear more of Tony’s insights rather than stories of Zappos’ culture. I will say that I liked their focus on fun in the workplace. Overall I got the sense that these employees really do feel as good about their jobs as Tony claims they do.
** Update October 13th **
I’ve just finished the book and I think the ending was possibly the best section of the entire book. It really leaves you to process how you’re living your life. It’s a lot of Tony’s thoughts on Happiness and how we so often only pursue the temporal happiness found in new purchases and the “next high.”
Overall I really enjoyed the book, even if the middle felt a bit slow, and highly recommend reading it.
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