Tony Hsieh’s HQ (Happiness Quotient)

At the World Innovation Forum, one of the presenters was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. He talked a lot about happiness, what makes Zappos one of the top workplaces and, I think, a great place to buy from.

Next up at the World Innovation Forum was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. He talked a lot about happiness, what makes Zappos one of the top workplaces and, I think, a great place to buy from.

  1. There’s a big difference between motivation and inspiration: Inspire through values and motivation takes care of itself – you won’t have to work at it.
  2. Roll out values from DAY 1. This took several years for Hsieh to figure out.
  3. Take the high touch v. the high tech approach. There are no scripts in call-center and they even had an 8-hour customer service call, so there are clearly no time limits either. It’s about making an emotional connection and the knowledge it can take time and effort. BUT, the rewards are life-long, repeat customers.
  4. Customer service is about making customers happy; Workplace happiness is about making employees happy. Simply put, Zappos is in the “Delivering Happiness Business!”
  5. Telling stories and creating memories makes business and service come alive and engagement flourish.
  6. People are bad at predicting what will ultimately make them happy. It’s not as simple as asking them. Hsieh has found happiness encompasses 4 things: Perceived Control, Perceived Progress, Connectedness and Vision/Meaning. With the second, instead of giving big promotions every 18 months, they decided to give smaller promotions every 6 months. Employees LOVED it because they felt there was consistent movement.
  7. 3 types of happiness: Rock Star (intense pleasure, difficult to sustain), Flow (time flies, “in the zone”), and Being Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself (longest lasting so figure this one out first and others will come.)

A personal story about my recent experience with Zappos: Just last week was a daughter’s birthday. Being busy, I did not have time to shop for one of the items on her list, a pair of shoes, a particular style of Sperry Topsiders. My procrastination was based on living in Greenwich, CT, home to many Yacht Clubs making me think the shoes would be an easy find. Wrong! Knowing it was late, I ordered them from Zappos, but, sadly, I was too cheap to pay for quick shipping, which bummed me out because I knew I probably wouldn’t have the gift on her birthday.

The day after placing my order on the SATURDAY OF MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, I received an email from Zappos with the subject line: “Good News! Your Shoes Have Shipped!” Upon reading the email, I learned Zappos had made a decision to expedite shipping–all without my having asked. It blew me away. It really made me happy.

All of Tony Hsieh’s and Zappo’s principles are about making the human connection through “delivering happiness.” And I thought my HQ (Happiness Quotient) was in Greenwich, CT.


Ruth Sherman Associates LLC / High-Stakes
Presentation Skills Coaching, Consulting & Media Training for CEOs,
Celebrities, Politicians, & Entrepreneurs / Greenwich & Los Angeles

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About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World


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