December 6, 2012
Book Short: Culture is King
Tony Hsieh’s story, Delivering Happiness (book, Kindle), is more than just the story of his life or the story of Zappos. It’s a great window into the soul of a very successful company and one that in many ways has become a model for great culture and a great customer service model. It’s a relatively quick and breezy read, and it contains a handful of legendary anecdotes from Zappos’ history to demonstrate those two things — culture and customer service — in action.
As Hsieh himself says in the book, you can’t copy this stuff and believe it will work in your company’s environment as it does in Zappos’. You have to come up with these things on your own, or better yet, you have to create an environment where the company develops its own culture and operating system along the broad lines you lay out. I think Return Path has many similarities with Zappos in how we seek out WOW experiences and in our Core Values, as well as the evolutionary path we took to get to those places. But as much as I enjoyed reading about a like-minded company, I also recognized the specific things that were different and had a good visceral understanding as to WHY the differences exist.
It is the rare company that gets to $1 billion in revenue ever – let alone within a decade. For that reason alone, this is a worthwhile read. But if you are a student of organizational culture and believe in the power of values-driven organizations, this is good affirmation and full of good examples. And if you’re a doubter of the power of those things, this might just convince you to think twice about that!