I’ve been following the CEO of Zappos.com, Tony Hsieh, on Twitter since I set up my account there practically. The great thing is how down to earth and fun the company seems to be through his twitter updates. So I took the liberty of sending a direct twitter with a loaded question. I was hoping for a loaded response, but got something better…and invitation to email him with an elaboration of my question.
So again, I took the liberty of not only elaborating on my previous question, I also added a few more and invited him to reject the extra’s if he didn’t have the time. I was pleasantly surprised to find answers to all of them in my inbox!
I think you can never learn from a better person than someone who is doing what you want to do successfully already. This is why franchising is so successful, it’s a business model that works, and it’s laid out for you. So often we over complicate things or worse, convince ourselves not to take a chance in life on something like a small business and are left to wonder if it would have worked out for us. Don’t be that person.
Every person who has been successful in life has worked hard, so it is possible that with a little work, you can be successful too. Without further ado:
What motivates you everyday?
There are 2 main things that get me excited about Zappos. One is it’s an opportunity to build a brand that will hopefully one day become a household name that everyone is excited about, whether you’re a customer, an employee, or even a vendor that we do business with. We want the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and very best customer experience, and hopefully 10 years from now people won’t even realize we started selling shoes online. There are a lot of household names out there, but there are very few mass consumer brands that people are passionate about!
The second thing that gets me excited about Zappos is the opportunity to help build a company that has a really great culture. For most companies, the culture goes downhill as the company grows. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen at Zappos, so our #1 focus as a company is our company culture. We want it to be a fun place to work, a place where it feels like one big family. You can get an inside peek at our culture at our blogs:
What motivated you to work to get where you are today?
I wasn’t really trying to get anywhere and certainly never thought I’d be CEO of a company that started out selling shoes online. I think I’ve just always tried to get involved in only things that I’m passionate about, and a lot of stuff just happens through serendipity. I’m passionate about
providing great customer service and creating a great company culture, so that’s how I eventually wound up as CEO of Zappos.
What steps would you recommend someone take if they wanted to follow the path you’ve taken?
When I speak with entrepreneurs, they always ask me questions like what’s the next big market opportunity they should start a company around. And my advice to them is that that’s the wrong approach. You shouldn’t be chasing the money. Instead, do something that you’re passionate about, something that you’d love doing even if you never made any money from it. I tell them to chase the vision, not the money. The vision should be about something that’s meaningful to you, your employees, and your customers. Making money or increasing profits is really not that meaningful in and of itself. If you’re passionate about your vision and you can execute against it, then the money will eventually follow.
Do you think you had any particular edge over anyone else in life? What kind of work ethic do you think your position as CEO of Zappos.com requires? What kind of hours do you keep?
Do you take your job personally?
Yes, I definitely take my job personally… Not just me, but for most of our employees as well, Zappos is a lifestyle, not a job. I think the edge that we all have (including me) is that we are passionate about the company and what we stand for (customer service), and we love the company culture.
The concept of “work hours” doesn’t really make sense to me, because I’m always connected or hanging out with people that work at Zappos. If we’re at a happy hour and occasionally talk about the business, but we enjoy talking about it, it definitely helps the company but we don’t think of it
as “work” in the standard sense. In fact, we encourage all our managers to spend 10-20% of their time outside the office, to get to know the people that work with in a non-office setting, whether that’s at bar, on a hiking trip, or going out for dinner.
What a great company to work for huh? I think it must be a pretty awesome atmosphere. I hope you all like this Q & A and maybe he’ll even peek over and answer questions if you have them. You never know. I would definitely recommend checking out Tony’s Blog on Zappos.com
I hope you guys look around and find some shoes you like after you’ve read this great interview.
This won’t be the last interview we do with someone who has reached a great level of success in their life. Until next time everyone, keep your chin up and don’t stop dreaming.