CEO Tony Hsieh Discusses Zappos.com

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Early last year I got a notion to direct message a question to Tony Hsieh on Twitter, the CEO of Zappos.com. If you haven’t heard, yesterday Amazon.com purchased Zappos.com, which brings two major online retailers together.

I think it’s incredible, but who cares about my opinion, lol. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I received an invitation to elaborate on the question from him and emailed him several. I appreciated that he took the time to answer my questions. I’ve done the same thing with some other not so incredible people and never received any kind of response so you can imagine what that did for my opinion of Zappos.

What follows is the Q/A that I sent:

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: http://blogs.zappos.com/ “

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 a bar, on a hiking trip, or going out for dinner. “
-Tony Hsieh
CEO of Zappos.com

What an awesome person to have in the drivers seat for your company! It takes a passion for work to get into positions like he has been in and to have as much success as he has found. In 1998, Tony Hsieh sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. Not to mention that Tony also has bragging rights for ordering the first 100×100 at IN-N-OUT.

In light of yesterdays’ news I thought it only fitting that I bring this impromptu interview to the forefront, dust it off and repackage it for you.

What better examples can we ask for than people like Tony Hsieh to show what success can be made of, the affect you can have on people, and what it means enjoy your work and help others enjoy theirs too.

Finding success doesn’t have to be a taxing experience that turns you prematurely gray, and keep in mind everyone’s personal success level is different. Congratulations to Zappos.com for making such a splash in the online retail industry that Amazon.com had to join forces, rather than compete. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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