Dorie’s Book Review: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, CEO of  Zappos, has won a lot of praise for Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. I’m also going to give it a thumbs up – though you should be forewarned it’s a pretty nontraditional business book, and that’s its great strength. Hsieh goes a little mawkish when he talks about Zappos and its famed corporate culture, though I’m not really blaming him–he built a great company that was successfully acquired by Amazon.com for a cool billion. From my perspective, however, the truly unique and outstanding parts of the book are:

  • Hsieh’s discussion of his childhood entrepreneurial streak (which stayed with him all the way through hawking burgers at a markup to his Harvard classmates).
  • A vivid look at late ’90s Silicon Valley culture and the mania of the time, including the $265 million the 24 year-old Hsieh and his pals got for their startup, LinkExchange.
  • A personal look at how Hsieh finds meaning in business in quirky ways – including an obsession with rave culture in his youth, and his foray into positive psychology today.

His drumbeat about creating a vibrant workplace culture – and the deliberate way you need to approach it – is valuable. But even more important, this is an endearing, “unplugged” look at contemporary business culture and the people who shape it.

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.