Books 07.21.2011

Just Finished: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I was fortunate enough to attend the Future of Web Apps conference in Vegas. Learned a ton.

Anyway, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, was a keynote speaker at the conference. Zappos played a big part in making it a really fun conference. They’re headquartered in Vegas and Tony is really keen on trying to make the downtown area a happening tech scene. I think they can do it.

I really like Tony’s outlook on work. Surprisingly to me, he never seemed to be a workaholic. He wasn’t an overachiever in school either, in fact his first college ventured involved crowdsourcing and publishing study notes–mainly so he could pass the classes he’d slept through all semester. When it feels like work, he would disengage. When it was something he could really pour himself into, he’d make magic. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and creative types can relate to something like that– if your heart isn’t in it, it’s not likely you’ll hang around too long.

After selling LinkExchange– the company he cofounded with a college friend– to Microsoft for $265 million, the 24 year old Hsieh was offered an additional 20% of his cut to stay on at LinkExchange for one more year. But his heart wasn’t there. So instead of just “showing up” and collecting another couple million, he got back to what he does best– starting companies.

I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventing made me happy.

Hsieh admits that writing isn’t his strong point, but the book is written in a very conversational manner and is an easy read. I think anyone who has considered starting a company, or who just isn’t finding their desk job very satisfying, will find Hsieh’s enjoyable and inspirational. Fun read.


Michael S. Mioduski is the founder of GhostRanch Communications, a presentation design studio.