Saturday, June 12, 2010

5 Things I Learned from Delivering Happiness

The new book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is clearly a marketing tool—I mean the book cover has the Zappos logo and URL all over it. But I got a lot out of it even though I found myself rolling my eyes some as I read Tony's stories about taking short-cuts, but still reaping unheard of benefits. The man admitted to getting into Harvard, then sleeping and playing video games instead of going to class. When he graduated he looked for the highest paying job possible that required the least amount of work. Then he showed up late, took a nap during the 2-hour lunch break he'd take every day, did almost nothing, and still managed somehow not get fired. He quit five months into his first job to start a business. Of course, he became a millionaire right away so he devoted his time to more important things—like learning to play poker and buying a ginormous pent house loft apartment in San Francisco, which he turned into his own private rave club for all his friends before he even turned 26.

Whatever. I could've done that, too, if I had his resources, innovative spirit, and irrational fearlessness when it comes to financial ruin. (Have you even noticed that most rich people become rich when they're young and reckless?)

As far as I can tell, Tony and I have one thing in common: We both recorded ourselves practicing the violin as children, and deceived our parents by playing the tape back while we read in our rooms. Of course, I got caught the first time I tried it. He apologized to his mom in the book he published 20 years later.

This was a fun read and it gave a lot of insights into the business world. It turns out business and yoga have more in common than I thought.

This is just a short sampling of some of the things I learned.

1. The most successful people in business, and in life, have just as many failures along the way. They just learn from those failures and never stop trying.

2. You can't build a business (or really much of anything) by yourself. You need a strong support system you can rely on and trust—especially when things look bleak. Be generous. Give without expecting something in return. And if it doesn't work out, at least you'll still got your friends.

3. Even millionaires with access to the finest foods in all of the world still appreciate the simple taste of Taco Bell occasionally.

4. Working hard won't get you anywhere if you're not passionate about what you're doing. When you follow your passions, you become consumed by the task. When this happens you're not working overtime, you're simply using your free time to do what you love, too.

5. When you start hitting the snooze button 10 times in the morning because you just REALLY don't want to get up and go to work anymore. It just might be time for a radical change. Life is too short.