This interview with Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, was conducted at the Zappos corporate headquarters in Henderson, Nevada. My friend Paul Zelizer (www.moneymake2.com) joined me for this.
Wisdom 2.0 Interview with Tony Hsieh
Paul: We know that when people are engaging and enthusiastic, people tend to want to do business with them. You are very skillful in sharing yourself in a way that feels authentic. Do you have anything to say to someone who is in a small business and wondering, “Can I do this? Can I really bring myself to the table in an authentic way and expect to succeed in our society?”
I think that is the only way you are going to succeed. Transparency is going to happen whether you embrace it or not, so you might as well embrace it. I think that is one way to develop a personal and emotional connection.
When someone does this, the person may not be liked by everyone, but the goal is not necessarily to have as many people like you as possible. One of the things about happiness is that you want to form meaningful connections with people. Those people who do resonate with your personality, those are the people you want to develop relationships with. I think people worry too much about bringing their personal selves into business, when I think the way to succeed in today’s world is to make your business more personal. Twitter is also a great way of doing that.
“I think people worry too much about bringing their personal selves into business, when I think the way to succeed in today’s world is to make your business more personal.”
Paul: You have said in the past that “your values are your brand.” Could you say more about that? How does that work in your daily life such that customers feel it?
Brand building today is so different than what it was 50 years ago. 50 years ago you could get a few marketing people in a small room and decide, “this is what our brand will be,” and then spend a lot of money on TV advertising — and that was your brand. If you as a consumer only had your neighbors to talk to, you had to believe what the TV was telling you. Today anyone, whether it is an employee or a customer, if they have a good or bad experience with your company they can blog about it or Twitter about it and it can be seen by millions of people. It’s what they say now that is your brand.
Soren: How do you support diversity here? In many places in the tech community, if you show up with a suite and tie, people often look at you like you are old school or past-tense. So, how do you support diversity in your culture such that a new norm is not created and if people want to dress in a suit and tie or with a bow tie, they feel free to do so?
Well, specifically, one of our core values is to “create fun and a little weirdness,” and that is one of our interview questions: we ask, “From a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?” If you are a 1, you may be a little straight-laced for us; if you are a 10, you may be a little psychotic for us. But we really do not care what your answer is. Our fundamental belief is that everyone is a little weird, so it is really just a fun way of saying that we celebrate every one’s uniqueness and we want their true personalities to come out, whatever that is.
This comes across in our call center as well. One person may call two different times and get two different reps with very different personalities. One rep may be chatty and like to tell jokes and the other may connect in a completely different way, and that is fine too. We don’t dictate one way or another.
We also do not have scripts and call times. We really encourage our reps to develop personal and emotional relationship with our customers, one phone call at a time.
“We really encourage our reps to develop personal and emotional relationship with our customers, one phone call at a time.”
Soren: A lot of people have lost their jobs today, and are somewhat mixed. A part of them is disappointed they lost their job, but another part did not like their job in the first place. People are wondering, “where do I move from here?”
I had plenty of friends who lost jobs in the last tech crash in the 90s and if you ask to them today, most of them will say it was the best thing that ever happened to them, because it forced them to do what they should have been doing anyway. It goes back to that idea that we are often really bad at predicting what makes us happy, but I think the majority of the people who are losing their jobs now will look back a few years from now and view it as a good thing as it gave them the opportunity to find something that they were passionate about.
Soren: I know it may be shifting, but what would you say is your purpose right now?
For me it is researching this the science of happiness field, which is a relatively new field since most of psychology has focused on how to fix people who are not functioning properly rather than on how to get normal people, happier. Then figuring how best to spread that to the world.
Click Below to Share on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc
Click here to view all the Wisdom 2.0 Interviews