Zappos, Kinko’s, and The Weak Link

Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness is crushing E Pluribus Kinko’s in Amazon’s sales rankings for a lot of reasons, but one of them is surely the fact that Hsieh’s company, Zappos, still exists. I stewed about ten years too long before writing my book. (Of course, it took ten years for grudges over the company’s cultural implosion to fade enough that people would talk to me)

Another reason: Zappos is a great company with a great culture and a thoughtful, articulate leader who puts his money where his mouth is. People like to read tales of the unusual.

Hsieh’s book discusses the role of customer and coworker happiness in business success, and the challenge of organizing around happiness.  Below is the heart of the Zappos culture, its “Family Core Values.” Former Kinkoids will find them very familiar.

Zappos Family Core Values

As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10.  Be Humble

I think Kinko’s, in its heyday, shared nine of these ten values. If Zappos can learn anything from our experience, it’s that “pride cometh before a fall.” I’m not sure if we lost our humility, or confused it with naivety, or just got crazy greedy as Wall Street hucksters filled our heads with visions of mid-1990s IPO multiples. But as soon as we ceased to see ourselves as struggling underdogs, the other values paled as the driving force in our day-to-day decisions. Good luck, Zappos. Stay hungry and stay humble!

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One Response to Zappos, Kinko’s, and The Weak Link

  1. Fritz Liess says:

    I think the real reason Hsieh’s book is selling well is due to the enormous amount of media exposure he is getting. Don’t underestimate the Colbert Bump. Judging by the amount of time and effort being devoted to inflating the public image of their founder, I think the days of being humble have already past for Zappos. The next step is a reality TV show in which Hsieh travels the globe giving away shoes to orphans. Sorry. I’m a cynic.

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