I was given an advance copy of Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. Quite simply, it’s the best book on the pursuit of passion and purpose driven (as opposed to purely profit driven) entrepreneurship that I’ve ever read. If you’re looking to make a difference in the world and/or if you want to become successful in you’re own business, Delivering Happiness is required reading.
One of the “liberal guilt” issues that I’ve dealt with as an entrepreneur is justifying consumption and entertainment based pursuits when there are starving children in Nicaragua, millions dying of AIDS, and millions more who will never have the opportunities that America has blessed me with. Delivering Happiness helped me overcome some of these mental blocks.
Each of us can only do so much. We must start by actively living the values we want to see in the world. Our jobs are our livelihood and, as places of high interaction, they provide many opportunities to better the world by becoming a better person. Ultimately, commerce enables us to care, in a hierarchal needs sense, and it provides a structure for each of us to pursue happiness in our work, which is an offering to satisfy someone else’s need. The diversity of our interests creates dependency on each other and encourages greater participation in the system. It allows us to succeed on merit and for us to win in our own way.
Enough about that. Here are a few of my favorite passages from the book:
I learned more about the rave community and culture. I learned that PLUR was an acronym that stood for “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect,” and that is was the mantra for how people were supposed to carry themselves and behave both at raves and in life.
At raves, it was part of the culture and considered perfectly normal to approach complete strangers and strike up a conversation. […]
The idea of PLUR and the rave culture rubbed off on the beyond the rave scene. To me, it was really more a philosophy about always being open to meeting people no matter how they looked or what their backgrounds were. Every interaction with anyone anywhere was an opportunity to gain additional perspective. We are all human at the core, and it can be easy to lose sight of that in a world ruled by business, politics, and social status. The rave culture was a reminder that it was possible for the world to be a better place, for people to simply be appreciative of the humanity in one another.
We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically and, perhaps even more important, encourage and drive it. We must always plan for and be prepared for constant change.
We want everyone to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid to make mistakes, because if people aren’t making mistakes then that means they’re not taking enough risks. […] We should always be seeking adventure and having fun exploring new possibilities. By having the freedom to be creative in our solutions, we end up making our own luck.
Yet no matter how much better we get, we’ll always have hard work to do, we’ll never be done, and we’ll never “get it right.”
That may seem negative, but it’s not: we’ll do our best to “get it right,” and then do it again when we find out that things have not changed. That is the cycle of growth, and like it or not, that cycle won’t stop.
It’s hard…but if we weren’t doing something hard, then we’d have no business. The only reason we aren’t swamped by our competition is because what we do is hard, and we do it better than anyone else. If it ever gets too easy, start looking for a tidal wave of competition to wash us away.
We believe that in general, the best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up, meaning by those on the the front lines that are closest to the issues and/or the customers. The role of the manager is to remove obstacles and enable his/her direct reports to succeed. This means the best leaders are servant-leaders. They serve those they lead.
The best team members have a positive influence on one another and everyone they encounter. They strive to eliminate any kind of cynicism and negative interactions. Instead, the best team members are those that strive to create harmony with each other and whoever else they interact with.
For individuals, character is destiny.
For organizations, culture is destiny.
Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of your relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself).
As a guiding principle in life for anything I do, I try to ask myself, “What would happen if everyone in the world acted in the same way? What would the world look like? What would the net effect be on the overall happiness in the world?”