Pubcon Vegas kicked off this morning with a keynote from Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh. Tony’s presentation was entitled “Delivering Happiness”.
Tony started out by running a pizza shop in college, and he met Zappos’ CFO back in college after the CFO, one of their best customers, was found selling Tony’s pizza by the slice on the side! Tony founded LinkExchange and ran it from 1996-98, and he eventually sold it to Microsoft for $265M. Why did he sell? He said that when the company got larger, the culture was lost. It was one thing they hadn’t considered much, and it suffered. After selling LinkExchange, he invested in several companies, one being Zappos.
Zappos has 1400 employees and is headquartered in Las Vegas. They consider themselves “powered by service” and see themselves as a service company that happens to sell clothing, shoes, etc. About 75% of their daily sales are from repeat customers. Last year they did $1B in gross sales. They rely on word of mouth marketing and focus marketing budget on making service better.
At Zappos, they have a strong focus on culture. For example, some of the things that Zappos does include:
- they have no sales performance goals (wow)
- each employee has two interviews — one with the manager and one with HR. The HR person solely looks at will that prospect fit into the culture.
- they pay employees $2,000 to quit
- they have a “culture book” (to get a free copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your mailing address)
Two books that Tony recommended on culture were: Good to Great and Tribal Leadership. He said that one thing that these books touched on was that a common property of successful companies was that they have core values. It didn’t seem to matter WHAT the core values were — as long as there WERE core values and you COMMIT to them.
Tony also said that you have to have vision — “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.” Good advice.
And my favorite quote of the session from Tony was from the movie Notorius — when Diddy says to Notorius B.I.G.: “Don’t chase the paper, chase the dream.” In other words, follow what makes you happy, whether it makes you money or not.