By Dean Whittaker

What is it that we all want?  Tony Hseih, Zappos’ CEO and co-founder, tells us in his semi-autobiography, Delivering Happiness, that our ultimate goal in life is to be happy.   He shares his journey of how he found happiness in business and in life.

After an early childhood love of selling things, he describes the surreal grow of his first Internet venture, LinkExchange, and its sale to Microsoft for $250 million when he lost his passion for the firm.  He tells of the founding of Zappos and the beginning of creating a new unproven distribution channel in the highly fragmented shoe industry.  But most importantly, he tells of creating and building a culture within an organization.

His first Internet endeavor, LinkExchange, experienced a growth rate that surpassed his ability to hire people with passion for the business, and he ended up working in an organization with individuals with whom he had no connection.  In fact, he felt so uncomfortable working there that he left the firm before his employment contract expired, leaving behind several million dollars as part of the acquisition.

Tony Hseih vowed to do things differently in his next venture, Zappos, an Internet shoe retailer currently rated as one of the top ten best places to work.  His focus is on relationships – building long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with customers, vendors, employees, and investors.  He found that peace, love, unity, and respect were the keys to building these relationships.  He said to stop networking, and instead, build the number and depth of your friendships where the friendship itself is the reward.

“Envision, create, and believe in your own universe, and the universe will form around you.” Further advice given is to have a shared purpose, believe in miracles (Deus ex machine), and never outsource core competencies.

If you had to describe your organization’s culture, what would you say?  Your culture is your brand. It is how people see and experience your organization.  What are your organization’s core values?

Tony Hseih challenges us to take things to the next level through his mantra of profit, passion, and purpose.  The book has generated a great deal of interest including “a movement.” To learn more, check out the website  Zappos’ philosophy is that we live in a world of abundance, and that by working together we can share both the risk and the reward.  Ultimately, we all want the same thing: to take care of the customers, grow the business, and be profitable.

As we enter the New Year, let us commit to deepening our friendship, giving of our ourselves to those in need, and remembering it is not what we achieve in life that matters but rather what we contribute.   Happy New Year!