#SXSW2009 – Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com

photo by Roustem Karimov

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) is a smart, friendly guy. In 1994 he started a business selling pizzas. Today, Zappos sells upwards of a billion dollars worth of shoes per year. Tony attributes much of Zappos success to one core element: company culture. Every Zappos employee, from the stock-room to the board-room, understands the company culture and it’s primary tennant: awesome customer service.

The slides from Tony’s SXSW presentation are here.

Some nuggets from Tony:

  • People may not remember what you did or said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
  • It doesn’t matter what your core values are, but that you commit to them. Alignment is key.
  • Perceived control and perceived progress make people happier. An example: Zappos has a 3-year process in place for employees to reach a certain job position. They broke the process into 3 smaller segments. The only difference being that the interstitial steps have names. Employee satisfaction improves.
  • During the hiring process, prospective employees are asked “How lucky are you?” The answer to this question gives insight into how that person perceives the world and their life.
  • After completing initial training, new Zappos employees are offered $2000 to quit. Very few take the cash-out. The folks that remain have given more thought to “Do I want to be here?” and Zappos avoids losing hiring/training costs of people that don’t stick around. Tony says “Not enough people are taking the money. We may have to increase the amount.”

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