#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.”

One Comment


  1. Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function ereg() in /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-content/themes/scottreston/functions.php:282 Stack trace: #0 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-content/themes/scottreston/comments.php(35): sandbox_commenter_link() #1 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-includes/comment-template.php(1554): require('/home/sreston/a...') #2 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-content/themes/scottreston/single.php(72): comments_template() #3 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-includes/template-loader.php(106): include('/home/sreston/a...') #4 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/home/sreston/a...') #5 /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/index.php(17): require('/home/sreston/a...') #6 {main} thrown in /home/sreston/apps/scottreston/wp-content/themes/scottreston/functions.php on line 282