Digital Capital Week: Delivering Happiness

I had the pleasure of attending Tony Hsieh’s book signing for his latest book, “Delivering Happiness”.  Frank Gruber, co-producer of Digital Capital Week, served as the moderator for the event.  During its opening week,  “Delivering Happiness” debuted at #1 on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble.  The book mainly discusses how to better create customer satisfaction and how his company (Zappos.com) delivers happiness.

Mr. Hsieh started a pizza making business in college with his roommate.   After graduation, the two friends started LinkExchange.  While they had fun with the company, employees were working around the clock, and it came to a point where Tony dreaded coming to work.   In 1999, LinkExchange was sold to Microsoft for $265 million.  (Yes, you read correctly-265 MILLION DOLLARS!)  He decided to sell the company as the culture went downhill.   The employees were qualified; they just were not good for the company culture.  In 2005 when Tony became the CEO of Zappos.com, he wanted to build a brand that focused on customer service.   Within 4 years, Zappos became the #1 online shoe retailer.  Tony shared that the quality of great companies are a very strong culture and having a concept of a higher purpose.  At Zappos, they have 10 core values, also known as commitable values, meaning that people can be hired or fired based on those values.  Zappos.com also looks out for its employees by providing a comprehensive benefits package and encouraging entry-level hires to work on their personal and professional growth.   It’s Mr. Hsieh’s goal that these new hires can reach senior management level within 5 years.  This young entrepreneur believes it is possible to make customers happy, employees happy, and raise a profit in a successful business.

Mr. Hsieh took the time to answer a few questions from audience members.   He was very forthright and honest with his answers as well, which was very refreshing coming from a CEO of a major company, as one attendee pointed out.  He admitted that his biggest failure was that he hired people to quickly and was slow to fire them, when those should be reversed.  He also admitted that he should have shared his core values on Day 1 instead of waiting 4 or 5 years to share that information with employees.  Another tidbit Mr. Hsieh pointed out was that he encourages his senior level management team to socialize with their employees outside of the workplace.   His experience has shown teams become more productive by increasing their out of work socializing by 10-20%.  Free copies of  “Delivering Happiness” were given to all registered guests; for a donation of $20 to LiveStrong, Mr. Hsieh would even autograph your book!  I had an enjoyable time at the this event and even live-Tweeted from my seat at George Washington University.  One quote that will stay with me for awhile was, “It’s better for co-workers to become friends than friends to become co-workers” meaning it’s not always a good business practice to hire your friend just because they are your friend.  To get more information from Mr. Hsieh purchase the book or visit the book’s site at http://www.deliveringhappinesbook.com.  I know I cannot wait to delve into my copy.  As a budding entrepreneur I would love to hear more of his suggestions on how to create and retain a successful business, be happy, and ensure your employees stay happy.   Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Advertisements

Digital Capital Week: Opening Party

Everyone loves a good party.  So what better way to start off Digital Capital Week than having one!  An estimated 2,000 party goers attended the Opening Party for Digital Capital Week at the Longview Gallery.  Attendees had the opportunity to party in the actual art gallery, in the fenced in patio,or the alley in between.  There was free beer, wine, and water.  Cool art, videos on wide screens, interactive games, and performers.   My favorite part of the evening had to be the fire-breathing performers.  All you saw were flames and all you felt was heat!  As a self-proclaimed music fanatic, I loved the DJ and the bongo player.  And I must say, I was all too happy when the DJ played “Controversy”!  I had the privilege to meet and hang out with fellow bloggers, videographers, and photographers.  I also had the pleasure to meet and talk to partygoers who were just there to have a good time.   I was able to hone my reporting skills and interview some people, who were more than happy to talk to a complete stranger about their experience.  First, I met Michael, who had just arrived to the party.  He found out about the party that same day by logging on to going.com.  He likes technology and likes jazz, which was being played by a live band at the time, and seemed to be enjoying himself thus far.  Michael is from the DC area and shared the party information with one friend, who was on the way.  Brooks heard about the party through a friend and is absolutely NOT a tech person (YAY, I wasn’t alone!).  She spent time researching the event and arrived with other friends.   Brooks considers herself open-minded and was willing to hear about the other events that were going on this week.  Eric is a tech-savvy person and came to (in his words) “meet tech-savvy smart people”.  (I can’t disagree with him, but he wasn’t going to find that in me!).   Eric found out about the event through pinkline.com.  He knows a lot regarding technology trends and new media social networking.  Ilana’s boyfriend was the curator for the outdoor music (kudos to you, sir!).  Ilana is a contemporary dancer and enjoyed the music and the venue.   Will, who was excited to be featured, is an IT guy.  He’s used to being the guy to always help people, so I think I made his day when I asked him if he wouldn’t mind answering a few questions!   He was excited to see so many technology people coming together and socializing.  His favorite technological devices are the laptop and the internet, which he feels allows people to see and learn about anything.

Yes, your girl was very busy, but I had a great time!   I was able to hang out with some great people, view some cool art, see some great performers, and enjoy a great DJ and live music!  I had a late night, but I was too excited to get up today to hear what Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, had to say regarding “delivering happiness”.   (You’ll see the highlights from that event in my next post! ) If you were one of the cool kids who attended the Opening Party, what did you think?   Was it all that you expected?  Did you have a great time and meet any new people?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!