Delivering Happiness CoverTony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, gives us a glimpse into what has made Zappos so successful.  This is a light, easy, enjoyable read in which Tony takes us through his life journey from childhood, through college, his first company (Link Exchange), and then through the growth of Zappos from no revenue to over $1B in annual sales in just 10 years.  Key insights develop that collectively contribute the company’s success: don’t outsource critical functions (fulfillment), remove barriers wherever they are identified (free shipping, 12 month return policy, efficient delivery), WOW your customers, suppliers and partners, respect and empower people, take care of your staff…deliver happiness.

I don’t think it matters who your customers are, this is great advice.

Sep 032010

Linchpin CoverSeth Godin asks…”Are you indispensable?”  Well, personally, I don’t think anyone is truly indispensable.  Really.  I think most people can be replaced fairly easily.  And, I suppose Seth would agree that most people could be.  And, that is kind of his point.  You don’t want to be most people.  You can’t afford to be like most people…not these days.

Besides, we’re not like most people anyway, you and me.  We just need to figure out what we’re passionate about and get after it.  He talks a lot about being passionate, and making “art”, and giving “gifts”.  But, the key points are these…We all have unique talents.  We all have the ability within us to leverage those talents to do great things.  We just have to allow ourselves, even require ourselves, to stop holding back.

Do this “emotional labor” because you want to…invest yourself, as a gift…and allow yourself to become a linchpin.

By the way…this is probably the most stressful book I’ve ever read.  It’s like a coach-in-a-box, the way Godin literally yells at the reader from the pages.  It’s all positive prodding, of course.  He’s done a great job of identifying the reasons we’re not doing this or that and calls us out.

Jun 272010

Rework CoverI recently read REWORK by Jason Fried and  David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals.  If you’re not familiar with these guys and their company, you should check them out at  They’re the guys that invented the Rails framework for Ruby (you know, Ruby on Rails), and they used that framework to develop a collection of very popular lightweight team collaboration tools.  I think they have something like 13 on the team and have over 3 million users of their applications.  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.  So, when they came out with a book describing how they did it, I thought it would probably be worth reading.  Oh yeah…their adviser is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.

It’s an easy read…just a couple of hours at my pace…a collection of short essays extracted from their blog.  All worth thinking about.

If you’ve been thinking about starting something new, this book may give you the nudge you need.