June 6, 2010

Worms, Websites and Wisdom

I love reading books where you really get wrapped up in the story and find yourself pulling for the main character to succeed. Whether it was hoping for Harry Potter to escape the Chamber of Secrets or Mitch McDeere to stick it to the sinister lawyers in John Grisham's The Firm, turning pages in hopes of a happy ending is nothing new in American literature.

But those books and many more like them are fiction books - make believe stories that lend themselves to white-hatted heroes and ignoring the reality of every day life. It's easy to believe in a character who was created in the mind of the author. I guess it's human nature to cheer for the protagonist.

That's what makes the new book by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh so fun to read. In the new book that will hit bookstores today (June 7th) titled Delivering Happiness ~ A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, you will really find yourself pulling for Tony and his fellow entrepreneurs, associates and business partners to find success (even if you already know the stories ends with a mind boggling $1.2 Billion merger with e-Commerce giant Amazon.com)

I was sent a free advanced copy of Delivering Happiness in exchange for an honest opinion of the book here in The Realtor's Toolbox blog space. The book is available in bookstores and online starting today but be sure to keep reading and you'll have a chance to win a free copy of your own.

The book really draws you in with some genuine stories of Hsieh's early days as a child beings raised with the high expectations of Taiwanese parents. His entrepreneurial side emerged early with his desire to turn a Boy's Life advertisement for a worm farm into a profitable business. After the worm farms, it was customized buttons and garage sales, newsletters and holiday cards. Hsieh didn't make his millions as a teenager but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Delivering Happiness is structured into three separate sections. The first section on "Profits" details Hsieh's early days through college and his early challenges, successes and growth until his launch of Zappos.

Section two, on "Profits and Passion," details the atmospheric growth of Zappos and really introduces the reader to the Zappos culture and community that has made it one of Top 15 "Best Companies to Work For" according to Fortune Magazine.

The final section, "Profits, Passion and Purpose" is Hsieh's chance to help the reader challenge themselves to instill a little of the Zappos mojo into their own life and business.

While I sincerely encourage you to check out the book or the affiliated web site for the book, I would like to share some of my favorite concepts, ideas and takeaways from this book.

What's Your BCP? - The Zappos team keeps a tremendous focus on the company's Brand (boiled down to "wow"ing the customers), Culture (centered on core values below) and Pipeline (employee training and development). Ask yourself - how do to measure your BCP? What can you do to raise your BCP to be worth talking about?

Only 5% of Sales Happen Through the Telephone - Yep, Zappos is an Internet company but they are so focused on customer service they know that if they can use those opportunities when talking voice to voice with customers to further the relationships, they'll have a better chance of building sales or referrals...or both. According to Hsieh, "what we've found is that on average, every customer contacts us at least once sometime during his or her lifetime, and we just need to make sure we use that opportunity to create a lasting memory."

Hey Realtors - Is that any different from what you would like?

Zappos Core Values
(See if any might be worth adding to your daily service with clients)

1) Deliver Wow Through Service

2) Embrace and Drive Change

3) Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

4) Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded

5) Pursue Growth and Learning

6) Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8) Do More with Less

9) Be Passionate and Determined

10) Be Humble

As I said earlier, I encourage you to visit the website or order your own copy of the book if you'd like to see how you might be able to put a little "Zappos" into your business

Or, if you'd like to win a copy of the book, look again at the list of Zappos Core Values and let me know (by commenting on this blog or sending me an email at sean.carpenter@cboki.com) which one of their core values would most align with your way of doing business. Be sure to tell me why you chose the one(s) you did and you'll be eligible to win a copy of the book.

I'll leave the contest open until next Monday, June 15th and then will randomly choose one of the replies to get the book.