Of Vision and Values: Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

By October 07, 2008

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com and Internet folk hero, was Marketing World 2008’s Thursday keynote speaker. Hsieh became Zappos’ CEO in 2000, a year after the company's founding. In that time, the online shoe retailer’s gross merchandise sales have grown from $1.6 million in 2000 to $840 million in 2007. Zappos is known for its commitment to customer service, sometimes to the point of legend. In his keynote Hsieh emphasized the importance of a company’s culture and customer service in building brand. Hsieh’s four keys to this (and his accompanying quotes) are:

1. Vision: does it have meaning? “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger?”; “Chase vision the vision, and not the money.”
2. Repeat customers: Zappos has almost tripled repeat customers since 2001. “Great Product, Great Service, or Low Prices. (Choose and focus on 2 of the 3).”
3. Transparency: “Be real, and you have nothing to fear.”
4. Culture: “Committable Core Values.” The key word is committable: you must be able to hire and fire for them. “If you have the right culture, everything falls into place.

Hsieh also touched on Zappos’ core values, following which has allowed the company to build a unique and successful culture:

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness (there’s actually a 1-10 scale on their application to rate how weird you are.)
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

Hsieh’s speech was so inspiring I started to consider the logistics of moving to Las Vegas, where Zappos is now based. I’m already growing my Wayne Newton mustache.

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