I just got back from two INTENSE days at Zappos.com – met with all their top guys several times (including Tony their CEO), sat on calls with their reps, dug in with their marketing team. TOTAL open book – EVERY question got answered with complete honesty, enthusiasm, and detail from EVERY one of the 30+ people I met.
What an INCREDIBLE company and experience!! Zappos is a $1 billion in revenue, PROFITABLE company, with 1,300 employees who have more passion, enthusiasm, and FOCUS for the company than I have EVER seen with ANY company (May 09 Inc. Article)
Here’s some of what I learned:
1. Delivering happiness to everyone (customers, employees, and suppliers) translates into more cost-effective marketing, lower-cost payrolls, and better supplier terms/benefits/opportunities. AND a much more nimble, exciting, fun company all-together.
2. Effective leadership is NOT about command by committee. It’s about listening to the people who’s opinions I value and then making decisions for the company on my own (not by committee). Tony (their CEO) created the company’s 10 core values just by doing that.
3. Changing the culture of a large company is next to impossible, so start as early as possible to create the foundational values of the company. Zappos really started focusing on theirs at about 100 employees I think. Tony wishes he had done it from day one.
4. Give EVERY employee the ability to WOW everyone who touches the company (refunds, flowers to customers, peer-to-peer bonuses, 2,000 thank you notes per day, etc.).
5. Know the profit model. Zappos bases a lot of their wow on providing unexpected free overnight shipping. Which means they aren’t carrying $30 Crocs in that model or any shoes under $50. So they can be profitable. Also, since they give customers time to try shoes and send them back, they get longer terms from their suppliers to match that model.
I used Twitter to take some notes, pics, and videos along the way.
Read from the bottom of page two up…
Why is Zappos opening up for others to see their secret sauce? Tony made his fortune selling LinkExchange to Microsoft for $240 million. He sold it because he didn’t like the culture that the company had become. He’s doing Zappos not (as much) for the money, but as a way to create a great SUSTAINABLE culture to bring more happiness to the world and help other companies do the same (through http://www.zapposinsights.com) Thanks Tony, Donavon, & Robert for a mind-blowing two days!!