If we come to think about, life is simply an endless pursuit of happiness. It’s endless and problematic in the sense that, no matter how hard we try, we just couldn’t find an ideal definition of happiness. If my concept of happiness includes my very own yacht, a Ferrari, and a private island in the Caribbean, can I define this feeling of satisfaction as genuine? Will I stop chasing happiness knowing that I already possess all my desires in life?
I am waxing philosophical here, but we all know that happiness is a dilemma in itself. At least we can all agree that it is not measured by the number of Rolexes you have on your wrist or the bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon you empty every night at posh restaurants.
In fact, happiness is never defined by material possessions. It is not the end goal. It is a process. And this is something that I have learned while reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.
His book outlines his journey towards success and how he was able to cultivate a desire to deliver happiness not only to himself but to others as well. Growing up in a Taiwanese household, Hsieh’s early life revolved around perfecting the necessary skills to achieve in life. His upbringing consisted of strict discipline and diligence covering the areas of academics, career advancement, and music.
Hsieh was able to excel in all three areas. At this point, you could say that he was fully capable of defining happiness in his own terms. Then again, his parents insisted that he pursue a career in medicine, but Hsieh had other things in mind. He was more passionate about becoming an entrepreneur and acquiring skills that would be instrumental in his success. He came up with several business ideas including a worm farm and, in high school, he worked as a computer programmer on the side. Graduating from college, Hsieh would join Oracle together with Sanjay Madan. They left the company and founded LinkExchange.
Business was definitely booming for LinkExchange at that time, but Hsieh felt that they had to let go of their brainchild. It no longer gave him a sense of overwhelming passion like it did when they first started out. And so, in 1999, LinkExchange was sold to Microsoft for a value of $265 million.
“Why sell something that’s already too big to fail?”
Now, you might be thinking, “Why sell something that’s already too big to fail?” We all go through that phase in life where we think we have it all. But it’s clear from Hsieh’s book that happiness is not the destination, but the journey itself. In the end, we will find ourselves back on the road towards another end goal. Only this time, we become more aware of how the journey is shaping us into better individuals.
After selling off LinkExchange, Hsieh found himself back on track by joining the Las Vegas-based online clothing store Zappos. Seeing the brand’s potential at a time when online shopping became increasingly pervasive, Hsieh decided to invest in the company.
Unlike before when he gave too much of his time and attention to growing LinkExchange, Hsieh thought to make things right for himself, all the while nurturing Zappos into a well-rounded brand. As an advisor, he led Zappos in assessing market opportunities and coming up with strategies that emphasize one very important principle he has learned throughout his career as an entrepreneur: customer service.
While companies analyze their competitors, they risk missing one important ingredient to growth. People want brands that understand their needs and this is what businesses should focus on. To achieve such a level of outreach, Hsieh points out a few key takeaways. Here are my favorites:
- Treat your customer engagements as an investment. Focus more on building relationships that are based on empathy and trust. You don’t have to use a call script to make it work!
- Get the right people who have a passion for stellar customer service. If there’s one trait you should nurture in your business, it’s a dedication to help others.
- Make customer service an organizational mission. It’s shouldn’t be something exclusive to marketing and sales. Everyone has to get involved!
For Hsieh, happiness is about nurturing the self and other people. Without a doubt, we all need a change in perspective when it comes right down to defining happiness. Hsieh himself realized that he had to accomplish other goals and spend more time with his family. After all, there’s more to life than having a fat bank account.