Book Review – Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Delivering happinessDelivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is part biography and business memoir as it discusses aspects of Tony’s life and his business ventures especially those that have to do with Zappos, the online shoe company which Tony is a part of, which was later purchased by Amazon. The book starts out outlining parts of Tony’s early life especially his education and his business exploits when he was young. After leaving university Tony would start a business called LinkExchange which was bought by Microsoft making him a lot of money. With the money Tony set up an investment fund which was how he came across Zappos, an online shoe company he invested in and later joined as CEO. Zappos was a risky bet for Tony, as he put almost every penny he owned into the company, including selling his personal possessions to fund the company. It was a company almost destined to fail, but Tony stuck with it, helping to build up the value of the company which would later be purchased for over a billion dollars by Amazon.

The book holds many lessons for business leaders. For entrepreneurs, Tony’s shows that you should never stop trying. His experience outlines how challenging it can be to build a successful business, but also teaches us about the importance of persistence. For  other business leaders, the greatest lesson here is that of choosing a focus and sticking with it. Tony and team made Zappos unique by creating an outstanding culture of customer service. That was their focus. While there were other companies that were in business similar to Zappos, they couldn’t match Zappos’s customer service. And it was mainly that culture that led to Amazon buying the company.

Business leaders reading this book should pay particular attention to the part in the book where Tony writes about how the culture at Zappos was developed. He goes into details about the ten core values of the company, but a very interesting aspect of developing the company’s culture is their culture book. The culture book was created when an email was sent out to every employee to ask for their uncensored view of the company. All replies from the employees, both positive and negative were included in the book, which is now the company’s culture book. A copy of the book is given to every new employee. The culture book is updated on an annual basis.

Overall this book is enjoyable and easy to read, but at the same time includes some crucial lessons that business leaders will find beneficial. My main lesson from the book was the importance of great customer service. A business or organisation that makes customer service a focus will always get the attention of customers.

From each of these books I will be curating one to three lessons and publishing them as a pack at the end of each month so look out for those lessons. The three lessons I have learnt from the book which I shall be writing a learning point summary on are:

  1. How to strenghten your culture with a culture book
  2. Using a focus to differentiate your business
  3. The importance of being transparent

Book Review: Life Entrepreneur by Christopher Bergen & Gregg Vanourek

life-entrepreneurThere are books you read and you power through them while others you slug through. This is one of those I powered through. What attracted me to this book was the ‘entrepreneur’ in the title, and to be honest I didn’t expect much from it. But once I started reading it,  I couldn’t drop the book. This is not your typical entrepreneurial book as it’s not so much about ‘how to create a business’ or ‘the secret of startups’. Rather it is about seeing entrepreneurship as a way of thinking, an attitude, a mindset. In other words it is more about entrepreneurial leadership.

The authors use stories from interviews with 55 entrepreneurs and other thought leaders to discuss a view of entrepreneurship that is holistic. One that doesn’t just look at the business aspect, but also the social, relational and emotional aspect of a person’s life. Each of the short stories used are quite inspiring, but at the same time thought provoking and give a more balanced perspective on the entrepreneur, a word which has attained celebrity status in our days.

The book is divided into 3 parts, each consisting of 3 chapters, making it 9 chapters altogether. While the book has just 185 pages of reading content (you can read it in 3 days), it has 3 appendices. Following is a brief overview of each chapter. Continue reading

Book Review – Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

six-thinking-hatsI first read this book about 15 years ago, and remember using the techniques in the book to facilitate a couple of sessions. I had forgotten about the Six Thinking Hats till I recently reviewed, Teach Yourself to Think, another book by Edward de Bono (you can read my review here). In just 177 pages, de Bono has written a book which can teach anyone a simple, but very effective technique to help manage meetings, facilitate group sessions and more importantly, solve problems. So what is the Six Thinking Hats technique? It is a parallel thinking method which allows people to look in the same direction at any point in time with the aim of exploring a particular subject fully and deriving multiple perspectives for making a decision. Continue reading

Book Review – Dealing With Difficult People By Roy Lilley

Difficult peopleDealing with difficult people is a book that presents a lot of bite-sized information about how to deal with difficult people. For a book with just 140 pages it covers a lot of ground, but don’t expect in-depth coverage. The book though does take an interesting approach to discussing the topics. Each chapter focuses on a different area of handling difficult people and in 24 short chapters the book discusses areas such as:

  • Types of difficult people
  • Handling conflict
  • Dealing with angry bosses
  • Handling aggressive people and bullies
  • Dealing with moaners, perfectionists and manipulators
  • Working with lazy people, the egoist and fault finders

The range of difficult situations that the book covers is quite wide and interesting at the same time. Below is a brief review of what you can expect to learn in each chapter. Continue reading

Book Review – Successful Networking In 7 Simple Steps By Clare Dignall

7 stepsSuccessful Networking In 7 Simple Steps by Clare Dignall is a straightforward book that does exactly what its title says. In 7 short chapters it presents some key information about how to improve our network capabilities. The book has just 144 pages so you won’t get bored with unnecessary content. It is also a very structured book. Each chapter opens with a quote, five ways to succeed and five ways to fail in relation to the topic being discussed. Each chapter of the book is labelled as one of the seven steps and ends with a summary table for you to write down what you will take away from the chapter. Following is a brief description of each step.

Step 1 – Creating networking opportunities
What is my purpose for networking? What is my existing network and how do I exploit them? How do I create new networks? These are questions answered in this chapter. You will also learn about getting ready for networking events, how to plan your networking and how to avoid hiccups on the day (of the networking event). Continue reading