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 – Start Your Own Blogging Business By Entrepreneur Press and Jason R. Rich

blog businessStart Your Own Blogging Business by Entrepreneur Press in collaboration with Jason R. Rich, who has written no less than 10 books  is subtitled: Generate Income from Advertisers Subscribers, Merchandising, and More. This subtitle is a bold statement because blogging is one of those things that are easy to start, but difficult to make money with, so it will be interesting to see what advice the book offers to help us start making money from our blogs. This is not a large book with just 150 pages of reading content, but it does cover some interesting topic areas such as:

– How to plan and create your blog
– Publishing and promoting your blog
– Changing a hobby blog into a professional one
– How to generate revenue directly from your blog

The book has seven chapters and a glossary of blog related terms. To give you an insight into what the book covers in a bit more detail, I’ve reviewed each chapter briefly.
Continue reading

The E-Myth Revisited By Michael E. Gerber

EMythThe E-Myth Revisited subtitled, why most businesses don’t work and what to do about it, is not a new book. In fact it is an updated version of a previous book with the same title. Published in 1995 it is a business classic having sold over one million copies. If the term E-Myth sounds weird to you, Michael Gerber, the author has a definition for it. E-Myth or the entrepreneurial myth is the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs and the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work. The aim of the book is to:
– How the steps involved in you the life of a business from infancy through to maturity
– Apply the principles of franchising to a business even if the business is not a franchise
– Distinguish between working on your business and in your business Continue reading

Marketing – The Essential Guide By Antonia Chitty & Victoria Dawson

Essential guide to marketingWhat attracted me to this book is its simplicity and small size. Many marketing books are heavy tomes with lots of pages. But this book had just 125 pages and 9 chapters. When I also looked at the content based on the chapters of the title, I liked what I saw. Marketing is an area where a lot of entrepreneurs struggle. Building a product does not necessarily mean people will come and buy unless they know about it. This book will give you some ideas on how to promote and market your business. So potential customers know and understand what you are offering. The authors describe this as a book that will help all business sizes ranging from sole traders to teams know how to market their business.

Following is a brief review of each chapter. Continue reading