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 – Bank of Dave by Dave Fishwick

Bank of DaveIntroduction

How does a person with no banking experience or qualifications go about setting up his own bank? That’s partly what this book is about. Dave Fishwick, the author explains his attempt to take on the banks by creating a much smaller, but better bank. This is a book I had seen on the bookshelves and thought, oh no, not another one of them self promo books, but I’m glad  I decided to read it because it was very enlighthening. Written in straight forward language, Dave goes a long way in explaining the banking system and how it has failed in layman terms. He also writes about his view of business which I found refreshing. Continue reading

Book Review – Innocent, our story & somethings we’ve learned.


I have read a couple of business biographies and this is one of the most enjoyable ones. Written by the founders of the healthy food company, Innocent, it is all about the business,how it started, grew and what it stands for. And no, you won’t learn about their mum, dad, how much sport they played or their dog called Andy. More to the point this book is all about Innocent as a business and perhaps you will learn one or two lessons about starting a business. If I were to recommend books about learning to start a business, this one would definitely make the list. The book itself is an easy one to read because it is very attractive and easy on the eyes, littered with very interesting images and pictures. Also it’s not a bulky book with just 201 pages. It is structured into ten chapters, each one focusing on a key aspect of the company. I checked Amazon uk for views about the book. After 25 reviews it had a 4.5 rating, not bad. Some criticism aimed at the book is it does not contain enough details about the operations of the business. Others also felt the book was just a marketing spin. But all that in no way takes away from the quality of the book.

Following is a review of each chapter in the book. Continue reading

Book Review – Difficult Conversations – How to discuss what matters most By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen

Managing Difficult ConversationsIntroduction

This is a book about conflict management written by authors from the Harvard Negotiator Project. As the comments reveal this book has a lot to stand up for and even though this edition is it’s 10th year anniversary, the book still seems to be a favourite. So why was a book like this needed in the first place? The authors make it clear that while as a people we have advanced technologically, our need to have difficult conversations and the trepidation that goes with having them hasn’t. It was so in the past, is that way now and to be honest is not going to change in the foreseeable future. After all we are humans with diffrent opinions and views and when we interact with each other conflict is inevitable.
So this is not just a book that can be applied to business but it is useful on the homefront as seen through the some listed cases where it has been applied;

  • Using it to teach Argentinean tango
  • Used by Israeli mediators to handle conflict
  • Used to train oil-rig operators
  • Parents have used it to improve  communication with their children

Moreso the book has already been translated into 25 languages. The book is divided into four parts, each split into one or more sections. Covering 311 pages the book will help you learn about:

  • The three types of conversations
  • How to create a learning conversation
  • Questions people ask about difficult conversations.

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Book Review – Strong Woman – Ambition, Grit and a Great Pair of Heels By Karren Brady

Strong Woman By Karen BradyIntroduction

If you have recently watched the UK’s version of the business reality TV programme, Apprentice or follow England’s football premier league then Karren Brady shouldn’t be a strange name to you. Known as football’s first lady and Alan Sugar’s right hand woman in The Apprentice, Karren is one of those women in high places who gets the public’s attention, at least for reasonable reasons. In this book she has written what I would refer to as part biography, part rant, part business and everything in between. If you have wanted to learn a bit more about who karren Brady is and where she came from then this book will certainly help, but be warned it does not go into any detail about her family life, growth in business or any other aspect of her life, but does cover a lot of ground. What the book does do though is give you an insight into the type of person Karren is and her background. I found it very interesting to read and I like Karren’s straight to the point, honest way of talking expressed in her writing. I think she gets on with Alan Sugar (which she mentioned in the book) because just like him, she is very straightforward at saying what she really thinks.
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