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 – The Power of a Positive NO by William Ury

untitledThe Power of a Positive No, by William Ury is a book that deals with an aspect of life that most of us face almost on a daily basis, how to say no to people confidently. It is amazing that a book covering 257 pages can be written about how to say a single word, but those 257 pages are needed. So if you struggle with saying no to certain requests then this book is for you. The book is divided into three parts titled:

  1. Prepare
  2. Deliver
  3. Follow through

Each of these sections has three chapters, adding up to nine chapters in total. The first part of the book, Prepare, will help you to prepare to say no by first saying yes to yourself. It advices us to uncover our yes by identifying why we need to say no in the first place. It also shows us how to prepare confidently to say no with conviction.

The second part, Deliver, shows us how to actually say no. It splits saying no into three parts by telling us to first express our own yes by letting people know why we are saying no, then assertively say no and finally end with a yes, which is a proposal for an alternative solution.

The final part, Follow through, advices us not to back down from our no. This is because even after saying no, we may still be pressured into saying yes instead. Some key strategies on how to stay true to our no are discussed.

This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed because it deals with an area that I personally find challenging. But also it has a lot of other lessons that can improve the way we engage with people. There are tips on how to be respectful, handling personal anger and communicating appropriately. The book also has a good number of insightful stories and quotes, and good information on handling conflict.

Therefore if saying no to certain people, situations or requests is proving challenging for you, get this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Over the next three weeks I will share three lessons learnt from the book. I am also working on a book summary and group learning session covering some key lessons from the book. The book summary will cover three to six key lessons, while the group learning session will allow you to show people how to apply some of the lessons from the book to their own lives. When we teach others something, we also learn it too.


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

Quotes from The ONE Thing

One ThingHere are sixteen interesting quotes I got from reading the book, The ONE Thing. All these quotes deal with productivity and focus. You can see my review of The One Thing here.

  1. If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one – Russian proverb.
  2. You only have so much time and energy, so when you spread yourself out, you end up spread thin.
  3. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead  of doing more things with side effects.
  4. The key is, over time success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.
  5. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world – Og Mandino.
  6. There can only be one most important thing. Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important – Ross Garner.
  7. You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thing on which you have decided – General George S. Patton.
  8. Success demands singleness of purpose – Vincent Lombardi.
  9. Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.
  10. The things which are most important do not always scream the loudest – Bob Hawke.
  11. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.
  12. To do two things at once is to do neither – Publilius Syrus.
  13. Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time – Steve Uzzell.
  14. We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal – Robert Brault.
  15. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one – Mark Twain.
  16. People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures – F M. Alexander.

Continue reading

Key Lesson From The One Thing – Focusing Question

One ThingHere is a key lesson from The ONE thing. You can read a review of the book here.The overall message in The One Thing is about focus, one of the key tools introduced in the book is the Focusing Question. The focusing question is a question you ask that helps you identify the one thing you need to focus on in a specific area of your life. It can relate to your personal life, business work or career. The focusing question looks like this:

What’s the one thing i can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary.

The key benefit of the focusing question is that it can help you to focus and think about the first action you need to take on the way to achieving something and that action must make successive steps easier or even unnecessary. Continue reading