Posts Tagged ‘Tony Hsieh’
January 31, 2013
I drew this cartoon because a recent story in the news made me sad:
A lively and popular figure of the start-up scene, Jody Sherman commited suicide.
I didn’t know the guy, but we had mutual friends, like Jason Calacanis and Tony Hsieh.
Jason summed it up well: “And it seems like folks are not ready to talk about that issue just yet. Which I can understand.”
This is the second startup suicide in a month, after poor ol’ Aaron Swartz. We are genetically programmed to have our our tiny brains fried by the suicide of somebody we care about; writing about it well is impossibe at the best of times. But here are some of my own meagre, insufficient thoughts:
1. My deepest condolences to Jody’s family, esecialy his wife and children. The sorrow must be horrible, simply horrible. I am so sorry, truly.
2. Once we’ve made our millions, retired and gotten old and decrepit, hey, then DEATH is not so scary an idea, but when one is still in one’s prime… Most of us doing the start-up thing are still in our prime, so natually DEATH is amazingly strange and alien to us.
3. The start-up life, for all the time we spend glorifying it, is a very tough road. Again, Jason says it well:
Perhaps we owe it to these three amazing humans to examine if the pressures of being a founder, the pressure of our community’s relentless pursuit of greatness, in some way contributed to their deaths?
I’ve always believed that being a founder is an unhealthy pursuit at times, and few have disagreed — certainly not those who have done it. Read any biography of a successful founder and you’ll find collateral damage around — and certainly in — those individuals.
Startups are a full-contact sport. This is a good time for all of us to pause and think about why we’re doing this. And the impact it’s having on us and the people around us.
4. Me and my friends in the sart-up scene aren’t spring chickens anymore, for the most part. We’re the old guard now. And as Karma catches up with us and the hard choices we made, our deaths are going to start getting a lot more common.
5. As I’m fond of saying, anything worth doing will cost you your life, eventually. Best make sure it’s worth it, make sure it’s something your deepest self actually wants.
6. Yes, your deepest self, not just your glib, sexy, bullshit self.
7. This is it. Fight like hell. Godbless.
August 1, 2011
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As the great Doc Searls famously wrote in The Cluetrain, “markets are conversations”. So it stands to reason that products are, as well.
Products OF a dialogue.
Products ARE a dialogue.
How you talk to your customers affects how your products get made. Of course they do. Tony Hsieh of Zappos understands this very well. In molecular terms, his company is little more a call centre and a warehouse full of shoes. But it is the social interaction which makes the company rock.
The social dynamic.
March 24, 2011
1. Silicon Valley was born in 1939, when Messieurs Hewlett & Packard started their company in a small garage in Paulo Alto.
2. In his book, “Delivering Happiness”, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speaks of in great length about “The Loft”, a place where all his friends used to hang out and party, and how this sense of “meaningful gathering” went on to inform the core values of his now-famous shoe company.
3. A very dated-looking photograph from 1978. Eleven young, goofy-looking techies. They turn out to be the founding members of Microsoft, including Bill Gates.
4. Michael Dell founding his computer empire in his dorm room at the University of Texas.
5. Ben & Jerry’s started making ice cream in a converted gas station in Vermont.
6. The business guru, Tom Peters often writes about how his time as a young man serving in the US Navy helped evolve his now-famous worldview.
7. Rock star physicists, Brian Cox talks passionately about the Big Bang Theory.
8. How a despondent, burned-out, second-rate advertising copywriter FINALLY got his groove when he started drawing cartoons on the back of business cards.
9. The Beatles playing those early gigs at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.
10. The famous tech blogger, Robert Scoble talking about his job working in a discount camera store, back when he was a kid.
11. How a bunch of young, angry social misfits start a small nightclub, the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916 Zurich [at the height of World War One] and in the process invent Dada, one of the 20th Century’s most influential art movements.
12. Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin.
So… What do these all have in common?
They’re all Creation Myths. That’s right; just like The Garden of Eden.
We humans seem to need them, somehow. They manage to articulate who we really are, somehow. The help explain our core values, somehow.
And for whatever reason, REALLY successful people are even more likely to have them, even more likely to need them, somehow.
Does your schtick have a good creation myth? If not, maybe it needs one?
Think about it.
September 19, 2010
On Friday I was talking to Peter Sisson, gapingvoid’s new client, the guy behind Toktumi and Line2.
We were talking about “The Cocktail Party Rule”- what’s true at cocktail parties is also true in marketing i.e. If you want to be boring, talk about yourself. If you want to be interesting, talk about something else.
Luckily, Peter concurs…
The way I see it, a product is an “Idea Amplifier”. You have an idea about something– phones or whatever– and you build a product as an expression of that idea.
For example, Zappos’ central idea is not really about shoes per se, it’s about company culture and customer service– “Delivering Happiness”, as its CEO, Tony Hsieh calls it.
Similarly, with Line2 the central idea is not about an iPhone app, it’s about, and I’m quoting Peter here, “What phones could be”.
And what can a phone be? I’m curious to find out. I think we all are.
June 7, 2010
Today’s “Daily Bizcard”, “Green Purpose”, goes to CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh.
Zappos is the online retailer– which first made its name selling shoes– that was recently sold to Amazon for over a billion dollars in stock. Tony has just written a book, “Delivering Happiness”, which comes out today.
One of the publisher’s charming marketing gals gave me an advance copy back in March at SXSW, which I happily read. Inc. Magazine has a nice extract here: ‘Why I Sold Zappos”.
Two things that stood out for me in the book were, 1. Tony’s firm and well-articulated belief in making the improvement of the company culture their top priority, ahead of profits. 2. That none of it was easy. Zappos didn’t just become big and rich overnight, it was a real slog– long hours and lots of stress, over many years. He really captures that well.
The cartoon is a re-working of a print I made recently, “Business Is…” I like the way how Tony explains in the book how he always had a very strong sense of purpose for is company, and how having that at the very epicenter was what made his company ultimately so successful. So I wanted to articulate that.
Congrats on the new book, Tony. Thanks for the inspiration!
[Daily Bizcard archive]
[Tony, we’ll be in touch soon via email@example.com to collect your details for the back of the card, so we can ship a free box of 100 to you etc. Thanks!]