I read books, always. As you read this, I most probably have an open book. But, up to now, I haven’t read a book that has resonated with my mind the way this book by Tony Hsieh (read Shay) – the easily admirable CEO of Zappos.

This book is divided into 3 sections. The first part follows Hsieh’s entrepreneurial adventures from when he was young, for example his attempt to start an earthworm breeding business at the age of 9, a mail order button business in middle school, and a grille at Harvard University. After college, Hsieh founded LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million two years later. He founded Venture Frogs, an investment fund, of which Zappos was one of the investments. The second section, Profits and Passion, details Hsieh’s involvement with Zappos, beginning with joining the company full-time as CEO in 2000. The third section, Profits, Passion, and Purpose, covers Zappos sale to Amazon, as well as lessons Hsieh learned in public relations and public speaking.

At first, Tony just worked as an intern in software company, and he also worked at Oracle, but later he found that those jobs are boring. Then, he co-founded his first company, LinkExchange, an internet service about online advertising.. In that time, Google Adwords had not been so popular. The idea was, a website could sign up for LinkExchange service, put some banner in their website, and whenever a visitor clicked on that banner, the website would get some credit which would be used to promote it on other websites too. At that time, what Tony thought was just to build a large network of these link exchanges and then sell the company to bigger companies at a profit, remembering that theoretically, they didn’t spend too much on initializing this startup.

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The company became bigger and bigger, and Tony received some offers to buy his company (including from Yahoo), but he still didn’t want to sell it. Later, he found that the company became boring too, all of his work became routine, which he wanted to avoid in his previous jobs in Oracle. So, he sold the company to Microsoft for $265 million.

After selling his company, Tony became an investor for other startups, especially technology startups. This is how Zappos came to be. It was initially Nick Swinmurn idea, in which he saw a huge market for footwear. He imagined that it would be a lot easier for customers to just choose shoes they wanted from the internet. He made shoeunite.com, which later changed to Zappos. Tony, thyrough his investment company saw potential in Zappos…backed it, eventallly becoming the CEO and there has never been looking back.

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It explains how he created a corporate culture with a commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of its employees, customers, vendors, and others.

Check out Zappos’ Core Values…like no other.

Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Be Humble

Tony Hsieh, former investor and now CEO of Zappos, explains how important it is to establish a core-value-based organization, and to hire new talent who are purely in sync with those values.Have you heard of any other company t pays new employees to quit and makes customer service the entire company, not just a department.

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Hsieh understands the power of going beyond what’s expected, particularly in our ever increasing word of mouth world.  People talk about that which surprises and delights them, and meeting unrecognized needs is sure to do both.  It’s not a matter of doing the minimum, but of doing the maximum that leads to long term success.

Business success for this generation (both for the individual and the organization) will go to those who understand their strengths, build a culture around it, and use that culture as a framework to exploit every opportunity to delight their customer.

SO: If you are looking for inspiration about how to live before you die… this is a MUST READ.