Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh review

Before I get started, if you’re looking for me to tell you whether or not you should read the book, you should stop reading this now and read the book.

What it’s about

Delivering Happiness is about how Tony Hsieh ended up at Zappos and includes all of the things he learned along the way.  It is a vast collection of personal experiences that taught Hsieh lessons that he now implements into the Zappos culture.  (The name is pronounced as “shae” I believe)

I’ll stay away from summarizing the story because I’m sure if you were looking for that you could have just gone to Sparknotes.

Who would benefit from reading this book

Someone who’s trying to find happiness in his or her life could read this to find out how Hseih did it.  At the end of the book Hseih goes over a few different methods of finding happiness.  They make a ton of sense and could EASILY be incorporated into your life.

Someone who runs a business.  Clearly Hseih knows how to run a company.  He started off as an investor for Zappos, and when he realized he wasn’t happy, he decided to give Zappos more money and have them move into his apartment complex as he essentially became their CEO.  He gives TONS of tips about treating your employees the right way to have them completely bought in to working hard for your company.

Anyone who is in charge of one or many people.  Hseih talks about what makes other people happy, so if you’re the one calling the shots, you can use his tips to make your direct reports enjoy their work more and work better for you.

Anyone looking for a purpose in life.  When he first started, Hseih was in business only for the money.  Once he got his money, he realized that life is about more than just money.  If you’re a person who doesn’t care much about making a lot of money but you don’t know what you DO want out of life, he can help you find it.

FREE Education?

College is an integral part of the American life.  According to USA Today, the pay gap between high school grads and college grads is around record highs at 56%.

A four year education can cost anywhere between $25,000 and $240,000 leaving students in debt at an average of around $29,000 (  That being said, college is a great place to go to get an education AND create the best connections for your working life.  college debt

That being said, for someone who is interested in education, and not interested in the connections (and the price tag) that come along with it, there are a few websites that offer education FOR FREE. and are two of the most popular of these websites.  There is only one string attached.  While you can take these courses for free, you need to pay if you want to receive credit for them.  founding timeline

While this might sound like a buzzkill, the price for this can be as low as $50 and as high as $3,000 (much cheaper then going to college).

These aren’t courses provided by ‘garage professors.’  Professors on the site come from schools like Yale, Penn, UC Davis, Stanford, etc… the list is endless.  From the top schools in America to Hong Kong.

I recently started a finance course on Coursera to see what it was about.  I didn’t read where the professor was from and only realized that I was sitting in on a Yale lecture once the video started.

I decided that I wanted to do this class because I wrote out my 5 year plan and realized that instead of being bored over the break I could be learning something about my craft.  I have written about the five year plan before, but I will reiterate once again that if you have a goal and a plan of how to get there, it becomes a lot easier for you to stay productive.

Coursera has over 2000 classes on a multitude of topics.  If you know what you want to do with your life but need more education to get there, this is the perfect place to start.coursera

Formatting a 5 Year Plan

When I started my plan I had a hard time imagining what I should even expect out of myself.  To help, before I started writing my goals I listed where I’d be no matter what.  So for me that meant writing down things like:

  • “I’ll be 25.”
  • “I should be 4 years out of college.”

I wrote these down to give myself a good perspective on where I’ll actually be in 5 years.

Next I wrote my five year goals.  These can be anything, make them as big or as small as you want.

  • A target salary
  • A specific job
  • A minimum GPA
  • A starting spot on the team
  • A minimum draft pick
  • A target body weight
  • A better relationship with your spouse
  • A certain amount of savings

A key for these is to keep them realistic.  Shoot high, but realize that if they’re achievable you’re going to realize that and give up on it early.

Next I created a 1 year plan.  I started the same way I started the five year plan – with the overview of where I’d be.  I figured that if I wanted to be on track to complete my five year goals, I should have goals every year.

One of my 5 year goals was to be at a job where I could grow and learn.  In order to be able to get the job that I want, I know I need to do something of value to put on my resume.  So this summer I have a sales job, so I set a 1 year goal of doing a great job at that job – make an impressive number of sales.  That way I can get a good recommendation from the owner of the company (who I know I can get in contact with) and I can put that on my resume. checking boxes

This method of creating a 5 year goal, and corresponding 1 year goals will make it easier to track your progress and stay on the right track.

More on Why to Create a 5 Year Plan

Finally, add a list of what you will do everyday to complete those goals.  If one of your goals is to get a high GPA, you should write that you’re going to do all of your homework and study every day.  If you have your own website and you want to reach a certain number of monthly visitors, you would write something like, post ‘x’ times a week or spend ‘x’ hours a weak backlinking to your website.

Print this list out, set it as your phone lock screen, post it up in your bedroom… This should be all you think about all day every day.  If it is all you think about, you will reach your goals as long as your methods to get there are good ones that will work.

Why Create a 5 Year Plan

Where do you want to be in 5 years?  A very ambiguous question that everyone kinda strategyknows, but not many people really know.  Most people respond with something like, “I don’t know, it would be nice if…”

Some people simply have no idea where they want to be while some ahead of the game might know exactly where they want to be.  Then when asked how they’re going to get there, their answer becomes fuzzy.  The question is probably answered with a surprised look and a confuzed, half planned response.

By creating your 5 year plan you’ll know exactly where you want to be and you’ll be able to figure out how to get there.


Creating a plan is the first step to being productive towards your goal.  Before, you might have been taking steps towards your goal but they were likely misguided.  For example, you want to make $130,000 in the finance sector out of college.  So you take a job your freshman year… it’s making you money and provides experience you can put on your resume so why not!?  With your plan in place you’ll be able to figure out if it’s a good step towards your goal or just a step.  So instead of taking the first job you get, you might look for a job in finance or at least business end of a company instead of being on the service end.have a plan

Core Values

Earlier this winter break I was listening to a podcast by Andy Frisella about the core values his company has.  Andy Frisella, for a little background, spent a summer when he was around 18 years old painting parking lot lines with his friend.  With the money they made, they opened up a supplement store and over the next 10-15 he made himself a millionaire.  He now owns multiple companies which earn between 200-300 million a year.

He was talking about his core values and it got me thinking that I should do the same.  I made a list, and wrote a description of each value so I could do my best to live by them every day.  Since then I’ve noticed a positive change in my life.

My Core Values

These values are not listed by importance.

  1. Confidence confidenceConfidence is key to your success.  If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you will be swayed by every little criticism you get.  You need to have the confidence to take criticism and analyze it – is it hate or is it something you can use to improve yourself.  Keep moving forward.  Just because you get some hate or criticism, it doesn’t mean you quit.  Instead, take the hate and forget about it or take the criticism and MAKE the changes… and keep moving forward!
  2. Continually Self-improve – You are never your best self.  Constantly read, listen to other people and train.  self improveConstantly, through trial and error, change yourself to make yourself better.  Athletes don’t make it to the pros and stop working out.  They work out HARDER.  The same goes for everyone else.  Never stop improving yourself and your self-equity will multiply until the day you die.
  3. Always Exceed Your Expectations of Yourself – You are only capable of what you allow yourself to be capable of.  When you have a certain expectation of yourself it becomes easy to MEET that expectation.  If one day you exceed your own expectation, even if it is just by a miniscule amount, your expectations of yourself become that much higher.  By doing this, your work will always seem hard because you always need to beat your expectation of yourself, but your work will progressively get better and better and eventually, you will be shitting out great work because your expectations of yourself are so high.
  4. Be Disciplined – This goes along with the last core value, you must have discipline exceed-client-expectations-e1312550753383to exceed your own expectations.  By being disciplined in everything you do, it becomes easy to extend that to the important things.  That means taking out the trash when it needs to be taken out, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, fixing things instead of taping them up, etc…
  5. Be Resilient – You will be knocked down. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you can Google just about any successful person and see how often they’ve been knocked down.  It’s impossible to be successful if you allow yourself to stay down.  How can you move forward if you allow things to keep you down for too long?  All your time will be spent trying to get back up when you should already be back on your feet.  Don’t get back up and make the same mistake again.  Take each failure as a learning opportunity.
  6. Work Hard – This one is simple.  Work your ass off.  The harder you work, the more you will get out of life.  Don’t think of it as “the harder it is now, the easier it is later.” hard work It’s always going to be hard.  You need to find joy in that.  The hard work is the fun part because it’s what gets you success.  Don’t allow some success to be enough.  When you reach success, you must put success farther away so you’re always moving forward.
  7. Go the Extra Mile – This is directly from the MFCEO with Rick Frisella. You go the extra mile for others for two main reasons.  People will love you and your personal brand for it.  This will create lifelong friends and followers of you and your work.  2. You work hard all day, this is the part that makes it all worthwhile.  Your hard work brings people to you who need you to solve a problem for them.  extra mileNormal people who don’t work hard don’t GET to solve people’s problems like you do, this is a privilege for two reasons; one, you get paid to do it and two, you put a smile on their face and get a huge sense of accomplishment out of it.  If you’re given the opportunity to solve someone’s problem, make the absolute most out of it so you never run out of problems to solve.
  8. Accept Responsibility – If you try to transfer blame you’ll never learn from your mistakes because in your mind, they won’t be your mistakes. baby_in_mirror.0 When you transfer blame your discipline will suffer.  If you can’t take responsibility you aren’t being resilient.  A resilient person is strong enough to look failure in the face and learn from it.  Someone who transfers blame is too scared to accept it and you will continue to make the same mistakes.
  9. Be Efficient – Don’t lollygag from task to task.  Get your shit done.  If you’re going to the library to do an essay, GET IT DONE.  There have been too many times where I’ve gone to the library, spent hours there and gotten MOST of it done when I probably could have had the whole thing done in an hour and a half.  This goes along with discipline, but I didn’t realize the power of being efficient until Andy Frisella talked about it.  He talked about your efficiency levels when something is due in a month vs a day.  Just act like everything you’re doing NEEDS to be done that day.productive