Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service (Knock Your Socks Off Series) | Ron Zemke

Summary of: Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service (Knock Your Socks Off Series)
By: Ron Zemke


Welcome to a journey of shoe-selling, customer-centric success with the book ‘Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service’ by Ron Zemke. This story revolves around Tony Hsieh’s pursuit of happiness through entrepreneurial endeavors and the creation of Zappos, a renowned online shoe retailer. The book focuses on the critical role of company culture, brand identity, and employee training in building a sustainable and successful company. This summary will explore Tony’s early dreams of getting rich, his experiences at LinkExchange, and the key lessons he learned in poker, which he applied to his business strategies. Get ready to immerse yourself in Tony’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs in building a company that delivers happiness to its employees and customers alike.

Tony Hsieh: From Earthworms to Zappos

Tony Hsieh, the elder son of Taiwanese immigrants, grew up with high expectations of academic excellence and music. However, he had a passion for making money from an early age and started his first business venture, an earthworm farm, at the age of nine. Tony’s parents backed his ventures, leading him to purchase 100 worms for $33.45, but the worms wiggled away, leading to his first failed venture. Tony’s thirst for entrepreneurship continued as he encountered a button-making machine which he used to start a successful button-making business. He brought in $200 in the first month, eventually passing the business on to his younger brother. Throughout high school, Tony continued to earn money, testing video games for Lucasfilm and creating software for GDI. He also tried his hand in the magic-trick business, which unfortunately was not successful. Despite these hiccups, Tony’s entrepreneurial spirit would lead him to become the visionary founder and CEO of Zappos, a billion-dollar online shoe store known for its unique company culture. His philosophy that “if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will happen naturally” has made him a respected figure in the business world.

Harvard and Entrepreneurship

Hsieh, the co-founder of Zappos, spent his time at Harvard avoiding work, studying for exams, and making money on the side as an entrepreneur. He skipped readings, but instead, created a crowdsourced study guide, which netted him not only good grades but also a good lesson in business. He and his roommate ran a successful food stand, which included selling pizza to a customer who turned out to be reselling it on his own. Hsieh’s time at Harvard taught him that he was more interested in entrepreneurship than academia.

The Story of LinkExchange

Tony and Sanjay, once hired by Oracle, developed the idea for LinkExchange while searching for new business opportunities. The idea was for a system that created banner ads for participating websites and generated extra banner ad space to sell to large corporations. The company grew and eventually received an offer from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang for $20 million. The partners, however, declined the offer, preferring to continue building the company. The company continued to expand, and investors like Michael Moritz from Sequoia Capital came on board. Tony noticed that as more employees were hired, they lacked the initial employees’ commitment and long-term goals, diluting the company culture. Eventually, Microsoft offered $265 million in a bidding war to purchase the company. While the partners accepted the offer, they no longer found their work exciting or motivating and dreaded the “Vest in Peace” year ahead of them.

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