The Zappos Experience: A book review by Bob Morris

The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW
Joseph A. Michelli
McGraw-Hill (2011)

Happiness should – and CAN – be an experience shared by everyone involved

I have read and reviewed all of Joseph A. Michelli’s previous books and consider each a unique and brilliant achievement. They feature, indeed celebrate organizational excellence that has been achieved and then sustained by people whose talent and energy are interdependent with their decency and integrity. How else to explain the enduring success of Pike Place Fish Market, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and UCLA Health System? In his latest book, his subject is and once again he focuses on an extended human community of shared experiences that includes but is by no means limited to Tony Hsieh (“Shay”) and his Zappos associates. To an unusual degree, happiness is their currency and, more to the point, it is shared widely and generously with everyone involved in the enterprise

These are among the subjects that caught my eye:

o  The A to Z summary of Zappos’ key facts and attributes
o  Zappos Milestones
o  The business precepts of the Zappos Experience
o  Zappos 10 core values
o How Zappos incorporates values into regular progress conversations
o Cultural connectivity between and among all who comprise the workforce
o “Sharing Great Calls” program
o  Zappos University
o  Leadership training for all levels and areas throughout Zappos
o  The “elasticity” of the Zappos brand
o  ROFL (i.e. “Return on Fun Lasts”)

My guess (only a guess) is that a list of the defining characteristics of the Zappos culture and its core value, many (if not most) of them would also define the culture and core values at Pike Place Fish Market, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and UCLA Health System.

I especially appreciate Michelli’s brilliant use of “Try These On for Size” sections throughout the book that serve three separate but related and immensely important purposes: They focus readers’ attention on key issues, and, they enable (indeed require) readers to correlate those issues with their own specific circumstances.  He also includes an “Ideas to Run With” section at the end of Chapters 2-11 so that his readers are better informed when selecting specific initiatives to apply what they have learned in the given chapter. Some readers find fine the material in the “Zappified Brain Break” sections the most valuable. Michelli’s talents as an innovative business thinker have never been more evident than they are in his latest book.

Tony Hsieh and his associates on the senior management team are to be commended for establishing and then sustaining a workplace culture that may not be right for everyone but certainly it is right for the men and women at Zappos.  And Joseph Michelli is to be commended for enabling others to understand this unique culture and, of even greater importance, to learn much of value from it so they can share (at least to some extent) the happiness that defines it.



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