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Tony Hsieh’s Lasting Impact on Values at Zappos
Tony Hsieh left some big shoes to fill.
Without Hsieh, there would be no Zappos. He was an early investor in Zappos and served as the online shoe retailer’s CEO for more than 20 years.
Tony Hsieh died recently from health complications following a house fire. His legacy in the world of e-commerce and internal communications is so far-reaching, it’s hard to know which elements to focus on.
When Hsieh first invested in Zappos in 1999, it still had the very dot-com bubble name “shoe-site.com.” Hsieh recognized the importance of getting people to feel comfortable and confident shopping online. Zappos was among the first to offer free shipping and free returns.
In less than a decade, he took the company from $1.6 million in sales to $1 billion.
Then he sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion.
Yet his impact on how organizations approach company culture may be just as significant as his success in the world of online retail.
Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit
New hires at Zappos spend a month on training and learning the company’s strategy and culture. At the end of this period, the new employees famously receive “The Offer.” If the employee quits that day, they receive a $1,000 bonus on their way out the door.
The idea is Zappos only wants employees who share its commitment to customer service. So much so, it’s willing to pay people not to work there.
The Significance of Zappos’ Core Values
That’s a flashy initiative that’s generated a lot of good PR for Zappos over the years, but it’s important to note the company really is that committed to culture. Hsieh put a lot of work into refining the company’s 10 core values and its purpose — to live and deliver WOW. He started by asking every single employee what the company’s values should be.
His only regret? Not doing it sooner. Here’s what Hsieh told the New York Times in 2010 —
“It gave everyone a common language, and just created a lot more alignment in terms of how everyone in the company was thinking. If I could do it all over again, I would roll out our core values from Day 1.”