Work Happiness Expert – Tony Hsieh of Zappos

Tony Hsieh of Zappos is everywhere. He was on the cover of Inc. Magazine. He speaks at large conferences and spreads the Zappos culture message. I felt lucky to hear him speak at SxSW conference this past year.

I’ve touted Tony’s leadership on Work Happy Now. I’ve also been spurred to write a few articles because of his blog. But now I landed an interview with him. Tony’s employee called him a genius. You know when an employee calls his boss a genius, this person must be something special. After all, your employees are the ones who see you for 40 to 50 hours a week and begin to see the cracks.

Tony has made me view work happiness from new angles. I’m glad he is out there in the business world. He helped create Zappos, a company that emphasizes the importance of enjoying work. His concepts are leading the employee revolution, encouraging change in the business world.

Karl: How important is work happiness to you?

Tony: I think it’s very important, not just to me personally, but I think it’s also really important for employees to be happy. It’s pretty much impossible for an unhappy employee to deliver great customer service or to be an effective brand ambassador.

Karl: What is one activity that makes you happy at work?

Tony: One of the most rewarding activities for me has been communicating to employees, vendors, and customers about what we are all about at Zappos. I do this primarily through email and public speaking, and it’s always great to watch people’s reactions as they learn about our core values, company culture, and focus on customer service.

You can learn more about our culture on our blogs:

As well as here:

Karl:  How do you maintain balance between your working and non-working life?

Tony: When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, there doesn’t need to be a clear separation between work and non-work. I think most people assume that work is something that has to be unenjoyable. Part of our goal at Zappos is for employees to look forward to coming into the office, and our company culture is a big reason why they do.

Karl: Do you work on being happy at work?

Tony: Yes, we are always looking for ways to improve our company culture. In most companies, as the company grows bigger, the company culture goes downhill. Our goal is to have the culture actually get stronger as the company grows.

Karl: How does your work happiness differ between now and when you first started working full-time?

Tony: Prior to Zappos, I never really paid much attention to company culture. In fact, at LinkExchange, which I co-founded, by the time we got to 100 people, the company culture had gone really downhill, which is why we ended up selling the company. At Zappos, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Karl: If you are feeling down, what do you do to lift your spirits?

Tony: I’ve found that usually a change of environment can help a lot.

Karl: What is your biggest detriment to work happiness?

Tony: I think for everyone, a big detriment to work happiness can be feeling like you are not in control of your own destiny. But what I’ve realized is that in the end, things usually end up working themselves out.

Karl: If you could give work happiness advice to someone just starting their career in 140 characters or less (Twitter style) what would it be?

Tony: What are you so passionate about that you would be willing to do it for 10 years without ever making a dime? That’s what you should do.


There are so many skilled writers on the blog-o-sphere and one of my favorite is J.D. of Sources of Insight.


If you enjoy quick work happiness tips that will help give you a new perspective on your working life then follow me on Twitter – @workhappynow. You won’t regret it. 🙂


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  1. Ian | Quantum Learning says:


    I really enjoyed this article and it confirmed what I’ve believed for many years. That if you love both your work and your personal life, the boundary between them gets fuzzy or disappears.

    Having spent over 20 years in and around large corporations myself, it’s very refreshing to hear of a business leader who really takes the happiness of his people seriously.

    Great interview!

  2. This is a really interesting and inspiring interview. Thanks so much for posting it on your site. I really enjoyed looking around your site too. 🙂

  3. Great interview and the last point was especially useful. Tony is a guy that get’s it, and I really enjoy watching the progress of his company.

  4. Thanks for the link love!

    Great interview and I like the questions. I especially like the “twitter-style” question … and I think the response is spot on.

    It’s a pattern I see time and again.

    The trick of course is finding the best ways to profit from your passion … enough to fund your life style. The other trick is making sure your passion stays intrinsic and you don’t externalize it to the money.

  5. Hi Karl: You’ve just introduced me to Zappos. I completely agree that unhappy employees are not going to do a good job of promoting your brand. Passionate employees on the other hand are fabulous salespeople 🙂

  6. I love hearing about Tony and Zappos. The lessons he can teach other companies are so sorely needed.

    He says “I think most people assume that work is something that has to be unenjoyable.” Bingo. So true.

    It’s also interesting that he mentioned he didn’t pay much attention to company culture at his last company–and now he is so well-known for his “work happy” philosophies.

    I’m glad you shared this interview.

  7. Thanks for all the great comments. I’m so lucky to have all of you reading my blog.

    Zappos is a brilliant company and you’ll be hearing about them again and again on this blog.

  8. Hi Karl,
    Great interview! And what’s great, is how good it is to hear this coming from the top. And not only coming from the top, but also being lived from the top. Words without actions hold little value. From what I’ve seen and read, these words here are backed up by actions – and that’s important.

  9. Work can either be a source of joy in life or a source of stress. And as stated by other commenters the balance between is important and when you find this balance joy comes. Stress, anxiety in either place can rapidly cause problems in the other.

    The best companies realize this and help provide a good place to work and also access to resources that might not otherwise be available, to help the home situation if the employee needs it.


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