When he was 23, after graduating from Harvard and a brief stint at Oracle, he and a friend spent five months building a web company, LinkExchange and rejected a $1M offer to buy the company. Two years later they sold it to Microsoft for $265M. From his foray into the venture capital and incubator world, through Venture Frogs, to his 20 year investment in building Zappos, Hsieh experienced just about every challenge that faces entrepreneurs.
My favorite lessons include:
Inertia is a powerful force. People and business teams need to make a concerted and disciplined effort to counter it.
Humans are happier when they are part of something that is bigger than themselves.
Don’t outsource your core competency.
One way that Hsieh’s team helped Zappos employees to get to know their colleagues was to build an extra step, called the Face Game, into their system sign-on routine. A photo of a colleague appeared and the user had to select the correct name from a multiple choice listing.
Culture is king. Zappos invested heavily in team building, developing and promoting values, and creating fun in the organization.