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How Summer Camps Can Apply Zappos Principles to Camp: Review of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

June 7th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Books

I was given a free advanced copy of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO of It has been a book I have been eager to read so I did not mind writing a review in exchange to get my hands on the book a bit early.

In September 2008 I first met Tony at a social media conference in Las Vegas. By then he was the talk of social media. He had embraced twitter and was replying personally to people.  Even sent me a note about a picture I posted of my cat. The photo on the left was taken in 2009 at SXSW during the taping of Brian Brushwood’s show Scam School on the Revision 3 network. Brian was supposed to be teaching Tony a trick but Tony came prepared with tricks of his own. Completely makes since now after reading in his book that he likes magic tricks.

Building relationships is a theme in the book Delivering Happiness. It was that personal touch that made me take notice of Zappos and Tony. When recruiting speakers for the American Camp Association Conference in Las Vegas, Zappos (located near Las Vegas) seemed like the best place to look. They graciously sent us speakers from the head of their recruiting department to speak at the ACA CampWest Conference. Christa F, the Recruiting Manager, was our lead speaker and has written a few pages in the book Delivering Happiness. It was a truly inspiring 3 hour workshop.   We were also able to go on a tour of the corporate offices and learn about what makes them so successful. I know what you’re thinking, “Who goes to Las Vegas to get a tour of a corporate office?” It was tremendous. To be able to talk about how they do training and how they keep staff retention and productivity up was priceless. You can see some pictures from our tour at Zappos here.

To say I was a big fan before the book, Delivering Happiness, is an understatement. The biggest challenge when I received the book was realizing I was actually going to have to read. Since completing my Ph.D., reading has not been something I do anymore. I prefer to listen to audio books. My eagerness won out and I was very happy to discover that Tony did not use an editor to clean up his writing making this a book that was more like listening to him speak. This made it a quick and easy read. There is some fascinating background about his beginning entrepreneurial life and what he did before Zappos but a good part of the book is about Zappos, how they survived, and about their core values. Even though I had followed the Zappos story and knew the ending, I was riveted reading about the many times Zappos almost folded. There are sections with their sample interview questions and how they hire staff. Tony also goes over each of their core values and talks about what it means to them and adds essays and examples from various individuals.

Zappos is all about customer service. Not simply good customer service but WOW-service. That is the one thing I am taking away this summer. There are so many other takeaways in the book but this is the one that fits what our camp needs at this time. We do a great job with customer service but we don’t WOW people. I am eager to bring that to the staff to figure out how they see us putting that in action.

I do recommend the book. You can get it at Amazon or I am sure any place that sells books.

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