How will Tony Hsieh’s legacy live on at Zappos?
The word innovation is often thrown around when it comes to retail businesses and the executives that lead them, although very few leaders, in fact, really qualify for the moniker. The same can not be said to be the case with Tony Hsieh, the founder and former CEO of Zappos, who created a company totally focused on “delivering happiness” for its customers and employees alike. Mr. Hsieh died last Friday from injuries he suffered on Nov. 18 during a house fire at a family home in New London, CT.
Under Mr. Hsieh, Zappos defined 10 core principles for its business:
- Deliver Wow Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
“Tony played such an integral part in helping create the thriving Zappos business we have today, along with his passion for helping to support and drive our company culture,” wrote Kedar Deshpande, CEO of Zappos, in a company statement.
Mr. Deshpande wrote about Mr. Hsieh’s “kindness and generosity” in leading Zappos and pledged, “we will continue to honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he was so passionate about.”
Among the innovations created under Mr. Hsieh was Zappos policy of offering employees the option after the first week on the job to get paid to quit. Zappos has long placed a premium on its culture and knew that not everyone is cut out to thrive there.
Although Mr. Hsieh stepped down as CEO last summer, his former company has continued to emphasize the kindness preached by its founder. This includes special steps Zappos has taken to connect with its customers during the pandemic with a variety of programs including “customer service for anything.” Launched in April, Zappos offers customers help with information on merchants in their areas and recommendations on helpful apps to use during a lockdown.
The online retailer also encouraged customers to call just to talk if they wanted to hear “a kind voice.” The topics — the weather, what’s on television, etc. — didn’t matter. Zappos wanted its customers to know it would “love to connect” with them.
- Celebrating Tony Hsieh, Former Zappos CEO & Visionary, 1973 – 2020 – Zappos.com
- Tony Hsieh, retired Zappos CEO, dies after New London house fire – Connecticut Post
- Zappos and Meijer among retailers touting their corporate values – RetailWire
- Zappos Pays Employees to Quit – RetailWire
- Zappos overhauls its website for home-bound customers – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think retail leaders today are more willing to practice their personal values than those in the past? What do you see as the most significant contributions that Tony Hsieh made to Zappos and the wider world of retail business management?