Corvinus Executive MBA

Executive MBA at Corvinus University of's all about excellence

Inspiration Award: Tony Hsieh

2015. május 19. - Kevin Jackson

When Nick Swinmurn went shoe shopping in 1998, he was simply looking for the right pair of shoes. After a frustrating experience of going store to store and not finding what he wanted, he created At the time, most people could not imagine buying shoes online and thought the idea was crazy. As it turned out, Tony Hsieh was not most people and his company, Venture Frogs, invested in it. After the dotcom bubble burst, Tony later became the CEO of and from there has built one of the most productive and unique work cultures in the world.

What is really different about Tony Hsieh is that he cares more about how things are sold rather than what is actually being sold. In order to achieve the highest possible level of customer service, Tony realized that he had to create the right working culture at Zappos. It all started with the ten core values that were published from the very beginning:

  1. Deliver Wow Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

In 2003, Zappos brought in more than $70 million in revenue and all of its employees were flown down to Las Vegas from San Francisco to celebrate. It was during this trip that Tony decided to move the entire company to Las Vegas because he felt it better suited their company culture. Fast forward to October of 2013 when the Zappos headquarters was moved to the former City Hall in downtown Las Vegas. This move was based on Tony’s vision that companies should act more like cities and less like bureaucratic corporations. He contends that in a city, people are more self-directing and organizing, which gives them the freedom to grow and to do their jobs at a higher level.

While Tony Hsieh’s experiment has not been well received by everyone, he is a pioneer in creating a company culture that can deliver unparalleled customer service. Although his net worth is estimated to be close to $1 billion, one would never know it as he wears t-shirts and jeans, and sits in an open space in the middle of what is called “Monkey Row.” The Inspiration Award goes to Tony Hsieh for motivating his employees to give up old bureaucratic habits and embrace new ones characterized by community and flexibility. His example has now inspired companies around the world to rethink their own company cultures.

For more information on Leadership, please refer to the following articles:

The Zappos Family Story,

Why Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Sits At The Same Size Desk As His Call Center Employees, Business Insider, Aaron Taube, October 21st, 2014

Inside Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's radical management experiment that prompted 14% of employees to quit, Business Insider, Richard Feloni, May 16th, 2015

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