The Book I Can’t Stop Talking About

Hold on to your seats, I am about to recommend a business audio. It is true that I rarely write about books (or audiobooks) for grown-ups, but I can’t stop talking about Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Tony Hsieh
Retail Price: $29.98
Audio CD: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio – (2010-06-07)
ISBN : 9781607882305

What is our experience as librarians with the business book category? Do we read them because the Director went to a “who moved my cheese” seminar and found a way to force the staff to read a book not of their choosing? Because the Four Hour Work Week has an appealing title and is on best seller lists? Did a friend recommended Freakanomics?

Business books are a genre I read for fun after a pile of picture books. My first reading of Managing The Non-Profit Organization by Peter Drucker was when I worked as a retail manager for a children’s museum. I was intrigued by the way he laid out organizational structure, interpersonal relationships and above all the difference between a for-profit entity and a non-profit.

I heard the rumors that everyone who worked on Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson quit their job and went to something else, following “their calling.” Within a year of reading it, I, too, quit my job in publishing, enrolled in graduate school and started my career as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. That’s what a thoughtful examination of how we evaluate our work will do… instigate change.

What is about Delivering Happiness? I’m not in a rut at work. I have high expectations of interesting developments, my managers encourage and support new ideas, curriculum and projects (like the recent BookFest@Bank Street). They expect me to stretch and grow, to mentor and teach, to be passionate about our work and to enjoy the daily work of teaching.

So here comes Tony Hsieh examining and sharing what makes Zappos.com a great place to work. He lays out how serendipity, exciting hard work, kindness, generosity, passion and personal growth can all be part of a corporate strategy for success. Hsieh’s presentation jells with my own philosophy of work life. To be passionate, to encourage others, to be of service, to blow off steam in productive but fun ways, to find ways small and big to improve how we do things to serve our students and teachers, and to do more with less, to learn that obstacles or misaligned philosophies are growth opportunities.

Hsieh’s passion for “delivering happiness” is palpable on the audio edition of the book. He sounds almost amazed at where life has taken him, he generously shares his mistakes and errors in judgement as well in a sure-why-don’t-we-try-that attitude. The audio includes the voices of others on his team who grew Zappos with him as well as Jeff Bezos after the Amazon buy-out. (More complicated than that… read the book).

It confirms my own business philosophy and articulates how I can grow within my organization as well as partner with those outside who share our core values.

Needless to say, I’ll be giving it to many friends this holiday.

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