Entrepreneur and management revolutionary Tony Hsieh passed away on Friday, November 27, 2020, after injuries sustained in a house fire.
Hsieh was, famously, the former CEO of Zappos, a company that revolutionized shoe shopping and how customer service worked. He also pioneered a management concept called holacracy. While Zappos quietly backed away from holacracy, it left a lasting impact on business--and probably affected how you run your business (even if you've never heard the term before).
Under Hsieh's leadership, Zappos switched to this bottom-up, individual-focused management style. Holacracy does away with strict hierarchies and titles and, instead, relies on a community-style leadership.
Hsieh authored the New York Times Bestseller, Delivering Happiness. Blinkist summarizes the book's main points as follows:
- It is important to discover the one thing you are passionate about, and conversely, what you don't want to do.
- Take things slow. Growing fast can be counterproductive if the wrong people are hired.
- The success of your company is closely tied to your culture, so focus on creating one that you believe in.
- Strive to be always learning, and make it a priority for your employees as well.
- Choose one thing you want your organization to be the best at and focus on that thing.
- Don't focus on building buzz around your brand, but rather build engagement and trust by treating people well.
- Have a vision of a higher purpose so that your ultimate outcome will be happiness.
Think of how these concepts have influenced you and your business and management style. Are the startups out there built upon strict hierarchies? Or is there more input from all levels of management? Do you focus on culture? What about passion?
All these ideas of Tony Hsieh have taken over business culture to such an extent that you might yawn as you read the list of key points--you know all these things. But, it's because of Hsieh's leadership that you know them.
Hsieh's entrepreneurial life didn't begin at Zappos--he founded a company that revolutionized internet advertising before he turned to shoes.
Tony Hsieh, my partner and cofounder of LinkExchange, has died. Tony, I miss you. ? You were among the most creative people I've known. I'll remember your unique combo of genius and mischief, and your infuriating ability to bet against all odds and win. https://t.co/rI9unaHWDW-- Ali Partovi (@apartovi) November 28, 2020
LinkExchange provided a platform to advertise through banner ads. It seems obvious now, but it was a new and exciting concept, and Hsieh sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. Your business probably relies on this concept, just like you probably rely on a flatter organization's ideas with individuals having more power over their own areas of responsibility.
While Hsieh is most famous for his years at Zappos, which included selling Zappos to Amazon, his projects didn't end when he left Zappos. His final project was working to revitalize Las Vegas through an organization known as DTP.
46 is incredibly young. Unfortunately, we won't know what else Hsieh could have come up with if he lived longer.