Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com: Passion, Purpose and Profit

Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com CEO

Is the future of sustainable growth in corporate America linked to how happy we are to go to our jobs every day?

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, says it is.

Research on happiness at work illustrates that personal job satisfaction is closely linked to feeling like we are part to a higher purpose, or that we’re doing something that we really believe in.

Groups of happy people working together with shared values and a common purpose will lead to growth and success of companies across the country — something we need to see more of in this difficult economy.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  To find out how that works in the real world, Dylan caught up with to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com and author of “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.”

“Zappos is a business that reflects the values, or one of the businesses that reflects the values,” says Dylan. “But values go far beyond overnight delivery of any particular item or good and really go to an exploration of your own passion, your own purpose, and your own desire and ability to realize your own potential.”

Here were the takeaways from our conversation with Tony Hsieh about the principles he built Zappos culture on:

1.  The basic principles of happiness apply to both personal and corporate life. According to Tony, “happiness is about being able to combine pleasure, passion, and purpose… in order to build a long-term sustainable growing business, it’s about being able to combine profits, passion, and purpose.  So there are these weird parallels, actually, between the research that’s come out  of the science of happiness and the research that’s come out of what makes for a long-term sustainable growing company.”

2.  Money does buy happiness… but only to a point.  “Once people’s base needs are met, once they’re not worried about putting a roof over their head and putting food on the table, that additional money actually doesn’t buy happiness. There’s actually some evidence that a lot of additional money will actually increase your stress and bring your happiness levels down because you’re too busy trying to worry about how to protect it,” says Tony.

3.  Doing meaningful work isn’t just about money or paying the bills. “when people do something that actually contributes to a higher purpose that they really believe in, that actually – research has shown that actually is the longest lasting type of happiness.”

4.  People don’t know what will satisfy them in the long term.  “The stuff that most people intuit, they believe in their minds that it will make them happy, but when they actually get there, they find it’s not quite as long-lasting or aren’t quite as happy as they had imagined all these years.  Lat lottery winners, their happiness right before winning the lottery compared to a year later, and a year later, it’s actually about the same or it may be even a little bit lower than it was before they won the lottery,” says Tony.

5.  Take money out of the picture to figure out what will make you want to go to work every day. “It’s actually one of the interview questions when I’m interviewing people — basically, the question is:  If you were to win the lottery tomorrow, what would you want to do with your life?  Some people say, “Well, I would travel around the world and go to this country or this country,” or “I would go and teach kids.”  And what’s interesting about the responses is in most cases, they can do that today.  They don’t actually need to win the lottery to do those things that they’ve been putting off most of their lives,” says Tony. “I think it’s a helpful mental exercise just to take money out of the picture and really focus on what will really make you happy.”