CEO of Tony Hsieh Asks “How Weird Are You?”

Every Sunday, The New York Times has a column where it interviews an executive about the challenges of leading and managing, and this past Sunday the Times interviewed Harvard educated Taiwanese American Tony Hsieh, CEO of (now a wholly owned subsidiary of  Zappos is an online retailer of shoes, something I thought would never take off, but did, with an estimated annual revenue close to $1 billion when it was acquired last year. Hsieh was already a successful entrepreneur prior to Zappos — he had sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million — but his biggest regret was that he was unable to maintain the corporate culture as the company grew. One behavioral question Tony likes to ask is: “… On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?” He explains his reasoning:

“If you’re a 1, you’re probably a little bit too strait-laced for us. If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us. It’s not so much the number; it’s more seeing how candidates react to a question. Because our whole belief is that everyone is a little weird somehow, so it’s really more just a fun way of saying that we really recognize and celebrate each person’s individuality, and we want their true personalities to shine in the workplace environment, whether it’s with co-workers or when talking with customers.”

So when Tony joined Zappos, he vowed to define and maintain the culture. One of  Zappos’s values is, “Create fun and a little weirdness.” – thus the question above. Another Zappos’s value is focused on excellent customer service. So it’s no surprise that Tony sold the company to Jeff Bezos, who equally has a passion for excellent customer service. When you get a chance, I recommend you reading the interview with Tony, especially if you are an entrepreneur and have an interest in maintaining a corporate culture while growing your business.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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