Tony Hsieh was living proof that you can be a good human being and successful in business

When people describe what it takes to succeed in business, the words they use often sound combative. We assume a certain ruthlessness is necessary to make it, that you must destroy the competition and step on and over others to climb to the top. It's almost a given that exploitation of employees and deceptively clever marketing to customers are they keys to big profits.

Then along comes someone like Tony Hsieh, who spent two decades obliterating those assumptions as the visionary CEO of Zappos.

Hsieh, who tragically passed away last week at age 46 following a house fire, took a unique approach to running a business on practically every level. From a decentralized management model to a completely relationship-centered customer service philosophy, he created an innovative alternative to traditional business practices. But it was his generosity of spirit in helping others succeed that clearly defined his legacy.


Hsieh's customer service philosophy was all about creating and maintaining relationships with people. Rather than make it hard for customers to find contact information on their website like many companies do, Zappos posted their 1-800 number prominently on the top of every page. And rather than try to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible, they made sure that every customer truly felt taken care of—even to the extent of helping them find shoes from competitors if Zappos didn't have what they were looking for.

Hsieh's family says that his mantra was "delivering happiness." It seems he instinctively understood that truly happy customers are loyal customers, and that business could involve both making money and making people happy.

But it wasn't just customers that Hsieh focused his energies on. After his passing, story after story of his thoughtfulness and helpfulness toward other businesses and individuals have circulated, proving that not only was Hsieh a good businessman, but also a truly good human being.

For example, Josh Reich, former CEO of the online bank Simple, told a story about trying to poach Zappos' head of customer service when Simple was starting up. He said Hsieh found out and made a counter-offer for Reich's team to come meet the Zappos team and learn how they operated.

"We got to spend time with agents in the call center, watch them take calls," Reich wrote on Twitter. "Learn about how they were hired. Speak with the engineers about how they built the CRM stack to be both efficient and foster moments of delight.

We spent time with his exec team and went back to his apartment and chatted over pancakes. He went above and beyond. He liked our mission and wanted to help. He helped us deliver happiness. He left an outsized mark on this world. He will be missed."

Praise for Hsieh has come from people of all backgrounds, especially those who have worked in the startup business world or who lived or spent time in Las Vegas, where Hsieh lived.

He embraced and encouraged his employees uniqueness as human beings.


He was successful and thoughtful, but also refreshingly humble.

And his generosity extended to all he came in contact with.

The outpouring of gushing eulogies are how we should all strive to be remembered.

If you are not familiar with Hsieh's life story, investor Sahil Bloom offered a synopsis on Twitter that illustrates what makes Hsieh such a unique figure.

"Tony Hsieh was a builder, investor, philanthropist, and self-proclaimed weirdo.

He inspired millions to think differently about happiness and embrace their own inner weirdness.

Here is the story of a beautiful man gone way too soon.

Tony Hsieh was born on December 12, 1973.

His parents, both Taiwanese immigrants, placed a strong emphasis on education, always pushing Tony and his younger brothers to excel in school.

Upon graduating high school in California, he left home to enroll at Harvard University.

Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the very early days of the internet, he wanted to be a part of that world.

He graduated in 1995 with a degree in computer science, determined to build.

As a first step, he accepted a job at Oracle as a low level programmer.

But his ambition and creativity was not suited for the large corporate life.

Within a few months, he left Oracle with a colleague to build something new.

Their idea: to build an ad network for the new world of internet advertising.

So it was that LinkExchange was born.

Riding the internet boom, it took off immediately.

Within 90 days, they had 20,000 participating web pages.

Within 2 years, they had over 400,000.

In 1998, just 2 years after starting the business, Hsieh and his co-founders sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million. Working at Microsoft while waiting for all of his shares to vest, Hsieh yet again grew tired of the big corporate culture.

Deciding that time was his most precious resource, he left early, leaving millions of unvested shares on the table, and launched a startup incubator.

Venture Frogs (the name originated from a dare) invested in and supported startups.

It was in this role that Hsieh first met Nick Swinmurn, the founder of @Zappos, a company that wanted to sell shoes online.

In 1999, this seemed crazy, but Hsieh was intrigued.

Believing in the massive market opportunity, Venture Frogs decided to invest in Zappos.

This was just the beginning for Hsieh.

Anxious to get back to building, he joined Zappos as its CEO and got to work.

Sales were growing, but there was nothing smooth about road ahead.

The business was unprofitable, and with a backdrop of the dot-com crash, the idea of raising money for an internet shoe sales business was laughable.

So Hsieh buckled down, selling off his own real estate holdings to fund the business.

He became a true servant leader. 9/ As Zappos grew, Hsieh focused on building a company he could be proud of.

He prioritized people and built a unique culture that embraced individualism.

Zappos famously asked the question, "How weird are you?" of new applicants.

By 2009, the company hit $1 billion in sales.

Zappos was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion.

Having rejected previous offers, Hsieh finally relented when Amazon promised to allow Zappos to run independently.

For Hsieh, the success of Zappos was intertwined with its culture.

This was simply non-negotiable.

Tony Hsieh remained at the helm of Zappos until August 2020, when he stepped down after 21 years as its CEO.

A natural introvert, he likened his role as CEO to that of a greenhouse architect, designing an environment that would allow employees to learn, grow, and thrive.

Outside of his day job, Tony Hsieh always sought out ways to give back.

His book, Delivering Happiness, was a #1 @nytimesbooks best seller, remaining on the list for 27 consecutive weeks.

He also invested heavily in rebuilding underdeveloped parts of downtown Las Vegas.

Tony Hsieh showed the world that being different was not only ok, but actually a competitive advantage.

He inspired millions to embrace their inner weirdness.

Above all else, Tony Hsieh loved life.

He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on."

Indeed it will. Thank you, Tony Hsieh, for being an inspiring example for us all.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash
gray steel 3-door refrigerator near modular kitchen

There's more to keeping a green kitchen than recycling your yogurt containers or opting to store your leftovers in glass Tupperware. Little things, like your trash bags, can add up, which is why it's important to try to reduce your footprint as much as possible. Fortunately, these sustainable kitchen products make it easy keep a green home!

Reusable Silicone Baking Cups



Reusable silicone cupcake liners save you money on having to buy disposable paper cupcake wrappers every time you bake. These sustainable cupcake liners are just as festive as anything you would throw away. Because the liners are made with a sturdier silicone, they can be used for other purposes, like arts and crafts projects.

Amazon Basics, $7.99 for a pack of 12; Amazon

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

A week after learning she was pregnant with twins, TikTok user @theblondebunny1 and her fiancé, got the stunning news she was pregnant again. And, no it wasn't because the doctor missed a kid when they did the first count.

She was impregnated again ten days after the first embryos took hold. How in the world did that happen?

This pregnancy is known as superfetation and according to Healthline, it's so rare that there are only a few cases noted in medical literature.

Keep Reading Show less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

Keep Reading Show less