Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, the enormous e-commerce site that focuses on selling shoes with amazing customer service.
He’s also investing $US350 million to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, an effort that includes the construction of the what’s now called Downtown Container Park and the encouragement of local startup culture.
Playboy just published an amazing Q&A with Hsieh that’s jam-packed with interesting facts about him and the company.
The whole thing is worth a read, but here were the 15 most outrageous things that stood out to us:
- He almost deleted the voicemail from a man who called looking for investors for his website ShoeSite.com. Good thing he didn’t, because ShoeSite eventually became Zappos.
- He’s created a fun and exciting company culture that’s involved liberal shots of Grey Goose, a guy in a hot-dog suit doing back flips, Tutu Tuesdays, a horse on the 10th floor of the office for Chinese New Year, and more.
- He still occasionally answers phone calls personally in Zappos’ 24-hour call center and gives his sales reps freedom to send flowers, handwritten notes, or cookies as follow-ups or thank-yous to the people they talk to. In 2012, a Zappos employee stayed on the same customer service call for 10 hours.
- He told Playboy’s David Hochman that he will call Zappos for anything: “If I’m with a bunch of friends at a bar and there’s a question we can’t answer, we’ll call Zappos and ask. I shouldn’t tell people that, but it’s true. If you’re looking for a great pizza place near you or want to know how many seats are in the theatre you happen to be walking past, maybe give Zappos a call.”
- Despite running the largest e-commerce site focusing on footwear in the U.S., he apparently has “zero interest in shoes.”
- He played in the World Series of Poker way before it was famous.
- He has meetings from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. almost every day, and spends 60 hours a week on Zappos and another 60 on the Downtown Project.
- When he was writing his best-selling book Delivering Happiness, he ate coffee beans drenched hin vodka to help him write faster. He finished the book in two weeks.
- He started a worm-farming business when he was 9, and then a button-making business when he was in middle school, where he made about $US200 a month.
- Hsieh used to love raving, and says that it inspired his believe in the “hive switch,” which is the idea that certain experiences (for him, raving) can make people feel like working for the greater good, instead of selfishly.
- Through the Downtown Project, he placed the largest order in the United States for Teslas; the Project is going to have car sharing.
- He and seven friends once completely finished In-N-Out’s 100-by-100 burger: 100 patties and 100 cheese slices all squeezed between two buns.
- He likes books about pick-up artistry and designed the Downtown Container Park after certain principles. He’s essentially trying to seduce people into downtown Las Vegas.
- He checks email via a system he calls “Yesterbox.” He reads and responds to the previous day’s emails, so that he only has a set number that he knows that he has to get through.
- He said that if a smart, talented person gets rejected from Zappos, it could be for something as simple as they weren’t nice to the Zappos shuttle-bus driver on the way from the airport.
Read the entire interview here.