Zappos CEO reveals what keeps employees so happy

You shouldn’t emulate Zappos’ values, but should create a culture centered around a higher purpose than profits, according to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

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That’s why Zappos’ No. 1 priority is building and maintaining a strong culture, even to the point of interviewing prospective employees twice: once for qualifications, a second time to make sure they’re a good cultural fit.

“We don’t want employees that are there just for a paycheck,” Hsieh said.

Not every business can or should emulate Zappos in terms of its stated values, he said, but every company should create a culture that gives employees something to work for beyond profits. A byproduct of that culture will be happier employees and bigger profits.

Learning from mistakes

In 1996, Hsieh and a group of partners started a company called LinkExchange, which was an Internet advertising firm. By 1998, the partners sold off the firm to Microsoft, and almost all the company’s founders left.

Why? Because the culture had become toxic.

The company’s founders started by hiring friends to fill positions, but eventually they ran out of friends and started hiring based on résumés and qualifications. That’s when problems started to arise.

“We didn’t know better to pay attention to company culture,” he said. “I, myself, dreaded getting out of bed to go to my own company.”

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