I did a little interview session with Forbes. OK, it wasn’t only with me, but I dropped a lot of wisdom nuggets on Forbes that I thought were worth expanding on.
Alison Coleman: Entrepreneurs: are they born or made?
Tony Hsieh: “Made. It just takes 10,000 hours of practice.”
I didn’t read this in a book. Not a chance. I just happen to have 10,003 hours of entrepreneur practice in. But who’s counting?
Coleman: Biggest test of your leadership skills?
Hsieh: “Being able to fire someone and still go grab a drink with them afterwards.”
Maybe you don’t fire them. Maybe you make them an offer too good to refuse. Either way, the important thing is that you can still go grab a drink with them afterwards. Slip a roofie in their drink and get out ASAP. That’s what I say. Alison left that part out for some reason.
Coleman: Worst job you’ve ever had?
Hsieh: “Nothing horrible, just jobs I was bored at because I wasn’t being entrepreneurial.”
Boredom is the number one killer of generation X. I’m pretty sure I read that in a book not long ago.
Coleman: How would your best friend or partner describe you?
Hsieh: “Shy and quiet, until you get to know him.”
Alison left this one short, which makes me sound like a precious wallflower. I also added, “Then, when you get to know him, he’s like the perfect mix of George Clooney in Up in The Air and Al Pacino in Scarface. Also, he refers to himself in the third person, which is pretty cool too.”
Coleman: What’s your work-life balance ratio like, and how do you like to chill out during the ‘life’ part?
Hsieh: “Rather than focus on work-life balance, I try to focus on work-life integration. At the end of the day, it’s all just ‘life’.”
Was this too blatant of a play for a TED talk? Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
Coleman: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Hsieh: “Always be unapologetically true to yourself in business and in life.”
Good thing I ate that fortune cookie the day before this interview. Such a good pull quote inside that little cookie. Deep.
Coleman: If you could turn the clock back ten years, what three things would you do differently?
Hsieh: “I’d roll out Zappos’ core values sooner.”
So that I can roll them back later. In case you’re wondering, I’d do that three times; fully answering the question.
Coleman: Which organisation, besides your own, do you most admire, and why?
Hsieh: “Apple and In-N-Out Burger.”
All I could think of was food by this point in the interview. So hungry.
Coleman: What are your three business essentials for surviving economic recession?
Hsieh: “Invest in long-term things like culture, service, and brand in the good times because they will carry you through the bad times.”
That’s good advice. I may put this into practice. We’ll see.
Coleman: What changes do you anticipate in your own and the wider business world in five years time and how will you respond?
Hsieh: “The tech world and social media world will become more and more unpredictable. Rather than try to predict the future, build Zappos and Downtown Project for flexibility, adaptability, and speed.”
Bet you didn’t realize there was a “social media world”, did you? Now you do. You’re welcome. Speed is good. Sooooooo good.
Coleman: What would you like your business legacy to be?
Hsieh: “Someone who inspires people to follow their passions and companies to develop strong company cultures.”
I helped over 200 people “follow their passions” just recently. Proof in the passion pudding. Our company culture is stronger than ever. Promise. Pinky promise. Triple pinky promise with a cherry on top.