Happiness Delivered: Tony Hsieh

I am listening to Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose today after the sad news of his passing. Hsieh sold his first big company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million, and then Zappos to Amazon for over $1 billion. There are two things I remember about his work; The first is Zappos’s relentless and genuine focus on excellent customer service, the second is his project to revitalise downtown Las Vagas into a thriving tech centre.

DTP is a $350 million privately funded regeneration project of downtown Las Vagas. Hsieh started the project to support the area around the Zappos HQ and provide an environment for his employees to live and work. The project has since grown to support an extensive network of new businesses and tech start-ups. The DTP website states the project was inspired but Triumph of the city by Edward Glaeser, and that ‘…the best way to accelerate learning and innovation is to maximize serendipitous interactions…’ through the three C’s: Collisions, Co-learning, and Connectedness

We believe the best way to accelerate learning and innovation is to maximize serendipitous interactions, density in the office, density in the city, and to prioritize collisions over convenience.


Like Google and other Silicon Valley companies campuses, you can draw many similarities between the ideas of the DTP community building with the set up of universities. We make a lot of effort to maximise ‘collisional hours’ when students are on or around the campus to increase students interactions with each other. We design modern courses around co-learning, with active learning, group work and small group seminars, student mentorship schemes, a variety of talks and workshops from external speakers, shared study spaces, and opportunities to support student start-ups. We also try to build a strong sense of connectedness, belonging, and emotional connection to the university outside of courses through activities with the Student Union, clubs, and sports.

There are some great communities of learning on cohort-based university course studied online, but with the mass move to blended learning at universities across the world, what more can do more to increase serendipitous interactions? Contact me on Twitter if you have ideas.

You should read Delivering Happiness, or better, listen to the audio version that read by Tony Hsieh himself.