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Tony Hsieh on Creating a Great Corporate Culture

June 30, 2010, 12:00 AM
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, believes the most important aspect of any company is its culture. That's why he was so disappointed with his first company, LinkExchange—and why he sold it to Microsoft for $265 million. "By the time we got to 100 people, we hired all the people with the right skill sets and experiences, but not all of them were culture fits," he says. "I remember I myself dreaded getting out of bed in the morning to go to the office. And that was kind of a weird feeling because this was a company that I co-founded."

In his Big Think interview, Hsieh says the easiest way to create culture is to find out what the core values of employees are—culture isn't something that should be dictated by the top down. One of Zappos' values is "be humble" and Hsieh says "There are a lot of really smart, talented people out there that are also really egotistical. And it’s not even a question. We won’t hire them. Whereas, probably the conversation at most companies would be, 'Well, this person might be kind of annoying and rub you the wrong way a lot of times, but he can add a lot of value to the company, therefore we should hire him.'"

How does Hsieh encourage communication among employees? He urges them to spend 10 to 20 percent of their time out of the office with co-workers. It creates a higher level of trust among team members. "Communication is better," he says. "People are willing to do favors for each other because they are doing favors for friends instead of co-workers." Hsieh also talks about strategies for firing, saying that it's best to let employees go in the most proactive and transparent way possible. 

Tony Hsieh on Creating a Gr...

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