Culture June 15th, 2020

These Are The Books Zappos Wants Its Employees (And You) To Read

Pursue growth and learning.

Some might view it as a simple goal, but for Zappos employees, it's much, much more than that. It's not just a mindset; it's a core value.

Zappos offers its employees several options to amplify this fifth ethos through a multitude of workshops, coachings and even a full-fledged library.

The books lining the shelves encompass an underlying theme of Zappos' core values and are free for employees to borrow (and even keep) at no cost. With books added each month, there's always something new for employees, vendors and tour guests to learn and discover.

Here are some of the current top reads in the collection.


"Thirst: A Story Of Redemption, Compassion, And A Mission To Bring Clean Water To The World"

Core Value #1: Deliver wow through service

At 28, Scott Harrison had it all. A top nightclub promoter in New York City, his life was an endless cycle of drugs, alcohol and high-class models. Morally bankrupt and desperately unhappy, he asked himself, "What would the exact opposite of my life look like?" Harrison quit his job and volunteered for a Christian charity called Mercy Ships, which operates a fleet of hospital ships offering free healthcare. Harrison was exposed to the horrific conditions of the poor in Liberia. In 2006, he founded charity: water. Its goal is to provide clean water to people in developing nations. Reading "Thirst" may inspire you, too, to deliver WOW through service, and volunteer to assist various charitable organizations throughout your city.

Buy "Thirst"


"Plan D: Lessons From The World's Most Successful Disruptors"

Core Value #2: Embrace and drive change

Mike Maddock is a serial entrepreneur. Launching more than six successful companies, Maddock is a highly-rated keynote speaker, boardroom facilitator and trusted advisor to several CEOs. "Plan D" is perfect for those who want to embrace and drive change. He wrote it about people he calls Disruptors. They are the people who are always asking "what's next" — the Elon Musks and Sheryl Sandbergs who continually change the world in which we live. Says Maddock, "I call myself an Idea Monkey because I love to solve problems with disruptive ideas." Zapponians are encouraged to be comfortable with being uncomfortable … as long as it brings about positive change.

Buy "Plan D"


“Draw Your Big Idea: The Ultimate Creativity Tool for Turning Thoughts Into Action and Dreams Into Reality”

Core Value #3: Create fun and a little weirdness

Nora Herting is passionate about expanding peoples’ definitions of creativity. A pioneer of visual strategy means she likes to doodle when she’s thinking. Studies show that images help people think, and Herting, along with her partner Heather Willems, founded ImageThink combining the tools of graphic recording and the principals of design thinking.

Herting believes ImageThink’s humble back-of-the-napkin origin 11 years ago helped evolve the industry of visual strategy. Visual notetaking, such as doodling, increases memory retention rates by nearly 30% and opens creative pathways, strengthens focus, and inspires self-expression. “Draw Your Big Idea” presents sought-after guidance and more than 150 drawing exercises tailored to brainstorming, refining and executing ideas in the home, design studio and office. Can’t put your thoughts into words? Try drawing them instead!

Buy "Draw Your Big Idea"


“Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World”

Core Value #4: Be adventurous, creative and open minded

This New York Times Bestseller digs deep into finding what it takes to make a powerful difference within a company. Grant was inspired to write the book when he started to think about his past employers and how he felt challenged every time he chose to speak his mind and be himself. He focuses on how we can utilize free thinking rather than focusing on structure and facts. Zappos encourages its employees to be themselves. Free reign is given to employees to decorate their desk, dress how they would like (within reason) and be themselves. This allows employees to be more comfortable, which in turn causes them to be more confident. They might even feel empowered to move the world!

Buy "Originals"


"The Power Of WOW: How To Electrify Your Work By Putting Service First"

Core Value #5: Pursue growth and learning

The only time you will ever hear Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh refer to an employee as Cerberus, the Hound of Hades, is in the new book, “The Power of Wow,” curated by Zappos employees. Hsieh sprinkles color commentary throughout, fondly recalling his Halloween costume fail in the 7th grade and his desire to create a giant skate park in the six-story Zappos garage. Filled with authentic stories of real-life Zapponians, “The Power of Wow” gives readers an insight into the not-so-secret world of Zappos, delving into such subjects as Holacracy, Market-Based Dynamics, and, of course, customer service. Upholding the 10 Core Values, this book is filled with a lot of WOW, determination, passion, growth, learning, and … a little fun and weirdness.

Buy "The Power Of WOW"



“An Everyone Culture: Becoming A Deliberately Developmental Organization”

Core Value #6: Build open and honest relationships with communication

“An Everyone Culture” studies the psychology and sociology on how the corporate environment can change. The authors provide a glimpse of three companies that follow a DDO (Deliberately Developmental Organization). The premise of the book is to investigate the result of businesses that decide to focus on expanding the skill sets of all of its employees, rather than just the top performers. Hitting close to home, not only does Zappos focus its energy on its customer base and fantastic service, but also on its company culture. Team building events, themed parties and company-wide cultural activities are all examples of how Zappos encompasses the culture and honors all employees for their work.

Buy "An Everyone Culture"


"Braving The Wilderness"

Core Value #7: Build a positive team and family spirit

Social scientist Brené Brown started a global conversation about experiences that bring meaning to our lives. In "Braving the Wilderness," Brown introduces four practices to challenge what we believe about ourselves and each other and help cultivate true belonging in our communities, organizations and culture. Says Brown, "True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are." And one of the Zappos tenets stresses, "Bring your whole self to work." It's crucial as a Zapponian to be who you are, not who someone expects you to be. We want to create a family atmosphere at work, not just at home. Reading this book will help you feel and create belonging wherever you go.

Buy "Braving The Wilderness"


“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

Core Value #8: Do more with less

What better time to start purging your closet than during a quarantine? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo brings cleaning house to a whole new level. Kondo’s KonMari method leads to lasting results using a revolutionary category-by-category system. We all hold on to clothes that we think we’ll wear someday, right? After cleaning out your clothes (by donating to thrift stores or Zappos for Good), move on to your books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally, sentimental items. If you aren’t going to create scrapbooks, let it go. With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy," this method will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home.

Buy "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"


"Fail Until You Don't"

Core Value #9: Be passionate and determined

How many times should you fail until you give up and try something else? Radio personality Bobby Bones believes if you are passionate and determined about something, you will never give up. "Oftentimes, people won't try things because they're afraid to fail, but my philosophy in life is all about winning by losing." In his second bestseller, Bones reminds us that mistakes, awkward moments and embarrassing situations are the building blocks to success. His mantra, "Fight. Grind. Repeat." is helpful for anyone who isn't ready to give up. As any Zapponian will tell you, mistakes are training opportunities, and the only way to grow is to embrace those mistakes with passion. If you need some encouragement to persevere with your passion, dedicate a few hours with Bones' book.

Buy "Fail Until You Don't"


“Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion, And Purpose”

Core Value #10: Be humble

Without a doubt, the most well-known book in the Zappos library is “Delivering Happiness.” This Tony Hsieh tell-all shares the intimate moments of his life and business decisions. Hsieh explains his methodology and shares the history of a once small e-commerce company that exploded into one of the happiest places to work. Paying new employees to quit, focusing on company culture and helping employees grow both personally and professionally are just some of the procedures Zappos has.

Buy "Delivering Happiness"



Gaining knowledge and experience is an integral component for Zapponians. It’s also not limited; we can all learn and grow together outside of the corporate structure. So take a glance at one of the books (or maybe even all) and pursue growth and learning yourself!


Don't stop here!
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