Last October Tony Hsieh and the Zappos crew came to Austin. When I heard that they were coming to Austin I was very happy and excited. So much so I posted the news on my blog. When the day came to listen to his speech I brought my friend Bobby, who had never heard of Zappos or their culture.
The talk was great, message wise, but Tony seemed exhausted. He was very low energy. Bobby even commented to me afterwards that for a guy talking about happiness, he didn't seem that happy. There was a book signing immediately after, so I bought a book and stood in line. I previously listed to the audio book, so I had to buy a hard copy.
When I go to Tony he was even more muted than when he was speaking. He didn't shake any hands because he had open wounds on his palms. There was a picture showing the extent of his injuries. It was pretty bad. Since he couldn't shake hands I asked for a hug and he reluctantly obliged. I then asked him if say any of the message I sent him. He had no clue what I was talking about. There was a very cute young lady standing next to him named Mimi. She chimed in and said that she was Tony on Facebook, and that she managed that account. I felt very deflated.
Now I question how much of the Tony Hsieh persona is real, and how much of it is marketing. Last month I got a gift box from the book tour.
Don't get me wrong, I think that the gifts were very nice. They even took the time to personalize them. The message still resonates with me, but the lack of authenticity still stings a little.