The Zappos culture document


THE ZAPPOS MISSION: To live and deliver WOW.


As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to
explicitly define the Zappos core values from which we develop our
culture, our brand, and our business strategies. With so many new
employees joining the company as we grow, we want to make sure
that everyone is on the same page and acting consistently with
what we want Zappos to be all about.

Over time, we will be restructuring performance evaluations so
that a big part of every employee’s performance evaluation is
based on how well he/she represents and makes decisions based on
the Zappos core values.

While there are many subcomponents to each value, we’ve distilled
the most important themes into the following 10 core values.

1) Deliver WOW Through Service
2) Embrace and Drive Change
3) Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5) Pursue Growth and Learning
6) Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8) Do More With Less
9) Be Passionate and Determined
10) Be Humble

Ideally, we want all 10 core values to be reflected in everything
we do, including how we interact with each other, how we interact
with our customers, and how we interact with our vendors and
business partners.

There is a lot of work that lies ahead, and it will be quite some
time before our 10 core values are truly reflected in how we
think, how we act, and how we communicate.

As we grow, our processes and strategies may change, but we want
our values to always remain the same. Our core values should
always be the framework from which we make all of our decisions.
Because this is our first time publishing our core values, there
may be some additions or changes made over the next year, but our
goal is to ultimately decide on a final list of core values to
serve as the framework for how we run and grow the company.

I encourage everyone to re-examine everything that is being done
at the company and ask yourself what changes can be made to better
reflect our core values. For example, our employee handbook could
be improved so it sounds more like “Zappos” and less like an
employee handbook that you might find at another company. The
forms that we use internally, our job application forms, some of
our email templates, parts of our web site, and much, much more
can all be improved to feel more like Zappos and better reflect
our core values.

So the challenge to everyone is this: make at least one
improvement every week that makes Zappos better reflect our core

The improvements don’t have to be dramatic — it can be as simple
as adding in an extra sentence or two to a form to make it more
fun, for example. But if every employee made just one small
improvement every week to better reflect our core values, then by
the end of this year we will have over 50,000 small changes that
collectively will be a very dramatic improvement compared to where
we are today.

A brief description of each of the 10 core values is below.


At Zappos, anything worth doing is worth doing with WOW.

WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot
of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means
do something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do
something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever
you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not
an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want
our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver

Whether internally with co-workers or externally with our
customers and partners, delivering WOW results in word of mouth.
Our philosophy at Zappos is to WOW with service and experience,
not with anything that relates directly to monetary compensation
(for example, we don’t offer blanket discounts or promotions to

We seek to WOW our customers, our co-workers, our vendors, our
partners, and in the long run, our investors.

Ask yourself: What are things you can improve upon in your work or
attitude to WOW more people? Have you WOWed at least one person


Part of being in a growing company is that change is constant.
For some people, especially those that come from bigger companies,
the constant change can be somewhat unsettling at first. If you
are not prepared to deal with constant change, then you probably
are not a good fit for the company.

We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it
enthusiastically, and perhaps even more importantly, to encourage
and drive it. We must always plan for and be prepared for
constant change.

Although change can and will come from all directions, it’s
important that most of the changes in the company are driven from
the bottom up — from the people that are on the front lines that
are closest to the customers and/or issues.

Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo, because
historically, the companies that get into trouble are the ones
that aren’t able to respond quickly enough and adapt to change.

We are ever evolving. If we want to continue to stay ahead of our
competition, we must continually change and keep them guessing.
They can copy our images, our shipping, and the overall look of
our web site, but they cannot copy our people, our culture, or our
service. And they will not be able to evolve as fast as we can as
long as embracing constant change is a part of our culture.

Ask yourself: How do you plan and prepare for change? Do you view
new challenges optimistically? Do you encourage and drive change?
How do you encourage more change to be driven from the bottom up?
Are you empowering your direct reports to drive change?


One of the things that makes Zappos different from a lot of other
companies is that we value being fun and being a little weird.
We don’t want to become one of those big companies that feels
corporate and boring. We want to be able to laugh at ourselves.
We look for both fun and humor in our daily work.

This means that many things we do might be a little unconventional
— or else it wouldn’t be a little weird. We’re not looking for
crazy or extreme weirdness though. We want just a touch of
weirdness to make life more interesting and fun for everyone. We
want the company to have a unique and memorable personality.

Our company culture is what makes us successful, and in our
culture we celebrate and embrace our diversity and each person’s
individuality. We want people to express their personality in
their work. To outsiders, that might come across as inconsistent
or weird. But the consistency is in our belief that we function
best when we can be ourselves. We want the weirdness in each of
us to be expressed in our interacti

ons with each other and in our

One of the side effects of encouraging weirdness is that it
encourages people to think outside the box and be more innovative.
When you combine a little weirdness with making sure everyone is
also having fun at work, it ends up being a win-win for everyone:
Employees are more engaged in the work that they do, and the
company as a whole becomes more innovative.

Ask yourself: What can we do to be a little weird and
differentiate ourselves from everyone else? What can we do that’s
both fun and a little weird? How much fun do you have in your
job, and what can you do to make it more fun? What do you do to
make your co-workers’ jobs fun as well?


At Zappos, we think it’s important for people and the company as a
whole to be bold and daring (but not reckless). We want everyone
to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid to make
mistakes, because if people aren’t making mistakes then that means
they’re not taking enough risks. Over time, we want everyone to
develop his/her gut about business decisions. We want people to
develop and improve their decision-making skills. We encourage
people to make mistakes as long as they learn from them.

We never want to become complacent and accept the status quo just
because that’s the way things have always been done. We should
always be seeking adventure and having fun exploring new
possibilities. By having the freedom to be creative in our
solutions, we end up making our own luck. We approach situations
and challenges with an open mind.

Sometimes our sense of adventure and creativity causes us to be
unconventional in our solutions (because we have the freedom to
think outside the box), but that’s what allows us to rise above
and stay ahead of the competition.

Ask yourself: Are you taking enough risks? Are you afraid of
making mistakes? Do you push yourself outside of your comfort
zone? Is there a sense of adventure and creativity in the work
that you do? What are some creative things that you can
contribute to Zappos? Do you approach situations and challenges
with an open mind?


At Zappos, we think it’s important for employees to grow both
personally and professionally. It’s important to constantly
challenge and stretch yourself, and not be stuck in a job where
you don’t feel like you are growing or learning.

We believe that inside every employee is more potential than even
the employee himself/herself realizes. Our goal is to help
employees unlock that potential. But it has to be a joint effort:
You have to want to challenge and stretch yourself in order for it
to happen.

If you’ve been at Zappos for more than a few months, one thing is
clear: Zappos is growing. We grow because we take on new
challenges, and we face even more new challenges because we’re
growing. It’s an endless cycle, and it’s a good thing: it’s the
only way for a company to survive. But it can also at times feel
risky, stressful, and confusing.

Sometimes it may seem that new problems crop up as fast as we
solve the old ones (sometimes faster!), but that just means that
we’re moving — that we’re getting better and stronger. Anyone
who wants to compete with us has to learn the same things, so
problems are just mile markers. Each one we pass means we’ve
gotten better.

Yet no matter how much better we get, we’ll always have hard work
to do, we’ll never be done, and we’ll never “get it right.”

That may seem negative, but it’s not: we’ll do our best to “get it
right,” and then do it again when we find out that things have
changed. That is the cycle of growth, and like it or not, that
cycle won’t stop.

It’s hard… but if we weren’t doing something hard, then we’d
have no business. The only reason we aren’t swamped by our
competition is because what we do is hard, and we do it better
than anyone else. If it ever gets too easy, start looking for a
tidal wave of competition to wash us away.

It may seem sometimes like we don’t know what we’re doing. And
it’s true: we don’t. That’s a bit scary, but you can take comfort
in knowing that nobody else knows how to do what we’re doing
either. If they did, they’d be the web’s most popular shoe store.
Sure, people have done parts of what we do before, but what we’ve
learned over the years at Zappos is that the devil is in the
details. And that’s where we’re breaking new ground.

So there are no experts in what we’re doing. Except for us: we
are becoming experts as we do this. And for anyone we bring on
board, the best expertise they can bring is expertise at learning
and adapting and figuring new things out — helping the company
grow, and in the process they will also be growing themselves.

Ask yourself: How do you grow personally? How do you grow
professionally? Are you a better person today than you were
yesterday? How do you get your co-workers and direct reports to
grow personally? How do you get your co-workers and direct reports
to grow professionally? How do you challenge and stretch
yourself? Are you learning something everyday? What is your
vision for where you want to go? How do you get the company as a
whole to grow? Are you doing everything you can to promote
company growth, and at the same time are you helping others
understand the growth? Do you understand the company vision?


Fundamentally, we believe that openness and honesty make for the
best relationships because that leads to trust and faith. We
value strong relationships in all areas: with managers, direct
reports, customers (internal and external), vendors, business
partners, team members, and co-workers.

Strong, positive relationships that are open and honest are a big
part of what differentiates Zappos from most other companies.
Strong relationships allow us to accomplish much more than we
would be able to otherwise.

A key ingredient in strong relationships is to develop emotional
connections. It’s important to always act with integrity in your
relationships, to be compassionate, friendly, loyal, and to make
sure that you do the right thing and treat your relationships
well. The hardest thing to do is to build trust, but if the trust
exists, you can accomplish so much more.

In any relationship, it’s important to be a good listener as well
as a good communicator. Open, honest communication is the best
foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of
the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make
people feel that matters the most. In order for someone to feel
good about a relationship, he/she must know that the other person
truly cares about them, both personally and professionally.

At Zappos, we embrace diversity in thoughts, opinions, and
backgrounds. The more widespread and diverse your relationships
are, the bigger the positive impact you can make on the company,
and the more valuable you will be to the company. It is critical
for relationship-building to have effectiv

e, open, and honest

As the company grows, communication becomes more and more
important, because everyone needs to understand how his/her team
connects to the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Communication is always one of the weakest spots in any
organization, no matter how good the communication is. We want
everyone to always try to go the extra mile in encouraging
thorough, complete, and effective communication.

Ask yourself: How much do people enjoy working with you? How can
you improve those relationships? What new relationships can you
build throughout the company beyond just the co-workers that you
work with on a daily basis? How do you WOW the people that you
have relationships with? How can you make your relationships more
open and honest? How can you do a better job of communicating
with everyone?


At Zappos, we place a lot of emphasis on our culture because we
are both a team and a family. We want to create an environment
that is friendly, warm, and exciting. We encourage diversity in
ideas, opinions, and points of view.

The best leaders are those that lead by example and are both team
followers as well as team leaders. We believe that in general, the
best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up, meaning by
those on the front lines that are closest to the issues and/or the
customers. The role of a manager is to remove obstacles and
enable his/her direct reports to succeed. This means the best
leaders are servant-leaders. They serve those they lead.

The best team members take initiative when they notice issues so
that the team and the company can succeed. The best team members
take ownership of issues and collaborate with other team members
whenever challenges arise.

The best team members have a positive influence on one another and
everyone they encounter. They strive to eliminate any kind of
cynicism and negative interactions. Instead, the best team
members are those that strive to create harmony with each other
and whoever else they interact with.

We believe that the best teams are those that not only work with
each other, but also interact with each other outside the office
environment. Many of the company’s best ideas have been the
direct result of informal interactions outside of the office.
For example, the idea for our culture book came about from a
casual discussion outside the office.

We are more than just a team though — we are a family. We watch
out for each other, care for each other, and go above and beyond
for each other because we believe in each other and we trust each
other. We work together but we also play together. Our bonds go
far beyond the typical “co-worker” relationships found at most
other companies.

Ask yourself: How do you encourage more teamwork? How do you
encourage more people to take initiative? How do you encourage
more people to take ownership? What can you do with your team
members so that you feel both like a family and a team? How can
you build stronger relationships with your team members both
inside and outside the office? Do you instill a sense of team and
family not just within your department, but across the entire
company? Do you exemplify a positive team spirit?


Zappos has always been about being able to do more with less.
While we may be casual in our interactions with each other, we are
focused and serious about the operations of our business. We
believe in hard work and putting in the extra effort to get things

We believe in operational excellence, and realize that there is
always room for improvement in everything we do. This means that
our work is never done. In order to stay ahead of the competition
(or would-be competition), we need to continuously innovate as
well as make incremental improvements to our operations, always
striving to make ourselves more efficient, always trying to figure
out how to do something better. We use mistakes as learning

We must never lose our sense of urgency in making improvements.
We must never settle for “good enough”, because good is the enemy
of great, and our goal is to not only become a great company, but
to become the greatest service company in the world. We set and
exceed our own high standards, constantly raising the bar for
competitors and for ourselves.

Ask yourself: How can you do what you’re doing more efficiently?
How can your department become more efficient? How can the
company as a whole become more efficient? How can you personally
help the company become more efficient?


Passion is the fuel that drives ourselves and our company forward.
We value passion, determination, perserverance, and the sense of

We are inspired because we believe in what we are doing and where
we are going. We don’t take “no” or “that’ll never work” for an
answer, because if we had, Zappos would never have started in the
first place.

Passion and determination are contagious. We believe in having a
positive and optimistic (but realistic) attitude about everything
we do, because we realize that this inspires others to have the
same attitude.

There is excitement in knowing that everyone you work with has a
tremendous impact on a larger dream and vision, and you can see
that impact day in and day out.

Ask yourself: Are you passionate about the company? Are you
passionate about your work? Do you love what you do and who you
work with? Are you happy here? Are you inspired? Do you believe
in what we are doing and where we are going? Is this the place
for you?


While we have grown quickly in the past, we recognize that there
are always challenges ahead to tackle. We believe that no matter
what happens, we should always be respectful of everyone.

While we celebreate our individual and team successes, we are not
arrogant nor do we treat others differently from how we would want
to be treated. Instead, we carry ourselves with a quiet
confidence, because we believe that in the long run our character
will speak for itself.

Ask yourself: Are you humble when talking about your
accomplishments? Are you humble when talking about the company’s
accomplishments? Do you treat both large and small vendors with
the same amount of respect that they treat you?


The following are books that Zappos recommends. They are
available to all employees and vendors for free in the Zappos
library, located next to the merchandising area in the Las Vegas
office. If you are an employee, you may also order them for
yourself from Amazon and submit an expense report to have the cost

Deliver WOW Through Service
– “The Fred Fac

tor” by Mark Sanborn
– “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
– “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard
– “Lovemarks” by Kevin Roberts
– “Branded Customer Service” by Janelle Barlow

Embrace and Drive Change
– “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson

Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
– “Lovemarks” by Kevin Roberts

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
– “Re-imagine!” by Tom Peters
– “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell

Pursue Growth and Learning
– “Self-Help Stuff That Works” by Adam Khan
– “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
– “Fish!” by Stephen C. Lundin

Do More With Less
– “212” by S.L. Parker
– “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell

Be Passionate and Determined
– “212” by S.L. Parker
– “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Be Humble
– “Good to Great” by Jim Collins



– One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the United States
will be online.

– Consumers will buy from the company with the best service and
the best selection.

– Zappos will be that company.


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