• Happy at Any Cost

  • The Revolutionary Vision and Fatal Quest of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
  • By: Kirsten Grind
  • Narrated by: Raymond J. Lee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From award-winning Wall Street Journal reporters, “a startling portrait of one of our greatest tech visionaries, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh” (Robert Kolker, author of Hidden Valley Road), reporting on his short life, untimely death, and what that means for our pursuit of happiness.

Tony Hsieh—CEO of Zappos, Las Vegas developer, and beloved entrepreneur—was famous for spreading happiness. He lived and breathed this philosophy, instilling an ethos of joy at his company, outlining his vision for a better workplace in his New York Times bestseller Delivering Happiness. He promoted a workplace where bosses treated employees like family members, where stress was replaced by playfulness, and where hierarchies were replaced with equality and collaboration. His outlook shaped how we work today.

Hsieh also aspired to build his own utopian cities, pouring millions of dollars into real estate and small businesses, first in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada—where Zappos is headquartered—and then in Park City, Utah. He gave generously to his employees and close friends, including throwing notorious Zappos parities and organizing gatherings at his home, an Airstream trailer park. 

When Hsieh died suddenly in late 2022, the news shook the business and tech world. Wall Street Journal reporters Kirsten Grind and Katherine Sayre discovered Hsieh’s obsession with happiness masked his darker struggles with addiction, mental health, and loneliness. In the last year of his life, he spiraled out of control, cycling out of rehab and into the waiting arms of friends who enabled his worst behavior, even as he bankrolled them from his billion-dollar fortune.

Happy at Any Cost sheds light on one of our most creative, yet vulnerable, business leaders. It’s about our intense need to find “happiness” at all costs, our misguided worship of entrepreneurs, the stigmas still surrounding mental health, and how the trappings of fame can mask all types of deeper problems. In turn, it reveals how we conceptualize success—and define happiness—in our modern age.

©2022 Kirsten Grind and Katherine Anne Sayre. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Hoping for better

I followed this story in real time via the WSJ, so I was quite interested in this book. The book spent too little time on the later years. Narrators don’t usually bother me, but this narrator was annoying. His falsetto used when quoting other people was also particularly irritating.

2 people found this helpful

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Should Have Been a Wired Article...not a Book

Very disappointing. Description of a troubled soul and a cult of personality but with no real redeeming insights or profundity. Not book worthy.

1 person found this helpful

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Could not put down

Wow!!! I did not know what Tony was going though with addiction and the enablers' that sounded him. Tony made me think about the way we look at our work environment and being happy at work. I was shocked the last half the book that this could happen to anybody.

1 person found this helpful

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Previous Zappos Employee

As I listened to this book, I was whisked back to a table full of friends and coworkers at an All Hands, Vendor Party, or annual Zappos Family picnic recounting events around the office.

Leaving Zappos in the fall of 2020 has proven to be one of the hardest times of my life.

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Awful Narration and Juvenile Writing Skills

I don’t normally leave written reviews, only providing stars, but this book was so genuinely awful I had to give my feedback. First, the narrator ends almost every sentence with the opposite, but equally annoying, style of speaking as “uptalk”. Call it, “down talk”? Also, his cadence is choppy. Lastly, everyone that is quoted is read in a fake, alternative voicing that too ridiculous to be believed. Perhaps listen to the sample and judge for yourself before buying. Given the story content and writing quality, I’m surprised it was written by professional journalists. I didn’t major in English or journalism but it’s as if a high school senior wrote this as a really long term paper. I put up with it to hear the tale but it was a long slog.

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The Tony I knew…

I haven’t started the book yet. I knew Tony, the amazing human that embodied creating fun and a little weirdness (and genius). Have trepidation about starting it, hoping this does him and his story justice.

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Sad story!

This is a sad and tragic story. Tony was looking for happiness. He did not find it in wealth or drugs. That is a valuable lesson for all of us.

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A very real look into it the mind of a striving entrepreneur.

It’s amazing he could still compare himself against other entrepreneurs and become discouraged about his success.

This book emphasized the importance of gratitude, avoiding substance abuse, and having true friends.

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A must read for anyone interested in business .

Incredible story behind the tragic end of visionary! Tony Hsieh life was incredible. what a gift we had