Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

Happiness as a Business Model: Insights From a CEO and Walden Guest Speaker

Tony Hsieh, CEO of, shares his insights on happiness with students seeking online business management degrees.

When you’re earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in management, sound business advice is available in abundance. CEO and best-selling author Tony Hsieh has his own platform for success—and it begins and ends with happiness.

According to Hsieh, happiness is a path that leads to profits, because making customers and employees happy is good for business. In one of Walden University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program video lectures, Hsieh shares his insights on the topic, which include the belief that happiness is about four things:

Happiness as a Business Model: Insights From a CEO and Walden Guest Speaker

  • Perceived control.
  • Perceived progress.
  • Connectedness (the number and depth of relationships).
  • Vision or meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself).

Hsieh found an easy way to implement the notion of “perceived progress” at Zappos. During the company’s early years, employees could receive a promotion every 18 months and eventually become a Zappos seller. Hsieh’s new model allowed the business to promote employees in smaller degrees over shorter time periods of 6 months. In the end, it still took the same amount of time to reach the same “seller” level. But the shorter time frames meant promotions were perceived as progress, which kept employee satisfaction high without any cost to the company.

Hsieh’s model of happiness can be applied in both personal and business scenarios, and carries with it a number of positive effects. Happiness lowers stress, improves health, redefines success, provides meaning, and changes lives. “Happier employees lead to strong, nurturing relationships—and a more profitable business,” says Hsieh. So whether you’re working toward a BS in Business Administration, are enrolled in an MBA program, or are an established C-suite executive, happiness at the business level is an important concept to employ—for the sake of your employees, your customers, and your own well-being.

Explore how Walden’s online business and management degree programs can help you meet your career goals as you earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Tony Hsieh is the CEO of and a guest speaker for Walden University’s School of Management. A New York Times best-selling author, he has used happiness as his business model to promote positive change.

This article is based on the Walden Executive MBA Speaker series with Tony Hsieh, as well as his best-selling book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, 2013, Hachette Book Group, Inc.