• Jon Kreindler

Delivering Happiness and Now Sadness: The Spectrum of Emotions Relating To The Future And Tony Hsieh

When the news of Tony Hsieh's death made headlines on November 27th, the massive outpouring of sadness and grief for the ex-Zappo's CEO, author, investor, philanthropist and visionary was a fitting testament to a remarkable person. I read Delivering Happiness in 2015 and it's been top of my list of recommended books ever since. Tony inspired a generation of entrepreneurs to inject humanity into their businesses, just as he did in creating communities, prioritizing customer experiences, elevating the role of customer service, and recognizing that everyone in that community is equally entitled to happiness, whether they are a curmudgeonly customer or a week-old employee who has been paid to quit.


For the past many days, countless news articles have praised his acumen, his vision, and the qualities that made Tony such a beloved tech entrepreneur. Business leaders, journalists, celebrities, and seemingly all of Las Vegas praised and grieved Tony in Twitter. And those of us who learned from him but never had the opportunity to know him chimed in as well.


When we lose people who have made a significant contribution to, or had a signifiant impact on society we mourn their passing, but we often also feel a responsibility to embrace their teachings and continue their legacy. Clearly many of those on Twitter who knew of Tony are expressing their sadness, but what emotions are people expressing about the future as it relates to him? To find out, we use Receptiviti's Temporal Insights and SALLEE Emotion Insights.


We harvested tweets mentioning Tony Hsieh over the past many days and broke them into 3 different temporal categories - past, present and future. Our sample consists of 12,706 tweets from 10,420 Twitter users posted between the 20th and 29th of November. We ran this sample through the Receptiviti SALLEE Emotion Insights engine to assess the full spectrum of positive and negative emotions being expressed, hoping that we would find evidence of future-focused positivity to offset the grief.


Figure 1 - Average Temporal Focus of tweets mentioning Tony Hsieh


Splitting the tweet sample into those predominantly focussed on the past, present or future we can assess what emotions people with different temporal focus are expressing. We separated the tweet sample into those where 90% or more of the total temporal focus was either on the past, the present or future, respectively, and generated the average emotions for each sub-sample.


While the differences are quite subtle, the emotions expressed in the tweets that mention Tony that were predominantly past focussed (Fig 2) and those that were focussed on the present (Fig 3) look pretty similar. Sadness dominates, offset by lots of admiration, love, joy, and excitement, but also anger and fear.


For tweets that mention Tony that have a predominantly future focus (Fig 4), however, the anger and fear are much diminished with positive emotions like admiration, love and joy being slightly more pronounced.


Figure 2 - Average SALLEE emotions expressed in past focussed tweets mentioning Tony Hsieh

Figure 3 - Average SALLEE emotions expressed in present focussed tweets mentioning Tony Hsieh

Figure 4 - Average SALLEE emotions expressed in future focussed tweets mentioning Tony Hsieh


For those reminiscing about Tony, we found predominantly expressions of sadness, fear anger and excitement, but as we look to the future we primarily see admiration, love and joy, which is incredibly fitting for someone who strived to deliver happiness to so many.




Try out the SALLEE demo - It's free!

Simply paste language into the demo text box, and you'll get insights into the emotions expressed just like the charts you've seen in this post. You'll find a link to the demo here.



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