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Zappos' CEO's 'Time Ninja' Liz Gregersen Spills About Shoes, Her Boss & Singing Telegrams [INTERVIEW]

liz gregersen 2012 10 09

The CEO of Zappos -- Tony Hsieh -- probably wouldn't be able to get through all of the work he has in a day without the help of his Time Ninja, Liz Gregersen.

Liz started out at the company as a finance administrative assistant and has worked as an executive assistant (a.k.a. "Time Ninja") since 2008, so she knows not only the ins and outs of the business, but, also, all of the juicy details about Tony, who relies on her for everything from delivering singing telegrams to penciling in time to eat.

What's new over at Zappos? They've got all kinds of interesting projects going on, such as the Hope Home Foundation (which provides Employer Assisted Housing with the goal of spurring economic growth). The company also partnered with the Vegas Tech Fund (an investment fund that seeks to foster community in Las Vegas). 

We took some time this week to talk to Liz, who told us all about what it's like working for the CEO of one of the largest online stores in existence.  



You work directly with the CEO of Zappos, can you tell us about Tony's personal style? We assume that he might be a shoe man, but what other accessories are his must-haves?

"Tony is actually not a shoe guy. He only wears a couple of styles of shoes -- sneakers and dress shoes if he has to go to an event. Every single day, unless giving a speech, he wears jeans and a Zappos T-shirt. I guess the only accessory he has are his phones and Zappos badge."

You both work long hours, what does he typically eat to stay healthy and in shape?

"Tony doesn't have a lot of time to eat.  I usually have to schedule in time for him to grab a bite throughout the day."

We've heard that Tony frequents the Downtown Cocktail Room. What's his favorite drink? 

"He likes Fernet. I think it smells like cough syrup, but to each his own."

Could you tell us about Zappos' Hope Home Foundation and how people can get involved? 

"I've never used it myself, but an employee named Matt Thomas recently did. You can view the blog about his story here. More info on the program itself can be read here."

Zappos is one of the best companies on the planet and we hear it is a great place to work. What do you love most about working with Tony at Zappos? 

"I never have a dull moment. There is nothing worse than being bored at work.  I can be me all day, every day, which is kind of super. It is a nice feeling to wake up each morning looking forward to work. Before Zappos, I'd never felt that before." 

Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? 

"Tony doesn't pay much attention to politics."

The Vegas Tech Fund initiatives sound exciting. If someone would want to pack their bags and check out what Vegas has to offer, where's a good place to start? We hear Vegas Jelly is super-cool. 

"A visitor should go to and read about all the projects and initiatives in the works.  I'd recommend setting up a Downtown Project tour which includes a tour of Tony's apartment and a bird's eye view of the E. Fremont area.  They should get coffee at The Beat, grab lunch at Eat! or Le Thai or Triple George, or Mamitas or Uncle Joe's pizza.  I'd recommend grabbing a drink at Downtown Cocktail room, The Griffin, The Vanguard,  Insert Coins, or listen to the bartenders belting out tunes at Don't Tell Mama.  There is a Nike Shoezeum that just opened and has the largest collection of unworn Nikes in the world.  Thursdays the local tech community gets together to co-work, brainstorm and just get to know each other.  Every other Tuesday there is Trivia night at the Beat.  Too much to name everything."

How does Tony like his coffee? 

"In a cup."

What is one of the strangest tasks you've ever had to do? 

"After Zappos announced we were moving downtown, just under two years ago, a bunch of Zapponians went to a city council meeting to be a part of the official city announcement that we were taking over the old city hall building.  During that meeting, Tony was addressing the Mayor at the time, Oscar Goodman.  He said something like, 'You are sitting in my future chair.'

After that comment I started getting a bunch of phone calls from reporters asking if Tony was planning to run for Mayor.  One local news guy in particular called to get an official comment.  I had to give him this quote: 

'I [Tony] currently have no plans to run for mayor of Las Vegas. However, I do have aspirations to one day become the mayor of all miniature unicorns.'  That was pretty funny." 

What kind of music do you listen to in your office? 

"The bathrooms always have music turned to 94.1, but in the office itself we don't have any music. The office is kind of loud all the time so music wouldn't be heard over the chaos."

What is a typical day of work like for you? 

"There is no typical day. The vast majority of my job is scheduling meetings and taking care of logistics and such.  I do have the opportunity to sing at work. We had a monthly Karaoke day for a while but that stopped about a year ago. There are three people, including myself, that will go around and deliver singing telegrams for birthdays, anniversaries, valentine's day, and sometimes we do caroling during the holidays.  We call ourselves the Zappettes. We have sung the national anthem at the last two years of WCC Basketball championship games in Las Vegas. In (this) picture, I'm the one on the right with long brown hair. I was about 6 months pregnant at the time. We do have a lot of silly fun every day, but we also work extremely hard. Working with people who you consider family makes all the stressful times worthwhile. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Zappos family."

Thank you, Liz, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with Team Glittarazzi!

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