I met Tony in 2012 while producing summit series. He was inviting people to downtown vegas and I happened to be in the group he was talking to. I didn’t know that tony was the type of person that invited strangers to vegas so I thought I was special and jumped on a plane to see what he was up to. I landed and the story I would always tell, with him when people asked how we met is that I got out of the car and saw him in front of the Ogden and went to hug him and he nervously backed away from me because he didn’t remember even inviting me. After that awkward encounter, I ended up going on a tour of Zappos where I told a TED speaker to watch his own TED talk, and then ended up at a small bar with Tony, graham hill (the Ted speaker who grew a beard), and chip Conley only to have Tony ask me who I was because he didn’t remember me.
I told him all about myself and what I wanted to do with my life and he asked me to have lunch at the beat the next day.
I stayed up all night reading his book he wrote that was in my room in the Ogden to know what I was getting into. I found out we were very similar, both weird and zany and just say what’s on our mind so I went knowing I should just be myself completely and totally.
I went to lunch and poured Sriracha all over my salad as he looked at me with confusion and interest. He asked me again what I wanted to do with my life and then casually he said why don’t you do it here in vegas.
I went back to nyc inspired but also confused on what he even meant as I only really saw a coffee shop and and a Thai restaurant and wasn’t sure what I would do in downtown vegas.
He started to come to nyc and invited me to meet his friends and he came to meet mine. I created my first business “plan” in a notebook with sharpies July of 2012. We were one of the first investments for DTP and this ended up changing my life.
I was 26 years old and had no idea what I actually was capable of. Tony knew. Tony gave me the chance to just be me. I remember going with him to so many conferences and at the sundance conference, I had to be “mrs Hsieh”. They made me sit with all of the other spouses and Tony thought it was hysterical. I ended up going to so many of his talks that I ended up memorizing his presentation, especially that great transition with Biggie. He was so proud of that. He told me he took comedy lessons to learn how to do the best delivery for his jokes. He was so so funny even without the comedy lessons. He would give his talks and then ask me to come sit up on stage so I could make sure to talk to anyone and everyone that wanted to come visit vegas. I ended up meeting thousands of people inspired by him and hosting them in downtown. I still remember him casually introducing me to the co-ceo of Whole Foods at the beat, and Sir Ken Robinson, my personal hero at the Ogden.
We didn’t really know each other when we got into business together but we soon realized how much fun it was to have a new friend. It felt like a friend that I met on the playground, we were silly together end ordered so much food and sang Disney songs and laughed all of the time. I learned so much from him.
When he offered a few companies of his investments an opportunity to get trained on Holacracy I gladly took him on the offer. I read every book he ever recommended for me to read gladly and talked with him about my favorite articles that I read based on his compilation books he sent monthly. I brought up my honest candid concerns about situations and circumstances with projects. We always had honest conversations and he always gave me the space to tell him how I felt.
I learned everything about market based dynamics from him. One night we had a 5 hour 1:1 where we went on a bar crawl and ate spicy pickles. It was the night before I was getting married. I would throw Coworking sessions at my house which was a very weird house with big showers and he changed my WiFi password to shower so when we hosted a big executive Zappos event there, I had to tell people the WiFi was showers.
We took naps in his freezing cold bus, I got so bus sick, he knew I just had to sleep. He knew to wake me up to meet Elon musk one night at Coachella at the weirdest house party I’ve ever been to.
I remember sitting next to his parents at life is beautiful where we hosted the learning and his mom loving the beat box session and him lighting up with joy.
He always saw so much light in the little moments of joy.
He was so special to me and is so special to me.
I saw him 3 weeks ago briefly for 5 minutes and gave him a special stone that I blessed. He told me he was going to get stoned and he didn’t even sneeze. Those were the jokes we laughed at. We were like kids on a playground together that saw the best in each other.
I told him I loved him and thanked him. There weren’t enough words to thank him.
There aren’t enough words to thank him.
Because of him, I left a job that wasn’t right for me, moved across the country which led to a company I have run for 8 years, meeting my husband, having a baby (Tony and I took photos of him holding my stomach pretending it was his baby), and having a full life I didn’t even see was possible. I didn’t have the means or the money to build a business on my own, I had to start from the ground up. Tony made that possible. Tony knew how to always make me laugh, he would do the silliest, funniest things. He also always knew more than everyone. He saw the future. I remember asking him early on at dinner if he was afraid of downtown project and the work he was doing there and of failing. He told me that everyone thought he was crazy when he wanted to sell shoes online so this wasn’t much scarier.
He always talked about the four minute mile. He said that no one ran a four minute mile until someone did. Then that year more people ran a four minute mile then ever before. That’s what Tony did for me. He showed me what was possible. For myself. For vegas. For the world.
I loved him as a friend and mentor and partner. So much so that I even got a tattoo on my hand to celebrate his 40th. He is one of the most pivotal people in my life and that will never change. I’m forever grateful to have called him my friend.