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Taking a Look at Bezos’ Letter to Shareholders

Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, recently published his letter to Amazon shareholders. It’s a good, inspiring read into Bezos’ vision for Amazon, and how he pushes the company to constantly stay ahead of its competitors. Here are a few key tenets:
  • “Day 1”. Bezos opens the letter describing why he constantly focuses on Day 1 – customer obsession, eager adoption of external trends, etc. Beyond Day 1 is Day 2, “stasis” which leads to irrelevance and then decline and death. He focuses every day on Day 1.
  • “True Customer Obsession” is at the heart of Day 1. Bezos claims every customer, no matter how much s/he says is happy, is dissatisfied. Customers always want more, better – even if s/he doesn’t know it. For Bezos, he pushes Amazon to always innovate on behalf of the customer.
  • As part of true customer obsession is the notion of getting to the true crux of how customers feel about a product or service – “resist ‘proxies’” like surveys.
  • “Embrace External Trends”. In this case, Bezos is referring to realizing and capitalizing on macro trends. Fighting a big trend is like “fighting the future”. Instead, embrace the trend (i.e. artificial intelligence), and you can ride it like a tailwind.
  • “Disagree and commit”. To make decisions expeditiously, Bezos will openly voice his disagreement (usually a genuine disagreement of opinion), but commit to supporting an opposing idea. The idea here is that being wrong may be less costly than being slow – which is “going to be expensive for sure”.
  • Quickly escalate points of disagreement/ misalignment. Making a decision based on “wearing one down” is slow and “de-energizing”.
Give the letter a look-over.

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