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What I learned from spending two weeks with Jeff Bezos

By Ole Ingemann Kjørmo, Jan 13, 2018

I just finished reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. With its 400 pages, it took me about two weeks to read. In a lot of ways, it gave me new perspectives, both in terms how I run my business and in the likes of Jeff Bezos as a person. It also addresses lots of small notes on Jeff’s fundamental thinking and reasoning about life in general. In parallel to reading the book, I watched quite a lot of interviews with this juggernaut of e-commerce on Youtube. I highly recommend those, and I’ve put the links to my favorites in the footer of this post. Here is a brief summary of my take on Jeff Bezos from the book and those interviews.

  • Jeff Bezos is no doubt a very gifted man. However, he emphasizes on not celebrating those gifts. Instead, celebrate your achievements. Be happy and praise those gifts, but remember: Those gifts were given to you, not earned.
  • Fun fact 1: Did you know that for many years Jeff used an old door as his office desk? This was truly a symbol of his frugality and reflected the mindset he’d like to see of his employees.
  • Jeff treats every day at Amazon as day 1. The innovation, the hunger, the process improvement will never stop. Stasis is an enemy.
  • I believe Jeff got his enormous working capacity by growing up on a farm. He’s often presented as a geek, but I believe he’s also a handyman that’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Jeff is a self-proclaimed geek, and the story about Amazon actually is a perfect example of “Revenge of the Nerds”. His space endeavors with Blue Origin is another proof.
  • Jeff doesn’t care about competition; he cares about customers. (As a recent customer of Amazon I believe that he’s partly losing his grip in this area, as the customer support is totally shit if your issue is a bit off from the support staff’s manuscript.)
  • Like all the big winners in the entrepreneurial arena, Jeff is not afraid to fail. At least he says so.
  • Jeff is not feeling sorry for the businesses he crushes as a result of Amazon’s success. He says ’Amazon didn’t happen to these regular bookstores. The future did.”
  • Just like Steve Jobs, there are signs that Jeff Bezos has no remorse for pushing his employees until they break. He gives opportunities to people without fancy college degrees or CVs, but as a result, he keeps them on a very tight leash.
  • One event made a huge impact in Jeff’s life. On a road trip with his grandparents, young Jeff made a comment on his grandma`s smoking. The comment was quite harsh, as it directly stated his grandma’s reduced life expectancy. Jeff did the math in the back seat and awaited appraisal of his math skills. Naturally, his grandmother was heartbroken. His grandfather stopped the car, got out and took Jeff with him. Jeff was then told the memorable quote from his grandpa: ‘One day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than to be clever.”
  • Fun fact 2: As the Amazon warehouses grew, some employees were unable to control and manage. One guy built a small hiding place among empty boxes and cardboard and even decorated the shed with personal items like photos and posters. He went unnoticed for about a week before getting sacked by the warehouse manager.
  • Amazon is one of the best practical examples of Sell your by-products. AWS, Prime and much more are examples.

Youtube links


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