Some tidbits from this book to keep chewing as you grow your company:
Naming a company:
Jeff’s first URL registered was Relentless.com which will still take you to Amazon.com website. He hit the name Amazon after poring over dictionary for ‘A’ names and ended up with Amazon – the earth’s longest river – no wonder we have the earth’s biggest virtual store now.
Every startup has to go through a “betrayal of trust” between people who have started the company together. Kaphan, the introverted founder programmer, has to go through the pain when Amazon grew bigger – he has to be jettisoned as the jet accelerated and you need more deft and politically savvy people to run the jet with more people, fuel and drive
How does an interviewee get to join a historic company:
- After a Harvard lecture, Bezos was given a ride by a student attendee and the interview began earnestly I the car.
- Why would you want to join Amazon? Bezos asked. If I can join you early, I can be part of something historic replied Britwistle. Ego being proffered, Bezos yelled – – that s how we think at Amazon.com – Every startup wants to rule the world – only few get there. Next question was why are manhole covers are round? Britwistle replied perhaps they are easy to roll over to kerb. A good guess which Bezos liked. Off the cuff reasoning was important
- Company’s first letter to shareholder: We’ll make bold rather than timid investment decisions where we see a sufficient probability of gaining market leadership advantages. Some these investments will pay off; while others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case. – The risk taking has to be in the mindset and blood
Ideas and Inspiration:
Wal-Mart’s founder’s autobiography: Sam Walton: Made in America had a deep impression on Bezos as he expanded his company. He wove Sam’s credo into his cultural fabric of his company – i.e. frugality and a “bias for action”. He underlined one particular passage in which Walton described borrowing the best ideas of his competitors.
Success & Shrewd Investment:
Does success and celebrity leads to more success – perhaps to certain extent that’s true. Bezos was able to invest in Google early and minted nearly a billion dollars!!
Frugality and Company Ethos:
With door-desks and minimal subsidies for employee parking, Bezos was reinforcing the value of frugality. A coffee stand at his building used to give a loyalty card and it entails a free coffee after every 10 coffees purchased. and Bezos when he gets his free 11th coffee, will hand it over to a colleague in the line – even though he was a millionaire. Jeff Bezos and Alison Algore (who had HR experience) pondered over Amazon’s values and came out with 5 core values: Customer Obsession, Frugality, Bias for Action, Ownership and high bar for talent. Amazon would add a sixth value later, innovation. Looking for the way to reinforce Sam Walton’s notion for ‘bias for action’ – he instituted ‘Just Do It’ award – an acknowledgement of an employee who did something notable on his own initiative, typically outside if his primary job responsibilities. Even if the action turned out be an egregious mistake, an employee could still earn the prize as long as he or she taken risks and shown resourcefulness in the process. Considering his frugality, the prize was a size 15 Nike sneakers from the basketball player Dan Kreft.
When confronted with work-life balance question as work hours escalated, he said: The reason we’re here is to get stuff done, that’s top priority. That’s the DNA of Amazon. If you can’;t excel and put everything into it, this might not be a place for you!’
Time to time they change: From ‘Get Big Fast’ to discipline, efficiency and eliminate waste.
His one is best epitomized in his space venture Blue Origin. The company has a Latin motto: Gradatim Ferociter, translates to “Step by Step, Ferociously”. The phrase accurately captures Amazon’s guiding philosophy as well. Steady progress toward seemingly impossible goals will win the day. Setbacks are temporary. Naysayers are best ignored. What’s Jeff’s Motivation? from his own word: I’ve realized about myself that I’m very motivated by people counting on me. I like to be counted on.
Two-pizza teams – employees would be organized into autonomous groups of fewer than ten people – small enough that, when working late, the team members could be fed with two pizza pies. These teams would be independently set loose on Amazon’s biggest problems. They would likely compete with one another for resources and sometimes duplicate their efforts, replicating Darwinian realities of surviving in nature. Freed from the constraints of intracompany communications, could move faster and get features to customer quickly. To certain extent this didn’t help much but for certain it did.
PowerPoint Out, Narrative In:
All meetings had to have a maximum six page narrative of the agenda of the meeting and solution proposed. Further refinement to this idea – whenever a new idea or feature was proposed, the narrative should take the shape of a mock press release. The goal was to get the employees to distill a pitch into its purest essence, to start from something the customer might see – the public announcement – and work backward. You can’t make a decision about a feature or product without precisely knowing how it be communicated to the world – and what the hallowed customer would make of it.
Never tolerate stupidity, even accidental stupidity. Hone an unbelievable ability to be incredibly intelligent about things that are nothing to do with you and be totally ruthless about communicating – only a leader can do that.
Started of an experiment Chris Pinkham and as Amazon can’t fulfill its own compute requirement at short notice. Coded in the distant South Africa from Seattle, AWS was born out of necessity and for scaling to infinity. A great game changer for the next big cloud era. The first AWS mission written by its head Jassy had to be within the six page limit. It had the following bits:
- To enable developers and companies to use Web services to build sophisticated and scalable applications
- Possible primitives that subsequently turn into Web Services include from storage to computing to database, payments and messaging.
- We tried to imagine a student in a dorm room who would have at his or her disposal the same infrastructure as the largest companies in the world
Jeff’s Reading List:
- Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton
- Memos from the Chairman by Alan Greenspan
- The Mythical Man-month by Fredrick P. Brooks
- Build to Last: Successful habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins
- Good to Great: Why some companies make the Leap…and other’s Don’t by Jim Collins
- Creation: Life and How to make it by Steve Grand
- The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That will change the way you do business by Clayton M Christensen
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
- Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P. Womack
- The Black Swan The Impact of highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb