Jeff Bezo’s is not only the richest man on the planet but also a really down to Earth guy. If you don’t have time to watch this full interview, here are the basics:

Amazon’s Core Values

  1. Customer Obsession (instead of competitor obsession)
  2. Eagerness to invent
  3. Long term thinking
  4. Operational Excellence (which he calls “Professionalism”)

If you want to take a deeper dive on these, and how to build similar core values you can read Bryan Eisenberg’s thoughtful book “Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It.”

Day One

Bezos says that when you are a new company, you act differently than when you are established. He says this is where innovation either lives or dies because when you are a Day One company you are eager, hungry and willing to take risks. When you lose that mindset, companies get stale.

The propelling question then is, “How do we stay Day One?”

Two Pizza Teams

At Amazon, teams are no larger than the number of people that can consume two pizzas. If you were employing high school boys, this might only be a team of two. But, in the real world, this is meant to encourage teams to stay lean and remove barriers to be innovative.

6 Page Memo

Amazon embraces the 6 Page Memo and no Powerpoint presentations. Bezos says that it is basically a study hall where they spend 30 minutes reviewing the memo and the rest of the hour discussing it.

Here is a glimpse into what that memo entails (H/T Bryan Eisenberg):

1) The context or question.

2) Approaches to answer the question – by whom, by which method, and their conclusions

3) How is your attempt at answering the question different or the same from previous approaches

“If you are going to be innovative, you have to be willing to be misunderstood.”

At Amazon, another guiding principle is that “we make money when we help someone make a purchasing decision.”

That doesn’t always work out as planned and Bezo’s says that criticism is just a part of the job. But, he does give a roadmap that he teaches:

  1. Look in the mirror and decide if your critics are right. “Are we doing something wrong?”
  2. If you are, change
  3. If you aren’t, don’t. In that case, you need to have a “deep keel” (a nice reference to a sailboat and how the keep keeps the boat from tipping.

“You don’t choose your passion. They choose you.”

Bezo’s says that most people have jobs. Some have careers. The really lucky ones are those that find their calling.

That is something that he acknowledges by “winning the Amazon lottery.” So, what is his legacy? He sees it with his other company Blue Origin.

He makes reference to the fact that so many other elements were in place for him to succeed with Amazon: the creation of credit cards, leveraging UPS for delivery, etc.

What he wants is to create inexpensive means of space travel so that the next generation can use his infrastructure to build space businesses just like how Facebook was built in a dorm room.

Since populations continue to grow, we will need more room to grow. But, he doesn’t see this as a negative. He makes a comment that ‘if we grow to a population of a trillion humans that will mean not one Mozart, but one thousand people with his creative genius. And what would that be like to have that kind of culture…?’