The Everything Store by Brad Stone



11 lessons

The Everything Store

– by Brad Stone –

1) Focus on your consumers, not your competitors

Jeff Bezos told his employees, “Don’t be worried about our competitors, because they’re never going to send us any money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers, and stay heads-down focused.”

2) Be frugal

Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. Amazon encourages its employees to accomplish more with less. Jeff Bezos once said, “Frugality drives innovation…One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”

3) Don’t reveal all of your strategies

Jeff Bezos is sphinx-like with details of his plans, keeping thoughts and intentions private. He is an enigma in the broader technology industry. He rarely speaks at conferences and gives media interviews infrequently.

4) Have a bias for action

At Amazon, Bezos instituted the ‘Just Do It’ award, an acknowledgement of an employee who did something notable on his own initiative, typically outside his primary job responsibilities. Even if the action turned out to be an egregious mistake, an employee could still win the prize as long as he or she had taken risks and shown resourcefulness in the process.

5) See things in new ways

Jeff Bezos revered pioneering computer scientist Alan Kay, and often quoted his observation that “point of view is worth 80 IQ points.” – a reminder that looking at things in new ways can enhance one’s understanding.

6) Be creative, but don’t cling to bad ideas

Jeff was disciplined and precise, constantly recording ideas in a notebook he carried with him, as if they might float out of his mind if he didn’t jot them down. But he quickly abandoned old notions and embraced new ones when better options presented themselves.

7) Don’t shy away from confrontation

Leaders at Amazon are encouraged to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. They should have conviction and be tenacious. They shouldn’t compromise for the sake of social cohesion.

8) Listen to individual customers

Amazon relies on metrics to make almost every important decision…and yet random customer anecdotes also carry tremendous weight and can change Amazon policy. If one customer has a bad experience, Bezos often assumes it reflects a larger problem, and escalates the resolution of the matter inside his company.

9) Identify what makes your business different

“What makes us different is this: We are genuinely customer centric, we are genuinely long-term oriented, and we genuinely want to invent. Most companies are not those things: they are focused on the competitor rather than the customer. They want to work on things that pay dividends on two or three years, and if they don’t they move on to something else. They prefer to be close followers rather than inventors because it is safer.” – Jeff Bezos

10) Ask yourself what won’t change in the future

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection…And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.” ― Jeff Bezos

11) You are what you choose

“When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” – Jeff Bezos