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What you can learn from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon

What you can learn from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon
By Founders Podcast • Issue #9 • View online
Quick note: I decided to change the name of the podcast from Historically Great to Founders. I think Founders is a better name since I am reading books on entrepreneurs. What do you think? 

Founders Podcast
I learned a lot by reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. In this podcast I talk about how Jeff Bezos came up with the idea for Amazon, how he started the company, his management style, his unique ideas on how to run a company and much more. 
You can listen to a preview of the podcast here. If you are already a patron you can listen to the full episode here.  
Here are some quotes from the book that I found valuable:
You are the choices you make
When you are eighty 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.
Use a “regret-minimization framework” to decide what to do next
When you are in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff. I knew when I was eighty that I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time. That kind of thing just isn’t something you worry about when you’re eighty years old. At the same time, I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event. When I thought about it that way…it was incredibly easy to make the decision.
Focus on your customers not your competitors
Bezos recalled speaking at an all-hands meeting called to address the assault by Barnes & Noble. “Look, you should wake up worried, terrified every morning, he told his employees. “But don’t be worried about our competitors because they’re never going to send us money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers and stay heads-down focused.”
Learn from those that came before you
Bezos had imbibed Walton’s book thoroughly and wove the Walmart founder’s credo about frugality and a “bias for action” into the cultural fabric of Amazon. He had underlined one particular passage in which Walton described borrowing the best ideas of his competitors. Bezos’ point was that every company in retail stands on the shoulders of the giants that came before it. The book clearly resonated with Amazon’s founder. On the last page, a section completed a few weeks before his death, Walton wrote:
Could a Walmart type story still occur in this day and age? My answer is of course it could happen again. Somewhere out there right now there’s someone—probably hundreds of thousands of someones—with good enough ideas to go all the way. It will be done again, over and over, providing that someone wants it badly enough to do what it takes to get there. It’s all a matter of attitude and the capacity to constantly study and question the management of the business. 
Jeff Bezos embodied the qualities Sam Walton wrote about.
The flwheel or self-reinforcing loop
Bezos and his lieutenants sketched their own virtuous cycle, which they believed powered their business. It went something like this: Lower prices led to more customer visits. More customers increased the volume of sales and attracted more commission paying third-paying sellers to the site. That allowed Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like fulfillment centers and servers needed to run the website. This greater efficiency then enabled it to lower prices further. Feed any part of this flywheel, they reasoned, and it should accelerate the loop.
Make progress on any challenge with time
Slow steady progress can erode ay challenge over time. Step by step, ferociously. The phrase accurately captures Amazon’s guiding philosophy. Steady progress toward seemingly impossible goals will win the day. Setbacks are temporary. Naysayers are best ignored.
Teams should communicate less, not more
Communication is a sign of dysfunction. It means people aren’t working together in a close, organic way. We should be trying to figure out a way for teams to communicate less with each other, not more. 
A hierarchy isn’t responsive enough to change. Bezos’ counterintuitive point was that coordination among employees wasted time, and that the people closest to problems were usually in the best position to solve them. 
Or put another way: Autonomous working units are good. Things to manage working units are bad.
Do not be tethered to conventional wisdom
Jeff does a couple of things better than anyone I’ve ever worked for. He embraces the truth. A lot of people talk about the truth, but they don’t engage their decision-making around the best truth at the time. 
The second thing is that he is not tethered by conventional thinking. What is amazing to me is that he is bound only by the laws of physics. He can’t change those. Everything else he views as open to discussion.
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Thanks for reading. I will be back next week with another email and podcast on one of history’s greatest entrepreneurs. 
David 
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