Being Bezos (or not)- 4 things you can learn from Amazon CEO

I’ve just finished reading the “Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” (

This happened to coincide with Amazon reporting strong Q1 of 2015 with sale topping $22.7 billion.

"Jeff Bezos' iconic laugh" by Steve Jurvetson - Flickr: Bezos’ Iconic Laugh. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
"Jeff Bezos' iconic laugh" by Steve Jurvetson – Flickr: Bezos’ Iconic Laugh. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Over more than 400 pages the author, Brad Stone, tells the story of the online behemoth, of the growth of internet technology over the past two decades, but more than everything else, this book focused on the personality and mindset of Amazon founder and CEO- Jeff Bezos.

I’m not going to tell you that by reading this book you will become like Bezos. In fact, there’s very little chance that you will one day become as rich or influential as Bezos. But you will also never be him personally, and that might be a good thing because according to this biography he is not the most pleasant man around. But what you should do is learn from the man, not try to copy him. So here are several things I picked by reading this book.

  1. Long term thinking- if you take nothing else from Bezos, you simply must embrace this principle ( I wrote a seperate post about this topic:
    Bezos thinks not in days or months but in years and decades. This mindset has helped him to raise above petty arguments and create a clear vision for his career and later, his company. A famous story mentioned in the book describes how Bezos was ready to leave the wall street firm he was working with to start His CEO at the time tried to persuade him to stay onboard for another quarter- there were bonuses involved so financially it made sense. Bezos asked to think this over the weekend and reverted that it was time for him to leave. When the CEO asked what so urgent he was said that when he will be 80 years old and looking back on this decision, a few thousands dollars more or less (salary and bonus) would not made such a difference. But had he chose to stay and therefore missed the opportunity of a lifetime (internet retail was just beginning then, and everyone was rushing to grab a piece of the market) he would have regretted this his whole life. When you’re not even 30 years old and thinking what you might feel at 80- now this is long term thinking..
  2. Determination– Jeff was a determined kid, teenager, student, employee and now CEO. His determination made things which were conceived to be impossible (like an online store where you could buy everything) a reality. It will also make commercial drones possible and perhaps even commercial space flights. When he sets out to do something, he doesn’t stop until it’s either done or failed miserably.
  3.  Not afraid to fail- Bezos is certainly not afraid to fail, and usually takes bold risks which often result in millions of dollars lost. He seems to be fine with it, as long as it improved the overall scheme of things (product, customer experience etc.).
  4. Simple, clear vision-At Amazon it is clear that the company’s goal is to provide the best possible customer experience. If this requires lowering prices, crunching the competitors and hurting the stock price- so be it. Everyone in the company knows that and Jeff constantly re-iterates his vision in any communication (internal and external). This in turn creates the culture he desires which feeds the growth of the company.

You’re not going to be Bezos, so don’t try to. But you can try to see how these personality traits can be incorporated in your life and career. After all, these have made him what he is today, so they are proven to work (at least for him..)

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