Friday, March 2, 2012

Jeff Bezos: About Amazon and Zappos

Stumbled across this video that Jeff Bezos made for Zappos - fresh off their acquisition by Amazon in 2009. His boyish enthusiasm for Zappos is infectious, and he shares the "few" things he knows about his business, Amazon, and Zappos. +2 for humility, even if it's calculated.

Comparing this to my recent post on Jeff's TED Talk on Innovation Ahead, I see two trends emerging.

The first is that I'm a Jeff Bezos fanboy. Fine.

The second is that, in both presentations, Jeff creates and communicates a compelling, optimistic vision of the future. In the TED Talk, Jeff spoke passionately about his optimistic vision for the future of the tech boom as a whole. In this video, Jeff conveys that same optimistic vision for the future, this time for Zappos.


1. Obsess Over Customers 
"We've always put customers first. When given the choice between obsessing over competitors or obsessing over customers, we always put customers first." 

2. Invent 
"Any time we have a problem, we never accept either-or thinking. We try to figure out a solution that gets both things. You can invent your way out of any box if you believe that you can." 

3. Think Long Term
"Any company that wants to focus on customers and put customers first. Any customer that wants to invent on behalf of customers, has to be willing to think long term. Most of the initiatives that we undertake may take 5-7 years before they start paying any dividends for the company. It requires, by the way, and allows a willingness to be misunderstood."

"There's a lot of growth ahead of us with Zappos. This really is the beginning... My belief is, we haven't seen anything yet. As much as Zappos has accomplished already - and it's a lot - with that unique culture and that great Zappos brand, and those terrific leaders, I know that it's just the very beginning. And that leads me to my last point..." 

4. It's Always Day One
"There's always more invention in the future. Always more customer innovation. New ways to obsess over customers."
So between the TED Talk and this Zappos welcoming, there's are a few obvious things to learn from Bezos: The future of the web and tech is bright; It's just the beginning; Obsess over customers, Invent, and Think Long Term; It's Always Day One.

But just below the surface, this is a shining example of a key facet of leadership: create and convey a compelling vision. It's something we covered years ago in BMGT301 - Management in Organizations (thanks Professor Wellman...), but seeing it and recognizing it in Bezos is exciting and inspiring.

Maybe that's why Jeff Bezos Owns the Web In More Ways Than You Think.