“Do I need to go down and get the certificate that says I’m CEO of the company to get you to stop challenging me on this?” Just one of the so-called ‘Jeff-isms’ that have characterised Jeff Bezos’ stratospheric rise to the top of the business world.
This fly-on-the-wall account of Amazon’s journey encapsulates the drive and ambition that runs deep within the culture of the business, instilled right from the very beginning by founder Jeff Bezos.
The dot-com era cliché of starting out in a garage rings true with Amazon and from those humble beginnings posting books out one by one, the business has evolved exponentially into the empire we know today. Through their “Get Big Fast” strategy, Amazon has touched every corner of the globe and become the de facto destination to purchase pretty much anything, and indeed this very book. A book about Amazon, bought from and delivered by… well, you guessed it!
Whilst nobody can question Jeff Bezos’ seemingly limitless success, it is his personality and management style that divides opinion and it’s here where this book really shines a light. The fine line as a leader between being challenging or demanding, decisive or ruthless is a tightrope Bezos walks seven days a week and his approach has certainly cost him some popularity points over the years in his pursuit for success.
Relentless is the word that comes to mind on every page of this book and presumably through every fibre of Bezos’ character, so it comes as no surprise that this was an early name suggestion for the business before inspiration was instead taken from the famous Brazilian river. Try typing relentless.com into the internet and you’ll be taken to the Amazon website. The ultimate metaphor, I think, for what Amazon represents.
The author really emphasised Bezos’ absolute focus on the customer, sometimes even to the detriment of Amazon’s own product lines and margins, with unwavering confidence that this approach will prevail in the end. The belief that “it is far better to cannibalize yourself than have someone else do it” is displayed most prominently through the introduction of the kindle, the ultimate antidote to the physical book.
An enjoyable read that helps to connect the dots between the constant stream of brown cardboard parcels arriving at my door and the vast operations required to satisfy such retail addiction. Published in 2014 this book is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Amazon has become and with author Brad Stone releasing a second book in 2021, one can only imagine how many more pages and chapters will be penned about the innovation that is yet to come from Bezos’ everything store.