I just finished reading The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone and I really enjoyed it. While the book was released with some controversy, including a bad review by Jeff’s wife, Mackenzie Bezos. For the most part, detractors and critics focused on what they believed are glaring inaccuracies in the book. Most reviews, however, have characterized the book as informative, interesting, and highly readable.
Regardless of controversy, what I enjoyed most about the book were the “behind the scenes” details about the company. A few things really stuck with after reading the book and I believe these themes are important factors in Amazon’s continued success.
Relentless: Jeff was determined to create an “Everything Store”, an online retailer which would carry every conceivable item at the lowest possible price. The commitment to his dream and the relentless way he pursued it is evident throughout Amazon’s history.
Long Term View: From the beginning, Jeff has said he was playing the long game, and he was willing to be misunderstood in the short term in order to reach his long term goals. The Amazon stock price is a good example of this philosophy. When the .com bubble burst, the stock price tanked, but the company’s commitment to its long term vision has steadily increased the value of the company, and now it’s one of the market’s top performers.
Customer First: Jeff is a big believer that the customer is the reason for the company’s success, and management should always remember that. During the early days of Amazon, Jeff would keep an empty chair at meetings. This represented the customer’s place at the table, and served as reminder of the company’s commitment to customer service.
As a big fan of the company and a long time investor, I admire Jeff’s relentless pursuit of his dream, and his commitment to the long term growth and success of his company. Combined with his passion for customer service, these three tenets have created a model company and one that provides a master class on sustainable growth.