Foreword to the Ukrainian Edition of
The Bezos Letters
I will always remember the first time I met Jeff Bezos in person. It was in March 2013 at the TED conference, in Long Beach, California. Jeff Bezos, like many of the strongest leaders of this world, loves to learn and spends a lot of time every day educating himself. Going to TED for a full week every year, like I do with about 1200 other global innovators, is an efficient way to absorb a lot of knowledge but also network with pairs.
Jeff Bezos approached me as I was reading my Kindle between two sessions and he just sat next to me to ask a few questions. Amazon launched the Kindle already 5 years before but he still wanted to get feedback from customers… and obviously I was one of them. Because, as you will discover in this book, Bezos is truly “obsessed over customers.” Probably one of his main drivers and the strongest of all the values of Amazon. We spent one hour talking about all the features and the quality of the electronic ink of my Kindle. This electronic ink was one of his passions and one of the features he was the most proud and curious about. He took notes during the entire time. Then he smiled, with his characteristic bigger than life smile, and we shook hands. Since then I often sit next to him during the annual TED Conference and enjoy our brief conversations.
I also have the chance and opportunity to work a lot with Amazon leadership. I visit at least once a year the Amazon headquarter in Seattle with clients. And I am always amazed by how strong the culture and the values of the company are. What you will discover in this book is not only an interpretation of the letters Jeff Bezos sends every year to the shareholder of the company. It’s also the way this uniquely original company is managed.
What Amazon has been able to achieve in 26 years is unique in the history of human economic development. Not only has Amazon completely disrupted several industries (cultural goods, eCommerce, IT with AWS and, more recently, the movie and TV business) but it did it in an extremely short time. Starting from a garage in July 1994, Amazon is now one of the largest companies in the world not only in terms of market caps but also in terms of revenue and number of employees. And those amazing results are achieved following very closely and precisely the 14 principles identified by Steve Anderson and that were already presented in Bezos’ very first letter. That is truly remarkable and to me, as an entrepreneur, extremely inspiring.
I have learned a lot over the years as a manager, an investor, and an entrepreneur from those letters and I am always looking forward to them year after year. And I actually often refer to them. And what you will learn from them is precious. Steve Anderson did a very important work in trying to extract 14 core principles and put them into action in the life cycle of a company. Those principles are not only for Amazon. You can apply them to any type of company, big or small, in any sector.
And I also believe that if you are yourself a manager, it’s a good exercise to try to write to your team and stakeholder, at the beginning of every year, a letter that shares what happened the previous year and that is paving the way for the year to come. I now always do it for my team and stakeholders and find it a very powerful exercise. A letter is a very personal way to share your thoughts, and it also makes you personally accountable, as a manager, to the execution of the vision you are sharing. You would be surprised, by doing that exercise, that you have yourselves strong business principles that will be expressed in those letters. Why don’t you try?
At UNIT.City, our Innovation Park here in Ukraine, we take the role of educating and sharing knowledge and our passion for innovation very seriously. This is why I strongly believe that this book is essential to anyone who is looking at launching, growing, and scaling any type of business. Because true leadership is always about sharing a vision and paving the way to execution. That is exactly what those letters are teaching us: a strong vision and how to turn that vision into a great reality. Because, as Thomas Edison said, “a vision without execution is hallucination.”
~ Dominique Piotet
CEO of UNIT.City
Author of How The Web is Changing the World
About the Book
Jeff Bezos created one of the world’s most valuable companies and, in the process, became the world’s richest person. Amazon was the fastest company to reach $100 billion in sales ever. And, he started by selling books online.
How did he do it?
For the first time, The Bezos Letters™ unlocks the key lessons, mindset, principles, and steps Bezos continues to use to make Amazon the massive success it is today. Applying these principles helps drive higher, faster results.
Risk & Growth Expert Steve Anderson shows business owners, executives, and leaders how to apply Bezos’ same practices to watch their business become more efficient, productive, and successful—fast!