Why I Surprised Myself with My New Book, The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business like Amazon

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson

Risk and Growth Expert

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As many of you may know, I’ve been talking about technology, business growth, and risk (due to my insurance background), for many years.

In the insurance industry, it is all about mitigating risk.

However, life seems to be accelerating at a pretty ridiculous speed, and it seems the very nature of risk is changing. In fact, around the same time, this was occurring to me, I co-chaired an industry workgroup on “The Changing Nature of Risk.” This is a big deal in the insurance industry, since managing the financial consequences of risk is what drives people to need insurance in the first place.

As I began to research the changing nature of risk, there were a few companies that were on the cutting edge of how they viewed (and some actually embraced) risk, and of course, Amazon was at the top of the list.

How did this juggernaut of a company deal with the risk inherent in any business, and what did they do to be the fasted company to reach $100 billion in sales?

That’s when I came upon the letters Jeff Bezos has written to shareholders for the last 21 years.

As I read through the letters with my bent towards looking through the lens of risk, I began to see how he had “hidden in plain sight” what he had done to grow Amazon in general, and his unique bent on how he embraced risk, in particular.

It was fascinating.

What emerged were four distinct cycles of business risk and growth and 14 principles that gave a roadmap to what Jeff Bezos did to grow Amazon, and how he did it in his own words.

Having worked with hundreds of various types of business over the last 35+ years, I could see how, if applied to most any business, the principles could help business not just grow and become bigger but grow and become better.

So, I initially wrote up a “white paper,” I thought would be useful for businesses.

My wife, who’s been in the book world for most of her career, looked at me (and if you’ve been married any time at all you know the look) and said, “That’s not a white paper, that’s a book.”

So, with her help, I wrote The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon.

Because it’s all about risk and growth – but businesses need to approach risk and growth in a fresh way, and there’s nobody better than Amazon as an example of how to do that.

But here’s what surprised me: I realized I needed to apply the four cycles and 14 principles to my own business.

I needed to test, build, accelerate, and scale my business.

I tested the risk and growth idea by doing the research and deciding to write the book. I built a new additional business model based on the book and took a risk by writing the book in a “smart risk” way. (And I was prepared for it to fail.) I accelerated its growth by getting a publisher, and now I have discovered it has scaled and debuted this week as the #1 bestseller in nonfiction in the Amazon (Kindle) bookstore.

Yes, we’ve joked that it’s a bestseller on Amazon because it’s a book on Amazon.

But there is a bigger picture. It’s not just about Amazon; it’s about all of us and what we can do when we take smart risks to grow our businesses, non-profits, and organizations.

And my point? If Jeff Bezos and Amazon could show me how this could work for me, I believe they can show you how it can work for you, too.

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Steve Anderson

Learn more about best-selling author Steve Anderson and how he shows business owners, executives, and leaders how to apply Bezos’ same practices to their businesses.
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The Bezos Letters

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