JEFF BEZOS SPENT AN EVENTFUL TIME with his larger Amazon.com engineering team in India recently. The "events", so to speak, involved no less than a typical decorated delivery truck on one hand (The event where, apparently, his amazon.in CEO called out Jeff as his 'Baap' [try here]). And, on the other hand, there was him meeting with the Indian Prime Minister in Delhi and talking about things (in e-retail in the most promising e-global economy with the world's 3rd largest open internet userbase, of course).
In between these two was a private dinner organised with a dozen or so CEO's in Bangalore. This paraphrased post is thanks to one of them [try
#1: What was the hardest moment of your life?
Jeff: My experience of raising the first million dollars to start Amazon.
Nothing over the following two decades of founding Amazon compared to that. I reached out to 80 odd investors and how they thought my idea of selling books over the internet was crazy.
#2: How do you hire people?
Jeff: I look at two things: one, does the person consider himself to be fortunate? And two, how good are they at making decisions without data... I'm biased and I prefer people who consider themselves as very fortunate [...] they will make or do things better because they are thankful to the way their lives are shaping up. The others will waste their lives looking over their shoulder and complain about how life is not satisfactory. “Those kind of people I don’t want on my team”. [...] While data is an extremely important element of decision making, you have to first listen to your gut, what feels right. Usually, the gut is right and you have to substantiate it with data. But you should not start the other way round, where you look at data first and then suppress your instinct and do what the data says. That will not necessarily make you do great things.
#3: Would you hire a philosopher and/or an entrepreneur?
[Jeff pauses for a bit], I would hire a philosopher and not an entrepreneur. [...] a philosopher will take my mind where nobody else has taken it. And then, he will find the entrepreneur to make that into a reality.
#4: What are the fundamental tenets of your business?
Jeff: There are three things -
1. Customers rule: That is an obsession at Amazon. At any meeting that we have, we have a chair for the customer. I say, ‘there’s a customer sitting here, and are we doing things right for the customer?’.
2. An incessant appetite for innovation: This has to be there in every walk of life, and it’s not an annual activity, but an everyday thing: we have to do things better.
3. Operational excellence: When you are running a successful corporation, the fundamental building block is phenomenal operational excellence. Everything will happen the way it is planned to happen and that we actually execute and deliver on the promise.
#5: What next?
Jeff: I’ve only just begun.
(For a perspective, today Amazon ranks #35 in Fortune500 list - compared to Google's #46, and Microsoft's #34).