Bezos bez-stows his wisdom in this year’s letter to shareholders

Jeff Bezos sent out his highly anticipated annual shareholder letter yesterday, chock-full of interesting tidbits he’s gathered during his tenure at Amazon. Here are our favorite takeaways.


April 20, 2018

Jeff Bezos sent out his highly anticipated annual shareholder letter yesterday, chock-full of interesting tidbits he’s gathered during his tenure at Amazon.

Not to mention, some surprising phraseology that’s likely making its way into Silicon Valley’s lexicon of buzzwords as we speak…

Here are a few of our takeaways:

Overachieving is contagious

JB believes that high standards are learned. Great news for companies that effectively communicate high standards in their core values — and bad news for those that don’t.

Even high performers have blind spots

Just saying that your company has “high standards” doesn’t mean it does. A startup founder might place a premium on innovation but neglect to put sustainable processes in place for long-term growth.

Handstand coaches exist

OK, that’s not the main takeaway, but, according to Bezos, the reason these coaches exist is because, simply, doing a perfect handstand is hard, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Having high standards doesn’t mean disregarding reality — the best coaches set realistic expectations and communicate them often.

Football coaches don’t have to be great quarterbacks…  

But they do have to recognize talent and develop it. Team leaders don’t need to have all the skills of everyone on their team, but they should know what high performance looks when they see it and how to cultivate it.

Iteration makes good products great

Fun fact: Amazon doesn’t do PowerPoints — they do “6-page narratives.” Beyz says teams “silently read” memos at the beginning of each meeting. The best ones, he writes, “are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion.” The worst ones… do not.

The difference? Shoddy memo writers thought they could knock out the whole thing in a few hours, when the project warranted a week or more to plan out, write, edit… and edit again. 

Then he capped it off with an impressive brag section 

Highlights of the laundry list of 2017 milestones include Amazon’s 100m Prime members, $20B in revenue for Amazon Web Services, and record sales for Amazon hardware devices.

Which all brought the letter to, you guessed it — exactly 6 pages.

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