The Risky Mentality that Made Jeff Bezos So Successful

Success often feels like a chase, especially in the startup world. You scrabble to gain ground, obsessing over features and metrics and competitors, and though you think you’re moving fast and hard, sometimes it feels like you’re running up a down escalator.

For Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, success isn’t a pursuit or a race to the top. It’s an adventure. You don’t just buy The Washington Post when you think you’re in a race. Rather, his key to success is maintaining a mindset of exploration rather than conquest. Bezos told Charlie Rose in 2012:

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Break the Bad Habit of Ineffective Meetings

Why do we continue to have bad meetings? Seriously, 99% of the human population seem to hate them, and there are surveys showing again and again that there are x many meetings everyday that cost gabillions of dollars worth of wasted time and productivity.

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Is it some horrible concoction of misplaced optimism that this time it’ll be better, resigned acceptance that this is a required dog and pony show — the business world’s tradition of dance, monkey, dance — and a massive buildup of bad meeting history that’s created such intense inertia that only superheroes can help us pull away into the light?

Imagine that a group of you had to build a doghouse like Snoopy’s, and you got a toolbox, some wood, and pencils and paper. Your team is revved up about this cool doghouse, you can envision it, you have all these super useful tools, but all your team does with the pencils and paper is doodle pictures of cute dogs instead of making a blueprint or marking down measurements. Then when you run out of paper, you ask for more paper — only to doodle more pictures of dogs.

That’s how we’re treating meetings. Meetings are a helpful tool to decide and plan things. But misused, they’re just a bunch of meaningless doodles that don’t lead to anything being built and Snoopy with no place to live.

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Attain a Flexible Mind: The Best of the Internet

Kepp Your Head UpYo ho ho and onto the best of what we shared on the interwebs this week!

GitHub + iDoneThis: Bring in your commits!

We also teamed up with Draft to make it super simple to track your writing progress and share it with your team.

Why does Jeff Bezos give a hiring anti-pitch?

Self-promotion is part of your job.

You have to stretch, little by little, to attain a flexible mind.

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Jeff Bezos’s Hiring Anti-Pitch

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Today, the competition for top tech talent is as fierce as it’s ever been, and without a high-performing team, it’s tough to survive. It makes sense that such intense competitive pressure drives startup founders to pitch their company to prospective hires in ever more grandiose terms, exaggerate how well their company is “crushing it,” and make their culture sound like the happiest place on earth.

How else can you stand out to a top candidate who’s considering offers from all of the hottest companies?

It’s counterintuitive, but Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos takes a totally different approach to hiring: he gives prospects a hiring anti-pitch.

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The Dullest, Most Vital Skill You Need to Become a Successful Manager

The exemplary manager is often shown delivering a rousing speech that inspires her troops to achieve ever greater heights. But the truth is a lot less exciting than that.

To three highly effective and successful executives, a boring, often-overlooked ability is one of the most vital skills you can have as a manager — the ability to write.

“Written communication to engineering is superior [to verbal communication] because it is more consistent across an entire product team, it is more lasting, it raises accountability.”

— Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz

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Written communication creates lasting consistency across an entire team because a piece of writing is leveragable collateral from which everyone, from marketing to sales to QA to engineering, can work and consult.

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Motivation and Self-Discipline: The Best of the Internet

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Happy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!

How socially conscious startups find motivation.

Jeff Bezos’s peculiar management tool for self-discipline.

Are you happy at work? I believe you have my stapler…

A case for the workplace’s digital village.

The less-is-best approach to innovation is simpler and quieter. Ahhh.

Jeff Bezos’s Peculiar Management Tool for Self-Discipline

The modern workplace’s vogue is informal information exchange. We sit in open floor plan offices so that we can spontaneously collide, chat, and collaborate. The office setup for a meet-cute of ideas can be fizzy and energizing, though when sparks aren’t flying, the colliding can be noisy and distracting.

Jeff Bezos takes a totally different approach to management far from that madding crowd. He has a contrarian management technique that’s peculiarly old school — write it down.

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In Amazon senior executive meetings, before any conversation or discussion begins, everyone sits for 30 minutes in total silence, carefully reading six-page printed memos. Reading together in the meeting guarantees everyone’s undivided attention to the issues at hand, but the real magic happens before the meeting ever starts.  It happens when the author is writing the memo.

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