How To Obsess Over Customers Like Jeff Bezos

obsess over customers like Jeff Bezos
What external metric is your company most proud of? Facebook likes? SEO ranking?

For Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, it just might be this: each year, the company is ranked at the top of its category and often top overall on a national index measuring customer satisfaction among America’s largest companies.

Sounds a little dry, a little technical. But it reflects Amazon’s mission in the strongest way possible.

Bezos is famously customer-focused. “Obsess over customers,” he has said. While some companies chose to obsess over competition (or default to obsessing over competition because it feels right) Bezos has consistently chose to push Amazon to obsess over the customer.

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What Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Love But 1 in 4 Americans Ignore

What’s the secret weapon of highly successful people? Reading books.

Throughout history, Bill Gates and many of the world’s most successful and influential people have been avid book readers.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not. One in four Americans did not read a single book in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 1978, that number was 8 percent. By 2005 it was 16 percent.

It’s a trend to avoid it you want to do great things.

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What Managers Are Getting Wrong About The World’s Greatest Job Ad


Here’s how the story usually goes. Sometime in the early 20th Century, British explorer Ernest Shackleton needed to hire a crew for an upcoming expedition to the South Pole. So he placed a newspaper ad:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success.”

The copywriting — and its strong, direct language — has been printed, reprinted and talked about for decades. It’s beautiful. Possibly the world’s greatest job ad.

Though his accomplishments went largely uncelebrated in the years after his death, Shackleton in recent years has become a revered leadership figure thanks to new literature on his life and career.

The ad copy has taken on a life of its own, with hiring managers and entrepreneurs pointing to it as an example of how to lure exceptional people to your organization.

But there are two problems here. For one, the ad probably never existed. Even if it did, many people — it seems — are missing the point.

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Why Amazon Hires Good Managers, Not Great Ones

pablo (1)

Really great managers are hard to come by. They’re even harder to hire.

Those who are truly and undisputedly world class are already working. And the company they’re working for will do whatever it takes to keep them. These managers are rarely, if ever, on the market. Even if you’re Amazon.

The top 1 percent of product managers, for example, are so rare that one Amazon director believes he has never encountered one in a job interview.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever met a 1% PM, certainly not one that I identified as such prior to hiring,” Ian McAllister, Director of the AmazonSmile program at Amazon, wrote on this Quora Answer.

So how does Amazon consistently hire world-class managers? Here’s how. Identify the areas a 1 percent manager excels at, and hire someone who excels at some of them, but not all.

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How to Transition to Working From Home



You’re more likely than your parents to work from home one day.

Or from a Starbucks, a shared working space, you get the idea. In fact, 4.2 million American workers joined the remote working movement from 1997-2012, according to the Census Bureau.

What this means is that many of us who started careers in a cubicle and necktie are switching over to the pajamas and home office.

It’s a big change. And it’s not easy.

Thankfully, the trail has been sufficiently blazed by workers who have been remote working for years, some for decades. Many of those brave pioneers have documented their experiences. So let’s explore some of the best advice from remote workers who have learned what works, and what to avoid.

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Why You Should Always Write Down Your Bad Ideas


Most of Thomas Edison’s ideas were bad.

At least they weren’t good enough to make it out of the laboratory. Or from the patent office to the product line. Thousands of ideas, never to see the light of day.

An associate of Edison’s, Walter S. Mallory, recalled asking the inventor about this, according to a 1910 biography “Edison: His Life and Inventions.” Mallory recalled that Edison had been working for months on a nickel-iron battery. Mallory visited Edison in his shop and learned his friend had tried more than 9,000 experiments for the battery and none had been successful.

“In view of this immense amount of thought and labor, my sympathy got the better of my judgment, and I said: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’”

Mallory sympathized with Edison. He felt sorry for him that so many ideas had not yet produce one result. Edison saw it differently.

“Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.'”

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How to Avoid Startup Premature Scaling


Startups are at their sexiest when hundreds of millions of people around the world use something that a couple of guys and girls built in their garage.

But I’ve noticed how that perception lays a trap for many first-time entrepreneurs. With their sights set on serving the masses, first-time founders often conclude that they must build a product that will work for millions of customers — before they even have one.

This is such a major problem that Startup Genome identified “premature scaling” as the number one cause of startup failure. Surveying 3,200 startups in 2011, the startup-community hub Startup Genome found that a whopping 70 percent failed because they tried to scale too early — expending resources on add-ons like expensive marketing and hiring salespeople before they truly had a product to satisfy a sufficiently large market.

Here are three ways to avoid the trap of startup premature scaling and build a successful business the right way.

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3 Practical Mindsets to Empower Introverts to Succeed at Networking

I’ve never been good at networking. I’m usually standing in the corner talking with a friend at parties, if I’m at a party at all. I get worn out from being around people and need my alone time to recharge.

There’s a certain efficiency in the glad-handing ways of a freshly-minted MBA because knowing the right people is in large part a numbers game. But to an introvert relating to people in that way isn’t just uncomfortable, it seems morally repugnant. The introvert aspires to treat people as ends themselves and not as a means to feed the ego or further our careers.

The problem is that not networking, bluntly, means stunting your career and financial prospects. Not networking may sound noble to you, but all that it amounts to is a litany of missed opportunities.

introvert networking mindset

Not to worry, networking doesn’t mean changing who you are, 95% of it is in your mindset and approach to it. Here are 3 practical mindsets that’ll empower you not just to network, but to make you successful at it.

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Why You Should Hire People Who’ve Rebounded from Failure, Not Those Handcuffed by Success

Fish Jumping Out of Bowl Hire Innovators

When it came time for Jeff Bezos to install a team to lead Amazon’s new subsidiary, the grocery delivery service AmazonFresh, he made a startling move. Instead of selecting experts from the supermarket or delivery industries or snapping up executives from his competitors, he chose people who had failed exactly where he wanted to succeed.

This maneuver would have never happened in the early days of Amazon. In the first few years of the company, Bezos was incredibly demanding about who he would hire. He only wanted the best — which were people who had “been successful in everything they had done.”

Bezos’s thinking on hiring did an about-face as he continued to build Amazon. To hire innovators, you must move beyond conventional ideas of success, and that’s why Bezos ultimately hired failures to run AmazonFresh.

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The Paradox of Why Top Performers Fail Under Pressure

performance pressure

You’ve seen it happen before. Maybe you’ve even experienced the stomach-churning, brain-in-hyperdrive feeling yourself. Whether it’s the professional missing those easy free throws on the basketball court or the professional sweating through an important presentation in the conference room — even the best performers choke under pressure.

The expertise and skillful command of these bright talents are exactly what should be helping them thrive in such conditions. All that hard work that brought them to where they are now should help them kick it up a notch and spur amazing feats. Instead, it’s these outstanding capabilities that set them up for failure in the clutch.

While star performers should be best equipped to handle pressure, the interesting paradox is that they might be the most prone to buckling.

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