Have you heard of Jeff Bezos? Of course you have. He’s the CEO of Amazon.
Recently, he wrote a letter to shareholders outlining Amazon’s growth and its success. It is an extraordinary piece of art; and in it lies golden leadership principles. I highly recommend that you give it a read, if you haven’t already.
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” – Jeff Bezos
The rest of the letter includes specific activities embodied in Amazon’s culture that keeps the company a Day 1 organization. Two of the activities resonated with me immensely: customer obsession, and eager adoption of external trends.
“Your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”
I am a firm believer in customer obsession, regardless of the type of customer. One of my values is to live a life of servitude by helping others where I can. In the business place, this translates directly to ensuring that customers are euphoric over the product or service offered. In my personal life, it comes down to helping others achieve their goals.
Being customer obsessed means to constantly deliver value, solving pain points and providing gains. It can only happen when an organization:
- offers value (and also believes in the product or service)
- is aware of customer needs
- is trustworthy
- is open to feedback (including criticism), and takes action on the feedback
- delivers above and beyond what is expected, sometimes even helping customers discover products they didn’t even know they wanted
Embrace External Trends
“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”
Many people struggle with change because of the uncertainty and loss of control that comes with it. However, having the foresight to see opportunity and embracing change is crucial to success. It requires constant innovation and repeatedly destroying past work. To me, every destruction is a creation of something new and more exciting!
One of the main reasons that I study computer science is because of the impact technology has made on people’s lives, and how much it has improved the quality of living for many people in the world. Without customer obsession, we probably wouldn’t have the convenience we enjoy today.
Another reason I’m in the industry is because it’s perpetually innovating. Being in an environment where change happens every day is exhilarating. It means that I’m learning something new, every single day. What better way to improve myself than to be thrown into the chaos of destruction and creation?
There are two other points (resisting proxies and high-velocity decision making) that I don’t discuss in this post for the sake of brevity. However, they are equally important qualities of a leader that I actively work on. If you’re interested in knowing more, take a look at the original letter here.