April 1, 2005

Thought leadership in action: How Jeff Bezos does it

Author: John Koenig

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos rode through Silicon Valley recently, making stops to address the Churchill Club and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Bezos is an inspiring teacher and extraordinary thinker. There are few CEOs that can go from founding a company to leading the same billion dollar company 10 years later. The skills needed to accomplish what Bezos has done include a learned or inherent talent for taking action, building and improving. His strategy is methodical without being deliberate. Bezos doesn't hesitate to make decisions, using large servings of rational thought, and side orders of learning-by-doing.

For example, at the Churchill Club, Bezos explained that he often gets the question: "What will be different 10 years from now?" In Bezos' reflective fashion, he answers, "I think the more helpful question is what will be the same 10 years from now?" His logic? You can build a lasting company on things that will stay the same. It's harder to build a durable company based on predictions of things that may change. And he goes on to deliver the answer: "In the case of Amazon, in 10 years our customers will still want the same three fundamental things: convenience, selection, and low prices."


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