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5 Lessons Millennial Startups Can Learn from Jeff Bezos

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what you can learn from jeff bezos

Of all the entrepreneurs dominating tech today, Jeff Bezos has emerged as one of the few that are still breathing after the .com bubble burst in 2000.

Bezos joined the world of the internet in 1995 and despite the huge crash, Amazon continued to breathe because of his resilience, vision and refusal to give up despite facing humongous odds. Many call him America’s foremost CEO, after Steve Jobs.

Here are 5 takeaways from Bezos’ philosophy:

1. The empty chair philosophy

During Amazon’s early days, Bezos insisted on placing an empty chair in each executive meeting. To all attendees, this was Amazon’s customer and the empty chair was to act as a reminder that no decision they made should displease the most important attendee of their meeting.

From the get-go, Bezos has been pretty clear about his desire to make Amazon a customer-obsessed firm. This customer-centric philosophy is what has made Amazon the world’s foremost e-commerce firm. Millennials will do well to remember that no matter how old, the “customer is king” belief still holds true.

“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos

2. Apologizing shouldn’t hurt your ego

Back in 2009, Amazon angered users by deleting legally bought copies of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984”, because they were being sold illegally by an unnamed seller. For any firm, this would probably be deemed as a mid-level crisis.

For Bezos, however, anything that hurt his customers, hurt him. Therefore, he personally penned an informal apology letter to all users. He said, “Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles…we will make better decisions going forward[.]

As a startup, you may feel that admitting a mistake may lose customers but refusing to do so will push them further away. In the example stated above, most firms would have simply released a press statement to apologize for the error. The worst ones would adamantly deny they were at fault. When the mistake first occurred, customers were furious. Bezos’ heartfelt plea for forgiveness won them over.

 

3. The two-pizza philosophy

Jeff Bezos is a firm believer in small, sovereign units. In his own words, if a team cannot be fed by two pizzas, it’s too large. In statistical terms, a team must comprise of 5 – 7 people. The Amazon Gold Box, for example, was an idea that originated during one of these two-pizza team discussions.

This attitude correlates with Bezos’ other active belief – the constant removal of waste. According to him, large teams become inefficient and usually find it hard to come to a decisive result, wasting resources along the way.

Unsurprisingly, this idea has been catching on as small businesses continue to sprout online. Firms, like AMZInsight, prefer assigning tasks to a small group of people. It gets the job done quickly and allows ideas to flow freely.

 

4. It’s the long-term that matters

When Amazon makes a gigantic investment, they’re almost always criticized. Ten years down the line, when the investment pays off, the same critics sing Bezos’ praises.

If a strategy or plan seems revolutionary to him, Bezos shrugs off the disapproval. He can wait half a decade to get a return on his investment but if something feels right to him, he’s got to do it now. For example, when eBooks were first introduced, Amazon was the only store to offer them at prices lower than their print editions, generating short-term losses.

Today, all eBook editions are cheaper but because of an early start, Amazon has already captured most of the market. Therefore, if you believe something will work, go for it and don’t worry about short-term returns.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

5. Failure is a prerequisite to innovation

As mentioned above, Amazon began when the internet was still a baby and online commerce was growing on uncertain soil. Bezos went in fully aware of the failures waiting for him. He told his first investors that: “…there’s a 70 percent chance you’re going to lose all your money, so don’t invest unless you can afford to lose it.”

However, instead of feeling limited by imminent failure, Bezos felt powerful. He knew he was going to fail but he also knew that nothing would stop him from pushing Amazon off the ground. He felt liberated since he knew what the future held for him. Ironically, it was this mentality that set shop for his success. Expect failure but don’t let it hinder your plans. Instead, prepare to face it head on.

What have you personally learned from Jeff Bezos? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Matt Mikaelson is a Marketing Executive at AMZ Insight who trusts in the power of research. He specializes in data services, tech trends, marketing analysis and industry insight. It is his belief that data always tells a story, so he enjoys collecting marketing numbers, studying their impact on businesses and how they can be manipulated to market leadership visions. Matt is an expert in, and an enthusiastic student of, digital marketing, consumer behavior, content marketing, ecommerce, online marketplaces and market research.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Evan

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Hey Matt,

    Great article about Bezos – very timely too because I just released something highlighting his business, mindset, and E-commerce fundamentals too!

    The two-pizza point reminded me of Brad Stone’s book on Amazon and what Jeff started with as the J-team. It was just the 3 founders in the proverbial startup garage, and later he named it the S-team. This team was so small, because he refused to listen to too many people, and always kept his focus on the future and MASSIVE expansion of Amazon.

    Also, when you mentioned the empty chair philosophy it reminded me of how many business owners don’t think about their customer first; they think about what business they want to start. That’s a recipe for failure because if no one wants what you’re selling, you’re in trouble.

    Keep up the good work mate

    – Evan

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    Tim Denning

    Jul 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Matt I really loves this article. I don’t know that much about Jeff so your article gave me some insight into his quirkiness. I loved the two-pizza philosophy point. I agree that large teams are not productive. Thanks for this post.

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The Truth About Marketing Every First Time Founder Should Know

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While starting your own business is an exhilarating experience, many start-up founders struggle with successful marketing more than any other area of business. So if you’re thinking about starting a business, here are some of the key things you need to know about marketing before you take the plunge. (more…)

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Lessons I Have Learned About Scaling a Business as a Startup Founder

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When I set out to start my own business three years ago, I never imagined bright lights and private jets to New York or Shanghai for business meetings. Good thing I didn’t because it is nothing like that at all. It was a struggle from day one and I had to embrace the grind to grow. (more…)

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5 Hacks to Improve Your Writing Skills in English for ESL Learners

Phil Collins

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Studying in college is hard for everyone, but ESL learners arguably suffer the most. Moving to a foreign country, learning a new language, and keeping pace with the rest of the class may seem like an unbearable burden. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but you have to pull through and not give up. 

In moments like this, it’s always a good idea to seek help. Whether you go to WriteMyPaper to order an essay or just talk to a friend, admitting vulnerability is an important step towards improvement. In this article, you will find some tips on how to get better at essay writing, even if English is not your native language.

 

Control Your Environment

Improving your language skills is all about constant practice. Living in an English-speaking community is the first thing you should do to start your practice. It might be tempting to surround yourself with people who already speak a familiar language. However, this way, you won’t be practicing English on a daily basis.

You need to make those lessons almost intuitive in a way that you don’t have to do anything to learn the language. If you live in an English-speaking community, for example, if your roommate speaks English, you will have to practice the language, whether you want it or not.

Still, make sure you don’t take it too far. Taking care of yourself is still as important as ever. Feeling like an alien for the sake of education is not worth it. Remember to keep in touch with your friends and family, talk to them as often as necessary.

 

Practice Constantly

Practicing language is not just about doing your homework. You can make practicing English a normal part of your daily routine by watching TV, listening to music, and reading books in this language. 

Yet, this is a bit tricky. When being surrounded by white noise, people tend to learn not to notice it. You need to ensure this doesn’t happen. As you watch movies or read books, maintain your attention on what you’re doing. If you hear or see a word that you don’t understand – translate it and write it down. Be mindful and remember what you’re doing this for.

 

Writing Is The Answer

If you want to specifically learn to write, you need to do one thing, and that is to write. Continuous practice will help you understand what mistakes you often make and, in time, eliminate them. Focus on your goal, and don’t get discouraged when something’s not working. After all, even Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Get a journal and write in it daily. Pick a new topic every time and note everything you can think of. It’s also important that you write by hand, a spelling checker in your computer is tempting, but it will not help you remember how to spell words correctly. 

Besides, journaling as a habit has multiple health benefits, and it can be therapeutic. It can help you get in touch with yourself and process your emotions better.

 

Learn In a Group

It’s proven that learning in a group is more efficient due to the sense of competition. Find a bunch of like-minded people who want to study with you or join an already existing one, like a speaking club.

The benefit of such activities is that you get all these people from entirely different backgrounds who are all good at various things. This will help you exchange experiences, which is impossible if you’re alone.

Schedule regular meetings, come up with topics to discuss and activities to do. You could watch videos or movies together, or talk about common things. Having assignments like describing an event can also be beneficial for the entire group. This way, while one person speaks, the rest think about how they would say the same things differently. 

This will help you feel more confident in your skills and, consequently, speak and write better.

 

Expose Yourself

The most important thing about learning a language is not to be afraid of making mistakes. It’s inevitable; you just have to take it as a natural part of a learning process. 

A child that is learning how to walk doesn’t give up after falling once, and you shouldn’t either. It’s most likely that your friends understand that you’re just learning a language, and they won’t laugh at you for misusing a word or a few. 

Get over that fear of error and make as many mistakes as it will take. Treat it lightly, and don’t beat yourself up for it. On the other hand, try to attend as many events as you can that will expose you to the foreign language. Not only will it boost your English skills, but also improve your social confidence!

 

Wrapping Up

Learning a language is hard; there’s no arguing about that. However, it’s going to get easier with time. Take every hard thing that life throws at you and turn it into a lesson. 

Watch your favorite movies in English, converse with native speakers, and you’ll see the improvement very soon!

Remember to be patient about it. Don’t give up, and don’t beat yourself up over something that you have so little control of. Good luck!

 

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Remote Work + Education: 3 Tips for Students Who Want to Have It All

Phil Collins

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remote work for students

Probably one of the greatest changes for the last year is the shifting to distant learning and working. There are many advantages to the issue, like, not having to commute every day, staying at a cozy home for a whole day. It makes our lives easier in terms of saving time and energy.

If you’re a student, you don’t have to bust out your textbooks every time you go to university. Instead, you have everything close and on the tips of your fingers.

However, within all the positive moments of distance learning, it is highly challenging for many of us. At college or in the office, we have a schedule, a plan which we simply have to stick to.

There is also a boss or a teacher who gives us tasks, checks and monitors our performance.

Well, now, we are our own bosses and teachers and have to come up with the plan and track our tasks independently.

So, how to stay tuned and efficient if you work and study from home? How to get the most of it and not drown in the ocean of procrastination? In this article, you will find three tips to help you out!

 

Set Up Your Workspace

When many think of a distance learning or work, they imagine themselves wearing pajamas and lying on a couch all day with the laptop. No more dress code, make-up, early mornings, coworkers or group mates, paradise!

This is a common misconception of remote work. If you want to work and study from home, it is crucial to create a space where you would stay focused and productive.

Still, if you have had a hard day and feel like having rest on your comfy couch, but there are assignments to be done, leave your worries to professionals in paperwritingservice, just place an order and enjoy your day.

When we both work and study from home, we stay with all those household essentials and, at the same time, have to focus on tasks. That is why a perfect workspace has to be created. So how to reach this ideal atmosphere at home? Here’re some pro tips.

 

Separate Spaces for Everything

This is a common problem for many that they sleep and study at the same place. Our body is a smart mechanism, which gets used to conditions very quickly.

So, as you sleep in your bed, every time you lie on it, your body gets ready to relax and concentrate is the last thing it is ready for. This principle is applied to any other space in your house.

So, your workspace should be particularly aimed at learning or/and work. Every time you get there, your brain will be ready to do the job.

 

Get Rid of All Distractions

This is a very important step if you want to stay productive at home. Your home may be a dangerous space in terms of concentration. To make it easier, help your brain and get rid of everything that might attract your attention and ultimately prevent good performance.

 

Plan Your Day

Every morning when you wake up, you approximately know what the tasks for a day are. So, what’s the sense in planning a day if you already have it all in your head?

This is one more important concept that helps us have everything done on time. Planning a day saves you time and boosts motivation and disciplines.

 

Here’s how it is done:

  • You write down a list of tasks that have to be done;
  • Prioritize them from less important to more important;
  • Hang this list somewhere, where you can always see it;
  • Mark completed tasks.

When you mark the task as accomplished, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction, which may be compared to some sort of praise. There are many tools to write a to-do list from paper to online apps.

 

Dedicate Time for Yourself

When you work and study from home, there will be a risk of abandoning our personal time in favor of more important matters. This factor leads not only to great results but also a concept called burning out.

When people face it, they feel exhausted, demotivated, and apathetic. To avoid this, it is crucial to have time for things you enjoy. It may be a sport, hobby, listening to music, watching movies, seeing friends. Your brain has to relax and get positive emotions to be more efficient in the long run.

 

Final Words

No matter if you want to work and study from home, these principles can be applied to any activity. To manage it all, just follow these basic rules, and you’ll see how your productivity boosts.

Good luck with all your endeavors!

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