Dec 31, 2013

The Everything Store

The Everything Store is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding Amazon and in growing their own business. Even if you don’t aspire to build a web site as large as Amazon, The Everything Store offers a fascinating history of Amazon and some insight into the operating principles and aspirations of the site’s founder, Jeff Bezos.

The Everything Store

There are a lot of great takeaways for every aspiring entrepreneur and every aspiring executive.

When You Have To Strike Out On Your Own

Bezos came up with the idea for Amazon while working at hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He felt he had to leave because he would’t be able to realize his vision or build the company the way he wanted to within the framework of D.E. Shaw. There are lots of blog posts on the struggle people face when they decide to leave their jobs. What is clear is that Bezos felt he had no choice. He had to create his own framework to realize his vision. And he took a lot of the principles he learned–about hiring, for example with him when he founded Amazon.

Find A Big Wave

Bezos found a big wave–the growth of the Internet–and rode it. The growth was just too incredible to ignore.

Please The Customer

Bezos has long been focused on pleasing the customer. That is, putting the customer first. This is easy to say, but hard to do. Founders and executives alike would do well to remember this key business principle.  In its early days, Amazon often ran out of product and had to send employees around to traditional retail stores like Toys R Us to buy items in order to fulfill orders that customers placed on the web site!

Huge Ambition

It’s not enough to sell books, Amazon has to sell everything. It’s not enough to provide two-day shipping, Amazon has to get to the point where it can deliver in 30 minutes. Like many great entrepreneurs, Bezos is on a quest to make the seemingly impossible possible. From Bezos’s point of view, current technologies and economic constraints are meant to be disrupted. They shouldn’t stand in the way of realizing the vision.

Sweat The Details

At the same time that Bezos looks to realize his big vision for Amazon, he also sweats the details. From branding to packaging, from the web site experience to product deliver, every detail matters.

Surround Yourself With Great People

In the book, Bezos is portrayed as a rather cold-hearted manager. Bezos brought in a lot of talented people. He hired from competitors to fill in gaps in his organization. He kept those who worked out and let go those who didn’t. The reality is that startups are fluid organizations. Not every hire works out. The key is to make hiring a top priority and surround yourself with great people. It’s clear that Bezos did that repeatedly.


There are many more lessons to be learned from The Everything Store. The book is provocatively written, fast-paced and a great read. It’s as much about Jeff Bezos as it is about Amazon, which is what makes it such a compelling read. If you don’t get distracted by the author’s flair for drama and rather see it for what it is–a device intended to keep readers engaged and sell more books–you’ll find yourself with more than a few insightful takeaways you can apply yourself.




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