How Jeff Bezos’s Very First Amazon Job Itemizing Foreshadowed His Stepping Down as CEO
While Amazon is undoubtedly a technology company, it was built on an old school premise: focus on things that don’t change.
Including what you expect from your employees.
Start with what Bezos once said about focusing on customer preferences that won’t change:
In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices. They want fast delivery. You want a lot of choices.
We know the energy we are putting into [those things] Today, a dividend will still pay off for our customers in ten years.
When you have something that you know is true [especially] In the long run, you can afford to put a lot of energy into them.
Then Layer in the first job advertisement that Bezos published in 1994 for a company he had not yet decided on was called Amazon.
Notice the second sentence: “You must be experienced in designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems, and you should be able to do so in about a third of the time that the most competent people think possible.”
Yes: Even back then, Bezos was concerned with speed and efficiency. Not just from the customer order process. And not just the punctuality of the parcel delivery.
But also – long before one of these customer-oriented tasks became decisive – the tasks of the employees.
Granted, this relentless – even according to some ruthless – pursuit of speed is not for everyone.
But at least he was honest. If you applied for the developer job, you knew what you were getting yourself into: the expectations were clearly high.
They also knew there could be a long-term reward. While no one could have predicted that the unnamed company would become Amazon, “Meaningful” equity ownership indicated high expectations and came from a place where “we are (at least”) partially) in this together. ”
And one might expect to be surrounded by like-minded people. The line “Expect talented, motivated, intense and interesting employees” was a taste of Bezos’ hiring perspective.
In his 1998 letter to shareholders, Bezos wrote:
Setting the bar high for our attitudes has been and remains the most important element in the success of Amazon.com.
The bar must constantly rise. I ask people to visualize the company in five years. At this point each of us should look around and say, “The standards are so high now – boy, I’m glad I got in when I did!”
For Bezos, speed is everything, because speed never goes out of style.
This also applies to succession planning. Bezos just announced that he will step down as CEO and move to the role of chairman of the board.
As Bezos wrote in an email announcing the change, “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility and it costs a lot of money. When you have such a responsibility, it is difficult to be aware of anything else do.”
Taking on a new role will enable Bezos to spend more time on other initiatives such as Blue Origin, the Day 1 Fund and the Bezos Earth Fund.
It is clear that the “speed indicator” in these organizations will soon be raised.
So yes: Bezos attaches great importance to speed. Speed of decision making. Execution speed. Speed of innovation and invention. Speed of learning from success and failure.
All of this suggested a humble little job advertisement 31 years ago.
Like Bezos or not, he’s consistent. If you chose Amazon, you knew what you were getting into. If you love high expectations then this is the place for you.
If that puts some people off, or still puts them off, fine: you weren’t and are not right for Amazon.
That’s the real lesson from Amazon’s first job posting.
When hiring new employees, make it clear who you are. Be clear about what to expect.
Especially when you’re building your business on core leadership principles or a culture you never want to change.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.