My thoughts on The Everything Store by Brad Stone:
1. Bezos is clearly a visionary. His ability to turn something as simple as selling books online into one of the world’s largest companies is epic in every sense of the word. The thing I admire the most about Bezos is his focus. His focus on satisfying customers is what made Amazon different. Keeping razor thin margins may have scared stock market investors initially, but it clearly doesn’t anymore. It’s allowed Amazon to delight its customer base and turn them into brand loyalists.
At times in the book, he seems too cut throat – I’m sure most of you will agree that when he decided to hire an ambulance and place it outside of the Amazon warehouse during a heat wave (as opposed to bringing in air conditioning) was pretty heartless. There are certain ways I don’t want to save a buck.
2. More than anything, I loved the “Have a bias for action” mantra. I’ll always try to carry this with me.
3. I’ve found Amazon’s acquisitions very interesting – I’d love to hear others thoughts on this. Zappos treated their employees so good – it’s a different approach and I’m a little surprised they sold to Amazon. I think Amazon, with their purchase of Diapers.com, began to realize that the products that people need to order consistently (food, clothes) can be extremely profitable. It’s where we see a lot of their focus presently.
4. I have no idea where Amazon will be in 10 years. Every month they seem to enter a new product/service category. There’s almost nothing I would be surprised to see them enter into. I could see a bigger emphasis on Space travel/exploration emerge from Bezos personally. The book makes it seem as though that is his true passion.
5. I found Amazon’s survival during the dot-com bubble very interesting. I think they managed to survive due to Bezos focus on top-line revenue and market share increases despite the drop in stock price. Without him, and his focus on grabbing market share in exchange for short term profits, I’m not sure they would have survived. Today, Amazon’s ability to end businesses that have been established for centuries is remarkable. Their largest competitor, Walmart, should be worried. Their flexible nature and focus on data give them a major advantage. Their data could be their biggest advantage.
Also, I think their focus on trying to figure out how to charge less, as opposed to other companies who try to figure out how to charge more, is unique.
6. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in business as a topic. The entrepreneurial journey of Bezos is almost larger than life. While at times it can hard to relate to (in no way do I want to go to space!) I think there are some solid things to take from the book. Mostly:
-have a bias for action
-be obsessed with your customers
-have a high bar for talent at your company
-always be innovating
Favorite quote: “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”