David Senra

October 7, 2023

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon

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My top 10 highlights from the book:

1. Jeff had one simple rule: "It has to be perfect." He'd remind his team that one bad customer experience would undo the goodwill of hundreds of perfect ones.

2. Leaders start with the customer and work backwards.

3. Leaders have relentlessly high standards—many people may think these standards are unreasonably high.

4. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

5. Jeff has an uncanny ability to read a narrative and consistently arrive at insights that no one else did, even though we were all reading the same narrative. After one meeting, I asked him how he was able to do that. He responded with a simple and useful tip that I have not forgotten: he assumes each sentence he reads is wrong until he can prove otherwise. He's challenging the content of the sentence, not the motive of the writer.

6. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.

7. Jeff said many times that if we wanted Amazon to be a place where builders can build, we needed to eliminate communication, not encourage it.

8. Time and time again we learned that consumers would behave in ways we hadn't imagined, especially for new features or products.

9. 95% of the time I spent with Jeff was focused on internal work issues rather than external events like conferences, public speeches, and sports matches.

10. Jeff was a student of history.

Listen to the episode I made about this book: #321 Working with Jeff Bezos

About David Senra

Learn from history's greatest founders. Every week I read a biography of an entrepreneur and tell you what I learned on Founders podcast