Tag Archives: Daniel Lyons

Start With the Customer; Acquire New Skills — Wisdom from Bezos of Amazon

News item:  Tony Romo got a Kindle for Christmas, his favorite gift — he is a voracious reader…


Slate.com has a terrific interview conducted by Daniel Lyons with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon (borrowed from Newsweek).  Here are two key lessons to learn from Bezos from this interview:

1)  Start with the customer, and work backwards from there. This reminds me of the foundational truth from Drucker:  “Who is your customer?  And, What does your customer consider value?”

2)  Innovation is an ongoing necessity, because “the world changes out from under you,” so you always have to be innovating, and learning new things, always adding to your skill set.

Here are the key excerpts:

Jeff Bezos and his Kindle

Lyons: Amazon started off as a retailer. Now you’re also selling computing services, and you’re in the consumer-electronics business with the Kindle. How do you define what Amazon is today?
Bezos: We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won’t see us focusing on “me too” areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what’s at the end. Sometimes they’re dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting. And then the third thing is, we’re willing to be long-term-oriented, which I think is one of the rarest characteristics. If you look at the corporate world, a genuine focus on the long term is not that common. But a lot of the most important things we’ve done have taken a long time.

Lyons: You’ve talked about Kindle being this example of working backward from the customer. Can you explain that?
Bezos:  We had to acquire new skills. There’s a tendency, I think, for executives to think that the right course of action is to stick to the knitting—stick with what you’re good at. That may be a generally good rule, but the problem is the world changes out from under you if you’re not constantly adding to your skill set.