August 15, 2015 I was sitting at my dining room table reading an expose on Amazon in the New York Times, while simultaneously preparing for my phone interview. With a head full of questions and doubt I decided to continue through the interview process and see what happens. I passed through three phone screens and was invited in for an in person interview pod. I got to the building and the first thing I was aware of was the sound of machines buzzing, totes bustling down a conveyor, people picking, packing, and shipping hundreds of thousands of customer orders. I took a tour of the 1.2 million square feet building and was overwhelmed. Was it true what I read? Is this place really terrible where employees have no voice and are angry and disgruntled or was what I read an exaggeration of the truth? Without knowing for sure, I took a deep breath and put my best foot forward entering the conference room to await my interviews for the day. Fast forward a month later, and I’m on a guided walking tour walking through Day 1 South in Seattle, Washington. I got the job. I am now leader for one of most recognizable companies in the world. I am an Amazonian.
Walking through the doors of the building Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos walks through every day was exhilarating. People are smiling saying good morning, some are on their way to their desk, with their dog happily walking beside them, and others are already comfortably sitting in random sitting areas glued to their laptops fingers quickly stroking the keyboards of their laptops. I go upstairs and start my first day of leadership training and the History of Amazon. It is in this weeklong workshop that I learn all about Jeff Bezos and all of the peculiar ways of Amazon. The class teaches the humble beginnings of being an online bookstore and the path we took to get where we are today. It is through this history that I start to see Jeff’s leadership style and understand the leadership principles he put in place to help his company succeed.
Undoubtedly, Jeff had to possess great leadership skills to get where he has gotten. As a data driven company, you learn how analytical Jeff is and how analytical you must be if you want to be successful. Having practical intelligence and technical skill to go along with it, Jeff Bezos has been able to consistently improve customer experience by being an innovator and not being afraid to take risks. Through his desire to find a way to improve the way in which consumers buy and receive products, Amazon offered consumers to write reviews good, bad, or indifferent on products they bought. This idea, Jeff considered, would allow for customers to make informed decisions about purchases, and will potentially decrease the amount of exchanges, returns, and customer complaints, while also building trust with the company early on. Possessing this type intelligence, to invent something a customer wants before they even know they want it is a sign of genius, and being able to get a team to execute these visions and goals takes creative intelligence and conceptual skill. This has been done from day one and I would argue are one of Jeff’s stronger attributes. For example, Jeff led a team to introducing 1 click, which allows for one click shopping/check out, customer memberships that offer free two-day shipping, fresh food one- hour delivery, as well as a host of other services. These projects, varying in difficulty, has provided consumers the luxury of never taking out their credit card, or having to go outside to the grocery store if they needed a particular food item and embodies customer obsession which is the driving force of the company.
Through leadership principles and strong sense of the customer in everything that we do as a company, Jeff Bezos beliefs and vision for Amazon, and where we are going, is felt throughout all functions in the company, and that I would argue, is the definition of a strong leader.