Lessons learnt from Jeff Bezos’ email to his staff

Here are five important takeaways from the letter written by Bezos to his over 1.3 million employees.


Ambica Sachin

Published: Wed 3 Feb 2021, 11:44 PM

Who’s your 2am friend? This used to be the hot question lobbed at celebrities in the not so distant past. In a quest to find some juicy fodder, many journalists have resorted to this formulaic query to elicit some headline worthy quote that could make all the difference between an average copy and a ‘viral’ one.

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed at 2am on a recent night, I realised for many like me, social media is perhaps the only friend you can connect with — anytime, anywhere — of course, provided you have the right data package.

My recent obsession with online shopping (an extension of my social media preoccupation) has resulted in the purchase of everything from a Polaroid camera to a rare edition book. People like me are the ones who, no doubt, feed the 2am economy.

My house is currently overflowing with cardboard boxes of varying sizes with the tell-tale black and blue sticker on them; and my partner tells me wryly one could easily trip over the delivery guy who seems parked outside the door at all odd hours of the day.

So naturally when news of Jeff Bezos stepping down as the CEO of my all-time favourite ‘store’ popped up on my newsfeed I was curious.

Leave aside the fact that this man is responsible for “Prime’s insanely-fast shipping” (his words not mine, though I’m not averse to vouching for it); at 57, the billionaire is at the peak of his career. Amazon raked in $100 billion in sales in the last quarter of 2020 alone. Now who in their right sense takes a step back from a multi-billion-dollar business, that’s grown exponentially during a pandemic?

Here are five important takeaways from the letter written by Bezos to his over 1.3 million employees we can all take a leaf from.

Invention is the root of our success: From Kindle to Alexa to cloud computing, Amazon has showed that you need to up your game with every product you launch in the market. Never rest on your laurels and most significantly parking yourself in a comfort zone is the worst mistake you could make in your life. I recollect as a child questioning my father as to why he felt the need to diversify his business when the core product was doing so well in the market. His response? Nothing in life is ever going to do exceedingly well, all the time; Expand before market conditions force you to look for alternatives.

I find my work meaningful and fun: Every single thing you are called upon to do during your work hours might not necessarily ignite that fire or give you the ‘Eureka’ moment. But there has to be an element of fun involved in your job — it could be the team you are working with or a co-worker who challenges you to explore the unknown. You need to find a greater purpose in life — and if you discover it within your workspace, all the better.

I still tap dance into the office: It’s probably not a sentiment many are fortunate enough to share, but like the cliched saying goes; Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day the rest of your life. Unless you can drum up excitement in what you do for a living regularly, it can turn into a soul-crushing experience. Find a reason to waltz into work — could be a teammate who sends you the funniest GIFs or a brand-new project that’s got you on your toes.

Don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy: We all know that one person who comes up with the most outlandish idea in office. Don’t shush him. Attempt to follow the path less travelled. Being an outlier is no longer a taboo; it is a requisite to bring in a new set of audience what could well drum up your business.

It remains Day 1: Whether you have worked for an organisation for just one week or a decade, if you are able to walk into the office with the same level of excitement and adrenaline rush as your first day at work, you are set. Find that spark in your work even if it means digging deep to connect with the initial reason you chose it over a zillion other avenue.

Finally, great leaders always leave a legacy and by endorsing his successor Andy Jassy as “an outstanding leader”, Bezos just revealed his best trait as a successful businessman. Surround yourself with smart people who share your same vision so you can explore your other passions including space exploration and media (he has ownership of Washington Post). Excuse me, while I go back to browsing the virtual aisles of the world’s largest online supermarket. —


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