I Analyzed All 48,000 Phrases of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Shareholder Letters. The Visionary Billionaire Does 8 Spectacular Issues That Show He is a Grasp of Written Communication.

Read Time:6 Minute, 29 Second

2022-11-16 17:36:00

  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard teacher and the creator of The Bezos Blueprint.
  • He says Bezos makes use of easy, typically one-syllable phrases, to speak via tough issues.
  • Gallo says Bezos additionally used a “Day 1” mindset that concerned obsessing over the client.

This story initially appeared on Enterprise Insider.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Pictures for DJ through Enterprise Insider

Jeff Bezos wrote 48,000 phrases in his letters.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a dreamer who turned a daring concept into one of many world’s most admired manufacturers. When Bezos took the corporate public in 1997, he started writing annual letters to shareholders, a behavior that continued till he stepped apart as CEO in 2021.

Bezos wrote simply over 48,000 phrases in all. His letters fueled Amazon’s development and created progressive communication methods.

“The Bezos letters give us a novel alternative to see a genius clarify his work,” says Jean-Louise Gassee, a former Apple govt and Silicon Valley enterprise capitalist. “The letters would make splendid materials for a enterprise college course on technique and communication.”

Fortunately, you will not want to attend for a enterprise college to supply a category on the Bezos letters. I did the evaluation in my new e-book, The Bezos Blueprint.

1. Make the mission your mantra

In his first letter, Bezos laid out the precept that may drive the corporate’s selections for the subsequent quarter century: buyer obsession.

Bezos formalized the precept into the corporate’s mission two years later when he wrote that Amazon was on a quest to construct “Earth’s most customer-centric firm.”

An organization’s mission assertion means little or no with no repeater-in-chief who explains and amplifies the mission at each alternative. For instance, Bezos cited the “buyer” 506 instances throughout 24 letters, a median of 21 instances per letter. He credited the mission for creating Amazon’s secret sauce, “the primary factor that has made us profitable.”

2. Use easy phrases to speak about onerous issues

A full 70% of Bezos’ letters are straightforward to learn for most individuals with an eighth or ninth-grade schooling (13 to fifteen years previous). Remarkably, as Amazon grew bigger and infinitely extra complicated, Bezos selected easier phrases to precise huge concepts.

For instance, within the 2007 letter (written in eighth-grade language) Bezos described the Kindle e-reader for the primary time — utilizing nearly completely one and two-syllable phrases:

“In case you come throughout a phrase you do not acknowledge, you possibly can look it up simply. You possibly can search your books…In case your eyes are drained, you possibly can change the font dimension. Our imaginative and prescient for Kindle is each e-book ever printed in any language, all accessible in lower than 60 seconds.”

Once you write merely, you are not dumbing down the content material. You are outsmarting the competitors.

3. Use the energetic voice (more often than not)

Jeff Bezos based Amazon in 1994. The earlier sentence is “energetic” as a result of the topic (Bezos) performs the motion (based). The passive type of the sentence is: Amazon was based by Jeff Bezos in 1994.

Stephen King blames the passive voice for ruining “nearly any enterprise doc ever written.” Bezos should have learn King’s recommendation as a result of passive sentences make up simply 6.5% of the textual content in his shareholder letters.

Sentences written within the energetic voice require fewer phrases, get to the purpose quicker, and are simpler to know. Try to write down within the energetic voice as a lot as potential.

4. Grasp the metaphor

Bezos named his firm Amazon as a result of it acted as a metaphor, a comparability between two issues that share similarities. In 1998, Bezos defined that he needed to speak that Amazon the corporate is “Earth’s largest bookstore” simply because the Amazon in South America is “Earth’s largest river.”

Neuroscientists say that the human mind developed to make use of metaphors to speak and course of the world round them. After we encounter one thing new, our brains kick into gear and seek for acquainted comparisons. Good communicators do the work for his or her readers and listeners, utilizing metaphors as schooling devices.

Bezos crammed his letters with carefully-chosen metaphors to elucidate complicated concepts. He launched flywheels to propel development, created two-pizza groups, and employed missionaries over mercenaries.

Aristotle as soon as known as metaphor a speaker’s “most formidable weapon,” and Bezos wielded it like a grasp.

5. Acknowledge that good writing takes time

In the summertime of 2004, Bezos decided that rattled his management staff. He banned PowerPoint. He changed displays with “narratively structured six-page memos.”

In his 2017 shareholder letter, Bezos defined that whereas the standard of written memos varies extensively, some have “the readability of angels singing.”

Writing is tough, and good writing takes time, Bezos defined. He mentioned folks mistakenly consider {that a} six-pager that meets excessive stands might be written in a day, or perhaps a few hours.

“It actually would possibly take per week or extra,” Bezos mentioned. “The nice memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who’re requested to enhance the work, put aside for a few days, after which edited once more with a contemporary thoughts. They merely cannot be executed in a day or two.”

6. Encompass your self with superstars

In his 1998 letter, Bezos revealed the questions Amazon hiring managers ask themselves once they consider job candidates.

  • Will you admire this individual? Bezos says he all the time tries to work with folks he can study from or look as much as for example of excellence.
  • Will this individual increase the effectiveness of the group? If you wish to achieve success in life or your profession, cling round individuals who problem you to be your finest self.
  • On what dimension will the individual be a famous person? Spend your time round superstars who encourage you to goal increased than you have ever dreamed

7. Work backward to get forward

Bezos challenged his executives to work backward from the client’s perspective by writing a mock press launch earlier than constructing a product.

“Kindle is an efficient instance of our basic method,” Bezos wrote in 2008. Greater than 4 years earlier than the introduction of the product, the Kindle staff wrote a press launch that learn: “Each e-book, ever printed, in any language, all accessible in lower than 60 seconds.”

Earlier than engineers write a line of code at Amazon, they begin with a press launch. In accordance with CEO Andy Jassy, who wrote a press launch years earlier than launching AWS, Amazon’s big cloud-computing division, “The press launch is designed to flush out all the advantages of the product to just be sure you’re actually fixing the client downside.”

8. Preserve a “Day 1” tradition

Starting in 1998, Bezos hooked up a duplicate of his first letter with the reminder, “It is all the time Day 1.”

Day 1 just isn’t a factor — it is a mindset that stands for obsessing over the client, pondering long run, and bolding innovating to fulfill the client’s wants.

Bezos revealed what “Day 2” regarded like in 2016. Bezos wrote, “Day 2 is stasis. Adopted by irrelevance. Adopted by excruciating, painful decline. Adopted by loss of life. And that’s the reason it’s all the time Day 1.”

Jeff Bezos ran Amazon for 9,863 days, however he all the time confirmed as much as work on day one. By referencing Day 1 with hanging consistency, Bezos turned a metaphor from a determine of speech right into a blueprint on find out how to assume, act, and lead.

Carmine Gallo is a Harvard teacher and the creator of The Bezos Blueprint.

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