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7 Habits You Can Learn From Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com

7 Habits You Can Learn From Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com

The year is 1994. The scene: Jeff Bezos’ parents garage.

While many of us were kicking up our Airwalks with an episode of Friends playing in the background, Bezos was architecting a grand plan that would change the way people shopped forever. He called it the “Everything Store,” a place where, using the as-yet-untapped power of the Internet, people could purchase virtually anything. Twenty years later, the Everything Store makes billions worldwide and goes by the name Amazon.com.

What grew an idea planted in a Bellevue garage into one of today’s most successful businesses? Dedication, innovation, and 7 smart habits that you can use to nurture the success of your own enterprise.

1. Focus on Customers

Jeff Bezos understood early on that the advantage of an online business was in measuring customer behavior. Over the years, Amazon constantly adds features that are aimed of making their customers happy which, in turn, bolsters the company’s sales.

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Look at Amazon.com book reviews, as an example. Despite receiving a scolding from publishers, Amazon encouraged customers to post their thoughts, even if those thoughts were critical or negative. Customers loved sharing their insights and reading others’, too, and now, reviews are one of the best-trusted aspects of the modern e-commerce platform.

Make the core of your business customer satisfaction. Hunt relentlessly for what makes your customers smile, and innovate based on their needs.

2. Practice Frugality

Though not geographically far from the swank, luxuriously-stocked offices of Silicon Valley, Amazon got its start in a simple, functional space in Washington state and operated on a market with minimal margins. Frugality is in Amazon’s very DNA and seems to help the company focus on the most important things: its customers and continuing innovation.

What does frugality mean for Amazon? For starters, employees pay for their own parking tickets, snacks at the office aren’t free, and, when traveling, employees bunk in double rooms. In general, Amazon isn’t a place where staff spend relaxed days brainstorming over coffee. The norm is to work long, hard, and smart, with no compromises on any of the three.

Sometimes success doesn’t require any special conditions. A studied rejection of luxury can make for lean innovations and improve company focus.

3. Make Your Own Rules

What’s an internal meeting without a PowerPoint? Well, at Amazon, it starts with a written argument. Anyone who wants to propose a new idea must first distill his or her thoughts into a 6-page document. Before any decision is made, those involved, including Bezos himself, must take the time to read and dissect it.

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Another rule introduced by Bezos is the Two-Pizza Team: no team should be so big that you couldn’t feed it with two pizzas. According to Bezos, larger groups are less productive, so the company is organized into autonomous units of 10 or fewer that compete for resources (but not pizzas) in their mission to make their customers happier.

Honor organizational outlaws. It’s often the radical or outlandish approaches to daily business that make the most impact.

Amazon Boxes

    4. Think for the Long Term

    Bezos started Amazon with the long game in mind–a play that meant accepting short term losses that not everyone understood.

    Consider the e-book. When e-books first entered the market, most publishers sold them at prices commensurate to their print editions. Bezos, however, projected that their long-term price would be around 10 dollars and started selling them for 9.99. At first, this decision generated losses of about 5 dollars per e-book, but when the price eventually dropped, Amazon had already become the go-to for e-books. With this surprising strategy, he’d also laid the foundation for one of the company’s greatest successes, the Kindle.

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    Don’t be afraid to make decisions that might be unpopular in the moment but will reap future rewards.

    5. Risk It

    Before that big idea in the Bellevue garage took off, Jeff Bezos had a secure job at a hedge fund. Still, he quit it, set up in his parents’ garage, and poured his savings into making the Everything Store a reality. And it worked.

    Today, Amazon operates on the premise that the risk is worth the reward. This approach has led to flops such as Amazon Auctions, a division that simply couldn’t compete with eBay’s hold on the market, but it’s also spawned Amazon’s wildly successful 1-Click Purchase. To support a culture of initiative and enterprise, Bezos created a “Just Do It” award, conferred to both employees who tried and succeeded, and also to those who tried and failed. The core message is that taking a risk is preferable to being too fearful to move.

    Risks are worth taking. Half the time, you’ll fail, but when that initiative results in a win, it just might be big and bold.

    6. Let the Data Decide

    It might surprise you that Amazon.com started off as a book shop. The initial product selection was no happy accident on Bezos’ part, but rather the result of a long look at hard facts. Books can be shipped without breaking, they’re rarely returned, and they’ll never expire (even if the knowledge therein grows stale). In short, books are the ideal product for e-commerce.

    Every aspect of commerce and customer behavior is eminently quantifiable, so Bezos demands that all decisions be based on that intel. Meetings are not about customer anecdotes, but rather Excel sheets filled with relevant metrics.

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    Before making a call, consult the data. Humans can get it wrong, but numbers never lie.

    7. Stay Hungry

    Never ceasing to learn, evolve, and innovate might be the ultimate ingredient for success. Amazon began with books, but no sooner had they gained a foothold in that market than they conquered music, movies, electronics, and toys. Later came the Kindle, and with it, they won their niche. Even now, there are Amazon services completely under the radar to most consumers. Did you know that Amazon Web Services provides cloud computing services to big businesses, the US government, and even NASA?

    Becoming a viable player in such a variety of different arenas never came from Bezos sitting back, satisfied with the goods already reaped. To the contrary, he believes that there are no products and services Amazon couldn’t sell. Soon, the company will have its own delivery fleet, become a publisher and media company, build smartphones, and perhaps even offer 3D printing services. For Bezos, the future is rife with possibility, opportunity, and inventiveness–and he’s hungry for all that it brings.

    The road to success is paved with dissatisfaction. Never accept the status quo or say, “I’ve done enough.” Instead, keep searching for potential and inciting growth.

    Jeff Bezos’ unique way of thinking long-term and taking smart risks has made Amazon into the company it is today, one that writes its own rules and evolves every minute, not to mention one that rakes in an annual revenue of 75 billion dollars. Take it from Amazon’s founding striver: focus on customers, stay hungry, be frugal, and maybe, take a peep into the garage. If you look past the lawnmowers and buckets of paint, it just might be teeming with potential.

    This piece is based on knowledge from Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

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    Sebastian Klein

    Sebastian is the co-founder of Blinkist, a serial entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and writer with a passion for management-free organizations.

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today Life-changing books open your mind 10 Books to Read That Will Change The Way You Think Forever 10 Things You Can Learn From the Dalai Lama to Become a Happier Person Mentors 101 Mentors 101: Finding, Maintaining, and Outmatching Your Mentor jeff bezos 7 Habits You Can Learn From Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2019

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

    The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

    Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

    Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

    And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

    I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

    In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

    What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

    There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

    When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

    Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

    • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
    • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
    • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
    • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
    • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

    If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

    Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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    Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

    Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

    4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

    You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

    The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

    To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

    1. Value Your Time Above Money

    There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

    When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

    Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

    By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

    If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

    Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

    Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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    2. Build a Network

    Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

    One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

    Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

    A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

    It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

    You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

    The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

    You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

    Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

    In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

    Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

    If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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    Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

    3. Believe It Is Possible

    One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

    If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

    In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

    A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

    Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

    If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

    They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

    Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

    “environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

    By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

    4. Put Yourself Out There

    You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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    Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

    Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

    If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

    Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

    Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

    You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

    The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

    Final Thoughts

    Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

    Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
    [2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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