If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more value than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. With all your stakeholders. Customers, colleagues, shareholders, your community, the environment. Any business that doesn’t create value for those it touches, even if it appears successful on the surface, isn’t long for this world. It’s on the way out.
To create value you have to be different… and it’s hard to stay different as everyone wants you to conform.
All living things have a tendancy to merge to the same as their surroundings and spend their whole life being warmer or cooler than their surroundings. Companies are the same: the world is continually pulling at you to be more normal and less distinctive. How much work does it take to maintain your distinctiveness? To keep alive the thing or things that make you special?
We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable. You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness, and it’s worth it. Being yourself is worth it, but don’t expect it to be easy or free. You’ll have to put energy into it continuously.
The world will always try to make Amazon more typical – to bring us into equilibrium with our environment. It will take continuous effort, but amazon can and must be better than that and remain distinctive adding value to all it’s stakeholders.
Jeff Bezos has been writing a letter to shareholders since 1997 and looking at all if them gives an insight to the organisation and a masterclass in leadership. This is a series of short blogs that gives you a snap shot / key takes outs of each letter, along with links to them all.
“To all of you: be kind, be original, create more than you consume, and never, never, never let the universe smooth you into your surroundings. It remains Day 1.”
link to all letters to shareholders 1997-2020
- 1997: Bring on shareholders who align with your values
- 1998: Stay terrified of your customers
- 1999: Build on top of infrastructure that’s improving on its own
- 2000: In lean times, build a cash moat
- 2001: Measure your company by your free cash flow
- 2002: Build your business on your fixed costs
- 2003: Long-term thinking is rooted in ownership
- 2004: Free cash flow enables more innovation
- 2005: Don’t get fixated on short-term numbers
- 2006: Nurture your seedlings to build big lines of business
- 2007: Missionaries build better products
- 2008: Work backwards from customer needs to know what to build next
- 2009: Focus on inputs — the outputs will take care of themselves
- 2010: R&D should pervade every department
- 2011: Self-service platforms unlock innovation
- 2012: Surprise and delight your customers to build long-term trust
- 2013: Decentralize decision-making to generate innovation
- 2014: Bet on ideas that have unlimited upside
- 2015: Don’t deliberate over easily reversible decisions
- 2016: Move fast and focus on outcomes
- 2017: Build high standards into company culture
- 2018: Wandering is an essential counterbalance to efficiency
2020: Create more value than you consume