With Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO, here’s a thread of the best things I’ve learned from him.

1. Be willing to change your mind.

As Bezos famously said: "Anybody who doesn’t change their mind a lot is dramatically underestimating the complexity of the world we live in.”
2. There are two kinds of decisions.

One-way door decisions are irreversible, so make them slowly. Two-way door decisions are the opposite. Since you can go back on them, you should make them quickly. Image
3. Encourage good writing

Amazon’s built a writing-first culture where employees review six-page memos at the start of important meetings. Writing takes longer in the short-term but saves time in the long-term. The memos are structured like a dissertation defense.

Here's how. Image
4. Think analytically

Bezos thought analytically about everything, even women. Early in his career, he took ballroom dance classes to increase his exposure to what he called n+ women. Later, he called this “women flow.”

Source: The Everything Store
5. Balance the efficiency you need to execute with the wandering you need to innovate.

Here's Bezos. Image
6. Jeff Bezos is a serious micro-manager

Source: The Steve Yegge Google Platforms rant which is one of the best things ever written about Amazon.

gist.github.com/chitchcock/128… Image
7. Keep things simple, even when your ideas are grand.

Amazon's principles are crisp and repeated often. That’s why he worked in an office building called “Day 1." True to his belief in simplicity, here's his rough original vision for Amazon Web Services.

Source: Steve Yegge Image
8. If you do something ambitious, smart people will doubt you.

In 1997, Jeff Bezos spoke to a group of students at Harvard Business School. Now, he says: "If you want to be innovative, you have to be willing to be misunderstood, and criticized.”

(h/t @awealthofcs) Image
9. Find structural advantages

Barnes & Noble thought they could out-compete Amazon because they had deeper pockets. But because Amazon only charged sales tax in Nevada and Washington, Barnes & Nobel had to offer deeper discounts to compete on price.
10. Be customer-driven

There are negative book reviews on Amazon — even though publishers haven't historically wanted them because of Bezos' empathy for customers. He said: “We don’t make money when we sell something. We make money when we help someone make a purchase decision.”
11. You will either fight to charge more or charge less.

Here's Bezos: “There are two kinds of retailers: there are those folks who work to figure how to charge more, and there are companies that work to figure how to charge less, and we are going to be the second, full-stop.”
12. Start the product development process by writing a press release.

By writing a press release for each new product, employees have to compress their pitch down to its essence. Then, work backward from the customer's perspective and public perception.

13. Bezos focused on three core advantages: customer-centricity, long-term thinking, and a genuine love for invention.

This Harry Potter story is my favorite example because it shows how Amazon was willing to lose money in exchange for customer loyalty.

perell.com/essay/amazon/ Image
14. Build a flywheel

Jeff Bezos saw how flywheels could create compounding advantages for his company, long before they became common knowledge in the business world. Here's Amazon's flywheel in action, as drawn by @maxolson and explained by Bezos himself. ImageImage
15. Follow a long-term vision, but know that things are going to change

“At Amazon, we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.”

(h/t @BalesFootball)
16. Sometimes, the best way to predict the future is to bet on things that won't change.

In Amazon's case, Bezos knows that customers will still want fast delivery, vast selection, and low prices ten years from now. Image
17. Consider the regret minimization framework for hard decisions

"You want to have minimized the number of regrets you have. That's what should drive people. Not how much money they have. It's regrets that I think haunt people at the end of their life."

18. When the right opportunity comes, it's okay to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term.

Understanding the nature of software economics (with high fixed costs and low marginal costs), shaped Bezos' strategy for Amazon Web Services.

(h/t @benthompson) ImageImage

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More from @david_perell

5 Apr
Some paradoxes of modern life:

1. The paradox of reading: The books you read will profoundly change you even though you’ll forget the vast majority of what you read.
2. The paradox of writing: Great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don't appreciate how much time it took to refine them.
3. The paradox of creativity: Your work is done when it looks so simple that the consumer thinks they could've done it, which means they won't appreciate how hard you worked.
Read 14 tweets
1 Apr
I like the motto: “Don’t put-spend your competitors. Out-teach them.”

If you have a unique perspective, a solid product, and know how to spread your message on the Internet, you don’t have to spend money on paid marketing.
For information products, the Internet is inverting the way we’ve always done things:

Old method: Say little in public, share everything with customers.

New method: Say everything in public, but distill and refine ideas for customers.

(Simplified, but directionally true.)
“Education is a soft way to get your name — and your product’s name — in front of more people.

And instead of a hard sell “buy this product” approach, you’re getting attention by providing a valuable service.

People who you educate will become your evangelists.”

Read 4 tweets
29 Mar
To improve higher education, we should have different schools for two different styles of learning:

1) Get a job: Earn a living so you can support your family

2) Live a meaningful life: Give students a space to think and learn about themselves, away from the demands of work
Broadly, American colleges were built to give students a place to intellectually explore.

But recently, we’ve asked them to pivot into vocational training — which isn’t what they’re designed for. Now, we’re stuck with a vocational system that takes way longer than it should.
To their credit, colleges have been doubling down on technical training in response to student demands.

Something clearly changed after the Financial Crisis. Since 2008, students have opted out of Liberal Arts majors and moved towards vocational ones instead.
Read 7 tweets
25 Mar
Homeschooling is the trend I’m most bullish on relative to how little attention it receives.

Institutional trust is falling, online education is getting better fast, smartphones are getting cheaper, and it’s getting easier for parents to team up and educate their kids together.
Homeschooling reminds me of the taxi industry in 2008.

In ride-sharing, smartphones vastly expanded the market. Homeschooling will benefit from computers, Internet adoption, and learning-focused video games.

Expect lower costs and schools that operate at a global scale.
Right now, the top two reasons why parents don't homeschool their children are (1) it seems lonely for the kid, and (2) parents can't stay home to homeschool.

Camps and learning pods will emerge to solve the 1st problem and online schools will solve the 2nd one.

Source: @usv Image
Read 4 tweets
23 Mar
Kendrick Lamar one of the world's best writers.

His recent album, Damn, won a Grammy and a Pulitzer-Prize award. His writing is propelled by a note-taking system that helps him capturing the ideas behind his lyrics.

Here's what you can learn from his note-taking system.
1. Note-taking is the closest thing we have to time-travel.

By taking notes, Kendrick conserves precious ideas, develops them over time, and eventually turns them into art. Taking notes doesn't just help him save ideas. It helps him return to a different state of consciousness.
2. Start taking notes early, so you can build upon the ideas over time.

Kendrick was a shy middle schooler who sometimes spoke with a stutter. Frustrated, he turned to the written word. He scribbled rap lyrics on notebook paper instead of finishing assignments for other classes.
Read 12 tweets
23 Mar
Creatives have two kinds of working:

1) Beer mode: A state of unfocused play where you discover new ideas.

2) Coffee mode: A state of focused work where you grind towards a specific outcome.

You find ideas in Beer mode and implement them in Coffee mode.
“We get our ideas from our unconscious — the part of our mind that goes on working, If you’re racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls you’re not going to have any creative ideas.”

— John Cleese
The problem with traditional productivity advice is that it doesn’t take beer mode seriously.

Standard tropes like turn off the Internet, tune out distractions, and turn towards your goals are examples of coffee mode thinking. But most creative ideas are born in Beer mode.
Read 6 tweets

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