4 Ways to Impress Jeff Bezos

“Study the four principles of Amazon.com,” a friend told me about interviewing with Amazon. My husband was set to have his second interview with the Seattle mecca the next day, and he was already unsure about how the first interview went.

I found this entrepreneurial gold in the most unassuming place, a homemade video Jeff Bezos created when Amazon purchased Zappos. Bezos appears on the March 2014 cover of SUCCESS as 2013's Achiever of the Year. Shot apparently on his shady patio with an easel notepad as his only prop, Bezos introduces himself and shares the story of Amazon.com’s first order.

Until that time, the handful of orders coming in were from employees’ family members. “I remember the first order we got from a stranger. Half a dozen of us were gathered around the computer looking at the order, and were like, ‘Is that your mom? Because that’s not my mom.’”

In this 2009 video by Bezos, the founder and CEO shares, “Everything I know,” pointing to his paper and easel. On the next page, he writes, a “short list!”

“Obsess over customers” I jotted down while watching the video. “Invent,” I wrote next. Then it clicked, these were the questions a telephone roundtable had asked him in the first interview. They were questions with subjective answers by which an IT guy who was expecting to describe the black and white intricacies of VPNs was caught off-guard. What an amazing piece of advice my friend had given, if only a few days late. Here are the four things to know when impressing Jeff Bezos.

1. Obsess over customers.

Bezos says he thinks of his customers even while showering. They are always on his mind. This is the obsession with customer service that has served Amazon.com so well and continues to be the company’s defining quality.

2. Invent.

When solving a problem, never accept either-or thinking. There’s a solution that achieves both objectives, but it requires invention on behalf of the customer.

3. Think long term.

Bezos says lots of Amazon’s projects are five-plus-year projects in the making. If it’s a disruptive invention, it’ll likely be misunderstood. Thinking long term allows for both that misunderstanding and the subsequent adoption. Short-term thinking buckles to that pressure.

4. It’s always Day One.

“There’s always more invention in the future,” Bezos says. “There’s always new ways of customer innovation and new ways to obsess over customers.”

See our runners-up for 2013 SUCCESS Achiever of the Year.

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