On Stage with Jeff Bezos

Jeff bezos and Werner Vogels

Jeff bezos and Werner Vogels on stage

I took the time to finally watch the whole keynote of Jeff Bezos at the re: Invent conference all the way to the end. This keynote was definitely inspiring to me. I found Bezos’s presence, performance and thoughts extremely sharp.  He had a simple, bright and unpretentious attitude that I really enjoyed – quite a lesson, honestly!  And as this was not a monologue but a chat, it must be said that Werner Vogels was equally excellent in conducting the discussion!

So I thought I would share a few extracts that I enjoyed!

On the “pay as you use”  vs. “pay up front model,” which is valid for Amazon Web Services as well as for other Amazon business such as the Kindle:

Our point of view on this is that, if we can arrange things in such a way that our interests are aligned with our customers, then, in the long term, that will workout really well for customers and it will workout really well for Amazon.

Said like this, it sound so obvious. This almost defines what is a sustainable business.  It should really be a motto for all product designers but so many forget about it…

On what to look at and where to search for ideas:

I very frequently get the question “what’s going to change in the next ten years?” and that is an interesting question. I almost never get the question “what’s not going to change in the next ten years?” I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.

About innovation and the culture of innovation and pioneers vs. the mentality of conqueror:

When you attract people who have the DNA of pioneers and the DNA of explorers, you build a company of like-minded people who want to invent and that’s what they think about when they get up in the morning –  how we gonna work backwards from customer and build  a great service or a great product – that’s a key element to invention (and that part is fun by the way).

So true again! My takeaway here: whether your are hiring or about to be hired, try to really catch the DNA of the other — find out if he or she is a conqueror or a pioneer. That might be the number one criteria for a successful hire!

Now there are couple of other things that are essential for invention that are not as fun.  One of them is you have to have a willingness to fail, you have to have a willingness to be misunderstood…

Successful invention is invention that customers care about.  It’s actually relatively easy to invent new things customers don’t care about, but successful invention, if you want to do a lot of that, you basically have to increase your rate of experimentation and that, you can think of as a process.

All this is about the pace of innovation and about being as fast as possible ahead of users and experimenting with different directions, and about not rushing in one direction blindly.  My takeaway here is that innovation surely doesn’t come from only you. I think this is also a mistake of many entrepreneurs and product designers. Innovation only starts when your ideas are meeting users’ for real. If you believe your ideas are enough, you are surely in big trouble or you’ll have to be very lucky!

And it is good to have people stating  out loud the importance of Products and Services vs. the one of Sales:

AWS is not winning because we have the biggest salesforce.  It’s winning because we have the products and services that we have.

In the market I am in, so many people tend to say, “Don’t invest in product.  It is all about sales and marketing.”  I like to hear from leaders such as Bezos about the importance of Products!

And to conclude, Vogels asked Bezos for advice to give to new entrepreneurs.

The first one:

Never chase the hot thing, where ever it is.  That’s like trying to catch the wave.  You’ll never catch it.  You need to position yourself and wait for the wave and the way you do that is you pick something you’re passionate about.  Missionaries build better products than mercenaries.

The second being:

Start with the customer and work backwards.

I truly think maturing these two pieces of advice are better than many entrepreneurship classes!

Oh, and as a side note, I wrote this blog post as I was really impressed by Bezos this day but also as I had some time to kill and discovered the transcript feature of YouTube.  It is an awesome one, but I must say I had a lot of fun looking at that.  My favorite nonsense misstranslation being the transcription of “entrepreneur,” as said by Werner Vogel, which results in “president burger.”  Google should train its transcription engine with Vogel’s voice maybe!

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 9.50.27 PM

And if  you have 40 minutes to kill, here it is:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s