The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word ‘Amazon’? Some might immediately think of the mighty river and rainforest of South America. But for the majority it means the vast online shop filled with any product imaginable, and home of the Kindle.
The Everything Store describes the rise and rise of Amazon.com and its founder, Jeff Bezos.
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Brad Stone does what every journalist does: research and present the facts. The Bloomberg Businessweek’s senior writer has had a brilliant career as a journalist. He started at The New York Times as a reporter. His columns cover subjects in business and technology.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon is his second book. It’s a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller and 2013 Goldman Sachs/Financial Times Business Book of the Year award winner.
It’s a thoroughly researched book, based on many interviews carried out with former employees, collaborators, and family members. We’re able to almost follow the minute-by-minute developments of the events.
The Everything Store’s written in an easy-to-read style, but it’s full of technical details. Brad Stone also presents the individuals interviewed as authentically as possible.
BUSINESS / THE EVERYTHING STORE
“Somebody else can sell it cheaper than us, we should let them and figure out how they are able to do it.”
It all started with Jeff Bezos. His name has become synonymous with his creation: Amazon.com.
Jeff Bezos is a phenomenon. He already stood out as a student, due to his intelligence and tenacity. His mother and grandfather had a huge role in forming the person he eventually became. They offered him all the emotional and material support he needed. His grandfather taught him discipline, work ethics, and creative thinking.
“He had seen firsthand how technology, patience and long-time thinking could pay off.”
Brad Stone sensationally depicts historic events that happened not too long ago.
We find ourselves on the threshold of the 21st century. Modern business philosophy replaces the old, traditional one. Tremendous changes take place almost out of the blue. Those who can embrace the new challenges have the future in their hand. It is the freshman years of Google, Apple, Microsoft, and e-commerce. Against some of them, Bezos battled to win customers.
The Everything Store also offers an intrinsic view into the harsh business world.
Jeff Bezos’s ambitions were high from the start. He wanted Amazon to become a technology company, not a sales one. As a businessman he’s described as disciplined, innovative, and a workaholic.
Amazon’s success isn’t incidental; it was built meticulously. Originally Bezos had specialized his business on selling books. High standards were applied from the start in work, service, and ethics. He also had a burning desire to improve, to be one step ahead of the competition. Bezos applied one of the first rules of modern philosophy: keep near you those who take out the best of you.
There are other guidelines Amazon abides by:
- Always plan for the long term.
- Learning is a lifelong activity.
- Don’t be blinded by small aspects when making a big decision.
- Be an inventor, not a follower.
- The best idea always thrives – in other words, “the reality in Darwinian survival in the world of big business”.
- The bias of action.
- Excessive frugality.
These and other non-written rules – or “Jeffisms” – run the megastore. Amazon became one with its founder. Bezos’ managerial fingerprint is present all over the organization.
He constantly monitored his rivals, often met with them and tried to come to an agreement that benefited both parties. Of course, Bezos hoped the deals would be slightly more beneficial to Amazon.
Are you considering applying for a job at Amazon? If the answer’s yes, you should know a few things. Controversies about Amazon employees’ rights raged in the international press not long ago.
The Everything Store shows there was some proof behind those claims. Bezos has high standards not only for himself, but for his staff too. Mistakes aren’t tolerated. Underperforming workers, or those who struggle with burnout, are often let go. Life-work balance doesn’t exist for Bezos.
We shouldn’t be so surprised about this mentality. Today’s multinationals are under a lot of pressure. To deliver high quality in a constant manner, as fast as possible, puts every single employee to the test. And, after all, we are only human. Mistakes do happen.
Brad Stone’s The Everything Store has 3 main chapters. Each of them contains a certain period of time: the early years; the days of struggle; the success:
- Literary Influence
- Missionary or Mercenary
Many business owners have what Bezos possesses. What’s the crucial difference between remaining average and becoming successful?
After reading the book, I would say cold-bloodedness. The early years of the Internet were quite turbulent. Add to this economical fragility, even a recession, and the whole Y2K hysteria. Other business-related problems were endless. Navigating through all of them successfully required not only intelligence, but outstanding boldness too.
Constant improvement led Amazon to become what it is today. From workers to corporate heads, everyone was invited to share ideas for improvement. They received a gift, sometime more of a symbolic one.
In time, new products or services requested room on the e-shelves of Amazon. One of them is the Amazon-produced Kindle, the indisputable market leader for e-readers.
These kinds of products or services were designed to monopolize the market. Sometimes the exasperation of its rivals led to the courtroom. They were treated the same as less-effective Amazon employees – without mercy.
Amazon has ascended to the top of the mountain of almost untouchable businesses, along with Google, Apple and Microsoft. It grew from a humble site selling books to an online behemoth offering almost any product and service under the sun.
Was it worth it for Bezos? Does customer satisfaction come first for him?
We can indeed benefit from discounts, a vast selection of products and home delivery (even next-day delivery). These aspects make our lives much easier. But is this what we really want? And what’s the price we actually pay for it?
I strongly encourage you to read The Everything Store and decide for yourself.
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