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Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

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In this collection of Jeff Bezos’s writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you’ll gain an insider’s view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and In this collection of Jeff Bezos’s writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you’ll gain an insider’s view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and customer obsession to climate change and outer space, this book provides a rare glimpse into how Bezos thinks about the world and where the future might take us. Written in a direct, down-to-earth style, Invent and Wander offers readers a master class in business values, strategy, and execution: ● The importance of a Day 1 mindset ● Why “it’s all about the long term” ● What it really means to be customer obsessed ● How to start new businesses and create significant organic growth in an already successful company ● Why culture is an imperative ● How a willingness to fail is closely connected to innovation ● What the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us Each insight offers new ways of thinking through today’s challenges—and more importantly, tomorrow’s—and the never-ending urgency of striving ahead, never resting on one’s laurels. Everyone from CEOs to entrepreneurs just setting up shop to the millions who use Amazon’s products and services in their homes or businesses will come to understand the principles that have driven the success of one of the most important innovators of our time.


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In this collection of Jeff Bezos’s writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you’ll gain an insider’s view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and In this collection of Jeff Bezos’s writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you’ll gain an insider’s view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and customer obsession to climate change and outer space, this book provides a rare glimpse into how Bezos thinks about the world and where the future might take us. Written in a direct, down-to-earth style, Invent and Wander offers readers a master class in business values, strategy, and execution: ● The importance of a Day 1 mindset ● Why “it’s all about the long term” ● What it really means to be customer obsessed ● How to start new businesses and create significant organic growth in an already successful company ● Why culture is an imperative ● How a willingness to fail is closely connected to innovation ● What the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us Each insight offers new ways of thinking through today’s challenges—and more importantly, tomorrow’s—and the never-ending urgency of striving ahead, never resting on one’s laurels. Everyone from CEOs to entrepreneurs just setting up shop to the millions who use Amazon’s products and services in their homes or businesses will come to understand the principles that have driven the success of one of the most important innovators of our time.

30 review for Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Payne

    Do the right thing. With Amazon at 1.6 trillion dollars and Bezos the richest man on earth there is no disputing that Jeff Bezos wins many prizes. He has helped create something that most everyone with an internet account has used to conveniently enjoy the wonders of ecommerce and web services (he even owns Goodreads here, kudos). For pioneering he deserves our thanks and applause, his humility as the son of a high-school mom and immigrant dad shine through. Thank you, Jeff. Winning, however, is Do the right thing. With Amazon at 1.6 trillion dollars and Bezos the richest man on earth there is no disputing that Jeff Bezos wins many prizes. He has helped create something that most everyone with an internet account has used to conveniently enjoy the wonders of ecommerce and web services (he even owns Goodreads here, kudos). For pioneering he deserves our thanks and applause, his humility as the son of a high-school mom and immigrant dad shine through. Thank you, Jeff. Winning, however, is not the goal: a better world is. John D Rockefeller also won and his relative wealth in his day was three times that of Bezos's today. Rockefeller won by a strategy of horizontal domination, selling below cost in many cases to beat competitors and consolidating his winnings in adjacent markets. An interesting game that few have the money or market dominance to execute. In 1911 it took the US Supreme Court to intervene and ultimately break up Standard Oil into 34 smaller companies. Many of these are companies that have thrived for a century now and ones we still know like Chevron, Exxon, Texaco, Marathon Oil, and BP among others. At 1.6 trillion in market value and 1.1 million employees Amazon has no equal. Here is where the games can diverge: Jeff Bezos can, and should, decide to again Invent & Wander. Instead of waiting for the US Court, executives or legislators, or the EU, or India, or other world powers to one-day intervene, just do it. Jeff should boldy act to unlock value for customers, shareholders, and employees: split the pie and everybody wins. Bezos and his teams could choose to break Amazon into 10 (or 34) smaller companies. He could do it on his own terms before regulators one day inevitably force his hand: that would begin day two. And in so splitting and multiplying this would enable more innovation and competition in multiple industry verticals and geographies. Unlock the captive value of Whole Foods by thinking how to help spawn a focused lower cost healthy grocery options to offer more people more affordable organic foods. Spur on the innovation in green power and alternative vehicles, not just by buying 100,000 Rivian vehicles for Amazon: boldly go further and help the world by spinning out a focused entity to deliver 1,000,000 electric vehicles a year to consumers and other businesses. In web services, clean energy, and so many other spaces Amazon and Bezos hold the potential to help more by controlling less and empowering others with more competitive multiple points of focus the world needs. To date, Jeff Bezos you are my hero, you have delivered so much for me and for our world. If you read this, please don't read in criticism where none is intended. Instead this only ask is that you long ponder the thought. What you now hold most is the chance to help decentralize and distribute the magic of human invention by passing this one baton to create so many more that can take your spark and again Invent and Wander on profound new and multiple dimensions. Think about it, please. In every other game, you have all but one. And there can be no "one" in truly winning.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nyamka Ganni

    I really enjoyed Walter Isaacson's introduction part. It was concise but very engaging. I wish it was bit longer. The rest is the collection of letters from Jeff Bezos. After reading, I wanted to read full version of Bezos' biography written by Isaacson. I really enjoyed Walter Isaacson's introduction part. It was concise but very engaging. I wish it was bit longer. The rest is the collection of letters from Jeff Bezos. After reading, I wanted to read full version of Bezos' biography written by Isaacson.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    "Big Things Start Small." Apparently so small that this was not offered on Kindle App version; ironic considering Jeff's ties in creating the platform & the 'modern bookstore' as it was so aptly named; as I sat reading from my desktop. Upon the completion, I wondered why the employees never became a topic for discussion till near end, even when customer service seemed paramount to the overall and underlying main theme? As a 'distribution center' former employee of Lord and Taylor I know these 'wor "Big Things Start Small." Apparently so small that this was not offered on Kindle App version; ironic considering Jeff's ties in creating the platform & the 'modern bookstore' as it was so aptly named; as I sat reading from my desktop. Upon the completion, I wondered why the employees never became a topic for discussion till near end, even when customer service seemed paramount to the overall and underlying main theme? As a 'distribution center' former employee of Lord and Taylor I know these 'work to death' facilities are quite attractive and appealing for the cost but not for the heavy price one must pay to work there. For example, as a side note: I was top producer/associate of the month (CTH/GTH) having received a one time bonus of $25 with 10 cent raises with base salary of $7.25 hr when I was 17 years of age. I worked like a dog to put myself into college, and subsequently left when a 50lb metal trolley (used to transport) materials fell on my head and management offered zero assistance. In fact, even 30 yrs earlier, these times of work hard and get somewhere in life were sold like the 'American Dream' to wealth and prosperity. Ironically, these companies also have the best lawyers in the area so good luck if you must sue as I wasn't allowed to even entertain the thought of legal action as my injuries weren't severe enough. It was anything but 'glamorous' as we worked in deplorable conditions right off a conveyor with animals, bugs, and other items falling out of shipping boxes. I also was subjected to 'diesel fumes' from loading dock area, filthy air fans that didn't circulate and if used blew dust and debris-worked 40 hrs but paid under so I wouldn't get paid full time wages, and rarely took a lunch to be able to work like a nut. I'm a well educated individual who has gone on to get her MPA/CJ degree but never used it because of health complications and raising of my family solo (3 children) from an 11 yr marriage. Do you know all these years later (30 to be precise) the same job pays the same wages with I'm sure the lil to no benefits? In addition, I now suffer from lung issues ie. asthma, copd, chronic bronchitis, along with severe anemia and severe spinal stenosis having had ganglion cyst (similar to corporal tunnel surgery) performed on my right hand before I hit 30 years old as a nonsmoker. I bring this up because you can't bullshit and old bullshitter as the saying goes... I know what this work entails..heavy lifting, constant bending, high traffic and high mileage -you could say-as these facilities are not small. Work on the clock, perform to specifications, and don't step out of line like the chain gang. I'd love to introduce you to reality 101. This is not good, productive, or worthy to treat employees this way-https://www.geekwire.com/2020/warehou... I would also note that while Amazon may pay well to entice workers the moral is take it or leave it and yes many take it because they can't earn a decent 'living' wage in America anymore. In fact to stress my point further I'd note housing costs for these factory workers even with $15 and hr won't cover the basics especially if they have families to tend to or other needs such as medical, college, and the like. https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/na... With this noted I have read some promising objectives, innovations, and programs: Renewable energy (40%) current rate of sustainability within Amazon. Pay to quit programs offering 2k first year of employment with 1k each year thereafter to quit (of course up to 5k). Or the veterans hiring process which is quite commendable. The most appreciative program seems to be the Career Choice which provides 95% tuition to paid employees regardless of future career endeavors relevant or irrelevant to Amazon. However, I also worry over greed, the bottom dollar, the quality of life for everyone living near these facilities and prospering from within them, and of course I worry about the current work life balance that's needed to be healthy and strong. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-... When I worked like a dog to death I wasn't given any perks, unless you feel 10 cent raises are great yearly incentives, but I did walk away with a new feel for the value of importance, acceptance, inclusion, and pride. There's none of this in these settings-it's a grinding way to produce-and it's an awful way to work. If the big wigs had to do what the workers are doing on the floor, delivering these items, and providing these stats they'd be exhausted. This is not the American Dream it's the get rich scheme and there's a difference when you ride your successes upon the backs of hard working Americans. As they say -put your money were your mouth is- but as I witnessed with my own company who resided on tax free property -they don't care about the little people. Sure the quotes are nice, " We invent before we have to." Do you really wonder about how employees will make ends meet at the end of the workday? Just curious- because I do. I'm all for improvements and surely they are vast, steadily growing, and changing the online business but what about those mom and pops who had to abandon their livelihood? I have high standards too along with high expectations and skills. Please do read my profile in its entirety however, for me this work is grueling, inhumane, and taxing upon these workers & shall the day come when I'm able to become employable after 10 years of job searching with a dual masters, 20 yrs volunteering, Points of Light Awardee by our 41st President -and not be told to dummy down, stay silent, and go with the grain -than and only then will equality for all -be seen as success. 'For all' is the key....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    Invent and Wander is separated into 3 sections, the biographical introduction, his letters to shareholders, and some personal writings. The introduction is excellent. Walter Isaacson is a masterful writer. I was drawn into Bezos' history and story, and it was fascinating to learn more about him beyond Amazon as well as more about Amazon beyond my personal experience with the brand. But Isaacson goes into such great detail that the rest of the book was mostly redundant and boring to read one after Invent and Wander is separated into 3 sections, the biographical introduction, his letters to shareholders, and some personal writings. The introduction is excellent. Walter Isaacson is a masterful writer. I was drawn into Bezos' history and story, and it was fascinating to learn more about him beyond Amazon as well as more about Amazon beyond my personal experience with the brand. But Isaacson goes into such great detail that the rest of the book was mostly redundant and boring to read one after another. It's a neat idea: to share his real messages but not a particularly fun read. For every super neat fact, there were pages of reading the same thing over and over in different phrasings. I wonder that it's not meant to be read but rather browsed bit by bit between other books. I liked the bits about how certain businesses and ventures came to be, like Kindle and Fulfillment. I probably would have rather had a beefed up version of the introduction written by Isaacson with bits of Bezos' letters strewn throughout. Bezos is truly an incredible mind, one of the greats. I can imagine anyone in business or tech would find this inspiring. And to echo another reviewer, I wish this had contained some of the past and current criticism for Bezos and Amazon. I loved reading about his charitable programs and institutions, but from other things I've heard about what it's like to actually work for Amazon, I'm curious how these programs work in reality and not just in theory as Bezos chats about them. The book did make me both glad I have access to the neat technologies of Amazon as a Prime member and curious about getting a job with the company (currently I'm a stay at home mom, so I daydream about getting a job again, haha). Thank you PublicAffairs, Harvard Business Review Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alok Kejriwal

    80% of the book are yearly letters Jeff Bezos has written to Amazon shareholders & some general chapters. (Lots of repetitions throughout). The Gold inside: - When Steve Jobs’s ideas or proposals would seem impossible to implement, he would use a trick he learned from a guru in India - he would stare at his colleagues without blinking and say, "Don't worry, you can do it". - Taunted on a TV show for his early losses, the host asked Bezos if he could spell PROFIT. “Sure,” Bezos replied, “P-R-O-P-H-E 80% of the book are yearly letters Jeff Bezos has written to Amazon shareholders & some general chapters. (Lots of repetitions throughout). The Gold inside: - When Steve Jobs’s ideas or proposals would seem impossible to implement, he would use a trick he learned from a guru in India - he would stare at his colleagues without blinking and say, "Don't worry, you can do it". - Taunted on a TV show for his early losses, the host asked Bezos if he could spell PROFIT. “Sure,” Bezos replied, “P-R-O-P-H-E-T.” - The greatest piece of business luck in the history of business as described by Bezos was that after his invention of AWS, 'no one competed with Amazon for 7 years". (Top inventions get competition within 2 years). - "EBITDA isn’t cash flow." - To make sure of aeroplane safety, 150 kindles were turned on simultaneously and used in a test flight :) - “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever". - Amazon doesn't do PPT. They write 6-page memos that is then read by those meeting like in a study hall. - Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1 (D1 is mentioned like 100 times)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rishabh Srivastava

    I was astounded by the consistency of Jeff Bezos' vision and messaging to shareholders over 25 years. This book was a collection of Bezos' letters to shareholders, as well as speeches that he has given. My main takeaways were: 1. It’s not enough to invent. You must be able to build a vision that a large number of people share, and that gets them to work in a concerted way 2. Have the discipline of writing a detailed plan and understand the key factors that influence an issue. Even though the plan I was astounded by the consistency of Jeff Bezos' vision and messaging to shareholders over 25 years. This book was a collection of Bezos' letters to shareholders, as well as speeches that he has given. My main takeaways were: 1. It’s not enough to invent. You must be able to build a vision that a large number of people share, and that gets them to work in a concerted way 2. Have the discipline of writing a detailed plan and understand the key factors that influence an issue. Even though the plan won’t survive the real world, this exercise will help you understand a situation better 3. It's all about the long-term. Focus relentlessly on what is in the best long-term interests of customers and shareholders, not short-term profitability. Relatedly, optimise for long-term cashflows, not GAAP accounting measures 4. In a fixed cost business, market leadership is everything. The stronger one's market leadership, the more powerful the economic model. Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue, higher profitability, greater capital velocity, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested capital. 5. Make bold rather than timid investment decisions where you see a sufficient probability of gaining market leadership advantages. Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and you will have learned another valuable lesson in either case. 6. Operational and customer excellence is driven by self reinforcing flywheels: "We want to deliver both the world’s best customer experience and the world’s lowest prices. To some, this may seem quixotic. But it’s not. Traditional stores have a trade off between delivering a high touch customer experience and lowest possible prices. Amazon translates excellent digital customer experience into a fixed cost, and can deliver the best experience at no additional cost to the customer at sufficient volume." 7. Big winners pay for many experiments 8. Some decisions are consequential and nearly irreversible (one-way doors). These must be made with much deliberation. But most decisions are two way doors where you don’t have to live with the consequences. Don’t use the process for one way doors on two way door decisions 9. Decision quality and velocity are both really important. Don’t optimise for one at the expense of the other 10. Intuition, curiosity, and the power of wandering: "Sometimes you know where you’re going, and when you do, you can be efficient. In contrast, wandering is not efficient … but it’s also not random. It’s guided – by hunch, gut, intuition, curiosity. Wandering is an essential counter-balance to efficiency. You need to employ both. The outsized discoveries – the “non-linear” ones – are highly likely to require wandering."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Great stuff in this book, but far too much redundant information to give it more than three stars. I think Amazon is an amazing company and the book gives some good insight into what driving forces resulted in their success. However, the book is a compilation of annual letters and speeches by Bezos, so by its very nature it covers the same ground multiple times. It gets a little old hearing about how successful their market place is on the fourth read. It feels like if the redundancy was removed Great stuff in this book, but far too much redundant information to give it more than three stars. I think Amazon is an amazing company and the book gives some good insight into what driving forces resulted in their success. However, the book is a compilation of annual letters and speeches by Bezos, so by its very nature it covers the same ground multiple times. It gets a little old hearing about how successful their market place is on the fourth read. It feels like if the redundancy was removed from thus book, it would have been at least 30% shorter. Bezos makes the point, multiple times, that he allows people to fail at Amazon. He explains that to have an innovative culture, a company must accept failure. However, there is limited description of any Amazon failures. To be fair, you wouldn’t expect a description of a significant failure, such as short lived Amazon cell phone, in an annual report — but some more details on struggles the company faced over the years would have been a nice complement to the self grandizing elements of the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ankit Dhirasaria

    Jeff Bezos is truly an inspiration for anyone and sometimes, it is not visible much effort it takes to build a massive global business. In this collection of Jeff Bezos's writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you'll gain an insider's view of the why and how of his success. Inspiring, engaging and interesting for those who are fascinated by suc Jeff Bezos is truly an inspiration for anyone and sometimes, it is not visible much effort it takes to build a massive global business. In this collection of Jeff Bezos's writings—his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas—you'll gain an insider's view of the why and how of his success. Inspiring, engaging and interesting for those who are fascinated by such stories, this is a must read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I give it the 2 stars because I am a fan of Bezos as a visionary and as someone that has maniacal execution. I follow his pizza box rule and his humility and sense of urgency on it always being "day 1". That said, the author summarized for a few pages then published all of the letters to shareholders and interviews. It lacked reflection and insights on themes. I give it the 2 stars because I am a fan of Bezos as a visionary and as someone that has maniacal execution. I follow his pizza box rule and his humility and sense of urgency on it always being "day 1". That said, the author summarized for a few pages then published all of the letters to shareholders and interviews. It lacked reflection and insights on themes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elijah Huggins

    Great read Learned a lot about what makes a company successful and grow. Customer Service has always been wonderful at Amazon every time I use their website and run into an issue. Bezos understood that the customer is very important.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nik

    Enjoyed reading the shareholder letters, but felt redundant at times. Wish it was a full Isaacson biography on Bezos, or written entirely by Bezos. Good read but felt very statistic heavy at times.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Gebski

    With all the respect to JB, Amazon, and AWS, this is NOT a good book. First of all - I have no clue who is it for. Why so? It consists of 3 parts: * the intro (by Isaacson) - which 100% repeats the stuff (LITERALLY!) from part 3 * annual letters to shareholders (by Bezos) - which are informative to some degree, present the evolution of Amazon over the years, give a brief glimpse of Amazon's culture and JB's philosophy, BUT ... FFS - these are letters to shareholders - there's a lot of "internal mark With all the respect to JB, Amazon, and AWS, this is NOT a good book. First of all - I have no clue who is it for. Why so? It consists of 3 parts: * the intro (by Isaacson) - which 100% repeats the stuff (LITERALLY!) from part 3 * annual letters to shareholders (by Bezos) - which are informative to some degree, present the evolution of Amazon over the years, give a brief glimpse of Amazon's culture and JB's philosophy, BUT ... FFS - these are letters to shareholders - there's a lot of "internal marketing", buzzwords, many repetitions (because there are always new people, etc.) - when I was around 2014 I was nearly screaming: too much, too much! (even if I'm personally very interested in Amazon and AWS) * collection of writings and interviews - there's literally nothing new here: many things have already been described at least 3 times before in the same book (!) (e.g. JB's mothers teenage pregnancy, "Ouch!", kneepads anecdote, etc.) and the same interviews have been published on multiple occasions before (e.g. in recent "How to Lead") In the end: YES, the story of Amazon and the one of Jeff Bezos are VERY interesting. YES, the culture of Amazon is tremendous and impressive. YES, Bezos is a good storyteller and it's a pleasure to read/listen to him. But this doesn't mean that "Invent and Wander" is the book you should be reaching for - there are far better (IMHO) alternatives.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wahyu Awaludin

    it's good for amazon fan. but it's not my thing. My favourite part just introduction. Isaacson write Bezos's biography in there. Just few pages. But it's so inspiring. Half of book was filled with annual year report of Amazon from early years until now (2019). So, it's so boring. and the half others filled with Bezos's short article about anything. The content is good but it's boring for me. So, I gave 3 stars. it's good for amazon fan. but it's not my thing. My favourite part just introduction. Isaacson write Bezos's biography in there. Just few pages. But it's so inspiring. Half of book was filled with annual year report of Amazon from early years until now (2019). So, it's so boring. and the half others filled with Bezos's short article about anything. The content is good but it's boring for me. So, I gave 3 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sathappan Sathappan

    It is ok. Wouldn't recommend it.Nothing new in the book. It is a compilation of annual letters to shareholders. And second part of the book is - what feels like - stuff bezos probably spoke into a voice recorder in one afternoon. It is ok. Wouldn't recommend it.Nothing new in the book. It is a compilation of annual letters to shareholders. And second part of the book is - what feels like - stuff bezos probably spoke into a voice recorder in one afternoon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really enjoyed this book. The first part is a collection of Jeff Bezos's annual shareholder letters. Second part is a taken from his writings over time. So the book isn't really "written" by Jeff but it looks like a print by HBR based on all of Jeff's writings which they consolidate into a book. No doubt it is from Jeff's speeches and interviews he has done where he shared his philosophy and Amazon culture. I liked that it was a consistent message throughout the book. And it was repeated many I really enjoyed this book. The first part is a collection of Jeff Bezos's annual shareholder letters. Second part is a taken from his writings over time. So the book isn't really "written" by Jeff but it looks like a print by HBR based on all of Jeff's writings which they consolidate into a book. No doubt it is from Jeff's speeches and interviews he has done where he shared his philosophy and Amazon culture. I liked that it was a consistent message throughout the book. And it was repeated many times. I can see how this would turn some readers off because they feel its repetitive and there is nothing "new to learn". I see it otherwise. I see it as a fundamental way of doing things and belief in the culture so deep that it drives all the decisions and actions in life. Almost like a well architected plan and path to success. It helps too that the writing is easy to read and relate to for me as my values seem to be in synch. 1. Customer obsession is the main driver of business. Focus on customers and not competitors. 2. Focus on the long term. 3. Hire missionaries and not mercenaries. 4. Type 1 and Type 2 decisions. Make decisions fast if they are type 2 - reversible. Make them slow if they are type 1 - deliberate and careful. As companies get bigger, Type 1 decisions tend to become the default which slows down decision making which also causes employees to leave. Missionaries thrive in quick decision making instead of bureaucratic environments. 5. Disagree and commit 6. Customers want good selection, low prices and quick delivery. 7. Customers are never satisfied. That is a good thing because it makes us constantly invent and innovate to keep us going. 8. Gifts vs Choices. Gifts are easy. Choices are hard. 9. It is always Day 1

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faterider

    Given how ubiquitous and pervasive Amazon is nowadays, one tends to forget its humble origin - that it has grown into this mammoth enterprise from an online bookstore. I picked this up because it comprises the letters Jeff Bezos wrote to his shareowners from 1997 to 2019. As an English teacher who’s focused on imparting Purpose, Audience & Context in writing communications, I found this an insightful foray into the art of writing. Jeff Bezos sustains reader engagement sincerely by attributing to Given how ubiquitous and pervasive Amazon is nowadays, one tends to forget its humble origin - that it has grown into this mammoth enterprise from an online bookstore. I picked this up because it comprises the letters Jeff Bezos wrote to his shareowners from 1997 to 2019. As an English teacher who’s focused on imparting Purpose, Audience & Context in writing communications, I found this an insightful foray into the art of writing. Jeff Bezos sustains reader engagement sincerely by attributing to the outsized role of luck (letter 2015) and thanking everyone from customers to Amazonians to shareowners in his conclusion (letter 2001, 2008, 2016, etc). We know that storytelling is a great tool to humanize hard business - a technique he leverages to great effect in letter 2011 - but he does not shun away from explaining in laborious detail about some of the groundbreaking technologies that underpin Amazon’s products, concepts such as service-oriented architecture and machine learning. It’s thus intriguing how letters in more recent years never even went on to report figures and other statistical data that exemplify Amazon’s progress. Which does serve to back up his “heads-down focus on customers” (letter 1998). Detractors of this book may point out that his letters to shareowners get repetitive and rehash the same points after a while. I agree with them but I think this predictable consistency with which he emphasises his business philosophies actually adds to the strength of this book. Like it or hate it, you can’t deny that Jeff Bezos presents a rock solid branding of himself and Amazon. I will end this with his trademark conclusion: It remains Day 1.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Attila

    Review: Jeff Bezos is the riches man on Earth. Every entrepreneur would love to create the new Amazon and every investor would love to invest in the next Amazon. It was very interesting to see a little bit inside Bezos's mind, how he runs his businesses and what are his goals. Only four starts because he repeated a lot of his points, it would have been far better if he wrote a brand new book. (view spoiler)[ Main points: focus on the long term customer-centric technology will enable to drive down cos Review: Jeff Bezos is the riches man on Earth. Every entrepreneur would love to create the new Amazon and every investor would love to invest in the next Amazon. It was very interesting to see a little bit inside Bezos's mind, how he runs his businesses and what are his goals. Only four starts because he repeated a lot of his points, it would have been far better if he wrote a brand new book. (view spoiler)[ Main points: focus on the long term customer-centric technology will enable to drive down costs low price and customer experience costumer franchise is their most valuable asset keep fixed costs fixed make decisions based on math things it’s still day one a culture that embraces new businesses big winners pay for small bets decision making speed and being experimental have a vision and work backward empower others to unleash their creativity—to pursue their dreams partnering with other brands to sell their products blue origin wants to enable entrepreneurs to build in space no PowerPoint – six-page memo customers don’t know what they want – you have to figure it out picked books because books are super unusual in one respect: there are more items in the book category than in any other category finding the root cause thinking 3 years ahead is the founder a missionary or mercenary? mercenaries try to flip their stock. The missionaries love product or service and love customers, they try to build a great service missionaries make money it’s not about the number of hours worked – energy (hide spoiler)]

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Walter Isaacson's introduction to the book does an excellent job of noting what sets Jeff Bezos apart from the rest of the entrepreneurs of our time, and, according to Issacson, places him in the same categories as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein. The keys are to have an endless and passionate curiosity; to love and to connect the arts and the sciences; to have a reality distortion field (the ability to think different"; and to retain a childlike sense of wo Walter Isaacson's introduction to the book does an excellent job of noting what sets Jeff Bezos apart from the rest of the entrepreneurs of our time, and, according to Issacson, places him in the same categories as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein. The keys are to have an endless and passionate curiosity; to love and to connect the arts and the sciences; to have a reality distortion field (the ability to think different"; and to retain a childlike sense of wonder. Reading Issacson's short biography of Bezos gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the man behind Amazon and so much more. The remaining sections of the book were written by Jeff Bezos himself and broken down into two parts. Part I The Shareholder Letters are exactly that, business reports on the philosoply, successess, and failures of Amazon as a company, and where they were/are heading in the future. Part 2 Life and Work shows readers a bit more of the personal man, what he values, what he prioritizes, what he hopes his life means. All in all this is a very interesting and informative read about a man who has not only influenced but forever changed the business culture of our times. Oh the places he'll go next!! My thanks to NetGalley and Public Affairs and Harvard Business Review Press for allowing me to read a review copy of this book. Publication is set for November 17, 2020. All opinions expressed here are my own and given freely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rinita Mishra

    I enjoyed reading this book. The first part of the book contains the collection of letters to shareholders which documents the history of Amazon under Bezos’ leadership. This introduction part is written by Walter Isaacson. I loved it. It is concise and very engaging. I was fascinated by reading Bezos' history and story and learn more about him beyond Amazon. The rest two parts of the book are written by Jeff Bezos. These two parts contain the shareholders' letters and the personal life of the f I enjoyed reading this book. The first part of the book contains the collection of letters to shareholders which documents the history of Amazon under Bezos’ leadership. This introduction part is written by Walter Isaacson. I loved it. It is concise and very engaging. I was fascinated by reading Bezos' history and story and learn more about him beyond Amazon. The rest two parts of the book are written by Jeff Bezos. These two parts contain the shareholders' letters and the personal life of the founder himself. It was great to read the ideas and stories behind the success of Amazon straight from Jeff Bezos himself! He has done a wonderful job of communicating the foundational philosophy that brought Amazon to its success. From his first letter to shareholders, you can sense his overwhelming obsession with customers and Amazon, its business philosophy, success, failures, and the overall vision. As a reader, I got to know Jeff Bezos not just as the founder of one of the largest e-commerce platform, but also as a human being and his philosophies in life, This book is a wonderful source of wisdom for anyone who wants to find success professionally and personally. Thank you, PublicAffairs, Harvard Business Review Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Null

    Invent & Wander - The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos came out recently so I thought I'd give it a go. I think Jeff Bezos tends to be portrayed as a villain since he's one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but every time I've ever seen him speak I felt that he was extremely genuine and sincere. What he's accomplished is amazing and I'd give just about anything to have coffee with him and Elon Musk. It consists of two parts. One is all the shareholder letters he's written since the company w Invent & Wander - The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos came out recently so I thought I'd give it a go. I think Jeff Bezos tends to be portrayed as a villain since he's one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but every time I've ever seen him speak I felt that he was extremely genuine and sincere. What he's accomplished is amazing and I'd give just about anything to have coffee with him and Elon Musk. It consists of two parts. One is all the shareholder letters he's written since the company went public in 1997 to 2019. Then the last bit, which is only a few pages, are some notes that he's written about the future of Amazon services and Blue Origin (his space company). The shareholder letters reveal that the success and scale of what he was able to accomplish came from the consistent simplicity of just a few principles. * He views every day as Day 1 of the company. Even to the point of naming the building he works in as Day 1. * That the larger you grow, the larger your experimental mistakes need to be to continue that growth. * Then he's completely obsessed with providing value to customers. This book isn't really for everyone. 100% is a business book, and not a biography. 6/10 READ-IT-METER #52books52weeks #jeffbezos

  21. 5 out of 5

    Somit

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Invent and Wander is written by the infamous tech billionaire, inventor and founder of one of the world’s most customer focused companies, Amazon, #jeffbezos It’s an insight into his mind, ideology, mission driven approach. One can also say it’s an induction manual to Amazon, read it once :) My reflections on this book: 1. Live for customer experience, one of the key things we works towards even at Unilever. 2. Operational Excellence is the key to less customer acquisition cost in the long term. 3. Invent and Wander is written by the infamous tech billionaire, inventor and founder of one of the world’s most customer focused companies, Amazon, #jeffbezos It’s an insight into his mind, ideology, mission driven approach. One can also say it’s an induction manual to Amazon, read it once :) My reflections on this book: 1. Live for customer experience, one of the key things we works towards even at Unilever. 2. Operational Excellence is the key to less customer acquisition cost in the long term. 3. What will not change in 10 years of Amazon? Customer asking for more selection, Low prices and fast delivery. This clarity shapes future planning to be dynamic and growth driven. 4. Long Term Play – Investment in Prime, getting 3rd party supplier to use Amazon fulfilment programme, low pricing and more customer centricity. They were bleeding them in the short term, but now it has to led to high customer retention and less LTV. 6. How to hire talent- Hire missionaries, they love building products and services, and not Mercenaries, who are looking to turn a short-term profit. 7. Day 1 Mentality- Always work like it’s Day 1 of your company. You will always feel scared, but never satisfied, which is a good thing. #growthculture #customerexperiences #futurefactory #tech

  22. 4 out of 5

    tong huang

    Really like this little book. It's so shocking to see how many treasures hidden in Amazon's Annual shareholder letter. Had I paid attention to Amazon stock and studied their shareholder letters, I would have a much deeper understanding of how Amazon operates and what their focus was. When their stock dropped from $116 to $6 in 1999 while the company had the best metrics in every aspect. It's clearly the best time to invest in Amazon and stay for the long term. Their customer-centric focus is ver Really like this little book. It's so shocking to see how many treasures hidden in Amazon's Annual shareholder letter. Had I paid attention to Amazon stock and studied their shareholder letters, I would have a much deeper understanding of how Amazon operates and what their focus was. When their stock dropped from $116 to $6 in 1999 while the company had the best metrics in every aspect. It's clearly the best time to invest in Amazon and stay for the long term. Their customer-centric focus is very profound and very smart. Their fast decision stemmed from dividing decisions into Type 1 decision (irreversible decisions, takes more time) and Type 2 decisions (can be made rather fast). High standard was their corporate culture while innovation was their DNA and intimately woven into their operation instead of having a separate R&D department. Their management style encourages employees to disagree with management and commit to their own initiate. Reading this book helps me understand why Warren Buffet read so many shareholder letters everyday and I believe that's why he is so successful. Reading is a competitive edge in everything we do.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne Janzer

    Walter Isaacson has written biographies of many of the world’s great innovators, including Einstein, Da Vinci, and Jobs. This time, he simply makes the introduction and lets the innovator, Jeff Bezos, do the rest. It’s not a biography, but it still illuminates a life and a philosophy. Part one compiles Bezo’s annual letters to shareholders. To read these all in one sitting is to take a trip down memory lane in the growth of Amazon from its beginnings to its dominance today. But even as the produc Walter Isaacson has written biographies of many of the world’s great innovators, including Einstein, Da Vinci, and Jobs. This time, he simply makes the introduction and lets the innovator, Jeff Bezos, do the rest. It’s not a biography, but it still illuminates a life and a philosophy. Part one compiles Bezo’s annual letters to shareholders. To read these all in one sitting is to take a trip down memory lane in the growth of Amazon from its beginnings to its dominance today. But even as the product lines have changed, the core message and strategy has remained consistent. It’s always Day 1. A few big wins pay for many small failures. Obsess about customers, not competition. Take the long perspective. The thing that struck me most was the consistency of Bezo’s approach, even as Amazon itself has changed and evolved. No matter what you think about getting caught up in Amazon’s growth flywheel, there are lessons to be learned here about consistency and commitment. My thanks to Harvard Business Review Press and NetGalley for the review copy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Onufrak

    Surprising what is revealed accurately and honestly by the introduction by Walter Isaacson. Makes you realize how biased our media is when most of what is in this book has not been reported. Also his biography and development from childhood is real and enlightening how anyone can succeed and do well in this country if surrounded by good people in hard times and how one must fend for themselves. He was blessed to have been educated through the Montessori method and knew how to find his soul through Surprising what is revealed accurately and honestly by the introduction by Walter Isaacson. Makes you realize how biased our media is when most of what is in this book has not been reported. Also his biography and development from childhood is real and enlightening how anyone can succeed and do well in this country if surrounded by good people in hard times and how one must fend for themselves. He was blessed to have been educated through the Montessori method and knew how to find his soul through experimentation and expedition. The ability to pivot into something better and find purpose was also encouraging and instructive to all those who feel they are not able to move forward out of their position in life. I wish he would use his flywheel and gather other Americans, old and young to get together and use technology to modernize our government, make education relevant and accessible to all, and urgently gather our resources to fight climate change, bad dictators and countries around the world that need to energize grassroots efforts to do things for civilizations good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Sachetta

    There’s an inherent problem with publishing a collection of writings, and it’s that those writings usually aren’t all that cohesive. At least not nearly as cohesive as a fully thought-out manuscript would be. That problem is exactly what plagues this one and prevents it from being great. Don’t get me wrong, Bezos’ insights are awesome and fun to read about. I loved hearing the early stories of creating and growing Amazon and some of the trials and tribulations along the way. What I didn’t love, h There’s an inherent problem with publishing a collection of writings, and it’s that those writings usually aren’t all that cohesive. At least not nearly as cohesive as a fully thought-out manuscript would be. That problem is exactly what plagues this one and prevents it from being great. Don’t get me wrong, Bezos’ insights are awesome and fun to read about. I loved hearing the early stories of creating and growing Amazon and some of the trials and tribulations along the way. What I didn’t love, however, was hearing the same stories over and over again. While there’s definitely some solid story-telling and excitement here, I can’t help but feel that the repetitiveness of it curtails that excitement a little too much. Though it would appear that some folks felt a bit duped by this one, I feel like the cover told us everything we needed to know about it and, as such, I’m not mad. Regardless, I still would’ve expected a bit more from a duo as great as Bezos and Isaacson. -Brian Sachetta Author of “Get Out of Your Head”

  26. 4 out of 5

    JG

    This is a carefully chosen collection of Jeff Bezos letters and speeches. It can be seen as a complement to the Everything store book. The author describes 4 characteristics of truly innovative and creative people: 1. Passionately curious 2. Connecting Arts with Science 3. Think differently 4. Never let go your Childlike sense of wonder Bezos had them all and it appears very obvious after you read the book. It's a wonderful source of wisdom for businesses, strategists, analysts and in fact every person. This is a carefully chosen collection of Jeff Bezos letters and speeches. It can be seen as a complement to the Everything store book. The author describes 4 characteristics of truly innovative and creative people: 1. Passionately curious 2. Connecting Arts with Science 3. Think differently 4. Never let go your Childlike sense of wonder Bezos had them all and it appears very obvious after you read the book. It's a wonderful source of wisdom for businesses, strategists, analysts and in fact every person. Some things sound better in letter and theory than in practice. And sometimes the book can make you feel that everything is possible if you just stick to your plan patiently. But there is the sunk cost fallacy and the survivorship bias. The book is great and has timely practical advice, but it is no recipe for success.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jens Diederich

    Good book but my expectations were too high Ever since I read “The Everything Store”, I remember how Jeff Bezos told Brad Stone that his book would be released too early and it would still take year until Jeff’s work would be worth a book. The day has come and Amazon’s success has proven that it’s about time to review guiding principles of a company remaining in Day One mode. Concerning the book: I found the presentation interesting but didn’t gain a lot of new insights (which I had hoped). The b Good book but my expectations were too high Ever since I read “The Everything Store”, I remember how Jeff Bezos told Brad Stone that his book would be released too early and it would still take year until Jeff’s work would be worth a book. The day has come and Amazon’s success has proven that it’s about time to review guiding principles of a company remaining in Day One mode. Concerning the book: I found the presentation interesting but didn’t gain a lot of new insights (which I had hoped). The book is well written and addresses key points many will want to see from Jeff’s point of view (Prime, government scrutiny, Why space?). But don’t expect to be enlightened. There is not much new information about the most successful and observed company in the world. Still, required reading for everyone in the digital economy!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    super repetitive after a while. my recommendation is as follows: 1) skip the introduction, read the 1997 Shareholders letter, then skip to the last section and read that or 2) read the introduction then read the 1997 Shareholders letter, put the book down You will save yourself significant time and effort. A lot of what's found in the book here is pretty interesting but, by nature of what they are, the Shareholders letters get extremely boring and repetitive. I'll also call out that the introduction super repetitive after a while. my recommendation is as follows: 1) skip the introduction, read the 1997 Shareholders letter, then skip to the last section and read that or 2) read the introduction then read the 1997 Shareholders letter, put the book down You will save yourself significant time and effort. A lot of what's found in the book here is pretty interesting but, by nature of what they are, the Shareholders letters get extremely boring and repetitive. I'll also call out that the introduction is basically one man's summation of the rest of the book, and directly takes the lessons/morals from Bezo's writing and severely undercuts the impact of Bezo's own words. If you care about hearing direct from Bezos himself then skip the introduction, otherwise I'd say only read the intro + the first shareholders letter.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amit Verma

    It is book about man who owns the biggest book shop on the face earth and who stared his endeavour with book selling. It is about Jeff Bezos. First part is his letters to investors of Amazon. Then second part contains his autobiographical writings. I liked second part as it is written with sensitive and carefree simple prose. It provides glimpse into the mind of genius. Initial introduction by Walter issacson is too long and contains summary of almost whole of the book A very good short read to lea It is book about man who owns the biggest book shop on the face earth and who stared his endeavour with book selling. It is about Jeff Bezos. First part is his letters to investors of Amazon. Then second part contains his autobiographical writings. I liked second part as it is written with sensitive and carefree simple prose. It provides glimpse into the mind of genius. Initial introduction by Walter issacson is too long and contains summary of almost whole of the book A very good short read to learn life philosophy of richest man on planet earth.. I liked to read about Amazon Web services and blue origin. Also it was fresh knowledge to know about whole foods and Washington Post aquisition. A must read for Amazon lovers.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is a collection of essays as opposed to a book or an autobiography, but it’s really valuable in the way that it’s presented. The introductory foreword by Walter Isaacson (the Steve Jobs biographer) sets a nice tone for the rest of the book. Going through annual shareholder letters starting with the first year of Amazon to 2020, you begin to see the common threads and it’s an homage to Bezos's principled and consistent approach to scaling the company. For all the flack he took in the late 90 This is a collection of essays as opposed to a book or an autobiography, but it’s really valuable in the way that it’s presented. The introductory foreword by Walter Isaacson (the Steve Jobs biographer) sets a nice tone for the rest of the book. Going through annual shareholder letters starting with the first year of Amazon to 2020, you begin to see the common threads and it’s an homage to Bezos's principled and consistent approach to scaling the company. For all the flack he took in the late 90s & early 2000s, he really had it right the whole time. Plus, I love the name of the book. It really shows the creativeness and curiosity of a lot of the things on Amazon is done and what most entrepreneurs could benefit from.

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