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Think Like Amazon

Author: Tyler Wallis

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Learn from Amazon executives how to apply Amazon's best principles and processes to grow your own business. Listen as Amazon's strategies, frameworks, and mechanisms are broken down in the personal experiences of senior Amazon leaders so that they can be replicated and applied in your work as manager, leader, entrepreneur, or digital innovator. As host of Think Like Amazon, Tyler Wallis, a former Amazon leader himself, takes you deep into conversations with business and technology leaders at Amazon to explore the management and innovation processes that catapulted the company's growth. You'll explore how principles such as working backwards, customer obsession, and fast decision making can help you take your business to the next level.Follow new releases and updates at https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
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Ronak spent over 9 years at Amazon, where he led large businesses across Fulfillment, Ultra-fast delivery, Real Estate, Process Improvement, and Last Mile Delivery. Ronak was also the youngest Regional Director in Amazon history, with placement into Amazon’s highest volume, most critical region of fulfillment. After nearly a decade with the company, Ronak left Amazon to join Odeko as Chief Supply Chain Officer.  In this episode, Ronak shares how his career in operations leadership quickly unfolded and the leadership principles that helped him achieve success in the programs, centers, and regions he led. You’ll hear Ronak share how Deliver Results rounded out his perspective on maximizing the collective impact of Amazon’s leadership principles, how leadership transparency helped him turn around a 2,800-employee site, and how, with the right focus and motivation, leaders can help their teams operate at a high level, whether at Amazon or in any business arena.   Ronak on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronak-patel-nashville/ Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Jennifer spent over 16 years at Amazon across various roles that included Financial Analyst, Product Manager, Head of Vendor Management, and Category Leader. During this time, Jennifer’s teams helped create new input metrics and ask questions to evolve Amazon’s use of data in the quest for operational excellence. Jennifer has since taken this ability to lead through data and questioning to launch a marketplace service for BuildDirect Technologies and consult various consumer brands in their Amazon and e-commerce negotiations and growth strategies.  In this episode, Jennifer shares context behind her career journey and how she used preceding roles to prepare for later leadership roles as Amazon director and executive at Build Direct. She also shared practical examples from her experience asking questions and identifying data to improve business operations.  You’ll also hear Jennifer share: ·        How increased transparency into variable product costs quickly clarified needed actions·        Why Dive Deep is such a fundamental principle for managing a P&L and marketplace business·        How listening to key customer anecdotes helped create a better assortment strategy in the Watches category·        How leaders can apply the Dive Deep principle when moving to a completely new business·        How to improve negotiations with the right use of questions and data  Jennifer on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-arthur-460768/Jennifer’s email: jennifer@jmaconsultingco.comFollow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
In part two of this 2-episode special with Steve Frazier, a former 20-year Amazon VP, we pick up in talking about how to use data, focus on inputs, and exercise strong judgement in prioritizing your team’s attention in a scaling business. You’ll hear Steve share: ·        Why businesses should focus on operational performance reviews, even on day 1·        The 2 magical metrics that helped Amazon stay focused on the right actions as it scaled·        The litmus test for a leader to know they have their team focused on the right inputs·        Why Amazon focuses on the smallest defects in performance·        Learning from both successes and failures·        How being a reporter for The Wall Street Journal helped shape Steve’s approach in business Steve on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sfrazier/Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Steve spent over 20 years as a VP at Amazon where he launched multiple businesses and led organizations around the globe. During his Amazon career, Steve spent time as the country manager for Amazon UK and Amazon China, in addition to roles leading North American Retail expansion and the rollout of international consumer programs.  In this first installment of our two-episode conversation with Steve, we discuss Amazon’s approach to expanding businesses internationally and what it was like to lead international teams during Amazon’s earlier years. Steve shares how Amazon prioritized efforts to launch internationally, including a few mistakes made along the way and the mental models that ultimately led to Amazon’s international success.  You’ll also hear Steve share:  ·        How to manage risk and capital expenditure when setting the pace for international expansion·        When to copy past models vs. create a localized strategy·        The four decision buckets that need should be covered when launching a new country, and the relative Importance of getting each category right·        A few costly mistakes, and how Amazon learned from these experiences·        How to adapt a launch strategy in step with the growing product or service offering of your business·        Practices for disseminating learning during a launch in order to de-risk future market launches   Steve on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sfrazier/ Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Umer spent nearly 12 years at Amazon as a software development leader across a diverse set of businesses including Amazon’s data warehouse, reverse logistics, Prime Now program, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods Market. Umer left Amazon in early 2018 to co-found Veeve, a contact-less shopping checkout solution, and in early 2021, Umer took on the role of CTO at fabric.inc, a high-growth startup providing headless commerce solutions for retail businesses. In this interview, Umer shares how Amazon mechanisms helped him scale businesses to hundreds of employees and billions in revenue. Umer discusses how he identifies the right objectives and mechanisms needed to fit the core goals and lifecycle of a businesses and when to think about improving or changing and pivot existing mechanisms. You’ll also here examples of three mechanisms that Umer used at Amazon and has successfully applied in leading tech startups: Corrections of Errors, PRFAQs, and Change Management. Umer also addresses how mechanisms can help with VC fundraising and in building company culture.  Mentioned in the Episode:  fabric Blog: https://resources.fabric.inc/blogUmer on Twitter: @umersadiq  Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Mandy spent over 13 years at Amazon across a number of roles including as leader of product management, marketing, and retail buying teams, running Prime Pantry, leading the supply chain function for Amazon Private Label, and leading worldwide employee performance management programs. Since Amazon, Mandy has joined The Bouqs, an innovative e-commerce floral delivery service, where she is now VP of People and applying her input focused approach to driving improvements to organizational health.  In this episode, Mandy shares how gaining broad functional experience in the first half of a career can be a key asset as a leader, the 3 pillars to becoming an effective multi-function leader, how to use inputs to make decisions at a large scale, and why organizations should collect more employee data to navigate successfully through changing work environments. If you’re trying to scale your impact, are involved in people management, or perhaps are just curious about how to leverage your past functional experience, this is a conversation you won't want to miss. Mentioned in the episode: The Bouqs:  Bouqs.comMandy on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mandybottorff/ Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Justin spent 10 years at Amazon where he helped lead Baby Registry to becoming the #1 US registry, reinvented the vendor negotiation process that led to $1B in profitability improvements, and received a "Just Do It" award from Jeff Bezos for inventing a new communication system for vendors and sellers. In 2019, Justin left his role as Director of Amazon Device Sales and Marketing Technology to pursue several entrepreneurial endeavors. Today, Justin is the CEO of Data Spark, a technology company bringing actionable insights to brands and sellers on Walmart Marketplace. In this episode, Justin returns to the podcast to discuss Amazon’s Earn Trust principle. As you listen, you’ll hear Justin share actionable steps to build stronger trust as a leader in your organization. A few highlights from our conversation include:·        Why Earn Trust is the principle that surfaces most as people move up in their career·        How one Amazon VP turned Earn Trust into a mechanism·        The 4 elements that make up trust·        Dealing with a blind spot and why Justin spent a whole day traveling for a 30-minute 1:1 meeting that made all the difference·        Taming the ego by remembering what you want the most and the power of option  Mentioned in the podcast:  Data Spark:  https://dataspark.co/Justin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justinmaner/ Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Chad spent nearly 16 years at Amazon which included roles as Director of Fulfillment by Amazon and Director of Global Sales. Having joined Amazon in 1999, Chad helped build and develop many teams to lead these and other core Amazon businesses. Chad left Amazon in 2015 to build and co-lead The Goelzer Home Team and improve the customer focus and use of technology in real estate.  In this episode, you’ll enjoy Chad’s passion for creating and communicating a business vision and building teams. Chad shares his framework for building a team and making key hires as well as his fresh approach to inviting deep questions about business health. You’ll be sure to enjoy Chad’s enthusiasm, candor, and advice throughout this episode.   Mentioned in the podcast: The Goelzer Home Team: https://goelzerhometeam.com/ Follow us on LinkedIn! https://www.linkedin.com/company/think-like-amazon-podcast/
Dave spent nearly 12 years at Amazon moving from a Development Manager to a Technology Director. In early 2020, Dave took on the role as Head of Technology for Bezos Academy where he spent over a year building their technology foundation. Since leaving Amazon and Bezos Academy in 2021, Dave has begun publishing regular leadership articles on his newsletter, Scarlet Ink. In this episode, Dave and I dive into the Frugality principle and how it is ingrained in the resource allocation, long-term thinking, and innovation engine of Amazon. Dave shares how frugality, when properly applied, can lead to better product roadmaps, higher profit, greater levels of innovation, and improved employee engagement and autonomy. Dave also shares a few of the needed ingredients an organization should include to mitigate the potential downsides of a constraints-based approach to assigning resources and defining roadmaps.    Mentioned in the podcast: Scarlet Ink: https://www.scarletink.com/ Dave on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scarletink/
Melissa spent 19 years at Amazon, progressing through over ten roles that included Technical Advisor to Jeff Wilke, VP of Sports, Outdoors, and Toys, and VP of Sales and Marketing for Amazon Devices. After leaving Amazon, Melissa spent a year as COO of Glossier and recently launched a venture-backed startup, Modern Age, to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives.  In our conversation, we discuss Amazon’s Learn & Be Curious principle and how consistent curiosity and focused learning have helped Melissa find success throughout her career while innovating for customers and developing others along the way. If you’ve found yourself wanting to live an invigorating career and stay excited about each day of work, you’re sure to find practical advice in Melissa’s wisdom and inspiration from her journey. Mentioned in the podcast:  Modern Age: https://modern-age.com/Melissa on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirmayer/
Kyle spent over 7 years at Amazon where he launched multiple billion-dollar programs, including Amazon Renewed and Amazon Exclusives – now known as Amazon Launchpad. Since leaving Amazon in 2020, Kyle has co-founded two companies, The Lab Consult, which helps e-commerce brands implement systems to scale profitably online, and Foundry Brands, an FBA brand aggregator that recently raised $100M to buy and grow consumer brands.In this episode, Kyle shares examples of how listening to his customers (Amazon sellers) helped him to Think Big and set a vision for programs that have grown into billion-dollar Amazon businesses. Kyle's methods of asking questions and uncovering opportunities, and his insights on when to bet big on new initiatives, offer usable tips for aspiring entrepreneurs both inside larger companies and setting out to launch the next big thing.Mentioned in the podcast: The Lab Consult: https://www.thelabconsult.com/Foundry Brands: https://www.foundrybrands.com/Kyle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-walker-a2697015/
Faisal spent over 7 years at Amazon as a Director over the early growth of several businesses including Mobile Electronics, Amazon Warehouse, Amazon BuyBack, Amazon TradeIn, and Amazon Basics. Building these programs  helped Faisal hone his ability to Dive Deep into business processes and health. Since leaving Amazon in 2011, Faisal held a number of VP and C-level roles for companies such as eBay, Groupon, Staples, and Google, before joining Fabric as CEO in 2020.  In this episode, Faisal shares key examples and insights about the Dive Deep principle and his approach to leadership and building an organizational culture. At Fabric – a fast-growing tech startup with two funding rounds in the first half 2021 – Faisal has pulled talent, practices, and values from Amazon, Google, and other top companies to form the current culture at Fabric. Listeners are likely to find valuable insights into how leaders can evaluate the best principles of past companies and apply them in their current work and team building.   Mentioned in the podcast: Fabric: fabric.incFaisal on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faisal/Faisal on Twitter: @FaisMasudCoffee + Commerce Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/coffee-commerce/id1546141800More from the episode: 1:40 – Faisal’s journey at Amazon and insights behind the businesses he led7:20 – Challenges to scaling Amazon TradeIn9:20 – Single-threaded leaders and document writing as key mechanisms to drive stakeholder engagement10:29 – Using customer-level anecdotes and asking uncomfortable questions to understand the health of a business20:00 – Dive Deep mechanisms from Amazon that have and have not transferred well in other organizations25:33 – Top leadership practices that Faisal picked up outside of Amazon29:16 – Establishing cultural values (i.e. leadership principles) at Fabric30:49 – Amazon practices and principles adapted at Fabric34:25 – How leaders can Dive Deep, regardless of the business culture they find themselves in
Elizabeth spent 15 years at Amazon where she grew multiple billion-dollar businesses and held several roles including Director of Lawn & Garden and Director and General Manager of Business & Technology for Selling Partner Success prior to joining Kraft Heinz as VP of Global eCommerce.  In our conversation, Elizabeth shares the people-leadership practices that she built throughout her Amazon career and continues to apply in her role at Kraft Heinz. We also dig into how to balance flexibility with having relentlessly high standards and how to develop operational excellence when leading nascent businesses. You’ll be sure to enjoy Elizabeth’s candid advice, stories, and mechanisms throughout this episode.   Mentioned in the podcast:  Elizabeth on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-bennett-5b82361/
John Rossman joined Amazon in 2002 as Director of Merchant Integration where he led the launch of Amazon’s 3P marketplace business. John also went on to lead the e-commerce solutions business for enterprise clients such as Target.com and Toys R Us before leaving in late 2005 to advise many companies on innovation and digital strategy and write three books on applying Amazon’s principles and mechanisms in business.  In our conversation, we discuss the foundational considerations and steps to launching Amazon’s seller marketplace, including tradeoffs and key internal decisions to think long term about building a platform business. We examine the Invent & Simplify leadership principle and several practices leaders can take to better operate their businesses while continually innovating. Finally, we discuss Amazon’s newly-released leadership principles and what the next 25 years may look like for Amazon. Learn more about John:  On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-rossman/At Rossman Partners: https://the-amazon-way.com/rossman-partnersPublished Books: https://the-amazon-way.com/books/ More from the episode:  1:50 – What it was like joining Amazon in 20027:20 – Amazon’s early vision for its Marketplace business and focus on customer trust11:45 – The challenges to launching an integrated and seamless online shopping experience17:45 – Forcing functions to help leaders ensure simplicity and clarity21:50 – Early efforts to simplify selling on Amazon for brands and resellers26:10 – Clarifying and simplifying as hallmark attributes of Amazon28:50 – Learning from Amazon’s focus on measurement to create action and accountability31:26 – Thoughts on Amazon’s two new leadership principles
Godwin spent 5 years at Amazon as a senior leader of product, retail and program teams. In each role, he led new innovations or launches for Amazon customers. Post Amazon, Godwin spent two years leading a business turnaround and is currently the co-founder at a real-estate tech startup where he continues to leverage the innovation processes he practiced at Amazon.  In this episode, you’ll hear how Godwin uses customer focus and document writing to develop and refine new solutions for customers. Specifically, Godwin shares how he uses Press Release and Frequently Asked Question (PRFAQ) doc writing to clarify customer benefits and business requirements, which Amazon leadership principles he’s leveraged in businesses outside of Amazon, and why he continues to use written narratives in his startup work today.   Mentioned in the podcast:  Godwin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/godwinpavamani/Vive: https://gotvive.com/
Dave spent over 10 years at Amazon where he was a Technology Director prior to being asked to build the technology foundations for Bezos Academy.  In Part 2 of our conversation, Dave shares his experience as a bar raiser and member of Amazon’s Bar Raiser Core team, a committee tasked with directing how Amazon’s bar raiser hiring program would operate and grow. In this segment of the conversation, Dave shares how Amazon thinks about managing both the quality and quantity of bar raisers to meet the organizations growing needs and demands. Any business curious about designing, managing, or optimizing a hiring control program will find great insights from Dave’s thoughts and experience in this episode.   Follow Dave:  On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scarletink/Leadership blog: https://www.scarletink.com/
Dave spent over 10 years at Amazon where he was a Technology Director prior to being asked to build the technology foundations for Bezos Academy.  In Part 1 of our conversation, Dave shares his experience and advice on how to develop leaders and accelerate their learning and career development. During his years at Amazon, Dave coached, mentored, and promoted many Amazon leaders and was also promoted three times himself. Throughout the conversation, Dave shares insights, lessons learned, and best practices for developing the best talent. If you are working to develop your leadership scope or building your people management skills, you’ll be sure to pick up some actionable steps from this episode. Follow Dave:  On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scarletink/Leadership blog: https://www.scarletink.com/
Colin spent 12 years on Amazon’s senior leadership team, including two years as “Chief of Staff” to Jeff Bezos. During this time, Colin had a front-row seat to the development and implementation of Amazon’s core operating principles and mechanisms, such as written memos, single-threaded teams, and the bar raiser program.  In early 2021, Colin, along with fellow ex-Amazon VP Bill Carr, released the book “Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon.” In this episode, host Tyler Wallis sits down with Colin to discuss questions submitted by podcast listeners. The ensuing conversation dives deep into Amazon’s innovation machine, what it was like shadowing Jeff Bezos, and how companies of various sizes and industries are applying Amazon’s operating principles to realize growth in their own organizations.   Check out Colin’s book:  https://www.workingbackwards.com/ Follow Colin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colinbryar/
John Olsen spent 7 years at Amazon as VP of Kindle Human Resources and VP of HR for Worldwide Operations. During these years of rapid global expansion for Amazon, John had to rely on proven principles and models to help ensure teams were making strong decisions, avoiding bias, and committed behind key goals. Since leaving Amazon in 2019, John has helped companies and boards learn to have backbone, disagree and commit in his roles as an advisor and investor.  During our conversation, John shares how the Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit principle integrates with the other Amazon leadership principles, mental models for how to determine when a decision needs to be debated further, how to foster healthy disagreement with remote teams, and much more.   Follow John:  On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-olsen-808650/  More from the episode:  3:40 – Why you can’t just disagree and commit without having backbone6:25 – How to recognize when it’s time to move a team forward with a decision7:49 – 6-page memos as a tool to facilitate having backbone9:40 – How to create a culture where it’s safe to respectfully disagree with other leaders14:00 – Decision or document bar raisers23:00 – How to encourage disagreement and speaking up with remote teams26:30 – When to commit and when to continue to disagree31:00 – Applying the leadership principle in advisor and governance work
Ethan Evans spent over 15 years at Amazon where he held multiple VP roles across Appstore, Twitch, and Amazon Gaming. During this time, Ethan led teams of over 800 people, launched Prime Video and Twitch Prime programs, and has been issued more than 60 patents. During Ethan’s time at Amazon, he helped craft part of the Ownership leadership principle and witnessed the S-team and countless teams demonstrate Ownership and long-term thinking.  In our interview, Ethan shares how leaders should act in behalf of the entire company and think long term. From examples of having to push back on a request from Jeff Bezos to working with Andy Jassy and other leaders at milestone moments in Amazon history, Ethan draws from his experience to illustrate how Ownership can be demonstrated and taught within an organization.   Follow Ethan:  On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ethanevansvp/Website: https://ethanevans.com/YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/EthanEvansVPPodcast: https://theezcoach.libsyn.com/  More from the episode:  4:30 – The story behind drafting the Ownership principle at Amazon13:02 – How a billion-dollar Merch by Amazon business came to be from leaders seeing beyond their job descriptions17:22 – The business model that Amazon has built to encourage ownership thinking21:25 – The time Andy Jassy (incoming Amazon CEO) exemplified ownership by looking out for peer organizations in a time of crisis23:16 – Example of 50 VPs and Directors lending their top talent to help Appstore deliver a key deliverable26:54 – How Ownership can be taught through example and taking an outcome-focused perspective30:00 – Fear as the enemy of Ownership, and steps to overcome this obstacle
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