“The purpose of a business is to create a customer, and the purpose of the leader is to grow the value of the customer,” proclaimed Peter Drucker, the guru of modern management, as the foundation of his insightful years of management advice.
Additionally, he said that all business is about “innovation and marketing.”
Well Jeff Bezos has become the epitome of Drucker’s philosophy. Practicing customer focus and innovation he is implementing what the guru preached. His commitment to consistent, clear and simple guiding principles has created a company with a market value of more than $700 billion.
And it has made him into the richest person in history.
His unwavering concentration on the future and dedication to his belief in studying data in the face of unrelenting criticism has proven to be a winning formula for Amazon. When he was 10 years old he calculated that his grandmother, a smoker, had already shaved off nine years of her life through a per-puff equation he developed.
In 2000 he secretly launched his most personally meaningful endeavor: Blue Origin, a privately funded aerospace manufacturer and space flight service company founded two years before Elon Musk started SpaceX. Obviously, this was inspired by Jeff watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon when he was five years old with his grandfather.
He now says, “You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you.” Space has become his real passion while he continues to practice his other passion of customer centricity in every new innovation he develops under the Amazon umbrella.
Bezos, with a prescient notion of the future, continues to delight consumers. His philosophy of starting with the customer and working backward into each new market he takes an interest in to discover a faster, better and cheaper way to deliver superior service has been repeated in every business he has become involved with.
Bezos is also the icon of efficiency and he expects his employees to exhibit the same tendencies. Employees have claimed that they were expected to work 60 to 80 hour work weeks—and answer their phone and email over weekends and while on vacation.
Bezos walks the talk consistently. He encourages customers to email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have a complaint. He lives by his set of rules: customer first, innovation always and long-term over short-term.
He hired some of the smartest minds in engineering to experiment in artificial intelligence before it became mainstream. That’s how Alexa was born. The AI assistant of the Amazon Echo is now present in more than 40 percent of U.S. homes.
He has proven that his unique formula for success and belief that there is always a way to deliver better customer service has sustained his forays into related and distinctly unrelated markets including cloud storage, media, healthcare, space exploration and beyond. With 64 million Amazon Prime users (and growing) each new venture Bezos gets involved with gives them “a click away” access to better ways to improve their lives.
He has created a reality that we never thought possible and now cannot imagine living without. In the process Bezos has made Amazon into an economy unto itself providing jobs for 542,000 people worldwide and growing.
Bezos is not alone in his creativity. He challenges his employees to constantly think of ways to improve customer service. Amazon is the epitome of the entrepreneurial concept of faster, better and cheaper. His driven customer centric management style and frugal desire to accomplish more with less has developed into what Amazon employees describe as “Jeffisms”—repetitive pronouncements from Bezos reinforcing his principles.
Bezos is a unique entrepreneurial character, both a missionary and a mercenary. He sacrifices short term profitability for long term dominance, quite contrary in a business world that lives and dies on quarterly results.
To conclude, an 18 year old Jeff Bezos ended his valedictorian speech in what might be described as a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Space is the final frontier. Meet me there.”
Real entrepreneurs can see and feel the future at a very young age. Steve Jobs envisioned devices that people did not know they needed and packaged them in what became to be known as the “epitome of cool” in design. Ralph Lauren had only one word in his high school yearbook: Millionaire.