I joined Apple because I revered Steve Jobs. A man who had no coding talent could assemble some of the smartest minds in the world while focusing on Design which was dear to my heart. There hasn’t been a contender that has been that close.
When Steve Jobs was at Apple, his exec team guarded him quite closely. This was partly because he was insufferable to fools and mistakes but partly to be able to build an organization that can run without him. I have spoken to a few of them that watched and worked with Steve. You can see the commanding of brilliance and the passing on of rights to the team post Steve. What we do know of him is either deeply guarded by Laurene Powell in the personal front and Tim and Jony at the professional front.
Much as Steve was in the public eye, his life was private. When he wrote, he wrote with clarity. When he spoke you knew he’d charm you. But how did he actually lead? How did he think about the company? What was his vision for computing and where Apple was going? That is mostly second hand or buried in the halls of Apple.
That’s not the same with another legend that graces us with his presence.
Thankfully, unlike Steve, Jeff Bezos has made his thoughts well known for over 23 years. The shareholder letters are a veritable gold mine of thoughts and vision. At Amazon, it is well known that they don’t do powerpoint presentations but do written notes. I have a lot of friends at Amazon and I have tried to learn the process.
It is incredibly hard.
Good writing is incredibly hard. And to do it consistently year on year, day on day is even harder. Jeff Bezos, explains it as this,
“The structure of a good memo forces better thought, better understanding and what’s more important than what, and how things are related.”
How things are related is revealed when there’s a cohesive thought process day in and out. Jeff has been a forefront in operating like this. You can see it with all the businesses he’s grown and with all the failures he’s had along the way. A collection of his share holder letters are here. And in this blog I’ll visit this again with keynotes that I found interesting.
Today, Jeff Bezos announced that he would be stepping down as CEO of Amazon. His successor, Andy Jessy, is a force to reckon with and had both the offers of Microsoft CEO and Uber CEO at one time. But as a lifer he now takes the mantle of perhaps the greatest internet company in our lifetime.
I am very excited to see where Jeff takes Blue Origin and the fight for space control against SpaceX even if their goals are different. I wrote a few lessons I have gleamed from Jeff Bezos in my first ever Linkedin story. Check it out and tell me what you think.