There are a number amazing CEOs in the world, and I respect and admire many of them, but if I had to select one as a “favorite,” it would have to be Jeff Bezos. The Amazon CEO is my favorite for many reasons: his passion, his drive, his innovation (although in a different sense than Apple, Google or many of the other tech giants), his philosophy and views on what works should be, and of course, his wide-spread success, not just in terms of revenue, but also in terms of how well-liked and respected he is.
Amazon doesn’t have a lot of the perks that other tech companies might; there’s not free cafeteria; business trips are taken in coach, not business or first class; and other expenses are cut wherever they can be. And when you look at Amazon’s structure, it’s easy to see why. There isn’t a30+% markup or profit on their products–there’s approximately a 2-3% profit on products. Cutting costs where possible, to me, is smart, simple, and savvy business sense; it ensures that Amazon employees are working at Amazon for the love of the job and all of the learning opportunities rather than all the bells and whistles, something that Bezos really wants in his employees.
With such a small profit on each product, Amazon must be selling an impossibly high number of products given the large amount of revenue that it has.
And it does.
In the Ecommerce industry, Amazon sells more than Walmart, Office Depot, Staples, Apple, Dell, Sears, and Liberty combined. And that is in part due to Amazon’s excellent customer service. Bezos believes that everyone in the company should be accountable to the customer. That’s why, no matter what level an employee is at, he or she must spend two days in a call center taking phone calls from customers. Bezos also has an empty chair at meetings to represent “the customer” so that the team remembers to take customer needs into account when making decisions. This customer-oriented culture has worked tremendously; Amazon receives excellent customer-service ratings and frequently tops the charts in terms of customer satisfaction.
And finally, a little homage to the Kindle that shows just how much the tablet has pervaded our lives (I’ll admit, I didn’t really understand the concept of the Kindle when I first heard about it, but the sales have certainly proved me wrong).
Just like Steve Jobs really shaped Apple and made it what it is, so Jeff Bezos has done for Amazon. He is smart, savvy, and passionate about his job. His philosophies on failure (necessary for innovation), spending (if we’re not spending to help the customer, then we’re not spending), and inventing (you have to think long term and be willing to be misunderstood) are uniquely fascinating and have proven to be great successes. I could go on and on about all of the reasons I admire Jeff Bezos as a CEO and person, but instead, I encourage you to hear from the man himself and take a look at some of the many Youtube videos of the man himself (here’s one to get you started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZK9Nqknrks).
Thanks for reading, and feel free to post comments telling me about your favorite CEO and why, or if you have any other questions about anything I’ve written about Bezos or Amazon, please let me know!