Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos announced his retirement as CEO of the company by the end of this year. But first, he wanted to write one last letter addressed to his shareholders, employees, and customers. In it, he offers at least three pieces of advice about his experience at the tech mega-company.
In the final missive, the world’s richest man also makes a series of reflections on what the company has represented over the past 24 years. With a keen critical sense, Bezos reviews all the successes, failures, and concerns he has had at the helm of Amazon since the company went public in 1997.
As he does every year when he gathers everyone who owns Amazon stock, the tech mogul presents a bold vision of how he envisions his company. He sketches in his words what the company should be in the coming years. But he also reflects on life and the preservation of the planet.
That’s why his letter every year is so eagerly awaited, and even more so this one where he outlines his future. Although here he talks about saying goodbye to the day-to-day management of the company to focus on creation, because “I am an inventor. It’s what I enjoy most and what I do best.”
As in previous letters, Bezos focuses primarily on the customer and the company’s mission.“You have to create more of what you consume,” Bezos says. He adds, “Your goal should be to create value for all the people you interact with.”
“The fact is that the great team of thousands of people who lead operations at Amazon has always cared deeply about our employees, and we’re proud of the work environment we’ve created,” Bezos says.
In the face of criticism from delivery employees and unions, he asserts time and again in his letter that Amazon is “the best employer on Earth and the safest place to work.”.Employees at the company have complained about overwork. To the point of saying they have to urinate in bottles to save time.
Finally, Jeff Bezos allows himself to give some advice to Andy Jassy who will take over as CEO of Amazon. He highlights that “It’s a tough job with a lot of responsibility”. But he emphasizes that “Andy is brilliant and has the highest standards. I guarantee you Andy will not let the universe make us typical.”
Below we highlight Jeff Bezos’ three pieces of advice:
1. How to succeed in life
The co-owner of Amazon highlights in his latest letter that to succeed in business and in life, you must “create more of what you consume.” He points out that we must not lose sight of the fact that the “goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with.”
In this regard, he makes a prediction based on his experience as an entrepreneur. If you don’t create value for customers, employees, and shareholders, “even if you appear to be successful on the surface (the company), you won’t last in this world”.
According to Bezos, everyone in some way has gained value from his company. He sums up that value in numbers by saying that shareholders have earned $21 billion, employees $91 billion, 3P sellers $25 billion, and customers $164 billion for a total of $301 billion in profits.
“These numbers are part of why people work for us, why salespeople sell through us and why customers buy from us. We create value for them,” he states.
He maintains that Amazon is “a company that creates value for everyone.” He says that “it’s not just about moving money from one pocket to another.” It’s bringing something more to the table: “invention is the root of all real value creation. And value created is best viewed as a metric for innovation.”
2. Have a hallmark
This is the second piece of advice addressed to his employees, whom he calls “Amazonians.” It is none other than the basic rule of marketing: “be different”, as taught by expert Philip Kotler. He emphasizes that he expects all Amazonians to take this advice to heart as it is the key to survival.
The billionaire affirms that being original and different is a value that everyone recognizes. He adds that what he is really asking them to do when he gives this advice is to “be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness”.
He points out that the world is always trying to keep things the way they are, “that you’re typical,” and advises, “Don’t let it happen.” Bezos says that while “It pays to ‘be yourself,'” no one should believe they’ll get it “easy or free,” as “You’ll have to continually put energy into it.”
3. Create value for employees
Bezos’ other big thought is about the safety and health of his employees. He claims to be aware of the problem and to be working to improve standards. Without offering figures on physical injuries suffered by the company’s workers, he reveals that about half of the injured employees have been from musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs).
He explains that this type of trauma, among which he mentions sprains or strains, could be caused by repetitive movements. Amazon’s CEO indicates that the injuries generally occurred during the first six months of work at the company.
Hence, the company is developing a strategy aimed at creating “new automated staff schedules”. To this end, “sophisticated algorithms are used to rotate employees between jobs that use different muscle and tendon groups.”
Bezos acknowledges that “we must do a better job for our employees,” commenting on the thwarted creation of an Amazon workers’ union in Bessemer, Alabama. He maintains that he is “not comfortable with the outcome of the recent union vote.” It was the first union attempted at the company.
1,3 million people on Amazon’s service
He said a debate has started within the company about “the way Amazon treats its employees.” “It’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees, a vision for their success,” he adds.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) president Stuart Appelbaum, who was at the forefront of the union-building efforts, commented in a statement that the campaign and Bezos’ words reveal that the company’s reputation, was badly damaged, “regardless of the outcome of the vote.”
Perhaps, for this reason, the CEO of Amazon highlights in his letter to be very proud of the working environment of the company that employs 1.3 million people worldwide and last year alone hired 500,000 people. On the other hand, he has led the wage improvement by approving a minimum wage increase of $15 an hour.
“If you read some of the news reports, you might think we don’t care about employees,” Bezos said. In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated like robots. That’s not accurate. They are sophisticated, thoughtful people who have choices about where they work.”
“We create jobs for people who never got that advantage.”
He argued that a survey of employees found that “94% say they would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work.” “Employees can take informal breaks during their shifts to stretch, get water, use the restroom or talk to a manager, all without affecting their performance,” Bezos detailed.
Likewise, he defended the company’s productivity goals for workers. “We don’t set unreasonable performance goals,” he said. He went on to point out that they set “achievable performance goals that take into account seniority and actual employee performance data.”
“Amazon is a company that does more than just create jobs for computer scientists and people with advanced degrees. We create jobs for people who never got that advantage,” Jeff Bezos’ farewell letter to Amazon’s shareholders, employees and customers concludes.