I want to share three comments from Jeff Bezos today, because tomorrow’s post is about him.
They all focus on the financial side and point up the great difference between Bezos and many other CEOs when it comes to money and stock.
If Bezos is anything he is pragmatic and real—no BS. And that is just as true when he is talking about entrepreneurial topics as about his business.
The truth in this comment has only increased over the years and will continue into the future. “Good ideas will always get funded, so that’s not going to be a problem. But you will see that it will be harder and harder for bad ideas to get funded.”
“It’s part of the territory with Internet stocks, that kind of volatility. It can be up 30 percent one month, it can be down 30 percent in a month, and a minute spent thinking about the short-term stock price is a minute wasted.” Obviously, Bezos never wasted any minutes on the subject.
If you’ve followed Amazon at all, you know that every time Bezos invested in better technology or added product lines Wall Street predicted its imminent demise. Even today, after a decade of success, the analysts question Amazon’s every move.
Bezos takes it in stride, still focusing on the long term and customer satisfaction, as he has all along.
“No. I’ve taken plenty of criticism, but it’s always been about our stock price and never about our customer experience. After the bubble burst, I would sit down with our harshest critics, and at the end of the meeting they would say, “I’m a huge customer.” You know that when your harshest critics are among your best customers, you can’t be doing that badly.”
Join me tomorrow for a look at Bezos’ approach to nonmarkteing.
Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a venture capitalist, considers himself a pragmentalist (pragmatic environmentalist) and his investments reflect that attitude.
“And I’m a firm believer, technology is the real solution. The world will not go backwards. Human beings aren’t made that way. And so you have to come up with different solutions.”
All well and good, but he goes on to say that leaders need to hold opinions based on their own belief system and that if you believe strongly enough you can lead confidently.
The examples he mentions are Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison and therein lies the problem.
It’s a common attitude, cite one of the “good guys” to illustrate so-called leadership qualities and ignore all the bad examples of the same action.
Ellison and Jobs are known for forging ahead based on their own opinion and convictions and damn the torpedoes and analysts. Fortunately, they’ve both been right far more often (not always) than wrong and so are held up as examples of the need to hold to passionately to one’s beliefs.
But what about all the leaders who follow their own belief system and blow up their companies when they damn the torpedoes?
Robert Nardelli at Home Depot; Richard Fuld at Lehman and the rest of the Wall Street CEOs who passionately believed in derivatives and minimized the risk; John Thain at Merrill Lynch; Al Dunlap at Sunbeam; the list is endless and timeless.
Khosla is interesting and obviously successful following his own advice, but I suggest that you look for more than confidence based on a personal belief system when choosing someone to follow.
“While everyone is blogging, Twittering or tweeting, linking in, booking their faces, and coming up with other digital ways to “connect”, it would be good to ask: “Am I too busy to notice?”
I bookmarked an article last week that included solid research about the bulk of the population preferring to buy goods and services through face-to-face contact. Now I can’t find it because I was so darned connected online I didn’t actually pay attention to the title or where I filed it.
This leads into the video below. I was reminded of Emotional Intelligence pioneer Daniel Goleman’s TED talk a couple of years ago. If you want to know the connectedness between emotions, business, and “noticing”, this will be time very well spent. Close your door. Now. Tell you’re boss you are doing professional development. You are.”
I recently wrote that“No one is expecting you to solve the problems, but you can reach out and touch just one life. If everyone over 21 did that we would be well on the way to change.”
All I can add is that we better start noticing before all the lights are turned off for good.
Now go see your friends and tell them; have a ‘noticing’ contest together with a ‘doing’ contest.
Before you can practice random acts of kindness you need to notice.
My best wishes on your special day to all the fathers reading this.
“Becoming a father is easy enough, but being one can be very rough” –Wilhelm Busch (And has nothing to do with furnishing the sperm.)
“When one has not had a good father, one must create one.” –Friedrich Nietzsche (This is for all you guys who have filled the father role for someone who needed it, whether for a few days, weeks or for life.)
“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” –Clarence B. Kelland (Monkey see, monkey do and this leads us to the next bit of wisdom…)
“Every father should remember that one day his son [or daughter] will follow his example instead of his advice.” –Anon (See above.)
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” –Mark Twain (This has to be one of the smartest things that Twain ever said—and that’s saying something!)
But it’s Wadsworth who really sums up parents and kids…
“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” –Charles Wadsworth
Today’s quotes are a sampling of comments I found in Business Week’s profiles of CEOs Of Tomorrow. Take a moment and click through the whole series, I think you’ll find it interesting.
“Numbers tell only part of the story. People get things done.” –John S. Watson, Vice-Chairman, Chevron
“It’s important to have fun as a team. When it is time to hop in the pine box, you’ll wish you had high-fived more people and taken more risks.” –Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO, AOL
“Revenue is important, but customer satisfaction is even more crucial. I’ve always believed that it’s not just what you do but how you do it that’s important.” –Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chief Operating Officer, Tata Consultancy Services
“We have a company we believe absolutely has to be the fastest-growing-and you have to take some chances to grow faster than everyone else.” –John C. Compton, Americas Foods division, PepsiCo CEO
“Act with urgency; keep things simple; it’s all about the execution.” –Jeff Henderson, Chief Financial Officer, Cardinal Health
Finally, in spite of all the passionate people sending out millions of tweets, where’s the money? An interesting discussion from the faculty at Wharton focuses on the possibilities of a profitable Twitter; but one reader’s comment says a lot about people’s attitude, “SNS are all about sharing, creating, connecting and learning in a digital environment – it’s not about making cash.”
A common attitude, but one that begs the question, if it’s not about the cash why should anyone invest? Companies such as Twitter and Facebook don’t start and scale for nothing and users certainly are unlikely to step up to pay.
“The greatest challenges were identified as: motivating staff in uncertain times; being able to clearly communicate the rationale for changes; working within a leadership team format rather than alone; and developing staff for redeployment rather than layoffs.”
Finally, two great interviews, one with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and the other with Kevin Sharer, chief executive of Amgen. Amazing what you can learn from real pros who produce real value.
Enjoy and I hope that you’ll take a moment to share what you learn from these sources.
Considering the news with which we’re being inundated this seemed like a god time to offer up something a bit more positive.
Not sugar and syrup that you wouldn’t believe anyway, but the kind of one liners that are worth printing out and sticking on the monitor and taping to the bathroom mirror.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work.” –Thomas Edison (Entitlement has more letters.)
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain (If they don’t encourage you to climb they won’t offer a hand if you trip and fall.)
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.” –Benjamin Franklin (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter…)
“Live as if you are to die tomorrow. Learn as if you are to live forever.” –Gandhi (Teach this to your kids and tattoo it on your frontal lobe—it’s the best advice you’ll ever get!)
Three great interviews on tap today with lots to learn.Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the embed code to work for either video (the Washington Post and McKinsey may need lessons from YouTube:), but they’re both worth clicking over to watch.
First up is Anne Mulcahy, chairwoman and chief executive of Xerox Corporation, a company that she took over on the brink of extinction and turned around. “In 2002 this company lost almost $300 million, and by 2006 we were making over $1 billion.” Now that’s a turn around!
When asked what the secret was, Mulcahy said, “It isn’t a secret sauce. It’s actually fundamental communications, in terms of your ability to really get out there and be with your people, tell a story. People really have to begin to believe in a story to get passionate about the direction the company is going in, which hopefully you’ve been able to do through the way you articulate it, simplifying the complex so that people can get their arms around it and see how they can make a difference. There’s nothing quite as powerful as people feeling they can have impact and make a difference. When you’ve got that going for you, I think it’s a very powerful way to implement change.”
Next is a video interview with John Chambers of Cisco Systems. The dot com bomb blasted Cisco and Chambers brought it back. In the interview Chambers talks about managing in this downturn, how collaboration is the next phase of management style, change, and identifying market transitions. He also discusses how business leaders need to “earn back” public trust, how he is adapting the company and why he’s “far from a perfect leader.”
“As a venture philanthropist, Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz leads entrepreneurial projects across the globe—many of which put women at the helm of emerging local businesses. In this video interview, she discusses her experience developing other women leaders, the way they have shaped her own approach to leadership, and the different leadership cultures she sees at play in the public and private sectors.”
Fabulous. Do click over to see the video and read the print part, also.
One way or another I seem to be on a creativity/innovation kick this week, so it seemed reasonable to make that the subject of today’s quotes.
First the practical…
Innovation comes from the producer – not from the customer. –W. Edwards Deming (You can’t want what you’ve never had.)
Innovation is the whim of an elite before it becomes a need of the public. –Ludwig von Mises (Got to love those early adopters!)
Now the inspirational…
There are no dreams too large, no innovation unimaginable and no frontiers beyond our reach. –John S. Herrington (But you have to believe…)
If you open up the mind, the opportunity to address both profits and social conditions are limitless. It’s a process of innovation. –Jerry Greenfield (But addressing the former with no consideration of the latter is a recipe for disaster.)
Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. –William Pollard (Something that GM and Chrysler still haven’t learned.)