I’m undertaking a new writing challenge: write one post a day for as many days as possible based on things at my desk. This is day 6 of that challenge.
I keep one of my favorite lists of brand-building commandments by my desk.
These points were first written in a short memo (with the subject line “Amazon.love”) authored by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who sent this email* in a time when Amazon was catching heat for throwing its weight around as a company.
“Rudeness is not cool.
Defeating tiny guys is not cool.
Close-following is not cool.
Young is cool.
Risk taking is cool.
Winning is cool.
Polite is cool.
Defeating bigger, unsympathetic guys is cool.
Inventing is cool.
Explorers are cool.
Conquerors are not cool.
Obsessing over competitors is not cool.
Empowering others is cool.
Capturing all the value only for the company is not cool.
Leadership is cool.
Conviction is cool.
Straightforwardness is cool.
Pandering to the crowd is not cool.
Hypocrisy is not cool.
Authenticity is cool.
Thinking big is cool.
The unexpected is cool.
Missionaries are cool.
Mercenaries are not cool.” – Jeff Bezos
So many of these seem obvious in theory but not obvious in practice:
Rudeness is not cool – It’s not easy to realize or remember that what may seem like a good excuse or a justifiable response to an annoying customer or customer base may also come across as rudeness.
Pandering to the crowd is not cool – It’s so easy to think that you must provide what “the people” or “the customers” are asking for. It seems like a best practice, but then opinion polls have never been a source of real innovation.
Obsessing over competitors is not cool – The cool companies are creating their own industries – not fighting over space with others. But it is easy in the moment to start looking at your fellow racers instead of at the finish line.
Defeating tiny guys is not cool – It’s easy to feel smug if you have a market advantage, or to pooh-pooh small competitors (see above). This kind of attitude makes you look pathetic.
This wisdom is like any other. If simply reading it was enough to make you wise, the world would be a different place. This wisdom only opens up to the wise – it takes experience. That’s part of why I keep these close by. Maybe I’ll look up from my computer one of these days and catch myself before I make a big mistake.
Other credits: Brad Stone (author of The Everything Store) and The App Store Chronicle for making this memo available.
*Short emails tend to generate a lot of good energy – it’s amazing how much a good leader can do with those.