Back in January, I hosted Mick Ebeling at Google LA for an Authors@Google talk.
Mick is an award-winning film/television/commercial producer, philanthropist, idea-generator, and author. He discussed the maker movement and his new book Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn't Be Done. It was inspirational and really made me wonder how I too can make a similar big impact.
My friend Tracy (interviewed on Tim Ferriss's podcast) recommended The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone, so I wanted to check it out. I've enjoyed learning the stories behind the founding and ups and downs of different big companies, and as a long-time fan of Amazon, it was very interesting to get a sneak peek into how the company started and what myths about it are true and false.
I was shocked to learn that Jeff came from a quantitative finance background and how far he bootstrapped the company on his own. That was really impressive.
I also found it interesting how ruthless and dedicated to low pricing the company has been and how it did not shy away from any mercenary tactics to get the terms it wanted. For example, it heavily squeezed vendors and frequently pulled their products from the store until they came back begging to negotiate. This can be seen as manipulative, but it can also be seen as dedicated to providing the lowest possible price to customers.
My biggest question is why treatment of employees doesn't get bigger focus there. I understand the core value of frugality of appreciating and being able to survive in harsh conditions, but I think retaining the best talent will be important for the company's success, and I wonder how they will keep managing to do that.
A good friend of mine who knows I am interested in entrepreneurship sent me a small article about a new book: Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers. I liked the crispness and directness of the lessons mentioned in the article, so I knew I would enjoy the book.
I really enjoyed reading Derek's account and hearing about how things went for another entrepreneur -- one who has a pretty concrete, no-BS outlook on life and knows what he wanted and didn't want out of his business. I enjoyed his focus on the many things that didn't go right and the mistakes he learned from.
The book is very concise and to-the-point and is basically a summary of Derek's biggest takeaways from creating and selling a successful business -- one he didn't even plan on starting. Below were my own biggest takeaways from the book and the ones that rang most true for me.