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The Alchemy of Leadership Blog

Relentless

stone book

Jeremy Marshall is the first non-family member to lead C. Hoare & Co, the private bank, since its foundation a mere 343 years ago.  One of the School for CEOs’ Faculty, Jeremy has his own blog.  In his latest post he reviews ‘The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ by Brad Stone.

The picture of the company’s founder that emerges is fascinating and has clearly struck a nerve.  As Fortune magazine points out, Mrs Bezos is not happy.  She gave the book a 1-star review on … Amazon.

Bezos started off in books, offering lower prices and a wider range than any bricks and mortar bookshop could offer.  amazon.com stocked a ‘long tail’ of deeply unheard-of titles, as well as the bestsellers.  After several years of hard graft, the business had built enough scale to become profitable.  Rather than taking the safe option and banking the cash, Bezos used it to build businesses selling music, electronics, tools, furniture, beauty products, e-readers, tablets, toys, sports equipment and on and on – becoming the Everything Store of the book’s title.  Bezos quipped that he was going to change the company’s domain to ‘amazon.org’, more appropriate for a not-for-profit organisation.  Shareholders didn’t always see the joke.

Amazon was nearly called ‘Relentless’.  Indeed, relentless.com will still take you there.  As well as a relentless approach to expansion, Bezos comes across as ruthless in his people decisions, pushing out his co-founders along the way.  Not nice behaviour, perhaps, but there’s no doubt he’s a very successful businessman.  Jeremy has also been highly successful in businesses large and small.  I’m sure there have been some tough decisions along the way but, by contrast, he’s a thoroughly decent guy.  There’s more than one way to navigate the river of life.

© Patrick Macdonald 2015

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