Stability is the state of being difficult to overthrow. 

It’s the power of remaining upright no matter what headwind you are met with. It’s continuing in the same winning state, with the same guiding principles and objectives—for years at a time.

Stability is an unrelenting commitment—a commitment to core values, to business objectives, and to cultivating a culture of excellence.

Bezos believed that an online bookstore would be able to provide better selection and better prices than brick and mortar bookstores. That was his business hypothesis that he embarked on in 1994: better selection and better prices through an internet marketplace.

27 years later Amazon is still an online bookstore with the same value proposition. Now, as we know, they also carry every item under the sun. There are over 350 million products on Amazon and this includes 12 million products sold by Amazon itself. The scale on which that original hypothesis has been executed is astounding.

These 4 quotes from Bezos highlight the importance of consistent commitment that has attributed to Amazon’s meteoric success. Everything that can be learned from studying Amazon is practical and applicable; not abstract.

Be Patient and Commit 

All overnight success takes about 10 years.” -Bezos

Delayed gratification is how you go from good to great.

So it’s a discipline you have to build. The get rich slowly schemes are not big sellers on infomercials. That’s something that you have to teach over time.” -Bezos

Branding is a constant day-in, day-out effort that takes years to establish. The good news is once it’s established it will be known for years. If you are providing a great product or service people will naturally tell their friends and word of mouth is the least expensive yet most effective form of marketing. Did you see an ad to join facebook in the 2000s or did you hear about it from a friend or relative?

Putting in the work year after year isn’t sexy but it’s what generates a seemingly overnight success.

It took about 10 years for Amazon to become a household brand name. Jeff had to sell the original pre-IPO investors on why they should invest in him and their first question was always “Jeff, what’s the internet?” Even though internet technologies were new and misunderstood, Jeff’s commitment to online business models showed investors he was ready and passionately committed to the internet. Jeff was clearly committed.

To date, Amazon’s public stock has created about 1.43 trillion dollars of wealth for people other than Jeff Bezos.

That’s the power of sticking to principles.

Long-Tailed Thinking

Amazon is long-term oriented… I ask everybody to not think in two-to-three-year time frames, but to think in five-to-seven-year time frames… When somebody congratulates Amazon on a good quarter I say thank you. But what I’m thinking to myself is those quarterly results were actually pretty much fully baked about 3 years ago. Today I’m working on a quarter that is going to happen in 2020. Not next quarter. Next quarter for all practical purposes is done already and it has probably been done for a couple of years. If you start thinking that way, it changes how you spend your time, how you plan, where you put your energy. Your ability to look around corners gets better. So many things improve if you can take a long-term approach. It is not natural for humans. It’s a discipline that you have to build.” -Bezos in 2017

Are you scrambling to figure out what your company will be doing next week or is that already well thought out and roadmapped into the future? If you don’t know your long-term roadmap then you will always be living in the short-term mindset of “just trying to figure things out” and “playing catch up” rather than cultivating a methodical well-crafted plan that was generated through a long-term mindset. When you operate from that place of high level central planning, well in advance, you operate each day with a greater sense of clarity and confidence.

Business anxiety is nothing more than a lack of clarity. Clarity relieves all anxiety about what’s next.

The long-term mindset means you are constantly gathering market intelligence and employee/customers interactions. You have a crystal clear picture of who your customer is and what they want. You accept that your market, employees, and customers are ever changing.

You have a really good picture of what verticals are worth keeping and where things are heading. Having all of these data points at your fingertips gives you the ability to look around corners and predict (with high certainty) where you will be years out.

Amazon’s strength was amassed through long-term roadmaps and never playing a game of catch up. If it feels like your business is always playing catch up then you will have a much harder time staying on principle, on purpose, and amounting to national or global impact and recognition.

What Going to be True in 10 Years?

The good thing is that these big ideas are ‘stable in time.’ No matter what happens in technology and everything else, it is impossible for me to imagine a scenario that 10 years from now a customer comes to me and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon, just wish that you could deliver a little bit more slower.” You can have great conviction – as a leader – to continue to put energy into driving speed of delivery and you can keep putting energy into those things and spin-up those flywheels, and they will pay dividends 10 years from now… pick things that will still be true 10 years from now, 20 years from now.” -Bezos

This may be the most powerful question to ask and apply to your business: what will always matter to your customer and where is the market open for you to perform better than anyone else? This is what you can go deep on and invest in for years because you know it will be relevant way, way down the line.

This will give you a clear market advantage because you have gone deep into certain areas of expertise that differentiates you. Amazon has gone deeper than any other company into the importance of the speed of delivery. They will own that niche for many years to come.

They now have 95 cargo planes and 30,000 delivery trucks in-house. 100,000 Rivian electric trucks have been ordered. Amazon is now poised to pass UPS and FedEx to become the largest U.S. delivery service by early 2022.

The only way they have reached these impressive levels of worldwide service is by paying attention to what will still matter to their customers 10-20 years from now.

Next Level Leadership 

To round off the case study on Amazon, one of their 14 guiding principles is “Ownership.

Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”

Effective leaders lead successful teams and they never skirt the responsibility or the blame to others. They are the captain of their ship and they know it. Everything that happens on that ship is their responsibility.

On the flip side of that, make sure team leaders haven’t been delegated too much responsibility. Amazon employs a 2 pizza rule for this reason. What’s that? If 2 pizzas can’t feed the team then the team is too big.

This ideal team size is estimated to be between 6-10 people. This is key so that good ideas don’t get drowned out and the leader of the group of 10 or less can still maintain close relations and effective leadership.

“Progress over perfection.”

If a leader sees an employee in a state of disharmony they will take the time to make sure they are okay, learn about what’s going on, and provide emotional support or specialized knowledge.

As a team leader, make sure your people know its okay to let you know if they don’t understand something or are having an off day. As a leader you can’t demand perfection, it’s not based in reality. People make mistakes, so you can only intend for progress. All teams perform best when people feel comfortable and respected.

Be a positive beacon of light to your people and your people will subconsciously model that behavior. When you do see tasks or employees going sideways don’t brush it under the rug and say “well that’s not my job.”

When challenging situations do arise prioritize what should happen next to remedy the situation. Step up and take extreme ownership of any obstacle that comes into view. Prioritize and take action.

Leaders know there is always something they can do to positively influence any situation at hand, no matter how chaotic it becomes they will always stay calm, prioritize, and execute – in that order.

You and all the leaders on your team know that every action they take, both big and small, reflects on the company and their personal character in some way. All the different layers and sublayers of leadership mirror the other layers of leadership in the organization. Upper management is no better than middle management, they have different areas of focus.

Avoid taking the easy road. Stay focused on the long-term objectives. When you and the key leaders in your organization think of yourself as taking ownership of every situation, you will always give it your best to help remedy, and no stone will go unturned. Nobody is blamed when they are all under your command. If your people are screwing up or underperforming what role did you play in that? Did you train them properly? Do they have SOPs readily available any hour of the day?

It is incredibly difficult to move a company forward that is not in agreement with itself. A company in disagreement with itself its not too different than friendly fire on the battlefield – a mortal sin.

Eat Last

Part of being the leader includes serving others and placing the needs of others above your own and “eating last.”

Having the humility to “eat last” and place your people before you creates a culture of servant leadership – your people can see how much you care. Your actions speak louder than your words to everyone.

This kind of culture leads to deeper and more authentic connections. By taking this approach, you help everyone in the group be psychologically comfortable so they can participate and perform at their best, which benefits their personal development and the company as a whole. The effects of servant leadership are compounding: This Level Up blog post from last week talks more about Servant Leadership and Humility.

Our case study, Amazon, is a behemoth of a company. We can all agree on that.

It may not be your desire to grow to a company of that size, that’s no problem, what to garner here are the steadfast principles and long-term mindset the company has deployed to give them unbridled stability in business.

The lessons provided here can be further studied and implemented into your business to provide your company additional stability so that you can reach the heights you desire to attain.

Following these stability and leadership principles will help increase your capacity to grow into the company you envision.

Capacity is defined as the total amount that can be contained or produced.

Increase your capacity through stability.

The Level Up Mastermind is a real estate networking and accountability group to help you reach those heights and increase your capacity. You can apply for Q2 of 2022 here.