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Book review: 'The Everything Store' cements Jeff Bezos in history

by Swapan Seth

In 1994, Jeff Bezos, registered a domain called relentless.com.

Type that out in your browser.

See where it leads you.

Read Brad Stone's The Everything Store.

The book reveals the compelling character that Bezos is. Furiously fanatical.

The book reveals the compelling character that Bezos is. Furiously fanatical.

See where it led Jeff Bezos.

Relentlessness is the leitmotif of both his life and indeed the company that is his life.

It was what drives him. It is how he drives people.

The book reveals the compelling character that Bezos is. Furiously fanatical.

Fanatical about creating a culture that ruthlessly executes the ordinary.

Fanatical about customer convenience.

Fanatical about creating not just a company but also an experiential ecosystem.

Fanatical about creating a constellation of bright minds: ("He doesn't tolerate stupidity, even accidental stupidity." A typical Bezos question in a job interview would be " Why are manhole covers round?" or "How many gas stations are there in the United States?")

The book also looks at the vision that plays in his mind. A vision that saw beyond e tailing.

Unknown to many, Bezos was among the original investors of Google. And in his head, he sees a vision of himself in space and has already identified a place from where he will one day launch his starship.

It is also about his deep difficulty in dealing with failure and his obsessive drive to win things back. In this context, Stone presents Ravi Suria, an analyst at Lehman Brothers who consistently tanked Amazon. Year after year. Jeff was aghast with Suria. And soon, Amazon created a term for a significant mathematical error: milliravi.

On April 24, 2003, in a press release announcing sales of over $1 billon and extraordinary earnings, analysts were quite taken aback with the headline of the press release.

It said: MEANINGFUL INNOVATION LEADS, LAUNCHES, INSPIRES RELENTLESS AMAZON VISITOR IMPROVEMENTS.

Take the first letter of every word. And then form a word.

What do you get?

The book is also about some inspiring Bezoisms:

"Communication is a sign of dysfunction. We should be trying to figure out a way for teams to communicate less with each other and not more."

"PowerPoint is a very imprecise communication mechanism. It is fantastically easy to hide between bullet points.

"If that's our plan, I don't like our plan."

Finally, Stone.

Biopic biographies have their compulsions.

They can be infuriatingly imperial in their style.

But Stone wrote this like a river.

Free flowing, crisscrossing the tides of time with fine fluidity.

And sometimes stamping his own style on to Bezos: " Bezos's face grew red; the vein in his forehead, a hurricane warning system, popped out and introduced itself to the room."

Some books have this glorious opportunity to nudge the compass of history.

To shift the needle.

Stone does just that for Bezos.

He presents Bezos in a light not known thus far. In a dimension unmeasured until now.

He plants him forever among the pantheon of those who changed the world.

A glorious, grand read.

Author, copywriter, columnist, blogger, art, book, music film and wine collector, Swapan Seth does several things. In his spare time, he runs Equus.

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