I recently had a very interesting conversation with a former employee of Amazon. I love talking to people from iconic companies like this because I love getting insight and perspective of what it’s actually like to work there.

This is what I learned.

Amazon has among the strongest company culture anyone has every seen in the world. It’s pervasive in everything.

Recruitment. Your phone. Meetings. How you interact. You can ask anyone what the company’s core values are and they’ll be able to tell you.

Obsession on the customer.
Disagree and commit.

I am sure their are others, but it was disagree and commit that I found most interesting.

You can disagree with a decision, but once the decision is made you have to commit. There is no passive aggressiveness at Amazon because once the machine decides, it goes.

Most times it goes right. And produces amazing products. Other times it goes wrong, and it takes the market to correct (Amazon Phone).

What this means is if you are going to work at Amazon, you should expect conflict. And lots of it. This can be draining. This can be tiring. But that’s the culture and that’s how things work.

There is lots of turn over. In warehouses and the office. ‘Next man up’ is the term they use whenever someone gets burned out. They just feed the machine with another person.

This will work, I am told, so long as two things continue.

  1. Jeff Bezos is leading.

Jeff is a force of nature, and so long as he is driving, expect the company to be radical and do incredible things.

  1. The stock continues to rise.

Amazon stock has done very well. And so long and it keeps doing well, people will sacrifice their happiness for the golden handshake that is understood to be waking for them at the end of the rainbow.

The true test for Amazon will be when either Jeff stops leading, or the stock starts heading sideways. As soon as that happens, that’s when Amazons staying power will truly be contested.

There are lots of examples of companies falling off when the original founders leave (Apple and Sony). I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.