A Jeff Bezos l’Axel Springer Award 2018


Jeff Bezos ha ricevuto l‘Axel Springer Award 2018. Il prestigioso riconoscimento è stato assegnato oggi  nell’headquarter berlinese del gruppo media tedesco al numero uno di Amazon proprietario, tra l’altro, del ‘Washington Post’.

Quello assegnato a Bezos è il terzo Axel Springer Award. Il precedente è andato a Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, fondatore del World Wide Web, mentre nel 2016 ad assicurarselo è stato Mark Zuckerberg.
In occasione della premiazione, il presidente di Fca John Elkann ha pronunciato la ‘laudatio’ di Jeff Bezos che riportiamo integralmente qui di seguito e che  sottolinea i principali meriti e traguardi del fondatore e ceo di Amazon.

jeff bezos (foto Axel Springer Award)
Jeff Bezos (foto Axel Springer Award)

La ‘laudatio’ pronunciata da  John Elkann

Thank you Mathias for giving me the honour of talking about Jeff Bezos tonight.
Jeff believes that what defines us is our choices and not our gifts.
I would like to share with you some of the choices Jeff has made in his life which have had – or will have – a profound impact on all of our lives.

1) Starting Amazon.com with the ambition of being the biggest bookstore by titles in the world which since has become the global leading e-commerce platform with more than 300 million active customers and 560 thousands employees today. The choice of leaving secure employment and life as a newly married couple in NYC to move to Seattle to take on this adventure was not obvious. As his boss at the time told him, it is a good idea but it would be an even better one if you didn’t already have a good job.

2) Building the Earth’s most customer centric company. This a very deliberate choice. “Customer Obsession” is first on the list of Amazon’s leadership principles and it’s paying off with the company being ranked number 1 by the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the last 8 years in a row. This has driven ever higher standards in Amazon, as we customers always expect more. Being customer-focused makes you a pioneer far more than being competitor focused, where you may be tempted simply to follow in the shadow of others.

3) Remaining in day 1 is a belief which Jeff has come back to in every one of his shareholder letters since Amazon became public in 1997, attaching to each one a copy of his first. Remaining in day 1 is critical because day 2 creates stasis which ultimately leads to death. Choosing day 1 means choosing to live but it also means maintaining a passion for invention, choosing to resist proxies, embracing external trends and making high-velocity decisions. The last of these, making high velocity decisions, is difficult for any organization because it means accepting that errors will be made, acknowledging those errors and changing direction. This ability to course correct is one that few organizations possess, but is at the heart of remaining in day 1

4) Founding Blue Origin, a company which is working to make space more accessible for all of us. This is needed not because we need a Plan B in case things go wrong on Earth, it is needed to find new resources and possibilities to enable us to stay here on our own blue planet which is the best one for us in our solar system. Blue Origin is a choice which embodies Jeff’s long term thinking by creating the conditions for future generations to establish themselves in space and progress is being made Gradatim Ferociter or “step by step, ferociously”. Soon we will be walking up in space alongside mannequin skywalker.

5) Buying The Washington Post, which is very a propos tonight given that we are here at Axel Springer which is both an important institution in Germany and an example of the relevance of independent journalism. The Post’s ability to “shine its light in dark corners” is what made it a worthy winner of two Pulitzer Prizes this year, taking their total up to 65. The choice of creating a sustainable business model for the Post rather than making it a charity is also important because independent journalism, as everyone here tonight knows, depends on financial independence.

I have discussed many choices this evening but I believe the most important choice Jeff made was inspired by his maternal grand-father Lawrence Preston Gise. It is with his grandfather that Jeff watched Armstrong land on the moon which in turn led to his passion for space. He also watched the Watergate hearings with his grandfather which might have created the sense of responsibility which led to Jeff’s decision to get involved with the Washington Post.

“Pop” as he’s called by his family told Jeff, when Jeff was a boy, that one day he would understand that it is harder to be kind than clever. The gift is to be clever but the choice is to be kind.
The choice to be kind is Jeff’s most important choice and it is one which he has made many times.  For example he did this when, with his wife MacKenzie, he welcomed Diego Piacentini who joined Amazon to develop the business outside of the US, by going to Diego’s home to build for him his famous “door desk”.

Being kind was also Jeff’s choice when Jason Reziaian, a Post journalist who had been imprisoned for 18 months in Iran, was released, and Jeff went to meet Jason in a military base and brought him and his family back to the U.S.

The final choice I want to highlight is Jeff’s decision to seek lifework harmony rather than lifework balance. Lifework harmony means resisting trade-offs and the tensions that arise from them in both your work and your home life. It means making sure that you channel positive energy into both. I am grateful to Jeff and MacKenzie for teaching me this as it showed me how to have both a wonderful family life and a full professional life.

Choices and gifts – we are giving a gift tonight to Jeff with this honour for his choices, with you all I am glad to celebrate him tonight.