Ideas Theology Uncategorized

Succeeding at Amazon as a Christian (Part 1 of 6)

What does it take to succeed at Amazon as a Christian? A group of friends and I compared the Scriptures with Amazon’s Leadership Principles to find out. (For more thoughts on leadership read Why Captain America Leads the Avengers.).

Here are the posts in this series:

  1. Introduction; Customer Obsession
  2. Ownership; Invent and Simplify
  3. Are Right, A lot; Hire and Develop the Best; Insist on the Highest Standards
  4. Think Big; Bias for Action; Frugality
  5. Vocally Self Critical; Earn Trust of Others; Dive Deep
  6. Have Backbone, Will Disagree and Commit; Deliver Results

Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

We started with customer obsession because it was the first on the list and because it really is the central principle at Amazon.

What is Amazon’s mission?

To be earth’s most customer centric company.

What does customer obsession look like?

We gave various examples like AWS refunding customers who had passed the trial period without realizing it.

What are the limits of customer obsession? Can the customer ever be wrong?

We debated giving customers what they want versus what they need. One example is the scandal when a book on pedophilia was self-published and after some back and forth Amazon ended up choosing to listen to the customers who were offended by it. Our discussion concluded that it’s about doing what’s right for customers.

What are some relevant Scriptures?

We only got to examine two. The first was Proverbs 20:14:

“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—then goes off and boasts about the purchase.”

We can’t always take what customers say at face value, but we can commit to loving our customers and doing what is right for them. I don’t remember the second passage, but the essence of our discussion was about how Christians represent the Lord in their actions and likewise represent Amazon in their deeds.

What happens when we lose customer obsession?

We tend to become profit-obsessed. In this way, customer obsession is one way we fulfill God’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves and protects us from the perils of worshiping money.

What about sellers and employees? Are customers benefitted at the expense of our vendors, sellers and employees?

The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him. (Proverbs 20:23)

When Amazon uses its leverage to negotiate better terms for customers, the vendors still have a choice to make. As long as Amazon maintains integrity and does not fudge metrics to get better terms or withhold money that rightfully belongs to the vendors, using its scale to deliver more value to customers seems just and fair.

Food for thought:

What would earth’s most God-centered company look like?

Please leave a comment and read the next post on Ownership, Invent and Simplify.

Poetry Uncategorized


Ancient idols overtake me in my distress;
I hide from the Lord, my mind so oppressed.
Even the next morning from slumber awake,
To find that cruel masters are ready to take
My morning of prayer and breakfast of joy.
By driving me inward, my sin soon employs
Each craving desire to turn me from God
‘Til my will succumbs, a slave to false gods.
 While taking a shower, it soon became clear
My heart became dull due to unbelief, fear.
Hardship, hard work and distant dreams slew,
The hope which I felt could power me through.
Then the music replayed in my sleepy head,
A reminder of sins, burdens for which you bled.
 How amazing you are Lord, how can one not praise?
Failure leads me to love you, your impossible grace.
Confessing my sin, I felt nothing at first
Your Spirit came in and showed me my worst
Was taken by Christ who joyfully bore
My death on the cross, his body all sore
From beatings and bruisings and whippings galore.
And before his last breath he weakly pled
“Father, forgive them”, his flesh ripped to shreds.
He gave up his spirit and was buried that day
This morning’s sin with him, cast far away.
 The tomb was soon shaken, victory secured
He disarmed my oppressors with judgment deferred.
And burying my sin he gave me his life
Impossibly strong, it makes me alive,
Restoring my morning and breakfast of praise.
I thank my good Father for the Son that he gave
And take up my cross to face this new day
Knowing my Savior’s good purpose holds sway.